Marshall’s story really begins almost 10 years ago. When Brad and I were engaged, we loved to watch How I Met Your Mother on TV. It was one of our weekly shows. As many engaged couples do, we started dreaming about our future and kids.
Marshall was always our favorite character on the show and we knew we would one day use that name for a little boy. Fast forward 10 years. We decided we were ready to begin trying for children. We were blessed, and the weekend before Mothers Day in 2021, I found out I was pregnant. I felt from the beginning that it was a baby boy. Everything was going perfect besides the awful morning sickness in the first trimester. We went in for my 20-week ultrasound and found out Marshall was indeed a little boy.
Then it happened. October 6, 2021. I was 27 weeks. I woke up and the first thing I did was look at my pregnancy app to see how big Marshall would be now. He would be the size of a cabbage. I soon headed off to work. I’m a teacher but this was not a typical work day for me. I had curriculum meetings all day so would be sitting more than I typically do.
Around 1:30, Marshall kicked me so hard, I literally reacted to it out loud. We joked that he probably liked the sandwich I had at lunch and was doing a happy dance in my belly. Soon after that, the lower back pain started. I chalked it up to sitting all day and not moving around like normal. I got home from work and told Brad my back was in a ton of pain. I put a heating pad on it and just laid on the couch.
About an hour later, I went to the bathroom and saw a small amount of blood. I had no bleeding in my pregnancy so far. I came out and told Brad that I was worried at that point. He said it was probably nothing and not to worry. About an hour later, I went to the bathroom again and there was more blood. I called my OB and they said to come to the hospital to get checked out thinking it was not going to be anything.
We made it upstairs to triage and they had me go through the usual questions and procedures. The nurse tried to find a heartbeat with the Doppler. Nothing was coming across. She went out and got the ultrasound. Two nurses and one doctor later, and I knew it wasn’t good. I heard the words no mom ever wants to hear: “I’m sorry, your baby has passed away.”
I screamed and couldn’t believe it. I had them double check and show me that there was no blood flow or heartbeat. Marshall was just gone. They prepared me for what was to come next, to be induced. Brad and I called our parents and closest friends as we took our time to process as best we could.
I told the nurses I was ready for the induction. I hate blood draws and they need 22 vials of blood. They wanted to only stick me once. As they struggled to find a vein for quite some time, my back pain had turned into cramping. I remember looking at the nurse and telling her I was a 9-10 on the pain scale now.
She asked if I had been checked for dilation. I said no. She got the doctor in my room within seconds and I was being checked. I was fully dilated and Marshall was crowning. As they were wheeling me down the hall and coaching me not to push yet, I felt him be born. Right there in the hallway. I looked at the doctor and said, “My baby is here.”
She looked and he had been delivered. Marshall was born at 8:58 PM, only 2.5 hours after we arrived at the hospital. We got into L&D and once I had a moment to breathe, I asked to hold him. The nurse handed him to me in a little green blanket. Marshall was perfect. He looked just like Brad.
We later found out that his placenta was very small. It had stopped growing about 2 weeks earlier which caused an abruption, resulting in a stillbirth. I believe that when I felt Marshall kick that afternoon, it was the last moment he was alive.
The nurse took Marshall to have photos taken for me. Those photos are so precious to me and the only few I have of my Marshall. When they brought him to my room, they brought him in this sweet, tiny yellow cradle. I held him in it the rest of the night and the entire next day. I only set Marshall in the cuddle cot when I would nap for 20-30 minutes at a time. We spent the day in the hospital passing him around to family to hold him in the little yellow cradle.
We decided to have Marshall cremated. When we picked up his ashes from the funeral home, we knew we wanted to keep him safe. The little yellow cradle was where he spent the most time with me while he was outside of me here on earth.
My mom and a friend helped me make a memory box with all of his belongings: the cradle, a diaper, a hat, his green blanket, a picture, and a few other things the hospital gifted us. It hangs on the wall in our living room so we can see him every day. His ashes are in the cradle where we know he is safe. Marshall is with us every day at home even though he is not physically here anymore.
Brad and I have learned so much through this loss. We have more love and patience for each other than ever before. Marshall means the world to us and we know he is watching us from above.
Thank you for letting me share my story. Your ministry is amazing and so powerful. I appreciate you providing a community and resources for women who have gone through this tragedy. It’s one I never imagined I would need, but I am so thankful that you all exist and understand.
Written by Bethany Howard, mother of Marshall Howard, born into Heaven 10/6/2021 at 27 weeks
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