Sunday, December 26, 2010

We made it through Christmas!


As Christmas came closer and closer, so did the tears over missing our Everett. This would have been his first Christmas and he would have been four and a half months old, doing so many new things.


We went to our Church's Christmas Eve service Friday afternoon, the children's one. It was nice and I am glad we did not go to the candle light service we usually attend as I could barely handle the children's one. I think I cried throughout 2/3 of the service. Lilli liked listening to the music and trying to sing along to Christmas songs. Then we headed out to the cemetery to bring Everett his Christmas stocking and toys. Nanny and Deda (Dave's parents) had left a beautiful ornament for him and a Christmas flag. Dave made a stake to put in the ground below the wall Everett is in and we hung his stocking up on that. Nana and Papa (my parents) sent a little car for him to have and Lilli placed that out for him. Lilli protested at first and wanted to take the car back with her stating Everett didn't need it. It's hard to explain to a three year old that it's more of a symbol of others remembering him at Christmas time. We made sure to let her know that we would come back and bring it home and she could play with it then. She does a really good job taking care of Everett's other items, like his baby blankets and puppy dog we had gotten for him before he was born. I know she will take extra special care of his car too.


Dave's parents came over after we left the cemetery for dinner and gift exchanging. It was nice to visit with them and see Lilli's excitement over opening her new baby doll, Lulu. Christmas Eve night felt different this year. I didn't feel excited with anticipation for Christmas morning, like I usually do and I didn't sleep particularly well, neither did Dave. Morning came soon enough and I actually had to wake Lilli up to get things going. She carefully opened each present, taking a half hour to get the packages open. I'm guessing she will work on her speed next year! We spent the day doing absolutely nothing. Just playing with new toys, watching movies and we all took a nap.


Now just New Years to get through and hopefully a good start into 2011.

~Steph

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Surviving the Holidays and something positive...

Starting with the positive first, today we confirmed the location and date for Run 4 Everett. It will be held on August 20, 2011 in Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park. We have a shelter reserved where people can gather before or after the race and will have some "health fair" type information available for the public. We were told we needed to have the date nailed down before Christmas and I wasn't sure that was going to happen, but with a little persistence it got done! And the people with the State Park were great!

Now with the not so positive: I will be so glad to get through the next week and half and be done with 2010. Not that every bad thing will just magically go away when 2010 ends, but to have an unbelievably crappy year behind me is so important in moving forward.

My emotions seem to get the best of me more often than not lately, and my fuse seems to get shorter and shorter. I can't help but feel anger and hurt that our little boy isn't snug in our home this Christmas. Really, it seems I'm just going through the motions of the holidays and hoping that each day passes quicker than the last. Decorating the tree went well until Dave pulled out an ornament that neither of us remembered getting. It is a little boy with reddish colored hair and blue eyes, about the age of 3 sitting inside a little blue airplane. Maybe my parents gave it to us in years past and it didn't really have any significant meaning until it was pulled out this year. I can't help but think of what Everett would be doing if he were at home with us this Christmas. The sparkle in his eyes at all the pretty lights... What color would those eyes have been, would they be blue like Lilli's, hazel like Dave's, or Brown like mine? We never got to see his eyes as he opened them for the first time in Heaven. I wonder if he has things to play with in Heaven, does he get to fly around in a little toy airplane, and do they have a special celebration up there for Jesus' birthday? I wonder if he knows how much his Mommy, Daddy and big sister love him and miss him... Whenever I ask myself that I feel in my heart he knows, that he felt how much he was loved when he was still alive inside me.

I bought him a little toy today (matchbox car), more of a token, from Dave, Lilli and I to take out to the cemetery. I placed it inside of his Christmas stocking which we found in our Christmas stuff as well. It's blue and says 'Baby's first Christmas' on it. We will leave that for him at the cemetery on Christmas Eve. Not where I pictured myself spending time on Christmas Eve this time last year.

