When we found out that I was pregnant for our Theodore, I was almost six weeks pregnant. That is actually comical, because our first son, Maxwell, is an infertility baby. When Max was in utero, we knew how old he was down to the very minute. Theo was a surprise. The surprise we had no idea we needed. To say we were excited, nervous, thrilled, and terrified was an absolute understatement. We had a complicated delivery with Max in 2015. Theo was going to be a scheduled c-section. Our boys were going to be twenty months apart to the day. We joked about how close they would be. As the weeks passed, the idea of having boys twenty months apart grew on us. And just like that, we fell in love with the idea. At the start of 2015, we did not know if biological children were in our future. When we closed out 2016, we had a fourteen-month-old son and were twelve weeks pregnant with our second baby boy. I have goosebumps as I type this because we were so utterly thrilled, and truly, we had no idea how good we had it. While we are aware of the numerous complications that can occur during pregnancy, the idea of losing Theo was not within the realm of possibility.
We are very Catholic and believe that life begins at conception. But in the six months since we lost Theo, I have spent a great deal of time wondering at what point did we picture him as part of the family. It was not when the test first came back as "pregnant." And I do not know if it was even when we saw his perfect little heart beating for the first time or when we found out that he was a boy. But there had to have been a minute or day where we were so 100% invested in him that we did not only picture him at delivery and at Christmas, but we pictured him in the years to come. We pictured our boys at T-ball games, First Holy Communions, Homecomings, and even at church on Sundays. Theo became part of the fabric of our family. He is part of our very being.
The Sunday before we delivered Theodore, I had a few contractions. We called all of the right doctors and followed all of the right steps. It was believed that I was a bit dehydrated. So I put my feet up, much to our active little toddler's dismay, and drank as much water as I could. When I woke up on Monday morning, I was tired from the weekend but the contractions had subsided. I was still very pregnant. We thought we had made it out of the woods. But something was not right, and my mama heart knew it. When I was examined at the emergency room, the attending physician took off her gloves and whispered to a nurse. And from that very moment, we knew it was over. I was suffering from either incompetent cervix or preterm labor. We will never know which. I had no measurable cervix and my water was broken. I would deliver the baby within the next few hours. At only nineteen weeks and two days, our precious Theodore was too tiny to survive outside of the comfort of my womb.
Over the next couple of hours, we felt him kick and move around in my belly in complete agony. Theo was perfectly healthy, but my body had failed him. We prayed and prayed, but there was nothing we could do. There was nothing anyone could do. Theo came to us as a surprise and would leave us as a surprise. We endured a pretty eventful and painful labor and delivery despite being only halfway through the pregnancy. On February 14, 2017, Theo was born at 3:08 a.m., was quickly handed to his daddy, and went to be with Jesus at 3:11 a.m. We held him, kissed him, and tried to memorize every single feature. He had his daddy's toes and his big brother's bottom lip. He was everything we did not know we needed.
From 3:08 a.m. on, time blurred. I do not remember when we last slept and I am not sure if we have truly slept since. We remained in the hospital for a couple of days then buried Theo in the tomb that Quinton and I will one day inhabit together. Within twenty-four hours of losing Theo, our phones were ringing. Reecie Gilmore with Maddie's Footprints knew we did not want to answer the phone, but also knew that we needed to. When I finally answered the phone, I told Reecie that I just could not talk to her. She replied, "I have buried a child, too. Whenever you are ready, we are here." And they have been here for us from that moment on. Maddie's Footprints provided financial assistance for Theo's funeral and has literally carried us over the last six months. We have met friends that are in the trenches with us. Sometimes, our Maddie's friends are the only ones we are comfortable being around. These strangers became family the second we knew our sweet baby boy was not going to survive. Our Maddie's friends understand that the grocery store is hard because everyone there is pregnant and I "should" be pregnant, too. They understand that our Theo due date, June 27, 2017, was almost as hard as the day we lost him. Our Maddie's friends have paved our way and, at the same time, are holding our hands as we go down these dark roads.
One of the hardest parts of losing Theo is that we also lost a part of ourselves. We are no longer the people we were on February 13, 2017. We have had to become acquainted, with the help of our Maddie's friends, with our new normal and our new selves. We know that Theodore was meant to be ours. He is the fourth member of our family and will always be part of everything we do. He is the cardinal in our backyard. He is the blue clouds that dot the sky during a sunset. He will be that first burst of cool air in the Fall. As I sit here six months after Theo, I am shocked that time has both stood still and that we have lived through six months without him. We may never know why Theo was meant to be ours, but we are sure blessed to have had something so wonderful to lose.