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William’s Legacy

::This story first posted on October 15, 2011 – it was *so* good, we just had to repost it!::

A Story of Life, Loss and Hope

Our sweet William at 12 weeks

Last year was a year that changed my life and challenged my faith.  It was a year that I wasn’t sure I would get through.  Some days when I look back, I wonder how I did and I pray that I never have to again.

I thought my heart could know no greater pain than when we lost our son Joseph at 16 weeks.  I had known previous losses, in fact, had known more than most.  But that loss was harder because I witnessed on ultrasound the last beats of my son’s heart.  I watched my son die.  It was devastating.  When I delivered him at home I felt very fortunate to get to hold him and kiss him.  I was crushed when we told our sadness to others and someone very close to us said, “This is why we don’t congratulate you.  You have a tendency to lose babies.”  It was a slap in the face and a glimpse into how some view pregnancy and the unborn.  To them only those who have a chance at making it to our arms are worthy of getting a congratulations.

When I found myself expecting again just a few months later, we told almost no one.  At 8 weeks our little girl’s heart was struggling to keep up.  Each week it got slower and more labored.  At 11 weeks it stopped.  We bore our pain in silence.  Only a few trusted friends knew we were grieving yet again.  It made me sad that so few would mourn our little Sarah with us. But at the time we didn’t feel we could open ourselves up to the added pain of family and friends not supporting our decision to be open to life, even when it meant we might not get to hold that life for long.

Again, just a few months later, we found I was expecting.  We decided to tell everyone we could.  We hoped the prayers that those who would pray for us would help keep us going and help our little baby along.  There were those who were happy for us and those who kept their congratulations to themselves.  We focused on the positive people and the hope that our little one would be ok.

At a routine ultrasound we found I had an enormous uterine bleed.  We were shocked.  Up to this point I had not been bleeding, was feeling movement, and generally feeling well.  After my appointment, while still in the office, I started to bleed heavily.  I was put on bedrest and followed closely.  At the next two appointments our baby was growing and his heart beat was strong.   We hoped for the best.

Two weeks later, on December 21, I woke up feeling “bad”.  I’m not sure how to describe the feeling… just not right.  I called the doctor’s office.  They reminded me what to look for in a miscarriage and told me to keep my feet up.  By afternoon I was having contractions.  Again I called the doctor’s office who told me I could either make the hour drive to the office or could go to our local ER.  The pain was getting to be so intense we chose to go to the ER.

It has been almost ten months since all of this happened and it still hurts so much to recall the events that happened to us.  A gentle caution here for readers who might be going through this now or who might get upset easily; the rest of this story includes intense images. 

Our Nightmare Begins

When we got to the ER, we checked in and were told that there was no room for me and I had to just sit and wait.  Several times I had Kaylie, my oldest daughter who drove me to the hospital,  tell them that I really needed to be seen. Each time they told us that there was no room for us and to just sit down. My water broke and Kaylie went to the desk to tell them. Again she told us to just sit down because there was no room for me. I told her that if they didn’t get me back that the baby would be born in the waiting room. Again she said, “Sit down; we have no room for you.” Suddenly I felt pressure and without being able to stop it, William was born in the waiting room into my clothes. I started to cry and told Kaylie to tell them that the baby was here. Again the nurse said, “Sit down, there’s nothing we can do right now. There are no rooms.”

I tried my hardest to sit there but rose up on my side because the baby was in my clothes and I didn’t want to sit on him. I was sobbing into my jacket that I held up to my face. The people in the waiting room just watched me. No one did anything to help. Finally after about 10 minutes of me sitting out there sobbing, a nurse came with a wheelchair. She told me to get in the chair and sit down. I said that I had to be careful because the baby was in my clothes. As soon as I sat down she looked at where I had been sitting and loudly announced, “Someone needs to call housekeeping to clean up this mess.” I was covered in blood and water as was the chair I had been sitting in. As she wheeled me back she knocked me into the door, never apologizing, never asking if I was ok.

As we got back to the room they were going to put me in, she again hit me into the doorframe. She said, “Sometimes these wheelchairs are hard to push.” Not, “I’m sorry” nor “Are you ok?” We got into the room and she told me to take off all my clothes and put on the gown that was on the bed. I told her I would need help as the baby was in my clothes. She told me, “Just let everything drop to the ground.” I again told her I couldn’t because the baby was in my clothes and was attached to me still. She said, “Just let it fall to the ground with your clothes.” I yelled at her “NO! The baby is attached to me and I’m not letting my baby fall to the ground!” She told me again to let the baby fall to the ground with my clothes.