Our Lilli has been key to getting through this Christmas season. This is really the first Christmas she has been "aware" of what is going on, loves looking at all the lights on people's homes, talks about Santa coming to our house and just has that magical sparkle in her eyes with all that goes on around her. She loves Menard's anyways, but it's even more special at Christmas with their enchanted forest. If it wasn't for her, I would be perfectly happy skipping Christmas altogether.

This holiday season for me, at least this year, is truly all about surviving each day the best that I can, making it through to the next one and hopefully coming out better at the end.

~Steph

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Our Story

As many of you visiting this site may know, Dave and I lost our son Everett Eric Ralich on August 10, 2010. He was delivered still on August 11, 2010 at 6:12am weighing in at 8 lbs, 1 oz and 22 inches long. Upon delivery it was discovered that Everett had a double nuchal cord (umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice) and it also had two true knots tied into it. We were told that he must have been very active early on in utero, and somehow got all tangled up in his umbilical cord. Maybe he was trying to be a runner like his daddy... I made it to 35 weeks and 6 days in my pregnancy at the point he died. This site is dedicated to our sons memory and the race we hope becomes an annual event to raise awareness about stillbirths.

As a former victim advocate, I feel the need to educate the public on this issue as it affects approximately 1 in 160 pregnancies according to the March of Dimes. This is higher than the incidence of many chromosomal abnormalities and birth defects. A stillbirth is categorized as any fetal death occurring after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Some of the causes of stillbirth vary, including birth defects, placental problems, poor fetal growth, infections, chronic health conditions in the pregnant woman, and umbilical cord accidents (which only occur in 2-4% of stillbirths).

Most women who experience a stillborn loss didn't have advanced testing in their pregnancy that could show something was wrong before it happened. This is why it's extremely important for all pregnant women to do kick counts starting at 24 weeks of pregnancy. This was not the case with us.

I started having non stress tests at 31 weeks (a little early) due to decreased baby movement. The very first test showed Everett's heart rate was not performing up to standards. A baby's heart rate in utero is supposed to fluctuate up to 15 beats above base line and back down and variate like this back and forth. During the majority of my non-stress tests Everett's heart would just stay at base line with some variation at times, but not up to the standards of the test. I ended up being in and out of the hospital a total of 8 times those last few weeks all with the same issues. I was admitted for a three day stay at 33.5 weeks with constant monitoring and injected with steroids to help develop Everett's lungs in case of an early delivery. I was sent home. Finally my OB stated I needed to be delivered and sent me to a high risk Dr. for a consult who stated our son's lungs weren't developed, without really knowing or checking, and that I shouldn't be delivered. I argued with her that I was very concerned about Everett and wasn't worried about the lung development issue, I just felt I needed to be delivered. More monitoring ensued, still unsatisfactory and getting worse, and I was again sent back to the high risk Dr. She finally agreed to do an amniocentesis to check lung maturity. Our results came back the best they had ever seen on August 10, 2010. I was finally going to be delivered. We were sent to check in at 5:30pm to the hospital that evening. I had a large movement in the lobby of the hospital. When we got up to my room the nurse put the Doppler on my belly and could not find a heart beat. She tried so hard to locate one and stay positive. I knew something was terribly wrong. My OB was called in and three ultrasounds later it was confirmed that Everett's heart was no longer beating. Words cannot describe the heart break and devastation we felt, and continue to feel.

In all the ultrasounds that we had, and there were a lot, it was never mentioned that our son's cord was wrapped around his neck, however this issue typically happens in 30% of all pregnancies and doesn't cause an issue. Research shows that a cord around the neck can be seen through ultrasound, but a cord knot can be obscured depending on where it is located on the cord. Research also shows that some stillbirths can be prevented. A lot of education still needs to be done within the medical community and public. A stillborn tragedy can happen to anyone!

Please stay tuned to future posts and updates on the progress of the race. We hope to have a date and location confirmed in the next few weeks.