They were nine simple words that I will never forget: “I am sorry but we cannot find a heartbeat.” Our world changed just like that.
My wife, Tameika, and I were happily awaiting and preparing for the birth of our third child and first son, James Henry. We went to our regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment only to hear those nine horrifying words. Disbelief, numbness and hope were all felt at once. But I quickly went into protective mode as a father. I remember asking “OK, doctor, what are our next steps?” We were told we could go home to wait to induce or induce the same day. We decided to induce that day. Aug. 28 was both a birth day and death day for my perfect little boy.
The memories of that day are so vivid. I remember the six to eight hours I had with James Henry, holding him and loving him. Having a father and son moment with no one else in the room. I remember watching my wife mothering her child after he had already passed. I remember handing my son over to the nurse, knowing I would never see him again, worried that he would be alone without me. These haunting and disturbing memories are emotionally draining. Although these thoughts have eased over the weeks and months, they still show up from time to time.
My life has changed forever. My hopes and dreams for James Henry are gone. It wasn’t until days after the funeral and everyone left that I realized James Henry was not going to be with us. I was angry, frustrated, questioned God and cried. But only when I expressed myself by talking about my emotions to my wife was I relieved. Those days we spent alone, while our daughters were in school, meant the most to me and helped me to cope and understand life more.
Although the medical term for this type of birth is stillborn, James Henry was still born and he will never be forgotten.