By this time I had my pants down and was holding the baby who was still attached to me by the umbilical cord. I was shocked at his size. He was so much bigger than I thought he was going to be! I held him in my hands and told the nurse that I needed her help. She just watched me. She wouldn’t help. I reached up and pulled at the cord to release it. I was already bleeding pretty badly but this made me bleed so much worse. Of course if I had thought it through I would have realized that was a bad idea; there is a reason they clamp the cord instead of just pull to detach it. I told the nurse that I needed her to hold the baby so I could get my clothes off. She finally came to me and I put William in her hands. She gasped. I don’t think she was prepared to see such a perfect baby like that.

I took off my clothes which were horribly bloody and put on the gown and got into the bed. The doctor finally came in to examine me and to look at the baby. They never closed the curtain or the door to the room and the way the bed was facing everyone walking by could look at me and see everything that was going on in the room. Poor Kaylie was standing at the end of the bed near the wall watching as everything happened. At one point she tried to come to me but my bloody clothes were lying beside the bed and she almost threw up. She said, “Mama, I can’t.” I told her it was ok and that she didn’t need to look nor did she need to get near my clothes.

The nurse that had taken William from me picked him up and put him in a bucket that had a formaldehyde solution. She didn’t worry about it would make us feel to have him just dropped in a bucket. While she did this the doctor told me he thought I should have an ultrasound to check on the placenta. He walked out of the room leaving the curtains and the door open.

The ultrasound tech came in with a machine and literally kicked my clothes out of her way (no one had done anything with them yet).  She did the u/s and confirmed that my placenta was still firmly attached. When the doctor came back in to hear what she had to say, he told her that he was certain the baby was further along than we thought because of his size. She said that the placenta looked normal and that I probably would need drugs to help deliver it. He agreed and asked me if I would take some medicine to help me contract. I agreed. He then told me he wanted me to take morphine and I told him no; I needed to be cognizant and if I took that I wouldn’t be.

As I lay on the bed, no one cleaned me up. My hands were covered in dried blood from catching the baby and my legs were covered as well. I had been passing huge blood clots that they just left me to lie in. Finally a nurse came in and said to me, “Why don’t I try to clean you up honey.” She started with my hands and gently washed them the best she could. The blood was dried under my nails and into the lines on my hands. My skin was tinted from the blood. She couldn’t get it off very well. She also finally put a sheet over me to give me a little privacy and she closed the curtain. As she looked between my legs she shook her head and said she was sorry that no one helped to clean me up.  She did her best to help me out and she was the only person in the entire ER to truly try to give me a little dignity.

At one point in the ER I thought I had passed the placenta. I was in terrible pain and passed something extremely big and firm. I told the nurse (the original nurse) who did nothing. Eventually the doctor came in and I told him I thought I might have passed the placenta. He looked and said, “No, just a huge clot.” He put the sheet back down and did nothing. The caring nurse came in a while later and decided to check under the sheet again, gasped and told me that she would help me. After she was done there she looked again at my hands and said, “Oh honey, I’m sorry I didn’t do a very good job the first time. Let me try again.” And she tried once again to clean my hands. She wasn’t successful.

Finally they had some place to put me in labor and delivery. As we were leaving the ER room I told Mike to take the baby with us. He took the plastic container they had put him in and wrapped it in a towel and put it on the gurney with me. The doctor said he didn’t know if that would be legal. I told him that I didn’t care and that my baby was not leaving my side. He didn’t say anything else. The caring nurse and a male nurse wheeled me up to L&D where some amazing nurses took over. The caring nurse came to me, tears in her eyes, and asked if she could give me a hug. She told me how sorry she was and then gave Mike and Kaylie both hugs as well. She was a wonderful woman and the only good thing about the ER. Outside of this nurse not one person in the ER expressed any sympathy for our loss nor did they do anything to try to help us have privacy or peace.

