I have some tragic news to share. I have gone back and forth with the best way to do this for days now. I am absolutely NOT one of those people who feels the need to share personal information about themselves with everyone online. I don't post my whole life on Facebook, and especially since I became a writer, I make sure to always keep my personal life separate from my professional. But I've also developed friendships and connections with so many of you that the line became blurred. Through emails and private conversations, many of you have come to know me. And I've come to know many of you. And many of you knew I was pregnant. So, I want to share my news with you now.
Tyler Andrew Hildenbrand was born December 15 at 10am. When they pulled him out he wasn't breathing. They managed to resuscitate him after several long minutes and hurried him off to the NICU while they finished with me. Once I was in recovery (a small area resembling an emergency room cubby where you sit and let the drugs wear off until you can feel your body again) the doctor came down and explained the results of the tests they'd already done as a result of his struggle to breathe and lack of response after they'd brought him back.
Tyler was in heart failure. His heart was enlarged on both sides and so were the walls around his heart. As a result, it also wasn't pumping or squeezing correctly and he was unable to provide enough blood flow or oxygen to the rest of his organs. There was nothing to do but wait and see if he somehow stregnthened on his own. If he stabilized we were told he might be a candidate for a transplant or maybe a bypass procedure farther down the road but for now there was nothing they could do.
The next morning Tyler was transferred to the Children's Hospital at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. The hospital here disharged me, and my husband and I drove up. For the next four days we stayed with Tyler.
Tests were done and the staff there was amazing and devoted and honestly made me feel as comforted as possible in a situation like this. I could tell they really cared about Tyler and about us. Some of them became friends for life for me during those few days. But despite everything Tyler worsened. His heart just couldn't keep up. His organs began to shut down because they couldn't get enough blood. I won't go into much detail because I know it's hard to hear for some. Monday night we got the results from an EEG and learned there was little or no brain activity anymore.
Tyler passed away on Tuesday, December 20th at 3:45am. Both me and my husband were with him and he felt no pain.
It was both the worst and the best five days of my entire life. I am so lucky we got that time. We are grateful for every single day we got to spend holding him and talking to him. And we know he's in Heaven now, and that we will see him again. And that when we do meet again, he will be himself. He will be able to talk to me and walk and run and show me his life there. And I find myself impatient for that day.
I still can't believe this happened. We had no idea anything was wrong. All of the ultrasounds and tests, etc always looked normal. He appeared to be an active, healthy baby for my entire pregnancy. He just couldn't seem to handle being out in the world.
I've posted a picture below because the mother in me still wants to show him off. I know seeing the breathing tube, etc is scary but I don't even see that anymore. I only see him and he's gorgeous.
Here's the chair we sat in with him. They would tape the tubes and lines to our arms and the pillow so they wouldn't pull or hang while we sat. I'm staring up at the monitor that read out his vitals.
Tyler Andrew. One day old.
One of the main reasons I posted this was to avoid or head off all the questions that are starting to come in about 'how I'm feeling' or 'how the baby's doing'. I have no problem talking about him, or our ordeal for those five days. In fact, it's all I want to do because it makes him more real or seem closer somehow, now that he's gone, but I don't like having to break the news over and over so this post seemed the best way to get it out there to everyone at once and not have to re-tell the story over and over. Or to have to say the words "My baby died" even one more time. It's hard even when it's only written.
Also, I want to say a few thank-you's publicly. To Angeline Kace and Jennifer Sommersby- the best, most supportive long-distance friends I'll ever have. Your support is so appreciated.
And to the NICU staff at UVA Children's Hospital: Words cannot express the depth of my gratitude for the amount of caring and support you showed to me and my husband. You held our hand and treated us like family and we never felt alone because of you. Kara, Amelia, and Naomi - you three especially made us feel safe at a time when we should've felt terrified and lonely. Thank you for taking care of Tyler like he was your own. I will never, ever forget you. And Naomi, I am convinced it was Jesus himself who sent you to us for that night. We could not have done it without you. My memories of Tyler will always include the three of you, along with so many others there. Thank you for everything. You are all amazing.