Owen's Story (Part 5): Trigger Warning Pregnancy Loss, TFMR

We went back to the MFM office on Thursday for part two of the termination procedure. Using a speculum, they placed absorbent laminaria in my cervix to begin the dilation process. It was painful.

Afterwards, we went downtown to celebrate our anniversary a day early by getting chicken sandwiches at Pretty Bird and visiting Memory Grove--where we had our wedding reception. It was one of our last peaceful moments together as a family. In order to prepare for the termination surgery the next day, I wasn’t allowed to eat after midnight and I could only drink clear liquids up until 2 hours before the termination. I was upset that I couldn't feed and take care of my baby up until the procedure. We were both going into it hungry.  


I had a hard time sleeping that night and woke up the next morning in a daze. I took a shower and talked to Owen one last time, one on one. I told him that I loved him and that we always had wanted him. I told him how happy this pregnancy had made us and how much we would miss him. I told him that he would always be my first baby and I would always be his mama. I would make sure we told his siblings about him and that he would never be forgotten. I apologized to him for the decision we had to make and sang “Baby of Mine” to him one last time. As I got ready throughout the rest of the morning, I made sure I took notice of every kick he gave and looked at my baby bump each time I passed a mirror. Both would be gone by the end of the day. 

We finished getting ready 30 minutes before my parents would come to pick us up and take us to the hospital. We sat on our couch in silence, trying to wrap our heads around what was about to happen. My dad came to the door and asked if I was doing okay. I couldn’t get a sound to come out of my mouth, so I shook my head no and we hugged and cried together in the hallway before we walked down to the car. I was only allowed one visitor to come back to the surgery wing with me due to Covid precautions, so my parents waited in the lobby as Justin and I followed our nurse into our temporary room. Justin's parents were out of town. 

The nurses assigned to our team had all been made aware of why we were at the hospital. I gave them a burp cloth I had sewn for Owen and asked if they could send him away to the mortuary with it so he wouldn’t be sent there on his own without something from his parents. Their eyes filled with tears and there was a long pause. After an hour of waiting in our room, an IV was placed in my arm for the anesthesia. We were asked where we wanted his remains sent and signed mortuary paperwork. A nurse named Marisabel came in and gave me the pills I would need to take before surgery. She asked if we had any other children and we told her that Owen was our first. She stomped her foot on the ground in anger for us. Then she asked how many children we wanted. We told her 3. She said that we would definitely have our 3 children and that we would get to be parents some day. Once she left the room, it was time for us to head upstairs for the procedure. 

After going up one floor, I had to say goodbye to Justin. He wouldn’t be able to come into the operating room with me. I was actually happy that this was the case because I was worried that he would be traumatized by seeing and hearing what went on while I was under. The nurse pushed me further down the hallway, left me in a nook, and I waited for my turn to be operated on. I tried to say goodbye to Owen again, but all I could do was cry. The anesthesiologist stopped to talk with me and made sure I knew that I would be knocked-out for the whole procedure. He was going to make sure I wasn’t awake for any of it, which I really appreciated. After he left, I started to feel sick. I wasn’t sure if it was because they made me take 6 pills on an empty stomach or my nerves. A couple nurses had to run down the hallway and grab me a garbage bin to throw up in. The sound of it echoed in the hallway. Throwing up didn’t help much though, I still felt terrible. 

I noticed that one of my termination surgery nurses had an RBG head covering over her hair. I complimented her on it and she looked me in the eyes and said, “We gotta keep doing the good work.” I was grateful to have her on my team helping me and Owen--helping make my choice for my baby a possibility. 

Finally they wheeled me into the operating room and moved me onto the operating table. Ironically, my milk started to come in while I was on the table. There were two wet spots on my chest, and soon there wouldn’t be a baby in my belly to drink that milk. Before I knew it, I was out. 