The nurses in the L&D were wonderful. They had great bedside manner and were so caring and kind. The one main nurse was terrible at sticking my arms and I ended up with 6 different blown veins, but to me that was so much better to go through than how I had been treated in the ER.  I delivered William at around 4:20. I didn’t deliver the placenta until 10:45pm. I was in labor for such a long time and in pain for that entire time. Because I didn’t have the morphine I didn’t get to have medicine to help with the labor pains. I cried many times laying there on that bed. I prayed that I would hemorrhage so that perhaps I would have to have an emergency hysterectomy and I would never face the decision to be open to life again and thus would never have to go through not only the physical pain but the emotional and spiritual pain I was feeling. Of course, I’m so glad that didn’t happen, but at the time I prayed so hard for it to be so. God knew my pain and knew what was best for me. I am so thankful for His decision to keep my fertility.  God always knows best. Thankfully He answers our prayers the way He knows is best.

When I was finally able to leave the delivery room and be put into a room of my own I told Mike to make sure he brought the baby with us. The nurse told me that she wasn’t sure if I could do that and maybe I would need to sign something. I told her that I would sign whatever they wanted but that he would not be leaving me. She said ok and wheeled me out of the room and into my own room.

William’s tiny perfect foot

Late that night Mike and Kaylie left to go home.  I was alone with my precious son.  I held him.  I counted his toes and his fingers.  I held his hand, stroked his head, and held his body close to mine.  I willed life back into him.  He lay motionless.  I cried tears of pain that I had never cried before.  I prayed.  I prayed that God would help me see why I had to go through such a traumatic experience.  I prayed that God would help me forgive those who didn’t help us.  I prayed that God could give me peace.  I felt alone.  I wondered where God was in all of this.  I could look at my son and see Him, but I felt like He had abandoned me.  It was the worst feeling I have ever felt.  Still, I prayed as I never have before.  I didn’t sleep that night, only held my son and prayed.

We were finally able to go home. We took William with us. We contacted the funeral home and our church and set up a time to bury him. It was so hard to take him to the funeral home to have them prepare him for burial. I was not expecting them to have him laid out for us to see just as they would at any visitation, but they did. It was the tiniest casket I have ever seen and there were candles on either side of the casket. I was alone when I saw this as Mike was at the cemetery preparing the grave. I broke down and sobbed.

On New Year’s Eve the funeral home brought William to us at the church. We were able to open the casket one last time to see him. Afterward we had a small graveside burial for him.  It was a very lonely experience.  Just three people came to his funeral outside of our little family… a couple who have “adopted us” as their family and a woman who I am friendly with. I felt even more alone.  It was hard burying my son without the people we are closest to.

Hope Revealed

Throughout this time I wondered where God was.  Why were we going through all of this?  I understood that sometimes we can’t keep the precious ones God has blessed us with, but why did we have to lose him in the manner that we did?  My faith was strong; I was devout; I was trying my hardest to be a good Christian and follower of Christ.   Was I being tested?  If so, why was my son’s life just heartlessly thrown away?  It was hard to see the good when I was in so much pain, was so angry, and was grieving.

As time has passed I realize that there was good in what we experienced- the nurse who cleaned my hands so delicately and showed me God’s love and compassion; the 3 people who came to William’s funeral who could understand our need to be surrounded by people who loved us and loved our son; the closeness it brought our family through shared suffering; the ability to share William’s story in the hopes to help others see just how precious life is regardless of how “old” the person is.   I learned that through all these trials I have to continue to trust in God, especially in the times when I am lost.   I have to see God in all people, even those who fail me.  I know that God did not abandon me during my time of need but He was standing there holding me as I held my son.  He was encouraging me to turn to Him, to always seek Him in everything… good or bad.

I look at our Holy Mother Mary and know the pain she felt.  She lost her son in a terrible and cruel way.  She held him after he was taken from the cross and wiped the blood off his still body.  She had to trust God when she couldn’t understand what was going on or what would happen next.   Both her heart and soul felt broken, but God was there always beside her.  During this time I looked at Mary and her strength and knew that I would go on.  I knew that God had a plan and as hard as it was, I needed to trust Him.

William’s hands, holding our hearts forever

I have always told people that while Mike and I are open to life we understand that being open to life means being open to loss.  As hard as it is to understand and to get through, we know that life is precious and no matter how much time we are blessed with, we are thankful for each and every one of our children.  It’s a hard way to live.  It involves sacrifice of self and complete trust in God.  I know that I couldn’t live my life any other way.  God has blessed us.  We know that the road to Him is not always an easy one, but we are willing to travel that road.  We have a host of heavenly saints helping to lead our way and with Christ at the center of our lives we know that God will never leave us.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

By Michelle Fritz

Michelle Fritz is a daughter of God, a cradle Catholic, a Georgia peach, a devoted wife of almost 30 years to amazing husband Mike, and an eclectic homeschooling mother to eleven living children. She has experienced the loss of 16 babies in her call to be open to life, but knows that God is always loving and always gracious. She and her husband know that they have an army of Saints already in heaven!

