Posted by Cressie Baerg and Justina Oldehoff on 4/19/2019 to Parent Stories
We have recently added preemie stories to our Blog, to help bridge the gap between preemie parents currently going through the NICU experience, with those who have gone before. We hope that walking the path with someone that has gone before will be helpful and encouraging.
About a month or so ago, I came across a preemie story of a different kind. It was inspiring in a whole different way. It is the kind of story none of us want to share or experience. It is the story of a parent who lost their child after only a few days of life. I can hardly imagine the pain that a loss like this brings! Most of us would climb into our hole of grief, hoping that someday we might be able to climb out of it. Instead of climbing down into that big hole, Justina and her husband have begun to fight for other parents experiencing this same pain. Please don't get me wrong, the pain is very real for them, but by sharing their journey, they are hoping to help other parents. A lesson we have seen in regards to social media is that when people show their frailties and the reality of life's challenges, it is incredibly liberating to others. For so long I think we all felt like we had to hide our "weakness" or struggles from others, but I am glad we are recognizing that by sharing it is helping so many people. So with these thoughts in mind, they have they started Carter's Cause.
We're on a mission to provide comfort and support to those going through one of life's most unimaginable events.
Through Carter's story, we'll provide resources to guide parents grieving from infant loss, parents living the NICU journey, as well as the family and friends who form their support group.
We'll share tools to help everyone - parents, extended family, friends, and the world.
Justina has been blogging about the experience and this journey. She has graciously given us permission to share her story:
Dan and I have been married for almost 10 years. 2018 was quite the year for us. We moved from Florida to Colorado, wonderful new jobs, found out I was pregnant and bought a house. The day we found out I was pregnant was the best day of our lives. It was an unexpected miracle. We spent the first trimester on pins and needles as we were so worried something would happen. Aside from being sick most days for the first 19 weeks, the pregnancy was perfect. Then we found out it’s a boy! We were on cloud nine and so excited for his arrival – May 11, 2019.
On January 18th, 2019 at 23 weeks and 6 days, our world went spiraling out of control. I called Dan at 11 am telling him I was going to the doctor because of increased fluid. “Drive safe, don’t rush,” I said to him thinking everything was going to be okay. The doctor examined me; things seemed to be fine as we headed into the ultrasound room. The tech put ultrasound on my stomach – I immediately smiled ear to ear. There’s my perfect boy. “Do you want to hear his heartbeat?” Of course I do, now more than ever. He covered his face as he has done the last two ultrasounds, moving around, and fluids were great. The doctor and the tech looked at each other, said something I didn’t quite get and decided to do a vaginal ultrasound. I’ll never forget the look on my doctor’s face. She put her head down, looked over at me, “Justina, everything is going to be okay, we need to get you to the hospital immediately. You’re 3 centimeters dilated”. Chaos broke as Dan walked in the door. Our world came crashing down.
I was rushed to the hospital, the contractions started and they prepared me for labor. Words can’t explain the overwhelming emotions and thoughts we were experiencing. They were able to delay the labor with Magnesium, I would be on bed rest until I gave birth to him which could be in an hour or in weeks.
We got through the first 72 hours. It had been the most emotional 72 hours of our lives, and then the contractions started again. I was 9 centimeters dilated; he was coming whether we wanted him to or not.
On January 21st, 2019 at 9:06pm, our son Carter Moore Oldehoff was born. He was a micro preemie at 24 weeks and 2 days, weighing 1 pound 8 ounces and 12 1/4? long. The birth of our son was supposed to be an exciting and amazing moment, but Carter was born fighting for his life. Carter was so strong and fought a hard battle. After 74 hours in the NICU, he couldn’t fight any longer. Carter Moore took his last breath in his dad’s arms on January 24th, 2019 at 11:22pm.
Words cannot begin to explain the pain we are going through. Parents are not supposed to lose their child. He was our perfect miracle and our miracle was taken from us. Carter may have only been on this earth for 74 hours, but he touched so many lives. We have only just begun the grieving process and the journey to find our “new normal”. We want to share our journey and Carter’s story with you.
We love the fact that Carter is living on through the work his parents are doing. We learn through these types of experience the true meaning of the term "new normal". We understand our world will never entirely be the same as it was before. We need to walk the road of grief and figure out what it will look like at the end. It is so beneficial to have resources and the encouragement of other parents that have gone through the grief of losing a baby.
If you or someone you know is going through a similar experience, or if you would like to help support this amazing effort, please encourage them to reach out to Justine at www.carterscause.org
Thank you, Carter, for sharing your parents with all of us,