My older sister Tanya is my best friend. We are 2 years 4 months and 8 days apart. We have always been close.
I have 6 living children, and my sister has one living child. I have never really had a problem getting pregnant, while my sister had to warm up to the idea of being a mother. When I became pregnant with our third, it was hard telling her, knowing I had something she wanted so badly. Then I became pregnant again, miscarried, and became pregnant again with our 4th child. That made her cry, I did as well. But then she became pregnant with her first son, it was wonderful having big bellies together, nursing while in the same room, and sharing clothes for our little boys. Then I became pregnant again, she did not. When our fifth was about one year old, I became pregnant again, and she was not, yet, and we both cried again. I knew something was wrong with my baby, so I tried to comfort her saying “who knows, I may lose this one and then you will have one, then I will be sad” I did lose that wee one not to long after that.
Before I did lose my baby, she took a test, and it was positive, She showed me the test, and didn’t believe it, yet, I knew what a positive pregnancy test looked like. So after a while, she became excited. Then I miscarried, yet, I was still happy for her. Then I became pregnant again, and we were about 2 months apart with our due dates. We still have pictures of us standing facing each other with our growing bellies, smiling.
Then the day she had her ultrasound, things became very, very different. I called right after her appointment on her cell phone, and asked “is it a boy or a girl?” and she was kind of quiet “there’s a problem”. The family doctor that we both went to said there was ‘low fluid, but everything else looked fine’ she went back, alone, to have a different ultrasound done. Then she met with the doctor alone, he said she needed to see a perinatoligist.
I had such hope everything was going to be fine, I kept on giving her hope, even after the perinatoligist said it was sirenomelia. I had to look it up on line. I saw babies who were born with it, and thought oh no, this is wrong. She will have a healthy baby, I thought. I encouraged her to talk to women who had been told their babies would die, but survived. I prayed a lot, and was very fearful at my first ultrasound, but my baby looked just fine. Someone once looked at our bellies, and asked if we had timed this on purpose, we just looked at each other, not wanting to respond.
Then I went with her to have another ultrasound. I asked questions, I almost argued with the doctor, and then I saw Cameron’s femur bones move together. I then knew in my heart that he had what the doctors thought, and I need to help her prepare for him to not be a healthy, normal baby. And that he might die. That was so hard; it brings tears to my eyes as I write. I contacted anyone I could that might be able to help her, I had miscarried but I had always known something was wrong when I was pregnant, and had the hope of becoming pregnant again. Now Tanya, who has such a hard time becoming pregnant, and was really far along, might have to deal with something I never had to go though. I had always thought she had a harder time getting pregnant because she couldn’t handle miscarrying, but now this? Why was this happening to my sister? I wanted to rescue her, kidnap her, drive into the mountains, and never have to hear the stupid doctors again.
We would talk for hours on the phone, pray, cry, it was hard for me to deal with my children, yet, I had a deeper appreciation for them, knowing I was blessed with a full home. Oh why couldn’t it be me going though this? My baby inside my womb was healthy, hers was not. We spoke everyday, sometimes a few times a day. Her husband was supportive, but with nothing he could do to help, he pulled himself away emotionally. She had a time when she started bleeding, but nothing happened. We started talking about her birth plan, and she got some great advice. The doctors wanted to wait until she went into labor on her own, but she wanted a c-section knowing her baby wouldn’t tolerate labor, we prayed, a lot.
She started bleeding again at 35 weeks, while we were on the phone, and I told her to call the doctor. They asked her to come to the hospital to be monitored for awhile. She left her son with her husband, and I met her there. Every time she would bleed a lot, Cameron’s heart rate went down. They prepped her for a c-section. The ob doctor that walked in was the one we had prayed would be there. same with the neonatoligist (sp?) Tanya was shaking, I was so afraid, but Gods strength spoke though me to her, comforting her as best as possible. Her husband dropped their son off at his sisters, and was there just in time to dress for the operating room. I did as well. The nurses commented that it’s not normally someone pregnant who dresses up for support.
The moment Cameron was born; her husband and I had to process in out minds what we saw. He left the room, he had been in such denial that something could be wrong, he couldn’t handle it. Tanya looked up to me with such hope in her eyes, and asked “does the baby have legs?” I answered ” no, but you have the most beautiful baby in the world” We both cried as much as I’m crying right now. They set him up, and brought him over to her face. He was so little. He opened one eye and let out a tiny cry. She kept on talking to him, I was holding him up to her face. She knew at once he was a boy, if only in her heart. Her husband came back into the room, and held him, I took as many pictures as I could. They did a x-ray to see if he had kidneys, that was the deciding point on if we were going to fight for his life, or just comfort him as long as he would live in this world. I called a lot of people, and a few people came. Everyone was praying. I was amazed of how his hair was perfect, his fingers, I loved touching his newborn soft shoulders. I held him, kissed him, not knowing how long he would stay. I wanted Tanya to love him with everything she had to give. She was a wonderful mother to him even long after he had passed. He died in her arms sleeping on her chest. After hours of holding him, a nurse suggested we give him a bath. I picked him up, and gave him his first and last bath. I loved the honor of giving him that gift, and will never forget that special time.
I think after that, I realized I was still pregnant, and hadn’t eaten all day. I want home for a while, and came back that night. In the morning, Tanya called me saying she tried to give the funeral director his tiny body, but after inviting him out there to the hospital at 3am, she couldn’t do it. So her pastor and I came, we prayed, cried, talked, cried some more, and she was finally able to let go of him. Later I brought our grandmother to visit and in the gift shop I saw a sculpture of an angel holding a baby up above her head, and written on her dress was 1 Samuel 1:27-28 “I prayed for this child and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD for his whole life he will be given over to the LORD and he worshiped the LORD there.” I was amazed how that fit her heart. I told my grandmother that she should get it for her. Tanya did find comfort in that gift.
I have had 2 c-sections before, and could barley walk for a week, but that night, she went home. Wow. The next few days were really hard. I had a large family to take care of but could only sit and think of how much I had just gone though. I didn’t hold him in my body, but I had such hope of having our babies together, and felt like I had really walked with Tanya though all of this, even helping with decisions but now, it was all gone. Tanya was surviving. Somehow, we both were.
Near the end of my pregnancy, part of my placenta was on my c-section scar and the doctors were afraid that if it got stuck after I had the baby, I could bleed -a lot. So, I was not afraid for my babies life, but for my own. Knowing everything my sister had gone through I felt I had reason to worry. But God comforted me in Deuteronomy 32:39 “See now that I myself am He, there is no God besides me, I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal and no one can deliver out of my hand” Now I knew that it was in Gods hands. Everything went well with me. I had a little girl, and that was better than having a boy for my sister’s sake. My daughter and Cameron were born 10 weeks apart to the day. I called Tanya, and we cried. We talked about when she might want to see her. I brought her over when she was 15 days old. Tanya had been at every one of my other births, now it was different. We cried, but she held her.
We live in the same neighborhood now, her son asks to come over all the time. She can talk to me about her feelings about Cameron, deeper than she can with anyone else. We went though this together, we will heal together.
I hope this story will help encourage someone else. I have pictures up of Cameron, I talk about him to my children, and bring him up to Tanya. I miss him, I pray she will have another chance, another chance to have a healthy normal baby to raise, hold, and love. I pray that we will both have more children, so we can nurse together, and share our baby clothes again. The verse on that angel? Its on the back of Cameron’s tomb stone, and a drawing of the angel is on the front. I hope Tanya can look back on this time and feel loved.