In July of 2002 Ricky and I found out we were expecting our first child. Ricky and I had been dating for four years. We were only nineteen, but had already been sent through hard times and back. We had been through much more then normal nineteen year olds, but nothing could prepare us for what we were in store for. After experiencing every emotion possible after finding out we were pregnant, as all new parents do. We were scared but really anticipated the birth of our first child. We knew we would be the best parents ever.
In August 2002, it was our first doctors appointment. They said everything looks good and weíll see you next time to hear the heartbeat of your child. So the next month we went to our visit and heard our babyís heartbeat for the first time, and this meant so far the pregnancy was good. Every parent knows when you hear your babyís heartbeat for the first time, that is the most beautiful sound ever. Then after my morning sickness started to wear off I really enjoyed being pregnant. Now we were wondering are we having a boy or a girl. So after a few more doctor visits it was time for our ultrasound to find out the sex of the baby and to make sure physically everything was okay.
This whole pregnancy, till now, we thought our baby was a little girl, and you know how that goes. So when it was time to know the babyís sex the ultrasound technician said, ď Here are the testicles and penisĒ. Our mouths dropped, we were so excited for our baby boy and we were told the physical aspects of the pregnancy looked good, which till now I feared. We already started to plan and dream of the future for our son.
We pictured his daddy teaching his little boy how to play sports and him going to the barber shop with daddy. We had so many hopes and dreams for our little boy and we knew he would be raised into a fine young man if given the chance. I had started a new job at Carterís childenswear outlet. So this made me even more excited for the arrival of our baby. I only started to show at this point, twenty weeks, and I loved it when people would notice and ask, thatís one of the things that i miss dearly.
I just expected to have a normal pregnancy, since Iíve been having one so far. Every first time parent never expects anything less. Although i should have at least thought maybe everything wouldnít be perfect since my sister also went into labor at twenty-four weeks and lost her baby too, but it never crossed my mind once. I just figuered it happened to her because she was only fifteen and the situation she was in at the time, now I definatly wonder if there is a connection there.
The night of November 25 , 2002 I was working second shift at Carterís and I was catching up on some cleaning that was behind. So I vacuumed the boys section, which I now wonder if that played a part in me going into labor or if it was something else. Well that whole night I was having this back pain which I thought was just from standing or because my posture was changing from being pregnant, boy was I wrong. So after I got off work I went home and tried to sleep. I just felt weird and uncomfortable all night and I didnít know why. I couldnít fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning. Then my mom awoke me as she was getting ready to leave for work the morning of November 26, 2002. I got up to go to the bathroom and noticed this pain had become stronger
and I was bleeding.
So immediatly I stopped my mom and called my doctor. My doctor told me to meet her at the hospital, which luckily was only five minutes from my home. So when I arrived at the hospital they immediatly took me back and when my doctor arrived she examined me and told me I was fully dilated, my bag of water hadnít broken yet, but my placenta was buldging into my vagina. So since my water hadnít broken yet they could still safely keep me pregnant. So my doctor ordered an ultrasound to see what was going on. With the ultrasound they found that my placenta had started to detach from the uterine wall, this is why I was bleeding. So they immediatly started an IV of Magnesium Sulfate, antibiotics, and steroids to help develope Averyís lungs in case he would be delivered early. Then they moved me to a delivery room, just in case, and tilted me so my head was lower than my feet.
They got a specialist of premature labor to come see me to see if I was eligable for an emergency cerclage (sew my cervix shut). So even he had never heard of premature labor ever being genetic, which is why I think it could of just been a coincedence. he asked if my mother or grandmother had ever taken a drug called DES, which they hadnít. I had done some research on DES and found that DES was a drug given to women in the early 1950ís to prevent miscarriage. If this drug was taken while a women was pregnant it could cause malformations of the uterus and/or cervix and could be passed down to other children. But neither my grandmother or mother had ever taken this because everyone in my family except me and my sister had always had ďperfectĒ pregnancies, needless to say this drug had been taken off the market.
Well then the specialist told me i would have to have an amniosentesis done to see if there was any infection in my amniotic fluid before he would even do the cerclage. He told by getting this done it could cause me to go into premature labor again or it could break my water. But we needed to know if there was infection or not for the safety of the baby. So on November 27, 2002 I got the amniocentesis done, which was the most painful thing I had ever experienced even more so then delivering Avery. The results came back and showed there was no infection so then the specialist wanted to examine me to see if he could do the cerclage. he told me he couldnít do it because i was still fully dilated, bleeding, and my placenta was still bulging. He said by doing it he could even break my water so the cerclage was out of the question. My heart was broken because I knew I wouldnít be able to stay pregnant for very long but I still had hope.
So they were only able to keep me pregnant for two days until my contractions started again on November 28, 2002, which was Thanksgiving. The doctor told me I was delivering our baby that night and they could do nothing else to stop it since I was already on all the highest doses of everything to stop my contractions. I was so scared because i knew what it meant to deliver Avery at twenty-four weeks gestation since it was fatal for my sisterís baby. So the doctor told she had to break my water so the NICU could know when Avery was coming instead of just guessing when he would be born. I was really scared to deliver I imagined I wouldnít have to do this for a few more months and now it was here, I had never got to go to my birthing classes.
