Nathan's Story

The one who left gentle footprints on our hearts,
left a story worth telling. - Author Unknown

Lilypie - Personal pictureLilypie Angel and Memorial tickers

Nathan's story is a very personal experience. I'm not normally a public person but I chose to include the painful, graphic details because reading similar stories have been a healing part of my grieving process. It helped to read other stories and know that I wasn't the only person to go through this. If you have recently experienced a loss in your family, please know that you are not alone. There are, unfortunately, many of us traveling this heartbreaking road with you. There are numerous links on the resource page, please use them. Reach out... you do not have to travel this road alone. Trust me, I have (and continue) to cling to those resources.

After eight years of marriage and almost five years of struggling with infertility, we became parents. After a scary emergency c-section, we welcomed our son Cameron into the world on February 21, 2008. Almost three years after his birth, we had given up hope of having more children. Because of my family history and my endometriosis, we were told our chances for more children were slim and that a "natural" pregnancy was nearly impossible. We decided against returning to the RE (reproductive endocrinologist - aka: fertility doctor) and had finally resigned ourselves to being okay with our one blessing. At my next OB appointment, I was going to schedule another surgery to help relieve my endo symptoms and discuss a possible hysterectomy. The next month, on Easter Sunday, we were shocked to learn that I was pregnant. We had beat the odds and gotten pregnant on our own!

We scheduled our first appointment for May 9th and were given an estimated due date of December 30, 2011. It took a couple weeks for the shock to wear off but when it did... we were so excited!

We got Cameron a shirt with an owl on it that said, "Guess whooo's going to be a big brother? Cameron… that's whooo!" It was so special to let him be the one to tell everyone our exciting news. It even came with a bonus baby shirt, which was the first piece of clothing we got. He gladly gave up his playroom for the nursery and was so excited about becoming a big brother. My sweetest memories are when he would kiss my tummy and talk to the baby.


I started spotting on May 12th. I called the doctor and they told us come in and get checked, just to be sure everything was okay. They did an ultrasound and I was relieved when I saw that wonderful flicker on the screen. My baby's heartbeat was there and right on target... everything was okay. I was told it could be a hormone issue and was put on Progesterone for the next five weeks.

I was nervous until we hit the 12-week mark. I couldn't wait until our appointment; I just needed to see that heartbeat again and get some reassurance that my baby was okay. I took Cameron with me to the 12 week ultrasound and will never forget the look on his face when he saw the baby moving and heard its heartbeat. He said, "Mama, it's so loud!" The baby was SO active, it kept flipping all over the place. At one point, it was moving and it looked like it was waving at us… which Cameron was overjoyed about.


After that appointment, I felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief. We had made it out of the danger zone. After all, miscarriages only happen in the first 12 weeks, right? I had no idea how wrong I was. Little did I know, that would be the last time I saw my baby alive.

Over the following weeks, we began to make plans for our new baby. We started discussing baby names, looking at crib bedding sets, buying furniture, etc. Our family and friends were so excited for us... offering their baby clothing and items, pending our gender ultrasound. We were so excited when we purchased one of our first pieces of furniture, a beautiful glider. I was so excited just bringing it into the house that I took a picture and bragged about it on my Facebook page before putting it in the nursery.

Above: Practicing his rocking skills in the new glider with Handy Manny. :-)

We attended a 50th wedding anniversary party for my in-laws on June 11th. The picture below was taken there. It is the only family picture I'll ever have of all of us. I remember sharing it on Facebook with the caption: Cameron, Daddy, Mommy and "Jellybean" ;-)

I started feeling flutters and waves of movement during the 14th week. I remember I was at work the first time I felt it and KNEW it was the baby. It stopped me dead in my tracks and I just smiled, as I held my stomach. I began moving into maternity jeans around the same time. Some friends got me the shirt below, when I was pregnant with Cameron. I don't know why but I had the strongest urge to wear it Monday, July 18th. Even though it was huge on me, I wore it when I took Cameron to the park that morning. Looking back, I wonder if something in me knew that that would be the last time I would need to wear it.