In addition to her vocation as wife, mom, and homeschool teacher she also holds a Masters in Theology and has recently taken on the role of Youth Minister for both the middle school and high school groups at her parish.

22 replies on “William’s Legacy”

Wow, what a beautiful story and courage for you to share. You know your William is in heaven (along with the others) looking down on you and your awesome family.

I still remember the day you shared this in the group. My jaw nearly hit the floor at the lack of care you and William were shown and given. I was already at church that moment waiting for Advent penance services to start when I got your message and then did the only thing I could think to do. I went straight to the Tabernacle and sent up as many prayers for all of you. William’s story is truly a legacy…a loss is hard enough without the other trauma you unnecessarily endured. May God use this to bring others to a deeper level of sympathy and understanding for others.

::hugs::

It has been four years since I delivered our son, Ben, alone in a hospital bathroom because the nurses ignored my pleas that something was wrong. They fortunately did not treat me later with the same disregard as you, but for some reason, reading this brings back all those feelings of terror and helplessness–and I even read your disclaimer!!

I know this story ends with hope, but I’m only halfway through and find I need to come back later, after the tears have stopped. I just can’t swallow the depths of human apathy…but then again, Jesus told a parable of two people who passed by before the Good Samaritan stopped to help his bleeding and broken brother. “We have no room for you…” It reminds me so much of Our Blessed Mother and Joseph. I wonder if she had the same panicked feeling as you that Our Lord would arrive without safety and privacy?? I’m sure I’ll post more later, but I just wanted to share that this story is just so harrowing, in so many ways. I endured my own share of callousness when our son died, but this is still just unimaginable to me. May God have mercy on us all.

Okay, I’m back. Wow…such a harrowing, intense story of loss. I’ve now forwarded it to several women I know who suffered similar but less prolonged indignities when they miscarried in the hospital. I think I might have cried the most reading that you felt you had to hide your pregnancy from others and that only three souls attended William’s funeral.

May God bless you, Michelle and Mike, for being a living witness to what it really means to be “open to life.”

Michelle, I have no words other than to say how very, very sorry I am that you had to go through all that. I just can’t believe how you were treated by the hospital staff. It makes my heart hurt. The pictures of your son are beautiful.

I have no words, only tears of sorrow for what you endured. You are truly a blessing to all who know you!

All I can say is “Thank You” for sharing your story. I can’t even begin to imagine the sense of sorrow and loss. I still pray for all our children in heaven and know you do the same. I just keep thinking about how amazing it will be to finally see them again up in heaven and hear them say “Mommy”. You are truly such a blessing in our lives and your spirit touches so many in ways you don’t even know. I am so grateful to know you and your family. Alan wanted to let you and others know about the Embrace ministry that the Archdiocese is beginning to recognize, acknowledge, and reach out to those who have lost children to miscarriage or stillbirth. Hopefully it will help those suffering loss to know that the Church is there to support them and help train others on how to offer support.

Michelle- Thank you for sharing your story of William. You are so blessed to have known your son. You knew he was a boy and got to name him and see and hold him. We lost a baby on Easter Sunday three years ago. We never knew our baby’s gender or had a chance to name our baby or hold our baby. When you mentioned the one caring nurse in the ER, she reminded me of Mary Magdalen, trying to clean you as Mary cleaned Jesus’ feet with what she had on hand. I share your pain in not having supportive family, know that your family is thought of in many hearts and prayers. Thank you for being a witness to life.

Dearest Michelle,
Thank you for sharing William’s Legacy. This is the first I have heard of the details of your story last year. It grieves me deeply to learn how you and William suffered – and Kaylie, too, at the hospital. Not to mention the profound loss for your whole family.

When we see you with the glory of your children all about you it’s like seeing any successful person and forgetting what travail it may have taken to arrive there. And if some denigrate you, it is as with Our Lord who is a stumbling block to the blind but an inspiration to those who see with the eyes of faith.

May He sustain you and your whole family so you can continue to live in one another’s love and to be a beacon of Life – and a living example of Faith, Hope and Charity.

