Friday, April 30, 2010

Vincent William Green

My sons life is unknown to nearly every single person I come into contact. Not saying that they know all about my son, Nathans life. But they can meet him and see he exists. Vincent, well his story is left to be written. And few even know that story. So here it is. From the first moment, until that moment I was told it was all over. I won't write past that moment, I won't go into those details. Everything else though, well, here it is.

I found out on December 4th, 2007 that I was going to be having a second child. I was in Germany for a little over two years. My first son was just over a year old. On February 11th, 2008, the start of a very serious, very exhausting pregnancy really began.
I woke up that night to get a drink of water. When I stood up, I felt a gush of fluid come out of me. I instantly thought the most embarrassing thought, "I just wet myself". When I looked down though, it was a much darker color. I remember touching my leg and seeing my hand covered in blood. At that moment, I thought I was having a miscarriage. All breath was lost on me. I just stood there with my heart deep in my stomach thinking that this was it, my son is about to come out of me and he's barely even two months.
I gained my voice, and screamed for his father. When he came in and saw the blood all over the floor and down my legs, he rushed to get the phone. I managed to get into the bathroom and tried to rinse myself off. I remember thinking to myself that it was all a dream because it didn't hurt. I was certain if I were miscarrying, that I would feel some sort of a cramp. But rather, blood was just pouring out of me and there was no pain.
When the ambulance showed up, they walked me down the six flight of stairs and into the back. At the hospital, we waited four hours to be told nothing was wrong with my son. The nurse said my uterus was expanding because of pregnancy, and it's normal to bleed. When we asked her if it was normal to gush a liter of blood, she said that every woman was different. So, unsatisfied with her response, I was sent back to my room to wait for the head of the department in the morning. It was then that we were told that I was carrying another sac aside from Vincents. And that this sac had filled with blood because the placenta attached itself to my cervix rather than my uterine wall (something called placenta previa). She said it was nothing serious and that as the pregnancy moved on the placenta would correct itself.
She also promised that our son was safe and that this wasn't going to affect him at all.

I was still put on bedrest to be safe while I kept bleeding on and off for a while. Then, on April 4th 2008, I had another bad episode. This time it hurt. This time, I 100% saw myself losing my son right then and there. And unfortunately, I knew I wasn't dreaming. I had to be carried out and down the stairs to get to the ambulance. I was sent to St. Josef's hospital. (My first son was born there). My doctor met us and she examined me. She let me know that I was in fact in full blown labor. She also let me know that it was completely impossible to be giving birth to my son right now, that he would not survive. She said that with the blood that constantly filled up and broke, I had lots of infections. And that my body was trying to get rid of the sac for good. But Vincent shared that womb, so he was in danger of getting aborted.
Just in case though, she wanted to take every action necessary to be prepared for a premature birth. Because St. Josef's did not have a neonatal ICU, they sent me to another hospital, Leopaldina. There I saw this male doctor. I still wish to this day that I would've stood up and punched him in the face. This doctor had the nerve to tell me and Vincents father that our son was going to die. He said that he no chance of survival and gave me the option to literally abort him that day. I must've had the deer in headlights look on my face for a good twenty minutes or so. I know he thought that I was thinking about it, but my answer was solid the moment I got pregnant. I would never chose to end his life and just give up on him.
When our answer was clear, he started talking statistics. He said that Vincent was at 24wks gestation and that meant a survival rate of 40%. And that if we can hold on to atleast 27wks that the survival rate would double. All of us hoped for a full term pregnancy of course, but the odds were severly against us.

I was checked into the maternity ward where I spent the next three weeks in near isolation. Me and Vincent were given supplements for his lungs to be prepared for a 27wk delivery. I was given medicine to stop the infection from spreading. Of course, to make matters worse, I already have bad kidneys. So I was getting daily attacks. And I have a bad heart. So on top of the medicine for my kidneys, the medicine for my contractions, the medicine to stop the shakes the contraction medicine gave me, I had to take medicine to stop my heart from acting up from all the medicines I was taking. It was a never ending battle against medicines.

To be completely honest, as miserable and insane I was in that hospital room, I cherish those three weeks so much. I barely got to see my other son, our puppy, or even their father, but it was just me and Vincent. I never got a roommate either, even though my room was two bedrooms. And of course it was the room in front of the helicopter pad. And of course, it was Germany, so the only station I could watch was CNN. I got fairly caught up on the horrors of the world while I was living in my own nightmare.

