"Why did Gideon die?"
I wish I knew.
I have gotten the question a few times since Gideon died. But I also think that people are afraid to ask what happened. It's ok to ask. I don't mind talking about it. Not at all. Please don't be afraid to ask me about him, you can ask anything. Ask away, if I don't want to answer, I won't. But, really, I always want to talk about him, his story. And unfortunately, his death is part of that story.
We do know what happened, but there is no medical explanation as to why it happened.
We chose not to have a autopsy performed. If we had chosen to have that, they would have taken him very quickly from us after he was born and we didn't want that. We wanted time to see him and hug him and kiss him. We wanted to be with him until we were ready to let go of his body. Also, the doctors and nurses told me that in most cases, the autopsy comes back inconclusive and they aren't able to find the cause of death from the autopsy. So we chose to not have it done. And honestly, the idea of having an autopsy done on our son was horrifying to us. I understand why people choose to have it, but we couldn't.
Since the cause of death could have been related to something that was wrong with me, I have had every single test run on me in the past 11 weeks that could be run. I have had probably 15 or so tests done on me. I have met with two specialists, my ob/gyn and my family doctor to try and find an answer. After all the testing, it has been determined that there is nothing wrong with me physically and nothing in my body did anything to Gideon. And there was nothing wrong with Gideon. He was perfect and was formed perfectly.
They also tested Gideon's placenta and umbilical cord. That is where we have found the best answer as to what happened. It was the placenta that caused his death.
The placenta had what is called a membranous insertion. When an umbilical cord implants into a placenta it implants into the center of the placenta. Well, Gideon's umbilical cord was implanted into the side of the placenta; into the membranes of the placenta and not the placenta itself. This happens in 1% of all pregnancies, and in 30% of those cases, the baby dies. So basically this is fatal to 3 out of 1000 babies. We did not know this had happened, it was not picked up in the ultrasounds and in most cases it isn't caught on an ultrasound.. But, even if it had, there is really nothing you can do about it, it cant be fixed. Gideon's placenta seemed to be a more extreme case, which is probably why he died. When this happens, the baby doesn't get enough nutrients, no matter how much the mother eats, no matter how many vitamins she takes. And because of this, Gideon was small for his gestational age, he was physically perfect, just small. He wasn't able to pack on the pounds because the umbilical cord couldn't get enough nutrients from the placenta to him.
In addition to the umbilical cord being implanted into the membranes of the placenta and not the body of the placenta, the bottom of the umbilical cord, where it is attached to the placenta, is not covered in protective jelly like the rest of the umbilical cord. So since it is not protected, the cord can be compressed by the baby and that will cut off nutrients and oxygen to the baby. Usually if the baby has compressed it, they will move off of it and all is fine. But if the baby compresses his or her cord too long, or too often, that can be fatal. We don't know exactly if Gideon passed because he had gotten too big and the placenta being as it was couldn't support his life, or if he compressed the bottom of his cord. Either way, he would have fallen asleep and passed away. My Gideon simply fell asleep and woke up in Eternity to see the face of the Lord.
So why did this happen? We have no idea. There is absolutely no medical reason for why it happened. The Internal Fetal Medicine doctor I saw a couple weeks ago told me it was a medical fluke. And that there isn't any reason why it happened, or any reason why it would happen again. I am at the same risk of it happening again as I was this last time. In some ways that made it harder. If there had been a reason, then there would be something we could do next time, a medicine to take, or a procedure we could do, but there isn't. So, if Todd and I are blessed to have more children some day, then we will just have to sit back and trust the Lord (while going to the doctor lots of times!) and hope that our next child is one we get to bring home. It is going to require so much more faith and trust in the Father.
I had someone basically blame me for what happened because they didn't understand the medical side of things. This person was told what happened, then they said Gideon died because I don't eat enough, that's why it happened, that's why he wasn't getting enough nutrients. Todd quickly corrected this person, but I still don't think this person understands. Maybe they needed someone to blame, maybe that made them feel better if they could point the finger at someone. But, it had nothing to do with how much or how little I ate (and for the record, I ate plenty, I ate the amount I was supposed to eat and I have a big booty to prove it!). It hurt me because this person should know better, they know how much Gideon was wanted and loved. I would never ever do anything to hurt my child. This person supposedly loves and cares about me and Todd and they blamed me! That was so hurtful.
The last thing you want to do is make a grieving parent feel like they did something wrong. Like they were at fault, I can guarantee you, they are already blaming themselves. Still birth is caused by so many different things. Anywhere from a placenta problem, or a cord accident (like a knot in the cord or a cord around a babies neck), or a genetic disorder in the baby, or a blood clotting problem in the mom that causes clots in the placenta, or an incompetent cervix that causes premature labor, or an infection in the placenta, or maternal diabetes or maternal high blood pressure and many other reasons and some cases there is no explainable reason. 50% of moms and dads never know exactly what caused their child to die. Yes, there are women who do drugs, or smoke, or get no prenatal care and their babies might die, but most mom's take care of their child the best they can. They do everything right, and their child still dies. The statistic for still birth is about 1 in 160 pregnancies. That is a very high number of precious babies who die and that is a lot of parents who have to grieve their children.
I had a lot of guilt after Gideon was born. I blamed myself for weeks. I would replay over and over what happened, what I could have done differently. I would (and occasionally still do) think "maybe if I had gone to the hospital sooner, or maybe I should have known something was wrong." One day I was driving and I was thinking these things and blaming myself, God spoke to me and told me I did nothing wrong and that no matter what Gideon would have died. That there was nothing I could have done and there was nothing I didn't do that caused this to happen. The Lord spoke to my heart and told me that He ordained the number of days Gideon was to live and I am not in control of life and death, He is. Thank you, Lord for showing me that and reminding me that You are the one who is truly in control. Thank you,, Lord for speaking to me and ridding me of those feelings of guilt and please help me to keep my eyes on You and the truth, not lies from the enemy.
Why does this happen to so many babies? Why do Todd and I, and all these other incredible mommies and daddies have to live without their children? Why doesn't God heal every single one of these babies? Because He can, I believe He can. So why doesn't He? The answer is: I have no idea.
The truth of the matter is, we live in a fallen world where there is death, pain and suffering. That is the reality of it. That is the reality of living in a world with sin. Jesus says that "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world." He says you will have trouble. Not you might have trouble. But He says to take heart because He has overcome the world!! We can have salvation in Him, so that in eternity, and when the New Heaven and New Earth are created, we will not have any more suffering. No more pain, and no more tears. He truly has overcome the world.
Earlier I said I wish I knew why Gideon died. But even if we did know why exactly Gideon died, for the exact purpose, it wouldn't take away the hurt. It wouldn't change anything. I would still be a mom who constantly misses her son. Todd would still be a dad who wants to hug his little boy. Even if we knew the exact reason why Gideon was ordained to live only 33 weeks, that wouldn't erase or minimize any of our pain. But, no matter what the reason, but I do know that God is truly with us holding us in His hands.
I read this verses quite frequently these days, they remind me that we will have suffering in this life, but that God will always be with us and we will not be destroyed.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze." Isaiah 43:2