CONGRATULATIONS on your newest little one due in March!

And by the way, please know that I am very seriously available if you ever need someone in a hurry. I now live in your area and would come in a heartbeat. You have my number. Call or text. Sometimes when the going gets rough you may need a battle axe.

Thank you so much for all your beautiful posts, support and prayers! It has been a long journey and it was a difficult decision to share our story. I’m glad I did though and hope that our struggles will help others with what they may be going through.

Emily, we are hoping to bring the Embrace program to our parish! We’ll be talking about it tonight even at our Right to Life Meeting!

Carol, thank you! I’m glad to know you are nearby now. I’ll call for sure if I ever need a battle axe! 🙂

Stephanie, we have lost many that we didn’t know the sex of. It wasn’t until Misty (who commented above) encouraged us to give them all names that we did just that. It was a very healing thing to do… to know all our children have names and we can pray for them and call on them anytime we want is so spirit lifting!

I wanted to comment on your story ever since it posted, but haven’t had the words. Your treatment, and your baby’s, was so horrifyingly atrocious. It’s crazy to think that this could happen in our country, in our time. You have faced nothing less than pure evil, in the persona of the doctors of the culture of death. Your emotional agonies are just that–agonies. Your story makes me think of the movie The Passion–so painful to watch that suffering, but no less painful to read about yours. Thank you for being willing to share this.

Your story is so unbelievably heart-wrenching, I just… I can’t even begin to understand how you endured it.. We lost our son Benji just 3 days ago, so the pain is still so fresh. I thank you for sharing your story and in the end, writing of hope. I look forward to feeling hope and peace again; if you could find it after a tragedy of this magnitude, surely my heart can find it too, in time. Lots of love to you… ((hugs)).

Thank you CA. It’s been a long journey and we are still on it. Thankfully we have faith that God will guide us through anything we have to go through, be it good or bad. Without my faith I know I would be lost. I am praying so hard for you. I’m sorry you are going through so much pain now. It’s a hurt I wish no family ever had to experience. Much love to you too… you are in my prayers!

I am so unbelievably sorry for your loss and for the fact that people who take an oath to help others could be so cold & horrible to you!! Did you ever file any sort of complaint for the way you were treated & the lack of care? I fully understand that nothing will ever change what happened but at the very least you deserve an apology! You, William, and the rest of your family will be in my prayers!

Thank you so much Stacy. Yes, we filed a complaint both with the hospital and with the Joint Commission which oversees hospital abuses and problems. We were never told what came of the investigation. The hospital themselves talked to us and showed us the video footage of us in the waiting room. That was difficult to watch. Because of the way the laws are written to protect hospitals and doctors we found that no one would take us seriously and unless we wanted to hire a lawyer who would fight “dirty” we just couldn’t see going any further. It was difficult to let go and move forward. I still don’t know if we did the right thing or not but I trust God had plans even through those dark days and nights. I am hoping that by sharing William with the world that we can help others understand how sacred life it and how all babies deserve a shot at life. It’s been a very heavy cross to bear.

I have had several miscarriages too, the first on New Years Day 1996, the last February 1986. The “rule” was then “no tests on why unless you lost 3 in a row”. I lost 2, had a daughter, lost 2, had a son, lost another. My first baby, a boy, would have been 49 this year. My youngest is 34, my older child 38.
Until I retired recently I was a nurse for 50 years, and received many accolades for being a patient advocate, over the years(which did not always bode well for career path). I do identify with the REAL nurse you met in ER (I had post grad qualifications and worked in ER for many years in UK)and KNOW that there are many excellent nurses out there who simply cannot stay at the bedside because, if this is “pc” to say “they care too much”. Even terminology used by some of those in the nursing profession these days seems alien, especially to those who are giving day-to-day hands on care.
What happened to you was, and is, inexcusable. Pressures on bedside staff have increased tremendously, in all aspects of health Care. It is NOT a job you can, or should, be doing if cannot deliver optimum care.
I am so very sorry you suffered as you did, and your family. I truly believe Jesus scoops up the souls of these lost babies and takes them Home with Him. Just know that you are loved and will meet your beloved William again. God Bless

Thank you so much Rita. Your words mean the world to me. I am sorry for your losses as well. I feel so blessed to know that we have saints waiting for us in heaven. That assurance makes loss a little more bearable. Many prayers for you as well. Thank you again.

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