In November of 2021, I found out that I was having our first baby and was ecstatic. It was everything we hoped and planned for. We were patiently waiting to start trying since we got married in 2016. The time was right and everything seemed perfect. We found out she was a girl and we had the perfect pregnancy. The only complaint was that I had a lot of pelvic and round ligament pain from an injury that took place in the first trimester.
Fast forward to delivery. My water broke through a slow leak, so I was induced. Everything was going well until I had to push. I had an epidural but I was still experiencing pain on my right side, which was the side I was injured on. The doctor had me push for three hours. She stopped progressing after the first hour and there was a lot of bleeding. We ended up doing a c section. She was born on July 14, 2022 at 2:54 am. I wasn’t able to hold her because I passed out and she needed to go to the NICU.
My husband and I met in OR, and I started collecting colostrum. I remember looking at my husband and expressing concern that things weren’t okay but I brushed it off. Within minutes, a physician came in and shared the news that our daughter had little to no brain activity. At that moment, I knew she was going to die, despite the fact that I was told that she could get better. My cries in that moment still haunt me today.
Micah Antoniah, measuring 6 pounds, 8 ounces, died in my arms after 17 hours of life. She was also surrounded by her daddy, grandparents, aunts, and uncle. She was surrounded by love and was sent into love. She knew nothing but love. I remember the doctor saying that she felt an overwhelming sense of love everytime she walked into the NICU room. She said she’s never witnessed love so strong.
Eventually, it was explained to me that my daughter was caught in my uterus. A Bandls Ring had formed around her head, which caused irreversible brain damage. Bandls Ring occurs in only .02 percent of pregnancies. The doctor did not see the Bandls Ring until after she was already trying to pull my daughter out for 7 minutes. By the time she caught it and was able to implement the right intervention, it was too late. I also lost 3 liters of blood and had to get a blood transfusion.
We allowed ourselves six months to focus only on grieving. I got into yoga, attended EMDR therapy, and got a tattoo in her name. We kept getting signs from Micah that she was still with us (daisies and butterflies).
We got pregnant in March of 2023 once we decided to start trying. On a Saturday we went to a butterfly exhibit, and a blue butterfly landed on my arm next to my tattoo. She sat there for so long. Later that day, my dog was acting weird so I took a pregnancy test. We found it was positive, and so began our PAL journey. I knew that Micah sent the butterfly to tell us she sent a sister.
We are expecting our second girl via scheduled c section on October 24, 2023. We are naming her Leena Rene, which was a name I had picked out years ago to honor my mother (Colleen Rene). I found out after Micah’s passing that the name means “light reborn”. The name is perfect and we are so eager to meet her.
We have been literally leaning on faith while we await her arrival. The Bandls Ring could reoccur and there is hardly any research that helps explain the cause. We are walking blindly in this journey, not knowing what to expect, and relying on signs that we hope are from God. We are so in love with our new baby girl and feel so connected to her already. She has been a light to us in a dark place.
God willing, Leena will be here to hear all about her sister and how she changed so many lives. She will know that she was specifically picked my Micah to be our first baby to take home. We will work to prevent Leena from living in Micah’s shadow, while always honoring and remembering her. Micah will always be our firstborn and a part of our family.
Photos taken by Heidi Przybylski.
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