Remembering Brandon Michael: A Story of Infant Loss
In March 2005, I received devastating news that would change our family’s lives forever.
My husband Ron, our little girl Kelly, then 2, and myself were headed to an advanced ultrasound. During a routine ultrasound at our local hospital, abnormal measurements of our unborn baby were found. This didn’t raise too many concerns yet – we just figured our sweet baby wasn’t being as cooperative as our first.
The waiting room was quiet and sterile. I began to feel a lump in my throat and a feeling that something just wasn’t right. When I was finally called back, they called not only me, but my husband as well. A woman pulled us into a little conference room, sat us down, and laid out some charts and forms across the table. What was this? Based on our recent ultrasound measurements, it was likely our baby had a few defects or problems according to percentages. My heart began to race. My husband and I looked at each other as if this were just all a dream. At that point, I don’t remember a word the woman was even saying to us. When she was finished, she sent us back to the waiting room and said that a nurse would be with me shortly.
I was eventually called back alone into an ultrasound room. The tech was very cold and unsettling. She began the ultrasound and within minutes her face became distorted. She then said, “let’s go try another ultrasound machine, this one isn’t acting right.” So, I slowly walked to the other machine and we started up again. Her face again became distorted. I asked, “excuse me, is everything okay?” She said, “the doctor will be with you shortly to discuss the results.” My heart was sinking.
At this point, my husband and daughter were able to come back with me (I was so grateful as I’ve never felt so alone). Within minutes, a tall, male doctor walked through the doors and introduced himself, then pretty much shattered our world with his words. Everything that could go wrong in a pregnancy was happening at that very moment. In a nutshell, our son wasn’t going to be compatible with life and he most likely had a condition known as Trisomy 13, which is a chromosomal defect characterized by an underdeveloped brain, organs, missing digits, cleft palate and other symptoms. Trisomy 13 is one of the number one causes of early miscarriages.
At that moment, termination was brought up, but the doctor sensed we would be against that. I loved my unborn baby too much, no matter what he had. It felt as if my heart was ripped out. It was not a bad dream; this was a nightmare, a nightmare come true.
After a few more tests including an amniocentesis, it was confirmed our sweet little guy was very sick and if I did deliver him, he would only be 4 pounds or less. I took the amnio test in hopes to prove the doctors wrong. It was one of the worst tests of my life. It felt as if the life was being sucked out of me. While the test was being performed, our sweet Brandon was still hooked up to the ultrasound machine. You could see his movements during the test. You could see the needle go in and his little hand move as if he were batting it away. I lost my breath. The doctor then asked, “is he always this active?” I told him that “yes, he was always very active” because it was true. He thought this was very unusual. At this point, he advised me to go home and rest as it was highly likely our baby boy wasn’t going to make it much longer, especially since there are risks with amnio tests. I was 16 weeks along at this point, so this was very difficult to process.
We left the hospital in complete shock and devastation. How was this happening? We immediately called our parents (my husband’s parents were out-of-town at the time) and drove over to my parents’ house. It was the longest drive of our lives and it was only 20 minutes. My husband was inconsolable, and I think I was in complete shock. When we arrived, my mom was home. We began praying immediately over our son for a complete miracle. I went on early maternity leave from my teaching job and quit my college courses. Nothing else mattered at that point. I just wanted to fight for our unborn son. We prayed and exercised faith like never before, though it was a stressful, uncertain road. Family and friends from all over were praying for our Brandon Michael.
Soon, it was time for my routine checkup with my OB. It was the first time I would see her since receiving our devastating news. She took a full hour to finally come in as she couldn’t handle what she found out. She had delivered our first-born, so this was a major shock to her as well. At this point his heart rate was acting normal and he was growing. I decided to go forward in the pregnancy as normal as possible. This was my request to my OB. She agreed and we moved forward with normal checkups and prenatal care.
My belly began to grow, and he was more active than ever. Checking for heartbeats was always stressful, but it was always there and steady. We believed our son would be born completely whole and healthy. We were also to the point that if it was God’s will he take him, then we would accept that. This was not easy to say, but we were broken and humbled.
By the end of July, my OB decided it would be best to have a scheduled C-section as the baby was going to be bigger than expected. On Aug. 2, my birthday, my belly was huge, and he was active up until this point. That night, I noticed he wasn’t moving much anymore. I was scheduled for an appointment the next day. I went in and his heart was surrounded by so much fluid we couldn’t hear it in the doppler anymore. The ultrasound machine was showing the massive amounts of fluid as well. He was moving, but very little. My OB was getting ready to leave for a trip to Italy the next day. My c-Section was scheduled for the 16th, but she said we should probably schedule a c-Section that day or wait until she gets back from her trip. She even said she would cancel her trip for us! She sent us home to decide. We sobbed all the way home, called our parents, and prayed about what to do. It was decided for the safety and health of me and our son that I should have the C-section that day instead of waiting. The C-section was scheduled. I went back, was prepped, and this is where our world was completely crushed and would change our lives forever.
Brandon Michael Clair was born full-term and alive at 5:14 p.m. on Aug. 3, 2005. He was almost 10 pounds with the fluid in his body. We didn’t hear his cries as his heart and lungs were also surrounded by fluid. He lived for 15 minutes and passed away. The pain of this news was so unbearable. We held him and said our goodbyes. Friends and family arrived in support. The next few months were very difficult for us. A lot transpired including months of depression. Brandon was still our miracle no matter what.
Fast forward four months. I was pregnant again. This was such shocking and bittersweet news, we didn’t know how to handle it. The pregnancy was very difficult emotionally and spiritually. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl (Alessandra Michelle) on Sept. 1, 2006. She was healthy! When she was four months old, we decided to have our memorial for Brandon. He was cremated. Church friends donated a gravestone and plot in his memory.
On Aug. 3, 2019, our Brandon would have turned 14 and would be starting high school this fall. My husband and I always envision what he would be like to this day. Would he be taller than me? Would he love sports? So many thoughts and questions. We will always miss our sweet boy and believe that we will see him again one day.
If you are remembering a precious baby on October 15, Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day, just know that you are not alone, and you will always be their mom or their dad. Let’s honor our precious angels today.
About the author: Lindsey Clair has been married to her best friend Ron since 1999. Together they have three beautiful daughters. They also have a son in heaven. He passed away in 2005 and is missed dearly. Prior to becoming a mother, Lindsey obtained her degree in Child Development with a state certificate and taught, assistant directed, and directed a variety of programs through the years. After her third daughter was born, Lindsey decided to stay at home. Lindsey currently homeschools her three girls. Along with homeschooling she runs a home business as a virtual assistant and has returned to college to pursue a degree in Business Marketing with a Social Media Concentration. This is to better herself with her business. Her hobbies are singing and playing the piano, reading, shopping, hanging out with her family, and blogging.
If you found this post helpful, you might also enjoy:
- Cautious Joy: My Journey Through Pregnancy After Miscarriage
- Why I’m Not Obsessing About a Perfect Body After Baby
- A Survival Guide for New Moms
Photo credit: onurdongel