Cain's Story

In April of 2011, my husband and I discovered we were expecting our second son, Cain. Because we weren't planning this pregnancy as we did with our first child, Cooper, we were a little shocked, but still happy.  However, when our 12 week ultrasound indicated a high nuchal transculency and a cystic hygroma (a fluid filled sac) on Cain's neck, the doctors were concerned that Cain might have a genetic disorder.  Our happiness soon shifted to constant worry.  We opted to do chorionic villus sampling (CVS) to determine if we were at a higher risk. We were elated when the results came back normal, and somehow thought we would be in the clear. Little did we know the trials that lay ahead for our family.

Over the course of the next several months, we continued to see maternal fetal specialists. We were then routed to a pediatric cardiologist to ensure that Cain's issues were not stemming from problems with his heart. After several appointments and more ultrasounds, we were given another thumbs up. The ultrasounds on Cain's heart all indicated his heart was in perfect working order. Again, wonderful news.

However, in the passing weeks, something just didn't feel right to me. I had noticed an increase in my size. I know what you are thinking. You are supposed to gain weight when you are pregnant! But it wasn't just that. Despite my husband telling me that I looked fine, I felt like I was 8 months along and ready to give birth. I started comparing pictures to when I was pregnant with my first child. I was noticeably bigger, but I chalked it up to this being my second pregnancy. After all, I had always heard things are different the second time around.

At my routine 27 week checkup, I went into the doctor all set for my gestational diabetes test. When I left my OB, I was sent directly to a specialist, and from the specialist, directly to the hospital. I was told not to go home. Not to stop for food or gas or anything else I might possibly need.  To go directly to the hospital and check myself in. I was suffering from polyhydramnios (too much fluid) which is usually and indicator that something is wrong with the baby. My fluid was measuring at 36 which was considered extremely high.  Because of the additional weight,  I had already dilated 2 centimeters and was 90% effaced. This meant hospital bed rest for me until Cain's arrival.

Over the course of the next several weeks, I continued to have ultrasounds, almost daily, which ensured that Cain was growing and his cystic hygroma had resolved itself. However, the doctors remained concerned with his digestive tract, saying that his stomach was not as large as it should be. He was also suffering from edema, or swelling of the skin.  And my fluid was still increasing, reaching 46 at its highest. The next day, the doctors agreed  to do a therapeutic amnio to relieve some of the pressure the fluid was causing.  That was September 29th.

On September 30th at 5:30 a.m., I awoke to slight contractions. This wasn't anything abnormal for me considering the additional weight caused by the fluid. However, within the next 30 minutes, I knew these were different.Within the hour, I was moved to Labor and Delivery in an effort to try to stop the rapidly progressing contractions.  After several hours of magnesium sulfate, it was evident the contractions were not stopping, and that Cain was on his way.  I was terrified. Not only was I worried about my unborn son's health issues, but my blood pressure was bottoming out.  Everything was so different from my first delivery.  I honestly kept thinking, "What if I don't make it? What if I never see Coop or Ben or Cain?"  I just kept praying for God to keep us all safe.  I finally was stable enough to go to the OR.

Cain at birth
At 1:08 p.m. on that Friday, Cain arrived - this beautiful little boy who looked so much like his big brother.  Instantly, I knew something was wrong.  He wasn't crying, and he was barely moving. The panic immediately set in. My doctor told me that he was not going to tie my tubes as I had requested because Cain wasn't stable.  I began to prepare myself for the worst while still hoping and praying to God that Cain would be okay. I looked to Ben to ask why he wasn’t crying. He didn’t know either. I can only remember saying, “Please God” about a hundred times. “Please God, let him be okay. Let him be okay.”  I could see about 10 people working on Cain, and I knew that wasn’t a good sign. Still I prayed.  As they wheeled me to recovery, I knew things weren’t good.  I was afraid of what they were about to tell me. I was in fog.  The NICU nurse came to get Ben, so he could go see Cain.  They were back so soon, and I could tell that the news I was about to hear would rip my heart out.  It did. As I looked to Ben hoping to find some contradiction in his expression, I found none. Instead, he started to cry. The man I never saw cry looked terrified, and his expressions were matched by mine.  The nurse explained they were continuing CPR at the moment, but that it was hopeless. They were doing it in an effort to keep Cain alive so I could see him.

The nurses sped down the halls with me on the stretcher, Ben following close behind. Their only mission was to get us to our son.  As I came through the doors of the NICU, I saw him, our precious baby that we had to meet and say goodbye to in the same instant, the brother we had prepared our son for over the past 7 months.  Now everything came down to this moment, the moment I had dreaded from the time we first thought something might be wrong.  He looked perfect. Absolutely and utterly perfect.  His problems present within his tiny body were not reflected in his beautiful face and body.  And all I could say, "I love you. We love you. Coop, your brother, loves you.  I am so sorry that I let you down.  And I promise I will see you again someday.  I'll do whatever it takes, and I'll see you again someday."  And as Ben and I held our son, we cried. For all we were losing, for all that we had hoped, for all that might have been. And we said goodbye and placed our son in God's eternal hands.

Moments later, we asked Mishella, one of the hospital chaplains and a huge part of my support system over the past few weeks  in the hospital, to baptize Cain. She had prayed with me earlier when Ben was taken to NICU to see Cain, and now, she prayed with us, and read the 23rd Psalm as we released Cain's soul to our heavenly Father.

Cain's Memorial Candle
We later found out that Cain suffered from a rare congenital malformation known as tracheal atresia. The chances of survival with this are slim, and unfortunately, or son did not win his earthly battle.  However, Cain has touched my life in a way that no one else has. He has taught me how precious life is, and most importantly, how imperative it is to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I know my son is in heaven. And that makes heaven all the more precious. I know I will see him again one day. Until then, I wait with an eager heart and aching arms, and know that God holds my son. 

Mischella & Me

“Most Days and Every Day”
For Cain

Most days my arms just ache to hold you, ache like I’ve never known them to before, almost as if they are sore from a heaviness they bore only briefly, no more.

Most days I only want to brush that soft dark hair away from your furrowed little brow,
and say, “Hush, now. Hush, now.”

Most days, I long to plant a kiss on your check or your hand or your foot or your nose.
 It wouldn’t matter where, just really anywhere, I suppose.

Most days I want to rock you while I hum some redundant lullaby, and calm the cries that awaken you in the night.

Most days, like now, I wonder what milestones you would have seen, and how big you would be. Would you look like your brother, maybe even me?

Most days, your picture brings happiness and pain, but I can’t put it away – no, not today. Today there is no question. Today, it must stay.

Most days, I remind your brother about you because he’s young and I don’t want him to forget. He knows you’re in heaven, but honestly, I know he doesn’t get it – no, not yet.

Most days, even when it’s sunny, there’s still a cloud because you are gone. And even now “gone” seems so foreign because it means you are not home.

Most days, the tears come at the most unexpected times, when I am typing a letter, or putting on my glasses, I’ll think of you, and instantly, around me, my world comes crashing.

Most days, I wish I could have held you just a little longer before I was forced to say goodbye, but even now, I know, I would have only cried - more.

Most days, I remember the strength in your kicks, how you’d wake me in the night, how you fought sleep like your brother does still now, every night.

Most days, yes every day, I know I’ll never forget, our brief time together, the days not spent.