A Mother with no babies to hold.
By Jamie Gibbs

My story starts in Feb. of 1994. Joe (my husband) and I were married about 1 1/2 years. We started trying to get pregnant for our first child. Much to our surprise we got pregnant on the first try. In late March our joy turned to sadness. I miscarried at 6 weeks pregnant. This miscarriage brought us pain but no where near the pain we were to suffer in the months to follow.

We started trying again in May and I was pregnant sometime during the first week of trying. We had a scare when I was 6 weeks pregnant. I began bleeding but an ultrasound showed everything to be fine. I was put on progestrone and the bleeding stopped. Everything was fine until the 21st week of this pregnancy. I started to bleed and have a slight fluid leakage. I was sent to the hospital, on Oct 7, 1994, and there was told I was dilated 2 to 3cm and my amnoitic sac was bulging through the cervix. My doctor told me I had an incompetent cervix and said his best medical advice was to induce labor that night. But how could I do that? There was a slight chance with hospitalization, complete bed rest, and the bed in an inverted position (foot of the bed higher than the head) that the sac may go back into the uterus and the cervix could be stitched closed. But also an infection could start that would leave me infertile. I had to take that chance. I had to fight for my child. My fight ended on Oct 9, 1994. Labor began and an infection set in. My doctor gave me pitocen to speed up labor. I was given an epidural that didn't work. Labor hurt terribly. Pitocen makes contractions stronger. I was given pain medicine 2 other times but there was no relief to the pain. Brian Joseph Gibbs was born at 2:02pm. He weighed just under 1 pound and was 10 inches long. He was born alive but was just too little for anything to be done. He wiggled a little, took some deep breaths, and sighed a tiny little sigh. I wanted so much to hear him cry. I wanted him to hold or suck my finger. It didn't happen. Joe and my Mom held him. I sang to him and rubbed his back. I just hope I was comforting to him during his short time on earth. He died in my arms. We have pictures of him and put together a baby book for him.

The pain in the months to follow was horrible. I was told over and over that there was nothing I could have done to cause this. But I still felt guilty. My body failed Brian. I was his Mommy I was supposed to protect him. I couldn't. I cried and wondered if I would ever feel good again. Joe grieved but he held alot in. I remember wondering if there would ever be a time when Brian would not invade my every thought. But as time passed I found myself laughing again. At first I felt guilty for being happy but I knew Brian would not want that.

We were told that we could start trying again in Dec. My life revolved around Dec. I couldn't wait for it to come. I needed to be pregnant again. I looked to the future. It was all I had. Somehow in Nov. I got pregnant. I say somehow because we were using protection. My body was not ready for the pregnancy and I miscarried on Dec 5, 1994. The miscarriage was confirmed by ultrasound to be incomplete. After a few complications I was put on birth control pills to ensure a few months of no chance to get pregnant. Although this miscarriage hurt, I almost felt relieved. My doctor thought the positive pregnancy test was left over hormone from Brian's birth. Family and friends thought I was feeling pregnant because I wanted to be pregnant so bad. The miscarriage proved that I was not crazy.

By March of 1995 I was pregnant again. The beginning of the pregnancy went well. Not as much morning sickness as with Brian. But I worried often. I was put on progestrone as a precaution. At week 14 I needed to have a surgery to sew my cervix closed. The risk of the surgery was slight but without the surgery my risk of losing this baby was 100%. The surgery was thought to go well but I was later hospitalized for a rupture of my amnoitic sac. The rupture was small and with 2 days in the hospital and 5 days at home on bed rest the rupture sealed. My doctor told me I was out of the water. Everyone was confident that this baby would be with us in Dec. Everyone but me. I had more fantasies about the baby not making it. But the closer we got to 21 weeks with no problems I began to feel better. The Friday of my 21 week past and I was fine.

At 21 weeks and 3 days my heart broke. Early on Aug 8th, I was having some cramping and knew things were not right. I called my doctor and was sent to the hospital. When we got there, at 7:30am, I was having contractions and the doctor examined me. He said I was not in labor since my cervix was up high and the cerclage (stitch to hold the cervix closed) was holding. But I was having preterm contractions. I was given a barrage of medicine to stop the contractions. Appx. 2:30pm when the medicine seemed to be working the cervix couldn't take anymore. The stitch tore the cervix and my amnoitic sac was bulging through the cervix. After that happened the contractions came back full force. I was brought to the operating room to remove the rest of the stitch and deliver.

Matthew Brian Gibbs was born at 3:00pm. He weighed 15oz and was 11 1/2 inches long. But once again I heard no baby crying, no baby held or sucked my finger, and no precious eyes looked up at me. All I have to remember is a few deep breaths he took as he entered and left this world. We have pictures of him and in some of them we are holding him. It really brings to life how little he was.

So now I sit here not only grieving for Matthew but reliving my grief for Brian. Joe is grieving better this time. We know only too well what the days ahead hold for us. We will make it through this somehow.

We will try again. Once I have had time to heal and the reason for the preterm contractions is pinpointed. With God's help we will have a baby one day. One that I can hold for a long time to come.

(Mom to Brian Joseph Gibbs 10/9/94-10/9/94 and
Matthew Brian Gibbs 8/8/95-8/8/95

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW