It’s hard to believe that 11 years ago today my son, Austin Joseph Hall, was born and passed away. Today I have a flood of emotions pouring out as they do each year and no way to stop them. My sweet baby boy who I miss so much that no words can express my hurt even to this day.
Today I want to share with you a little more of his story, and mine – a mother who grieves over her child.
I woke up on Sunday, April 3, 2005, feeling not quite right. My daughter had a friend over who had spent the night and I made the girls pancakes for breakfast. I told her I was going to go lay down for a bit to see if I could feel better. About 2 hours later, I used the bathroom and saw just a very faint hint of pink on the toilet paper. I decided to call my doctor’s office. I was told I probably had a kidney or bladder infection and to come to the hospital to get checked.
My husband was in New York at the time (about 2 hours away) so I called my grandparents to come and drive me since I still was not feeling very well. We drove to the local hospital where I was taken to a room on the OB floor and they took a urine sample. I laid in bed to wait for the results, with my grandmother by my side. The doctor came in and said that nothing was coming up on the tests but I had started to feel even worse than when I arrived. So, they hooked me up to a bunch of monitors.
The next words my doctor spoke were ones I never thought I would hear —> “You are in labor”.
I remember my grandmother’s face turning white at hearing this news. I called to try to reach my husband with no luck so I called his mother to find him and get him to me. How could this be – I was only 23 weeks into my pregnancy.
I was immediately started on an IV with magnesium to try to stop the labor. A few hours went by and my husband arrived. The IV was not helping to stop the progression of my labor. We were told that I was going to be life flighted to a high level NICU hospital about 2 hours away and my husband would have to meet me there. He made calls to family and we waited for updates on the transfer. About an hour later we were informed that because of foggy conditions and poor visibility I was going to be transferred by ambulance and the nurse made arrangements for my husband to travel with me.
I only remember sporadic parts of the next few days of my life. There are huge gaps in time that simply are gone (I have since learned that is part of my PTSD – memory gaps of the experience).
I remember being on the ambulance and begging the nurse for more pain medications as the contractions gotten progressively worse. I vaguely remember arriving at the NICU unit and being asked a bunch of question but not really remembering what they were asking me as they wheeled me to my room. The next thing I remember is a team of doctors telling us the survival rates for a child born at 23 weeks and asking us what interventions we wished to have should they not be able to stop the labor. I remember telling them that they were to do anything and everything to make sure my son was going to be ok.
The next thing I remember is waking up in a delivery room. I learned later that the magnesium was causing my lungs to fill with fluids – I was suffocating to death. So my family had to make a call to take me off the only medication that could stop the labor. I was trying not to move in my bed thinking if I stayed very still I could hang on to him just a bit longer. Every day, every hour, every minute, every second counted to saving my son’s life. But no matter how hard I tried to keep still, I felt my water break.
Austin Joseph Hall entered the world at 6:26 am on April 5, 2005. I heard him cry one very small cry and watched as the doctor whisked him to the other side of the room where they were prepared to take care of him. No one in the room would come and tell me what had happened. But I knew when I saw my husband walk to the corner of the room and sit down and bury his face in his hands. Austin passed away 26 minutes after his birth at 6:52 am. He was born at 23 1/2 weeks weighing only 1 lb 2 ounces and 12 1/2 inches long – his lungs were just not ready. I could not save my son and neither could the doctors.
After I was taken in for surgery and woke up from the anesthesia I held my son in my arms. Although he was already with the Lord he was placed in my arms. I remember looking down at him and seeing how absolutely perfect every detail of him was – all 10 fingers, all 10 toes, his nose had the same features as his older sister… my perfect child – who would stay that way forever. Our nurse, Vicky, took photos of him and got his footprints. We were given a memory box filled with items from his birth – a blanket, a cap, a very tiny teddy bear, the measuring tape they used to measure him….
Two days later I would leave the hospital with no child in my arms. It was the beginning of the most excruciating and heartbreaking times of my life. It was the beginning of my emotional turmoil and my weight issues. It would start off years of comfort eating, or at times not eating at all. This is where my journey of a higher purpose, a bigger faith and my mission to help others while helping myself all began….