‘You’re only 19 weeks, it’s too early.’ I was scared to hold him. But THAT was love at first sight.’: Woman’s baby born still after years of infertility, ‘he has changed my life, even when he is not here’

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“I thought it was never going to happen. Month after month brought more negative tests. I never even got excited anymore, I just KNEW it was not going to happen. Five medicated cycles later, it did. My dream had come true. Finally, a positive pregnancy test. We were expecting our first baby to come in November of 2019.

Our journey with infertility began shortly after we got married. We knew we wanted a family immediately. About a month into our relationship while dating, I got diagnosed with PCOS. We tried all different natural supplements, tracking my cycle, everything you could think of, and nothing was working. Finally, almost 2 years later, we decided to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist. We knew with their help and with medication, we would be able to get what we had been dreaming and working so hard for. My husband wanted to keep trying on our own as most insurance policies don’t cover the cost of most treatments for infertility, but he finally accepted the cost would all be worth it if we could get it to work. He sat in the bathroom with me as I took a pregnancy test. After so many months of infertility, you just kind of get used to expecting it to be negative. For some reason my husband had a suspicion I was pregnant. And he was correct. I was beyond shocked. I remember saying, ‘Is this real, am I actually pregnant?’ My husband was so overcome with joy. What we had been hoping for was finally coming true.

I had a pretty textbook pregnancy. Everything went great. Every single ultrasound and appointment, our baby was measuring right on track. There were no hiccups at all.

Courtesy of Mckayla Bryson

At 16 weeks pregnant, I had another routine appointment. This one I was most excited for. Only four more weeks and we would know our baby’s gender! As we set up the appointment I thought, ‘This is it. Those two years of waiting paid off.’ I think it finally hit me, knowing the gender would make me feel like this was more real.

At the beginning of my pregnancy, I was convinced it was a girl. I have no idea why as I had always dreamed of being a boy mom. But slowly as the cravings hit, I read more and more into ‘Old Wives Tales’ and starting convincing myself it was actually a boy. My husband never had a preference. He always said, ‘We’ve tried for so long, I just want a baby.’ I knew he would make the best dad either way.

Courtesy of Mckayla Bryson

On June 7th, it was getting hot here in Utah. My husband and I went for a Target run to see if they had any kiddie pools I could set up and relax in. My chest felt a little tight. Later that day, I started feeling some intense round ligament pains on and off. I wore a support belt or maternity pants pretty much my whole pregnancy, but that day I did not. I figured it was why I was getting this pain. It wasn’t constant, so it couldn’t have meant much. ‘Should I go get checked?’ No, it’s probably nothing.

June 8th, at 3 a.m. I woke up to what felt like I was wetting myself. I rushed to the bathroom. The thought of it being my water breaking did cross my mind, but it surely could not be that. It was way too early. But when I went to the bathroom, something just didn’t feel right. I went back to my room and laid down. I could feel the panic setting in. ‘What if it was my water breaking? How am I supposed to know, I’m a first time mom?!’ I laid there for a few more minutes. I searched online, ‘How to know if your water broke.’ None of it helped. I was a week and a half away from our anatomy scan. ‘Can I wait it out?’ I wondered. Finally, as I was almost completely into a panic attack, I woke up my husband and my parents, and told them we needed to go get checked out. Just in case.

My dad was asleep on the couch, he knew I had gotten up to go to the bathroom and I think he could tell I was a bit worried when I went back to my room. When I woke him up again to tell him we needed to go to the hospital, I could tell in his eyes he was panicked. My dad has always been the type of man to try and stay calm, even when things are going wrong. As I walked into my parent’s bedroom to wake up my mom she said, ‘How far along are you? You aren’t due til November!’ I think she thought I was playing a trick on her. She could see I had stuff packed, I had been crying, and how everyone else was awake as well.

As we got to the hospital, which was a 5 minute drive, I was able to get in immediately. I told them I may just be overreacting, but I wanted to ease my mind. They got me back and checked my cervix and said, ‘Your cervix is a little open and the sac is coming through.’ I looked at my husband in complete disbelief. My worst fear had come true.

My husband’s eyes showed fear. They showed how worried he was. But his face showed hope. He has always been that way, in every situation. ‘Everything will work out,’ has always been his go to when things are actually going wrong. Very wrong. And this was no exception.

I ended up going to the hospital an hour away, where my actual doctor practiced. Once we got there, they performed another cervix check just to confirm. Yup. My water did indeed break. They also did an ultrasound and thankfully our baby was still alive, still wiggling and moving around like nothing had happened.

After talking with many doctors, they all pretty much said the same thing. ‘You’re only 19 weeks, so it’s too early for this baby to make it. We can try and hold out til viability, but your baby will have many issues, and still might not make it.’ What were we supposed to do? There was no win here. Our child was going to die, and we could not do a single thing.

So many doctors and nurses came in the hospital room, I can barely remember their faces. That is, except for our nurse, Evelynn. She was our nurse both days we were there. Clearly she had seen this before, maybe not, but she was wonderful, and she kept reminding us of how the decisions we’re making are best for us. There was no way we could ever have prepared for this.