On July 18th, I felt the baby moving right before my first break at work (I work 2nd shift). I could've never known, that would be the last time I felt my baby move. On July 19th, my son and I went to the 4 month appointment, anticipating being able to schedule "THE" ultrasound so we could find out the sex of the baby. Our appointment was at 10am and the waiting room was packed. I remember thinking, "Wow, there are a bunch of us pregnant woman here today." Luckily, I'd brought Cameron a bag of Mr. Potato Heads which he shared with two little boys who were waiting with their mom. (As stupid as it sounds, I can't even look at Mr. Potato Head anymore.)

Finally, after almost 30 minutes of waiting… it was our turn. I did the urine test, got my blood pressure checked and stepped on the scale - all of which was right on target. I mentioned that I was still having nausea and still had a lack of appetite, even when not nauseous. She said that wasn't uncommon and to just hang in there. We chatted for a few minutes, talking about how different this one was compared to my first pregnancy. She led us to the room and I chatted with Cameron while we waited. The doctor came in and asked how everything was going and asked if we wanted to have the 2nd round of prenatal testing. Since everything had come back fine during the 12 week ultrasound and blood testing… I declined. She placed the doppler on but couldn't find the heartbeat. I was trying to get Cameron to calm down so we could all hear. She kept picking up my heartbeat and he kept getting excited because he thought it was the baby. She mentioned that the baby was probably laying in a position that made it hard to pick up the heartbeat. I remember having a weird uncomfortable feeling but let it pass, trying to reassure myself I was overreacting.

She took me back to the ultrasound room and did an ultrasound and then had the ultrasound technician come in and take a bunch of measurements. She didn't even have to tell me... I could see there was no heartbeat and the baby wasn't moving. Even still, somehow I managed to ask, "You can't find the heartbeat, can you?" They wouldn't look at me but I heard them say no. My entire world came to a screeching halt at that exact moment. The receptionist came in and took Cameron while the doctor talked to me. She just kept telling me how sorry she was. She told me that the baby was too big to have a D&C and that I would have to be induced and deliver. I was told to call back when we had decided to schedule the induction. I remember putting Cameron in the car, starting an Elmo DVD, calling my husband in the parking lot and crying the whole way home. I called back a few hours later , after Allen got home and we talked, to scheduled my induction for the following day. The details of the rest of that day are a blur.

Cameron has never been away from us overnight so we made the decision for Allen to stay with him that night and my mom to be with me at the hospital. I got to the hospital around noon and was given the first dose of cytotec to induce me at 2:30pm. By the time Allen left around 8pm, I was so tired but my mind wouldn't let me sleep. I watched re-runs of Criminal Minds so that I could occupy my mind and try and forget why I was there. There were 3 babies/toddlers on my wing that night. It was heartbreaking to hear them crying... knowing that I would never hear my baby cry. I remember hearing the nurses in the hallway, moving them to another wing, around 1am.

My baby may have been tiny but my body certainly didn't know that. My contractions were awful but I wasn't offered anything stronger than Tylenol 3. Even knowing the end result of all that pain and hard work, I didn't want anything anyway. I figured the pain would be the only thing I'd get to experience… if that makes any sense. There were four births that night. (Our hospital has a button you push on your way out of labor and delivery that sounds a lullaby all over the hospital to announce the birth of a new baby.) After awhile, my body just couldn't take it anymore and I dozed off around 2am. I remember waking quickly to this weird feeling that I had never felt in my life. I yelled for my mom and told her something was wrong. She buzzed the nurse, who came running in. She looked down under my gown and told me it was my baby coming out and if I gave a small push, he'd be out.

After almost 12 hours of labor, our sweet angel was born at 16 weeks, 5 days gestation. Nathan Allen came into the world still at 2:32am on July 21, 2011. She took him and cleaned him up and quietly whispered, "It's a boy." Between my tears, the first words out of my mouth were, "Cameron was right." (He had been convinced that he was having a brother.) Nathan was the first baby born that morning but sadly, there was no lullaby button for me to push. As I was coming out of the bathroom from getting cleaned up (after they had taken Nathan away), the lullaby bell rung. I stopped right then and there and cried.

I'll be honest and say that I was terrified of seeing him... not knowing what he was going to look like, since he was so small. The nurse who delivered him tried her best to make the experience easier. He was still in the amniotic sac when I delivered, so she took him and cleaned him up and then talked to me before bringing him over. (I delivered him and the placenta at the same time.) She tried to warn me of how small he was and I tried to prepare myself… but nothing could have prepared me for the tiny angel she laid in my arms.

