‘Your placenta looks really bad.’ By the time I got to the hospital, I could barely walk.’: Mom shares grief of child loss, ‘You’re stronger than you think’

Trigger Warning: This story contains mention and images of child loss that may be triggering to some.

“When I was a little girl, I pictured my life a little different. I pictured all the happy endings, the perfect family, dream home, and just the ‘princess’ fairytale. I would have never guessed the obstacles I’ve faced. From financial whoas, to chronic illness, to child loss, to miscarriage, I’ve basically been through it all at the young age of 29. My life is a fairytale still, just a messy one.

When I was 21 years old, I became pregnant with my oldest, my son. The thought of becoming a mother was the most incredible feeling. It was all I dreamt of my entire life. I had never experienced, though, the anxiety of becoming a mother. It’s like you instantly feel anxious and worry about your baby. Is he safe in there? Still alive? Is he healthy? All these thoughts come to mind and you’ll never get peace of mind until birth day. But then the baby comes and even MORE worries come. It’s a never-ending cycle. It’s natural.

After my son, I got pregnant with my daughter, Monroe, and then after Monroe came Presley. Each pregnancy, the worry went down a little more because you realize you’re a mom veteran and you know all the things. It’s all second nature at this point. I know what to expect, what to do, how to plan. Like I said, mom vet. The worry in me was basically nonexistent.

All of the sudden around my sixth month of pregnancy with Presley, the doctors noticed something on her ultrasound. Her tummy looked interesting. They recommended I go see a specialist as they would like to investigate further. Those next few days were torcher. This wave of emotion ran over me. What’s wrong with my baby? Is she okay? Will she have a life-altering disability? Am I ready for this type of news? So many questions and NOT ONE answer. Finally, the day came. I got another ultrasound taken, by the specialist, and then my husband and I were pulled into a small room, being told our baby seems to have the early signs of Cystic Fibrosis.

There was no way to know for sure though unless we did an invasive test that could potentially put me into preterm labor. We just had to prepare, educate ourselves on the disease, and come to terms with something being wrong with our baby. If you know my husband, he is a very ‘life and death is in the power of the tongue’ believer. Instead of thinking of what could be, we’d act like it wasn’t even happening. Saying things like ‘it’s going to be totally fine,’ ‘she will be a beautiful healthy baby girl.’ Speaking only positively over our unborn baby girl.

Well, birth day came quickly. Presley was born a month early. Our gorgeous baby girl, Presley, was born with Cystic Fibrosis. They immediately took her from me and she went straight to the NICU at a different hospital and stayed there for two months. Those two months were survival mode for us. Raising two other toddlers ages 3 and 2. Having only one vehicle, a hard-working husband, and only being able to visit her 2 hours a day since that was the only time I could get daycare or help to spend time with my baby. My husband and I were so lost. We’d never really heard of Cystic Fibrosis and had not the slightest clue on how to take care of her.

Courtesy of Nicole and David Martinez

It’s funny though, through the chaos we adjusted. We adjusted so well too. We kept our heads down, stayed as strong as we could. Leaned on our family and friends, asked for help, and we pushed through. We got through it. Cystic Fibrosis has become such a big part of our lives as an entire family. Everyone knows how to give Presley her medicine. We all encourage her, sit with her through treatments, keep her laughing and smiling. Her big sister sets up her feeding tube every night and we have a song we made up for it. ‘Nummy nummy in my tummy grow BIG BIG BIG BIG!’ We are a stronger family because of this.

Courtesy of Nicole and David Martinez

Presley has been a fighter since the day she was born. She toughs it OUT. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will stop her from chasing her dreams especially with the team she has behind her. Fast forward a year, life is going as usual. Then… Covid, lockdowns, virtual school, losses of jobs, and… an unplanned pregnancy. A fourth baby? Is this for real? How am I supposed to handle another baby? The chances of having Cystic Fibrosis with another baby is one in four… will this baby have it too? All these thoughts came racing into my head.

I mourned being pregnant for a while. Upset I was so nauseous. Upset I had no energy, upset thinking I’d always be chubby, my body will never go back to being normal especially now, I’ll forever be self-conscious. All these selfish thoughts I had. I didn’t want to have another baby. This was so hard for me to wrap my head around. My husband, on the other hand, was over the moon with excitement. So happy, he kept saying, ‘Oh my god, our own team!’ Just so stoked to have such a big family. Talking about the future times we will all have. Holidays all together laughing playing games. Eventually, his excitement rubbed off on me and my entire feelings towards this pregnancy shifted. Wow, I get to experience the newborn stage again!

Courtesy of Nicole and David Martinez

We just made a huge life change and moved to Montana from California, finances were the most stable they have ever been for us. I was so enjoying my pregnancy. Buying all the cute baby birth announcement outfits. Buying all sweet blankets and little man outfits. We got a new car to fit all of us. Nesting like you couldn’t believe. I organized my house from top to bottom. Deep cleaned every square inch. Folded and washed all the baby’s things. Just so d*mn excited. Excited to see my older babes with a brand new baby, and seeing how Presley would be with a younger sibling. Even if this baby had Cystic Fibrosis too, we could handle it, Presley would forever have someone who understood and a buddy. It all seemed so perfect.

Courtesy of Nicole and David Martinez

I had been considered high risk my entire pregnancy just because the chances of preterm labor were high for me since it happened before, and Cystic Fibrosis had a big chance of showing up again. Well, I was being monitored three times a week after 30 weeks just for those extra precautions. One appointment at 34 weeks 5 days, things didn’t look right. His heart rate was dropping really low. The ultrasound tech was silent and just so focused. It took 40 minutes. She left the room and just immediately called the doctor. The doctor proceeded to tell me my placenta looked really bad. Very unhealthy. This was totally news to me. No one ever mentioned my placenta before. How is it unhealthy? I’m so healthy! He used a different choice of words but I won’t repeat it being as it was extremely unprofessional.

