December 28 of 2011 my husband and I were blessed with a beautiful healthy baby girl, Marlaina. She immediately became my entire world, my little mini me, my best friend. My husband fell in love the minute he saw her, but between you and me he was dying for a boy. When they told us she was a "she", his face turned a shade of pale I've never seen. Since then, she has brought nothing but joy to our lives.
Almost exactly a year later, we found out we were expecting another little miracle. We were overcome with excitement sitting on the toilet reading our positive result over and over. Little did I know, this pregnancy would be nothing like carrying my little girl.
Morning, afternoon, and night sickness kicked in early. My husband, Rob, was working eighty hour weeks at the time, so I spent many nights alone in my bathroom violently getting sick while Marla slept in her room. I couldn't even hold down my prenatals. At a 12 week check up appt, I had actually lost weight, but the baby seemed to be doing well, so no one was concerned. Shortly after I put on my little girl's first birthday party in February, (we had it late because of holidays), I began having dreams of giving birth to a tiny baby boy at 20 weeks, dead. I remember having a girl's night with my mom and sisters in law and telling them I just felt empty. I wasn't feeling movement anymore, I was depressed, and I just didn't "feel pregnant". Assuming it was just hormones, I shrugged it off and prepared excitedly for our 18 week appt to hear what we were expecting. I just knew it was a boy! Anticipation knotted our stomaches as the sonographer studied our precious baby's picture on the screen. "Tiffany, have you experienced any abnormal bleeding lately?".... No. This question didn't alarm me. They always ask that. "But I haven't been feeling movement. Is that normal? I was feeling him a few weeks ago.".... Silence.... She didn't answer. I thought she was just being rude because my husband and I were complaining of the long office wait. "Let m go get the doctor. I'm having trouble determining the sex for some reason. Maybe he can help."
Twenty long minutes went by. I didn't even think anything was wrong. I couldn't believe they were making us wait again... "Babe, what is up with this freakin' place today?"
Twenty-five minutes...The door opens to the most awkward doctor face I have ever seen.
"This baby's heart has stopped beating". No one even told us this baby was that boy we prayed for.
This must be a joke. This wouldn't happen to me. Not someone of my faith and love in God. Not someone who loves her babies so much. Not someone who would die in an instant for her children's happiness. We were led through the back of the office so no one could see our pain and devistation. We were given two options - Abort this baby or go into labor and birth him. Labor it was.
On April 1, 2013 I painfully delivered the tiniest little human I have ever seen. My daughter was a planned C section so I never had contractions or even felt my water break. I kept asking the doctor if it would hurt but no pain he described accurately fit the pain me and my husband endured that day. After our precious son came out, the nurse went to bathe him and the doctor proceeded the scrape my out my placenta that was still stuck to my uterine wall. God bless my husband, who was stronger than a soldier holding my hand so tight my wedding ring was digging into my other finger so bad I had to tell him to let go. I have never seen that much blood in my life, not even in the movies. I could not have done that without Rob that day. Carrying my dead son inside of me for three days before was the most empty and lonely feeling I will probably ever know.
Nathaniel David Neroni (Meaning God's Beloved Gift) was weighed in at 6.4 ounces in his blanket. They determined he had passed away at 14 weeks, so he was absorbing fluid inside of me for a month, leaving him very grey looking and with hands and feet that looked more like fins instead of fingers and toes. He was beautiful. A teeny nose, itty bitty ear buds, and little eyes that I swear were full of more life then I have seen in anyone's eyes on this earth. My baby was with Jesus. We did what any parent would - we rocked him and cuddled him and prayed over him. We told him how much we would miss him and how strong he was. We told him how much we love and and that Jesus loves him even more. We told him we couldn't wait to meet him in Heaven.
Jesus is the only reason why I could smile that day, holding my lifeless son. I will never forget the peace that filled that hospital room. I will never forget the warmth of the presence of God that ran all over the walls and floor of that tiny room and into the hearts of every person there. During our last minutes in the hospital, my husband went to fill our cremation paperwork and I spent some time alone with Nathaniel. I didn't speak. I don't even think I breathed. Tears streaming silently down my face as I looked into my little boys eyes, I faintly heard the laughter of a little child. My boy. My boy was telling his mommy he really was okay. I will never forget that sound, and I will hear it again someday.
For now, Nathaniel's remains are tucked in a little cannister in our bedroom with a teddybear. We keep his blanket and hat in a little blue box the hospital gave us. More important than either of those, we keep our little boy tucked away in our hearts. His image is burned into a special place in my memory that will never go away. New York State says that babies aren't considered a "human life" until 24 weeks gestation. We left the hospital without a birth or death certificate, but that means nothing. Nathaniel taught me what life really is. I will continue to share his legacy and the profound impact he had on me and my husband. It may be taboo to share about these little lifeless bodies in today's society, but these babies deserve to be cherished and remembered daily. We shouldn'tpush them to the back of our minds to collect dust. God brought my teeny tiny son to this earth to teach me the most profound lesson I will ever learn - On this earth I have nothing, but in Christ Jesus I have everything, including my son.
I love you, Nathaniel.