I don’t think I could have gotten through that day without my husband. I kept saying, ‘I don’t know what I did wrong. I thought I was doing everything correctly. I don’t know what I did.’ He kept holding my hand, reminding me I did nothing wrong. I didn’t cause this. He never left my side.

I was numb. I kept thinking to myself, ‘Everything has been fine. I did nothing wrong. How did this even happen?’ Because it was the truth. Everything HAD been fine. I followed everything my doctors told me to do. I was so cautious. How could it all go wrong, so fast? I thought, maybe we can make it to 23 weeks like the doctors wanted. Maybe if I stayed laying down, drank lots of water, my fluids would build back up. But shortly after, I realized how none of that mattered.

After almost 17 hours after my water broke, I started getting contractions and the urge to push. They got me into labor and delivery and hooked me up to monitors. To say I was scared was an understatement. Not only was I not ready to give birth, I was also not ready to give birth to my child who was dead, or would be shortly after.

I slept through most of my labor. Contractions were painful, but I pushed through. I opted for no medication. I needed to know how strong I was. In the past 24 hours I had been stripped down to bare bones, and I needed to prove to myself I could get through this. There wasn’t much talking while I was in labor and the few times I did wake up, the doctors checked how dilated I was. I didn’t ask many questions and neither did my husband or parents. For me, it felt as though it didn’t matter. The outcome would still be the same either way.

Three hours later, it was time. A few short pushes and our baby was born. We still had no clue what the gender was. My mom actually asked and the doctor said, ‘It looks like he’s a boy!’ We were so ecstatic. I had a feeling it was going to be a boy. Oliver Merle Bryson, born at 11:11 p.m. on June 8, 2019. Our life was changed in the best and worst way possible.

When the doctor asked if I wanted him placed on my chest, I immediately said yes. How could I not? Just because he was dead didn’t change the fact that I wanted everything as normal as possible. I’ll admit, I was scared to hold my baby. How would he look? How small is he? But I am so glad I did. THAT was love at first sight. The best part of holding him was just the dream I had been hoping for, to hold my newborn baby. I’d waited two years for that moment. To hold my own baby. Even if he was small, I didn’t care. This was what I’ve been waiting for. The worst part? Knowing it was the first and last time I would ever hold him again.

Courtesy of Mckayla Bryson

I’ve always loved photos. To me, they make memories stand still and last a lifetime. I needed to have that for my son. After we would leave, I’d never be able to look at him again. I would never have any more photos of him, growing up and hitting milestones. I knew I would hate myself if I never took any photos, so I took an abundance. And even then, I still feel like I didn’t take enough.

Courtesy of Mckayla Bryson

We had almost 24 hours with our son before it was time to say goodbye. Walking out of the hospital with only a box, and not a baby, was the hardest walk I’ve ever done.

We still do not know the exact reason why this happened. And we don’t know if we ever will. Our doctor thinks it could possibly be an Incompetent Cervix, but PPROM (preterm premature rupture of the membranes) was also thrown out there as a possibility.

Losing my son has been the hardest thing I have, and will ever have to go through. But my love for him only grows and grows every single day. He may not be walking this earth with me anymore, but he is always right in my heart. I try my hardest to keep his memory alive, because he deserves it. He has changed my life, in more than one way, and he will continue to change lives, even when he is not here.

Courtesy of Mckayla Bryson

My husband and I do not regret those 2 years we tried for our family. Although we wish things would have turned out differently, and we could have our son in our arms instead of our hearts, the love that has grown, not only for each other, but for our son, was all worth it in the end.

The best advice I can give is to live through your grief. Remember, grief only exists where love existed first. Things will not get easier. It is a lie. But things will become different. The hole in your heart will always be there, but it will shrink over time. The first year of ‘firsts,’ will seem like it’s out to destroy you. But it won’t. It will hurt, more than anything, but you can and you will survive. Remember you are now living not just for yourself, but for your baby as well. Every step you take, you’re taking for them, whose feet never got to touch the ground. Every breath you take, you’re taking for them, since they never got the chance. Days will be hard, there will be plenty of those, and that’s okay. Don’t force yourself to feel fine when you’re not. But just remember who you are doing this for. Your baby would be proud of you if they were here physically, and they are certainly just as proud, probably even more now, when they aren’t here.

I’m still parenting my son who passed, just through the veil now, in a very, different way.”

Courtesy of Mckayla Bryson

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by McKayla Bryson of Payson, Utah. You can follow her on Instagram here and hereDo 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.

Read more amazing stories about families persevering after their babies are born still here:

‘Can I see my boy for one more goodbye?’ A nurse gave him his first and only haircut. He was truly perfect.’: Couple loses son to stillbirth, anxious about new pregnancy, ‘My first is in heaven, I’ll meet him there someday’

‘Am I really going to be a dad?’ He smiled. ‘You aren’t mad?’ We were too young to have kids.’: Mom suffers PTSD after son is stillborn, ‘they couldn’t find anything wrong’

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