Due to my previous births, I asked him if he could just induce me. I was going to be 35 weeks in two days, let’s just be safe then. He told me no. He wanted to take it day by day and have me come in two days from then to be rechecked. My appointment was at 10 a.m. on a Friday. I woke up that morning and I instantly knew I was in labor. I told my husband to stay home from work and just come with me to my appointment because it was happening. He did go, and he said, ‘Go to your appointment and I’ll come home if they say you really are in labor.’ I was prone to bad Braxton Hicks so it could be a false alarm. Deep down, I knew it wasn’t. I kept my son home from school and drove myself and all three kids to the hospital for my appointment. Oh, I was in labor alright. By the time I got to the hospital, I could barely walk. I was so excited. SO excited to meet our new family member I didn’t care about the pain. I was just smiling ear to ear so proud to be in labor.

Courtesy of Nicole and David Martinez

I went to my appointment and told them I was in active labor, and they wheeled me to labor and delivery with my kids. I called my husband and he immediately started to head over. A friend also headed over to grab my kids for us. They laid me in the bed, put the straps on me to catch the baby’s heart rate, and monitor the contractions. Twenty minutes went by and no heartbeat is catching. Where is the heartbeat? They called in an ultrasound machine and ultrasound tech. There was a baby, and there was no heartbeat. She asked me if I had fallen, and I said no.

I can’t even begin to explain to you the feeling of this moment. The emotion. The energy in the room. I have no words to describe it and I wish I could. It felt so dark. I looked over at my kids, chatting up the nurses about how excited they are to meet ‘Baby Adrian.’ My son said, ‘I’ve been asking for a brother for so long, I’m so excited.’ Knowing at this moment I’d have to tell at some point he died. All in the span of seconds, my friend showed up and my kids kissed me goodbye. My husband still had no clue. Nurses told me not to tell him until he got to the hospital but he was 40 minutes away I needed him now. I needed my husband.

Courtesy of Nicole and David Martinez

He called me and I told him there was no heartbeat. The baby wasn’t alive. It all felt so unreal. Like the bad part of a movie no one likes to watch. The part that makes you want to fast forward because you couldn’t even imagine that moment and I was living it. I was literally living my worst nightmare. My biggest fear. I was having to come to terms with the fact I was going to birth my dead child. Go through all the same motions with a completely different outcome. I was picking out outfits for him to wear in his casket before I even pushed him out. Making arrangements for my baby I hadn’t even held yet. Like I said, horror movie.

Then the moment actually came. I had to push and face it all. It’s not a dream this was my reality and I had to get a tight grip on that. Something so unnatural was about to happen to me and I needed to swallow that. With my husband holding my hand, Adrian was born on a stormy day on October 16 at 2:35 in the afternoon. The most beautiful baby boy I had ever seen. Lips like an absolute angel. Perfect bite-able ears and long beautiful fingers. Just the sweetest features. Looked exactly like his dad. As if you smooshed my husband down to newborn size. No woman should ever experience this. Pure torture and makes you question everything life is.

Courtesy of Nicole and David Martinez

The months following Adrian’s passing brought a roller coaster of emotions. A very wild ride of grief. Towards the end of January, things started to finally calm down. Healing started to happen. I could look at his picture, whereas before I wasn’t able to face it. It was nice. I could go a couple of days without breaking down.

Courtesy of Nicole and David Martinez

Then on February 13, 2021, I had a positive pregnancy test. Now how this happened is a mystery to me since we were as careful as possible. I thought I would have been more upset about being pregnant. I mean, I was just pregnant and just went through the wildest moment of my life. I just was overcome with so much warmth and I felt like Adrian sent this baby to us to tell us everything was going to be okay. Handpicked for us by him. It felt like such a miracle. I had my first ultrasound appointment in March and was supposed to be 9 weeks along. There was no heartbeat. I just lost another sweet baby. Is this just like a joke? Why me? What kind of cruelty is this?

This time, I had to take medication at home and induce the miscarriage myself since it wasn’t naturally happening on its own. Two losses in 5 months of each other? Losing two babies in one year? You know, people say things happen for a reason. After this miscarriage, I really went to battle with that statement. If everything happens for a reason, then what is the reason? I wanted this answer and I committed myself to find it out. I’m 29 years old and I have gone through child illness, babies with surgeries, child loss, miscarriage. WHAT IS MY REASON. Why have I gone through what I have gone through? There’s a reason for my journey. I sat with myself through meditation, yoga, self-care. Forcing myself to be alone with myself to seek this answer.

Courtesy of Nicole and David Martinez

I think I found it. My passion is helping give hope to women like myself. Telling my testimony to the thousands of other women out there to say I’m here and I’m still standing tall. My trials have shown me just how strong of a woman I am. How I am capable of doing and becoming whoever it is I want to be. I choose to tell my story in hopes of simply giving hope. If you are reading this, know my heart is with you. You are stronger than you think you are. You got this and if you feel like it’s falling apart, know it gets better. Life isn’t fair, asking why me and why is my life so unfair? Won’t get you anywhere. Be alone with yourself. Allow the feelings to come and allow them to go. You are doing your best and you’re amazing.”

Courtesy of Nicole and David Martinez

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Nicole and David Martinez from Bozeman, MT. You can follow their journey on Instagram here and here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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