Zachary Conner: Born After Death

Almost 11 years ago, I wrote these words that remain etched in my heart. Time has dulled the pain, and the memory of those difficult days… (The unedited version can be found at my blog.)

These past days have been the hardest of my life. Tuesday night, just before bed, I experienced what I now recognize as a contraction. My stomach tightened and I felt a slight cramp, a signal that something was amiss. With no clear options, we went to bed, preparing for our appointment the next morning.

In my prayers that night, I implored God for kindness, either granting us a healthy baby or sparing us false hope. Tyler and I entered our appointment on Wednesday with knots in our stomachs and fear in our hearts.

Our doctor called us in and we discussed our concerns before she used a Doppler to listen for the heartbeat. Mine was pounding so loudly that even if there was a heartbeat, it would have been overshadowed. Sadly, no fetal heartbeat echoed in that room.

The portable ultrasound confirmed what we feared – our first child was no longer with us.

We spoke to many doctors over those few short hours, and we were shuffled from room to room. Despite the grim situation, everyone showed us extraordinary kindness and compassion. We received some initial results from the amniocentesis – thankfully, no chromosomal abnormalities were found so far, a hopeful sign for future pregnancies. But now, we faced difficult decisions for our son.

Following our preliminary result discussion, I was taken to another room for a procedure to assist with dilation. However, my body had other plans, and my water broke, hastening our journey to the hospital to begin the induction process. We were woefully unprepared for this. I hadn’t even reached the labor part in my books and didn’t know how I would cope with delivery.

As we made our way to the hospital, we made a stop at our house to pick up a few random items and care for our pets. Arriving at Overlake Hospital around 2ish, we were swiftly ushered to our room. Since everyone aimed to deliver on 11/11/11, we were the primary focus of Labor & Delivery for a significant part of the day, and the attentive nurses made us feel like a priority.

At about 2:30 pm, the induction process commenced with Cytotec. I had what they termed an “irritable uterus,” experiencing numerous tiny contractions all at once, making me slightly crampy but providing little assistance in the overall process. Until that moment, I had no idea what a contraction truly felt like, prompting me to wonder how many times I’d mistaken crampiness for contractions.

As we waited for progress, Tyler and I faced a significant decision: choosing a name for our son. We had a shortlist of names, but we wanted a name with special meaning. Discovering that Zachary meant “The Lord Remembers,” the decision was made. We were relieved to have thoughtfully chosen a name that would forever honor our son’s memory.

The contractions began to intensify after 12 hours. Eventually, at 3 am, I was given another dose of Cytotec, and my contractions became more regular and painful, despite not appearing so on the monitor. Wanting to get some rest after an arduous day, I received a dose of Morphine. Sadly, it made me sick, leaving me unable to sleep.

After about an hour and a half of regular contractions, I was given the go-ahead to push if I felt ready. It only took one push, and with determination, our beautiful baby boy arrived. Tyler cut the cord, and our precious Zachary Conner was placed on my chest.

He was born at 5:53 am on 11/10/11, measuring 10.75″ long and weighing 1 pound 7.5 ounces. He was perfect.

born still

Proud parents of Zachary Conner (photo by NILMDTS)

sleeping baby

Sleeping peacefully with Zachary – our nurse was so sweet to capture the moment

After a moment of welcome into the world, I had to deliver the placenta, which took more time than expected. My doctor was astounded because the placenta was the size of a full-term pregnancy, clearly an alarming sign.

By 6:30 am, we had finished the delivery. Shortly after, we had Zachary baptized, and then spent precious moments with him. We cuddled, kissed, and held him, cherishing every fleeting second. After breakfast, a photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep arrived to take professional photos of Zachary. The photographer, Vicki, was incredible, capturing our little angel perfectly.

zcf feet

The most perfect little feet I’ve ever seen (captured by NILMDTS photographer Vicki)

My sister-in-law, Katie, and mother-in-law, Suzi, came to the hospital to visit and meet Zachary. It meant a lot to us that they held and loved him. Later in the afternoon, after much more snuggling with our son, Tony and Jess came to visit as well. We’ve received an incredible amount of love and support from all our friends, family, and co-workers, and it means the world to us.

Our doctor, Dr. Judith Lacy, was amazing throughout those two days. If anyone in the Seattle area needs a compassionate OBGYN, I cannot recommend her enough. Tyler and I knew we were in the very best care, and she checked on us multiple times throughout the night, even though that was above and beyond her call of duty. The compassion and thoughtfulness of all the hospital staff truly blew me away. The nurses we had – Candy, Mary, Laura, Linda, and Cheryl – were all so extremely kind, and their care was a miracle that we will never forget.

After 11 glorious hours with our son, we were finally ready to go home. We packed up our belongings and the items we had received for Zachary, including a bunny from the photographer and the precious memory box from the hospital with his tiny hand and footprints on the cover, along with a beautiful blue knit blanket that he used all day, some gowns, a teddy bear, and a cap.

Once we were ready to leave, we called the nurse, and I was overwhelmed with emotion as the hardest part of the day arrived. It broke my heart to leave Zachary behind. It was then that I realized I had been in significant denial, thinking I’d be bringing our baby home. Nevertheless, Tyler and I bundled Zachary up and put him in the crib (for the first time since he was in our arms the whole day) and wheeled him to the nurses’ station, where he would be watched and cared for before being transported to Children’s Hospital for an autopsy by the best child/fetus pathologist.

On our way home, to top off the day, we were severely rear-ended. Tyler, Suzi, and I were all fine (as well as the woman who hit us), but our car took quite a beating. The woman (who was 74 years old) came over to our car and started talking about how she was so sorry, but she should not have been driving. Thank goodness we were able to drive home in our banged-up car, although the frame was significantly damaged. The passenger-side doors were hard to open, and once opened, they would not close, and the trunk (which was so convenient) would not open at all, making unpacking a true chore. So now, we have the additional task of dealing with the car and insurance, but that’s a secondary priority.

When we arrived home, we were greeted by a sweet banner made by Katie, Brandon, Marlee, Carmen, and Rogan. Upon entering the house, we were further welcomed by beautiful flower and fruit arrangements (which became my dinner) from friends and co-workers. Throughout the evening, more flower deliveries arrived. It was so special and meant so much.

Friday was a blur, but we spent time with Tyler’s family, relaxing, reminiscing, and looking at all the photos we took, along with the three professional photos that Vicki rush-edited for us. The night was hard, but we had Zachary with us through memory and his blankets and bear that we could snuggle with. I fell asleep with his perfect face and button nose in my mind. I woke up only once and was worried I was squishing Zachary – a very strange thought as it was just his blanket in bed with us.

We went to the funeral home to set up the final arrangements for Zachary’s remains. We also want to visit some jewelry stores to pick out rings to commemorate Zachary’s birth.

The upcoming days, weeks, and months will be hard, but Tyler and I will get through it together. We will become stronger because we have this unshakable bond that no one will ever fully understand. After this week, Tyler and I are confident that we can survive anything as long as we are together and have the support of our loving and gracious family and friends.

We have so much to look forward to and are staying positive. Of course, we will need much time to heal, physically, mentally, and emotionally, but we have each other and Zachary watching over us. Zachary’s memory will never be forgotten, and he will be with us every single day of our lives.

Rest in peace, baby boy. Your mommy and daddy love and miss you very, very much.

The content of this post was created by the author. Any viewpoints or opinions expressed are exclusively those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the perspectives or opinions of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.

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