I woke up an hour or so later in the recovery room. I couldn’t move my body, but I saw that my hands were on my belly, like they would have been if I was still pregnant with Owen. I’m not sure if the nurses placed my hands there for me or if I instinctively put them there as I was coming to. My belly felt different though. It wasn’t round and firm. It was deflated. I couldn’t feel my baby’s kicks or sense him in there at all. He was gone and I was alone. While I was waking up, our surgeon called Justin and told him everything went perfectly. They were able to clip Owen’s cord before he was taken out and the process was straight-forward with no complications. Justin met me back in one of the temporary rooms on the main floor of the hospital and fed me Lorna Doone cookies until I was coherent enough to stand up and walk around. They made me go to the bathroom to make sure my bladder was okay and then removed all the stickers and IV’s from my body. The anesthesiologist did a great job with whatever medications he gave me, because I was still pretty out of it for the rest of the time at the hospital and until we got home. 

By this point, my parents had been waiting in the lobby for 6 hours. One of our nurses helped us out to our car and we headed home. My parents asked if we wanted to grab something for dinner and I told them I wanted to go to Cafe Yugo. Their ramen was one of Owen’s favorite foods when I was pregnant with him. Back in my first trimester when I was so sick, Cafe Yugo ramen, McDonald’s french fries, clementines, and sour candies were my “safe” foods that wouldn’t make me sick. While we were waiting for our food to come out, the mortuary called me. They said they were about to pick up Owen’s remains from the hospital morgue and asked us for our baby boy’s name. I told them it was Owen Adams. They asked if he had a middle name and it was then that I realized we had never thought to give one to him. I guess it seemed strange to give one to him since he was so little when we lost him. 

My parents dropped us off at our apartment and I finally cracked. The haze I was in from the drugs was starting to wear off and I realized my baby was in a plastic box somewhere across the valley, alone and without me. He was gone and never coming back. Gone gone. I sobbed as I tried to eat my ramen. I didn’t want him to be without me or me without him. I wanted my baby. I wanted to hold him and love him. I wanted to walk into his nursery we had been preparing and see him quietly sleeping in his crib. However, the only evidence I had that Owen was ever in my body was the cluster of small stretch marks that started to develop on the left side of my stomach during my last few weeks with him. I walked over to our bedroom mirror and saw that I didn’t look like a pregnant mother anymore. I ran my hands over my belly, but nothing was there. I was able to bend over without problems and walk around without my pregnant waddle. It felt wrong. 

Justin wrote me a letter while I was in the operating room and shared it with me when we got home. I had forgotten that it was our anniversary. His letter read: 

Dear Alyson, 

With our five-year anniversary coinciding with the hardest day of our lives, I wanted to take this opportunity to make sure you know how much I love you. 

I thought I loved you when we got married 5 years ago. But that love is nothing compared to how I feel for you now, after everything we’ve gone through together. From late-night tears of sadness to crying from making each other laugh so hard. You’re truly the most amazing person and I can’t imagine anyone else I’d rather be with through the ups and downs of life. I’ve been so impressed with how strong you’ve been through this whole ordeal--even when you haven’t wanted to be. You’ve been such a good mother to Owen for these past months, and I have no doubt that you’ll be an absolutely amazing mother for other children down the road, whenever they may come. 

I’ve always said that everything happens for a reason, but that you get to decide what that reason is. My hope is that our reason for this will be a newfound and deeper appreciation for the life we have together--cherishing the good moments even more because we know how hard the bad times can be. And I know we have so MANY good moments ahead of us. And I can’t wait to see them with you. 

Happy (or not so happy) Anniversary!

Love, Justin

We woke up the next morning like it was any other morning. There was a lingering sadness, but we had made it through this experience together. Justin mentioned that maybe we were past our “loud” grieving (crying, sobbing, etc.) and into a quieter stage of grief. Justin called the mortuary and we scheduled a time on the following Tuesday to finalize our plans for Owen’s remains and to figure out where we would like his remains to be placed. The mortuary we decided on was at the same cemetery where many of our relatives were buried--Justin’s Grandpa John and Grandma Carolyn, my Grandma Kathie and Grandpa Dwight, my Aunt Celeste, my Uncle Eric, my Uncle Robert, my Grandma Joy, my Great-Grandma Margaret, my Great-Grandma Lida, my Great-Grandpa Ted, my Great-Great Grandma Catherine, and more. Even if Owen wasn’t going to be by our side, he would at least be close to other family members who had already passed on. In a way, the thought of that made our separation from him seem more bearable. Later in the day, we decided to post on social media and let our friends and family know that Owen was gone. We felt so much love and support that as we read through the comments that were left on our posts, we couldn’t help but cry. 

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