So about a half hour after they broke my water Avery was on his way into this Earth and the doctor told us, ďOne more push and your little butterball will be hereĒ, with it being Thanksgiving night and all. So at 8:34pm Avery Jordan Riley was born weighing 1 lb 11.6 oz and measuring 12 3/4íí. Oddly I should of been scared out of my mind but i wasnít I was so happy our little baby boy was born. I could never imagine what joy I would of had if this was a normal pregnancy. They said Avery made a little cry but since they had to put tubes down his throat right away to help him breathe we didnít get to here him. They took him right away and told me he was stable. I didnít get to even see him till later. Ricky said, ďHeís beautiful, he has ten fingers and ten toes, I countedĒ. I thought that was so cute.
Right after they left the room with Avery to go to the NICU I felt the presence of Angels. I knew what the experience was like because several years ago I was in a car accident that I should of died and right before we hit the tree I felt this type of protection and I knew they were there to save me and protect me. The room lit up with brightness and the room filled with a great sense of peace and it felt so comforting, Iím not sure what the reason was that they came to me yet but I know they were there. maybe angels escorting an angel to earth. If you have ever been in an experience with an angel before youíll know. if you havenít itís like everything gets really bright, you feel a strong peace like the world is standing still and if it ever happens to you, you will never doubt yourself.
So in the wee hours of the night the NICU said we could finally come down and see our son for the first time. I was scared and excited to see Avery at the same time. I got to see my baby boy, he was so perfect, tiny, and beautiful. As me and Ricky looked at our son we felt this feeling, I canít explain it, but it was like I canít believe me and you can make a child. Itís like ,wow, life is so amazing that two people can make a person. Unfortunatly I couldnít stay very long because being tilted on my head for two and a half days took itís toll on my body. So I rested and came to see Avery the next day. The doctors told me that he was doing better then they expected, which was good to hear. So then all our friends and family came to see him and they all told us how beautiful he was. I was and still am so proud of Avery. So then in a few days they started to perform tests on Avery and this is when problems arose. First they told me he had a brain bleed which was a level three on the one side and no bleeding on the other, which at this point was not causing damage to the brain tissue.
So they decided to test him again the next day to see if there was more bleeding and there was. The level three was now a level four and the side that had no bleeding was now a level three, the level four is the highest level and if it was severe enough it could cause cerebral palsy. Needless to say we were greatly saddened but we still carried hope in our hearts that God would save our baby. They tested again after several days and found there was no more bleeding but there were other problems now. Avery had what they called a PDA which is a part in the heart that that is always open with severly premature babies. But, it needs to close and they treat this with a medicine called endocine which is supposed to help close it. So this medicine usually works with the first dose but Avery had already had three doses and there was no change at all. The next resort would be surgery and Avery was too small and unstable for this surgery right now. Although we still carried hope in our hearts.
When babies are born this early their skin is too thin yet to protect from bacteria and infection like ours can. So from this Avery also developed a yeast on his skin which is potentionally fatal for tiny babies like Avery. There was nothing more they could do for him because he was already on three antiobiotics and being given an ointment to help stop this. After all these things that were caused by him being born premature his tiny little body started to shut down. Still we had hope and prayed God would save our tiny baby. Avery was too tiny and weak to fight anymore and I didnít want him to. I knew he was suffering and i couldnít stand to see our baby boy suffer anymore, he didnít deserve that. I just pray God didnít let him feel any pain.
Our little fighter fought for nine days until he went home to be with God on the early morning of December 7, 2002. We got to finally hold Avery the last minutes of his life on earth. I wanted him to have every chance for God to perform a miracle for him so I couldnít hold him if he was on the machines. The last two days he was with us we were allowed to touch him because they knew he probably wouldnít make it. I couldnít stand to leave him even to go to the bathroom or even sleep for fear of the worst I wanted someone especially to be with him. We stayed overnight at the NICU in a room they had for us and other parents the last few days. I still remember the night they came and got us from sleeping in the room at the NICU.
After giving him the medicine to keep his heart pumping, his heart rate had dropped again after dropping twice before. They came and woke us and still to this day I donít remember getting up and going to his bed I just remember being at his bedside. They could do nothing more they had already given as much medicine as they could. I remember looking into Averyís eyes and telling him, ĒItís okay to go now Avery, go be with the angelsĒ, because I knew it was his time. My mom said to him, ď Make sure you send your mommy lots of signs so she knows your okayĒ, and he certainly does. Every night before I go to bed I talk to him and tell him how much we love him and to never think mommy is mad at him for leaving because I know he wasnít meant to be on Earth any longer.
I talk to Avery a lot, I just open my heart and mind to him and God and he is that tiny little voice I hear. He usually is there when I am upset and wishing he was here with us on Earth. One of the things that keeps me going is that i know I will see him in heaven someday and the hope that God will bless us with a child on Earth someday again. I truly believe that God would not pass such great parents by and not let us have more children. I thank God every day for letting me be a parent even if it was only for a short time, that I could feel Avery in my womb, that I could give birth, and that I could look into the beautiful eyes of my baby boy. One of the things I really cherish is that one of the NICU nurses let me take Averyís temperature and change his diaper, which I might add was a poopy one. It actually made me feel like a mother. Ricky got the joy of Avery peeing on his hand which I might add was on Averyís head, just being a normal baby boy.
I also thank God for all the people we met along this very tough journey. All of the nurses in the hospital, two parents in the NICU that were also thrown into this that got a beautiful baby girl from it, a youth minister that has been helping Ricky through a lot of this, a website of friends who have also lost their children, and a friend who also lost a child the same day Avery died. I believe God brought all of these people into our lives for a reason and we cherish each and every one of them for helping us through a lot. I know our baby Avery Jodan Riley
is now happy and playing in Godís garden
with all the other angels.