Some good news the first week of May, they sent me home when I reached the 27wk mark. I was still on serious bedrest, but I was supposedly out of the threat of losing Vincent and any other damages to myself. When the medicine was out of my body, everything that had been masked up took its revenge. I remember being huddled up in complete agony from the kidney attacks. And then my heart would spasm, and then I'd finally sleep. That only lasted just about a week. On May 9th I had a doctors appointment. Little did I know the kidney attack I was having was hiding the labor contractions. My doctor noticed of course.

When I got to her office, I remember three specific instances. First, it was the first time I actually looked pregnant. I looked down and could see my belly looking like it was 6mts along. Second, I watched them carry a needle the length of my arm into another room where they were going to do one of the normal testing of the amniotic fluid.. hearing her scream, and thinking, "thank god i opted out on that test." Third, I was laying on the table and she smiled at me and asked if I felt funny. I told her that I was of course uncomfortable. And she said that I was in labor, and it was time to go to the hospital...again. She said that I probably wasn't coming back out without my son out of my belly. She was smiling the whole time though so as to not upset me. I was upset that she wasn't going to be the one taking care of me because she was set to the other hospital, but she promised I was in good hands.
So it was back to Leopaldina. They did try to stop the labor though. They gave me the highest dosage possible for a twenty four hour period. But nothing was stopping it. The infection was so bad that my body was giving up. They promised and promised Vincent was fine, that he was safe, and it was just me. But I was his life source still, and the longer I waited the worse shape I was in. I needed to be able to handle birth.

On May 10th, we made the decision to deliver him at 27wks (three months) early. I was instantly prepped and taken into the room. Freezing, terrified, and well, naked, they told me to breathe deep. When I woke up, I was in the recovery room. I felt very weak. When the English speaking nurse came to wheel me to my room, she let me know that my son is very beautiful and he is safe and doing well. I cried. She told me that his sac was full of blood though and it was a very good choice to have the c-section. She said they had no idea how he managed to be in such great condition considering the environment he had been living in.
Then she told me that I was actually in worse shape. That I had almost died on the table. My body was so severly infected and my oxygen level was critical. I needed to spend some time in the ICU being closely monitored and brought back to par.
It took me two days to recover, then I was able to see my son. The first time I got to see him and he was two days old. The doctors raved about him. They said he was strong like a 30wk baby. He was a true miracle. I couldn't hold him yet though. I could just touch him in his little incubator. He was the size of my hand and weighed just over 2lbs. I got to hear his cry for the first time that day too and I think I've cried every single day from that moment on.
For three months Vincent grew in the NICU. When he reached five pounds, he was switched to an open top incubator. He was in a new room too. Then when his due date came around, August 10th, 2008, they started planning for his trip home. And on August 15th I took my son home to 30 Urnenfelderstr #5, Geldersheim, Germany for the first time. Him, big brother, daddy, and our puppy were all united.
Another three months later, two days before Vincent William Green turned 5mts old, tragedy slammed its ugly face into our lives. He, myself, his brother, and our beloved puppy were all sleeping in the same room in our new house on 1 Haagerstr, Netzaberg, Germany. ((His father, Army Sgt, was in the field in a training exercise.))

