Owen's Story (Part 6): Trigger Warning Pregnancy Loss, TFMR

Sunday started off okay. We watched a new TV show we found on HBO Max called “Ghosts”, ate lunch—tried to stay emotionally afloat. About halfway through the day, I felt like I was drowning. I couldn’t stop thinking about Owen and how much I wanted him with us. I had a hard time speaking and moving. I tried to distract myself with my phone, putting up Halloween decorations, planning for Justin’s birthday in a month, writing lesson plans, and watching videos. I eventually made my way into Owen’s nursery and found some ultrasound pictures I had been meaning to frame and hang on our wall. As I put the pictures in the frame, the tears started to fall. I missed Owen. I missed my baby. After I hung the frame, I collapsed into the wall, sobbing. Justin held me until I was done crying. We also decided to put one of his 3D ultrasound pictures in a frame on our TV stand. It was the one where you could see him sucking on his little thumb. I loved that picture, it’s how I would always remember him. 


On Monday, we began scheduling appointments for the following week and sorting out billing. We found out that the procedure would cost $7,000 with the uninsured discounts the hospital gave us because our insurance (through the state of Utah) refused to cover the termination. I also made calls to get my therapy appointments for the next week pre-authorized by my insurance company and I scheduled a post-termination follow-up appointment with my OBGYN. The MFM office called to check in on me and so did our genetic counselor. It seemed like we were stuck in an endless loop of sending phone calls and receiving phone calls. I tried to go to Target to distract myself. It was the first time I had left the house alone since the termination. It was terrifying. I made it to the store and began looking around. In a way, it was nice to be in an area where no one knew who I was or what I was going through. It was nice to feel invisible. However,  I felt so fragile and vulnerable; I was afraid I would crack and have an emotional breakdown at any moment. I guess one thing I’ve learned about grief after losing Owen, is that grief is a lot like standing at the edge of the water on a beach. There are moments where you feel fine, like everything is okay. Your feet are dry and the water is receding. Then, the grief creeps back in and before you know it, the tide has brought the water up to your knees and it pushes you over. As I was looking through the clearance jewelry section at Target, I suddenly felt like I was drowning. I could hear babies crying, I saw parents holding baby boys, I walked by a baby onesie, and I instantly thought about my baby boy that was gone. I mindlessly wandered the store, lost in my emotions, trying to process how I was feeling. I wanted to hide in a rack of clothing and cry. 

You really never know what someone else is going through. Even if they’re out shopping at a Target, looking fine on the outside. 

Justin and I had made a list of activities we could do that would distract us during our 3 weeks at home. One of the activities we came up with was to recreate one of our first dates. We would make a blanket fort, order food, and watch some of our favorite Disney movies from when we were kids. We decided we wanted to do this after I got home from the store. Justin built the fort using sheets from our bed, we ordered Dominos, and watched Robin Hood. It was a good distraction from the sadness of the day. We talked about how we could make blanket forts and watch movies with our kids in the future. Owen wouldn’t be with us for that though. 


On Tuesday, we went to Wasatch Lawn to arrange for how Owen’s remains would be handled. My mom had done some research for us and found out they have a cremation garden that a lot of parents who have lost babies during their pregnancy or right after birth like to use. I didn’t want to wear maternity clothes to the appointment, so I tried on my jeans that I had bought right before I became pregnant with Owen. They fit perfectly. I couldn’t decide how I felt about it. On one hand I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to buy new clothing because of how much my body had changed during the pregnancy, but it was also depressing to realize that it was like my body had never been pregnant. When we got to the mortuary, we walked through the garden and saw all the tiny granite headstones. They were the perfect size for someone as tiny as Owen. It was hard to accept that one of those would be his in a few days. It felt strange to be only 26 years old and putting a baby in the ground. 

Most of the plots were already sold, so we chose one of the last available spots at the front of the garden. It was close to another baby who died on the day he was delivered. Jason, the man who was helping us, asked if Owen was our first baby. We told him he was. There was an awkward pause and we walked back to the mortuary in silence. They took us downstairs to discuss our options for Owen’s remains. Since he was so little and a baby, they cut a lot of the costs for us. We picked a bronze urn for his remains to be stored in and arranged for the burp cloth I sent him with to the mortuary to be wrapped around the urn once it was in the ceramic container under his little headstone. The funeral director, Greg, mentioned that after looking through Owen’s remains, they thought they found a foot and a hand that were still intact enough to be used to make prints with. I felt bad for the person who had to sort through his pieces to find them. We weren’t expecting to have anything like that from this pregnancy, so it was a small blessing to have that option. As terrible as it was to be at the mortuary, it was the only place we had been in the past few days where I was referred to as Owen’s mother. The mortuary employees referred to me as his mother, the paperwork had me listed as his mother, and I was able to sign documents as his mother. It was validating and comforting. I was his mother. I am his mother. He is my baby, my son, my child--even if he died before he could be born.  Everything I had done up until this point was because I was his mother. I would always be his and he would always be mine. 

After discussing costs and payments, we had to plan what we’d like his headstone plate to say. We decided on: 

Our first baby

Owen Adams

October 8, 2021

Since Owen didn’t have a death certificate, the mortuary offered to publish an obituary for Owen on their website that could be used in the future for genealogical purposes. It was nice to have something official that others could find that showed he had a life and existed, even if it was for a short time. A lot of what we wrote in the obituary came from my Sunday Facebook post, it read: 

We lost our sweet baby, Owen, on October 8, 2021. He was born with a rare genetic condition that's known as Thanatophoric Dysplasia Type 1 (lethal skeletal dysplasia). We didn't find out he had this condition until we were 21 weeks along and he passed away at 23 weeks. We loved him with all our hearts and will never forget the time that we had with him. He loved to suck his thumb, play with his umbilical cord, cross his legs, and was always so stubborn whenever we went in for ultrasounds. He'll always be part of us and our family--a big brother in heaven looking over his younger brothers and sisters. We are so happy to be your parents, Owen, and forever grateful for the 5 months we had with you. We can't wait for the day when we can see you again and hold you in our arms.


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