I think he would have been another mini-Allen. (Cameron is a miniature version of Allen.) He had my nose; a long square chin like his Uncle Chris; long arms ands legs, like his daddy; and the tiniest feet I've ever seen. I measured him with my hand and he went from the tip of my middle finger to a little past my palm... about 6 1/2" long. His feet were a little longer than my thumbnail... about 3/4" long. He was handed to me in a standard sized newborn hospital blanket which only emphasized how tiny he was. Because of how fragile his skin was, they weren't able to get him completely dried off; which caused him to partially stick to the blanket. I was terrified to move because I was afraid of hurting him, even though I knew I wouldn't.

They had a camera at the hospital and I had even brought mine but in the shock and emotion of the moment, I didn't take a picture of him. I only held him about 30 minutes. Those are the two biggest regrets of my entire life. Looking back, I wish so badly I had took a picture and held him longer. I don't think I'll ever get over the guilt of letting him go so quickly. When I handed him over, I don't think I fully understood that that was the last time I would ever see my son. I would gladly endure the pain and heartache again to have that night to do over. My emotions at the time had the better of me and I will have to live with those choices for the rest of my life.

We got an answer as to how he died… so I guess we're lucky, if one can be in this situation. They determined it was a cord accident; the cord was wrapped twice around his neck. Other than that, he was perfect. It breaks my heart to think of something so simple... the one thing that kept him alive... is the one thing that took him from us. They told me that because he was so tiny (he didn't have enough ridges in his feet to pick up the ink) and could't get him dry enough, they were unable to get his footprints. There was no outfit to dress him in, no appropriate-sized baby blanket to wrap him in or anything.

I wasn't told much about the procedure and didn't even realize I'd be there overnight. I didn't bring anything with me… not even a change of clothing or a toothbrush for myself. I was discharged from the hospital on the same day he was born. It was a hot, sunny afternoon… which was like a slap in the face. People were smiling and enjoying their day while my world was dark and depressing. I was wheeled off the maternity floor with nothing but an empty memory box and card signed by the nurse that delivered him. Even now, I can't look at his memory box from the hospital. It is filled with his ultrasound pictures, my OB appointment cards, a small stuffed heart, my hospital bracelet and a card signed by the nurse that delivered him. There is nothing in it that is his... not one physical reminder that he was ever born. There is nothing to look at and say, "This is how small he was. He fit in this. He touched this." My son's entire life fits in that tiny box... that tears my heart to pieces.


We went to the funeral home the day after he died to do the paperwork for his cremation and look at urns. I started crying and told Allen it made me sad to realize that that was the only thing we could buy him. We'd never buy him baby clothes or toys or anything... his final resting place was all we could get him. My milk came in two days after delivery... something I was not prepared for. Here I was grieving and my body starts to supply milk for a baby I could no longer hold... let alone nurse.

The guilt, "what if's" and "why's" are hard to get over and I think always will be. I kept re-living in my mind the days before… trying to think of everything I did. Everyone kept telling me that there was nothing I could have done and that it wasn't my fault… but still. My one job, as a mother, was to keep him safe while inside of me and I felt like I had failed. It took me three years to be at peace with not having more children. Why would God give me this child, just to take him from me? What lesson am I supposed to be learning from this? All questions that I will never get an answer to… which makes it all that much harder.

All the years I spent crying over periods and negative pregnancy tests, I never imagined my heart could hurt more. I was wrong, this hurts more… so much more. This is something I never understood before I experienced it and it is something I would never wish on my worst enemy. I've been lucky to have a couple wonderful online friends who have been through this. They have been my saving grace so I know that support and friendship, with other parents who have gone through this, makes all the difference in the world. I will never be the same person. The person sitting in the waiting room on that Tuesday morning at the doctor's office is gone. I'm not sure where she went or exactly who took her place yet. I'm just trying to live on the good days and survive on the bad ones. I'm hanging on for the day when I can smile instead of cry when I mention my sweet Nathan's name.

The footprints above are stock images that I pulled off a clip art site.
Since I didn't get his footprints, I shrunk them to be about the size of what his feet were.
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