In a way, I guess he wanted it that way. Vincent was well aware what the morning was going to bring. He fought me for so long to stay awake. Even Nathan was having a rough night and that's why he ended up in bed with me. Our dog usually slept in the hallway, but she was at the foot of my bed. I had all my children with me that night. It had been such a rough night though, I had such a bad feeling.
My worst moment of that night was getting the feeling that Vincent couldn't breathe. I remember, just before I fell asleep, something told me to check on him and make sure he was fine. And I got up and I fluffed his blanket and made sure he was sound asleep and okay. Then in the morning, he was very quiet. My second worst memory of that morning was that I heard him and I saw him moving. I know I did. I heard those babies noises and slight twitching from dreaming. I remembered he had a rough night, so I crept Nathan downstairs. I set him up for breakfast and then let Duchess, our puppy out. Then I went back upstairs.
My heart was in my stomach for some reason. When I was back in my room, I looked at the crib. I saw that his blanket was up covering everything but his feet. And when I saw his feet sticking out, I felt the same exact way I did the first time I bled back in February. It wasn't possible. My son wasn't gone. I wasn't going to lose him. I touched his feet and they were ice. They were white, blue almost, and there was a deep red line on the back of them.
Absolutely terrified, I pulled the blanket off of him. He was staring at me. I screamed at the top of my lungs and ran downstairs. When I had the phone I was back up in the room trying to do something, there had to be a way to get him breathing again. I remember touching his chest and feeling that it was warm. That's when I had hope.
The ambulance was there in a few minutes. I had enough time to get Nathan changed and dressed and put on a long sleeved shirt. An army of doctors met me in my foyer with my son in my arms. The main doctor reached for Vincent, put a hand on his chest, then ran into the ambulance. I was completely lost. I asked where they were going and one said something in German. When it was clear I didn't understand him, he slid the door shut on the ambulance and stayed behind to help me.
He said that I wasn't allowed to go. That because I was military, and my husband wasn't there, we had to wait on him. The MP's had to show up and they had to let us know we were allowed. I couldn't believe it. My son was just rushed away for not breathing, and I wasn't allowed to follow because his dad was out in training. I called my mom and I told her everything. I didn't tell her the exact truth though. I purposely gave her hope. Because in my heart, I could feel my son was lost. But all I told her was that he wasn't breathing and that he was still warm. I didn't tell her anything else.
Finally they let me go to the hospital, and the nurse drove Nathan and me. It was the longest drive of my life. When we got there, the ambulance team was standing outside of their ambulance. They were so very helpful. They all reached for me to help me out of the car, they got Nathan and his carseat, and they just wanted to touch me. They patted my arms and my back and then said their goodbye when I went inside the hospital. I can't remember the name of the hospital.
There was a lady with a vest on waiting for us. She asked what Nathan's name was and I told her. Then she asked if he could come with her. I was in such a state of shock that I think I just nodded. She smiled, and Nathan walked off with her to go somewhere. Then finally I met the doctor and a psychologist. Of course I was in denial, so when he introduced her, I was thinking, "why do I need a psychologist to tell me what happened? my son is fine, i'll take him home, this isn't necessary."
But he walked me into his small room and asked this person to leave. He sat me down, took a deep breath, and just sighed. I completely lost it. I was screaming and crying and cursing. He told me that there was nothing else they could do, that Vincent had passed. He said that tried everything. I screamed no a million times and I yelled at the doctor. I told him if he did everything that my son would still be there. He sat there and he took everything I had to say. The psychologist kept reaching out for me. It was so overwhelming. After I calmed down enough to make words again, he started talking again.
He told me it was SIDS. He swore he knew this because there was no last heartbeat, and no last breath. He explained that it was sort of as if my sons body was meant to stop when it did. Because if it were suffocation, or an injury, or any other cause, then his body would be holding on to that last stolen heartbeat. And no amount of time would have taken that away.

I wasn't aware at the time, but in America when premature babies are sent home, they get an oxygen monitor. Well we were stationed in Germany then, and that wasn't their policy. I'm not saying that if he had an oxygen monitor he'd still be here, but it would have made a difference. There could have been some hope. Regardless, he didn't have one. So when he stopped breathing on Oct 8th, just two hours after he went to bed, I never knew. I didn't hear an alarm, or any other warning.
Today, I still don't have an answer as to what caused the blood sac to form, what caused it to break, and why my body reacted the way it did during the pregnancy. And now there is no answer as to why he was taken away. An answer as, his body was just meant to stop, isn't good enough for me. He fought so hard, I find it impossible to believe his body just stopped and gave up. My son was a fighter. He proved that more than an average person does in their full lifetime in his short five months.

On October 13th, after he was safely flown back to America, his father and I and our families prepared ourselves. That day I sat in a room with strangers and familiar faces as they got to see my beautiful angel for the first time. Then, I held my sons empty body for the last time in my life. After a million tearful kisses, and still it's not enough, I set him in his casket to be closed from the world forever. No one will ever get to hear his laughter, see his smile, or watch him grow up. Not his parents, not his family, not even strangers.

But, I'll always have the month in the hospital, the months in the NICU, the few months at home. I'll always have the memories. That's all I can offer to anyone. No one can offer me an answer though. SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome. Its not even a cause of death, it's a void of cause. And they haven't gotten very much figured out about it.

Vincent, and so many other babies have been taken solely because God had a purpose for them. My sons life has touched so many people. His strength carries me on every single day. I thank everyone that has read this for allowing his life to touch one more person and given them hope. This life is full of downs, some downs you think you'll never be able to survive. Well I'm living proof. As bad as life is, I can't give up. Vincent never gave up. <3


  1. Hey Bella its Jc here, I see you like writing as well. That makes 2 of us :)

  2. I got in my first car accident today, no one was hurt but about $3,000 of damage out of pocket as a college student. I keep thinking about how bad I have it.. but your story is so so much more tragic. My condolences, know that your son is in God's hands.

  3. Thank you Eric so much for you words. I'm sorry it took me a while to get back to you, but I do hope you are doing better now.