Oct 13, 2014

John Carter & Elliot: Katie Bryant

Katie Bryant is the sister of a member of my father-in-law's congregation in Norman, Oklahoma. Her story has traveled far and it is beautiful.

I pray for the eyes that will read it, the ears that will hear her words. I pray that as you read this story you can see the goodness of the Lord even in heartbreak. Oh how good the Lord to us.

In June of 2011 my first son Walker Richard Bryant was born. He is a healthy and happy three and a half year old. He is the light of our lives.

Back when Walker turned one in June of 2012 we started trying for another baby. We had struggled with infertility so I wanted to get started as soon as possible. It took a few months of treatment but by January 2013 I got a positive pregnancy test. We were thrilled! Just so excited!

I had my first ultrasound at the end of January of 2013. I will never forget that day. "There is Baby A" the tech said. And there is Baby B." We were shocked. Two strong healthy heartbeats and babies measuring right on track. I was shocked, scared, and thrilled! Every emotion you could imagine.

We decided to wait until around 13 weeks to tell family and friends, just to make sure everything was okay. The babies continued to measure perfect and grow perfect each week we checked. The reality of bringing home twins was beginning to sink in and we enjoyed sharing this news with family and friends.

We went in for our 20 week ultrasound and both boys looked and measured great. Again, we were beyond thrilled. I was still a little hesitant just because they were twins so I requested a 3D ultrasound just to get a better look. My doctor agreed and we set one up for 22 weeks. When we got there she showed us both babies and they both looked excellent. She measured each and answered a bunch of our questions. I will never forget watching them both play together on that screen.  The tech only saw one thing she was concerned about. Baby B had a little fluid on his kidneys. So she wanted us to come back at 26 weeks and have a look.

Of course I was worried sick. We talked to my OB and he wasn't concerned at all. He said that the amount on his kidneys was nothing he would even worry about. The next few weeks went by slowly; I was constantly worried something was wrong with one of the boys. We continued to prepare for them. Ordered cribs and bedding, two swings, two bouncy seats, etc. We also bought quite a few matching boy outfits. I wanted all their clothes to match. We still had not decided on names or I would have started embroidering outfits.

At 26 weeks 4 days we went back in for our 3D ultrasound to check them out. I was nervous but doing okay. She started on Baby A. She measured his head. It showed up as 24 weeks 4 days. I looked at Dustin and he looked at me. My first thought was 'okay he's going to have some developmental problems.' Nothing in my mind said that he was gone. She moved to his abdomen and that also measured 24 weeks 4 days. Still nothing registered with me.

She quickly changed to Baby B and he scanned perfect and she placed the Doppler on his heartbeat and let us hear. It was in that moment that I realized she hadn't shown us Baby A's heartbeat. I asked her and she just said I am so sorry Mrs. Bryant he doesn't have a heartbeat.

I can honestly say my world turned upside down in that moment on June 13th 2013. My baby died.

How did this happen? What was wrong?

Nobody really had any answers.

My doctor thought is was a cord accident, but I was just not sure. We did a couple of blood tests just to make sure and there was nothing wrong that they could find. The next few weeks the devastation really set in. I could hardly move my body I was so sad. I named Baby A John Carter and named Baby B Elliott. At this point all we wanted to do was keep Elliott in as long as possible. My doctor didn't think this would be a problem since I carried my son Walker to 40 weeks.

At 28 weeks 4 days I went into sudden premature labor and delivered Elliott at 2 pounds 13 ounces. and John Carter at 1 pound 6 ounces born sleeping. Elliott was immediately taken to the NICU; he was very small and they didn't know if he was going to survive.

We got to spend the day with John Carter. He was perfect! I was in love and could not believe that this tiny little boy was gone and not up in the NICU with his brother. He got to meet his grandparents and Aunt Jess. We got professional pictures with him. We just thought he was the greatest thing ever! So handsome. I can close my eyes and see his perfect little lips.

I will never forget my husband coming in and whispering that it was time to give him over to the nurses. It's such a blur. How do you hand your baby over knowing you will never see him again in this lifetime? The pain was excruciating. The worry over Elliott had not even set in yet. I was so preoccupied with John Carter.

I didn't even get to see Elliott until the next day. He was tiny and oh so perfect too. The doctor told us everything that could go wrong with a baby born that early and it was not good. But he was stable and doing well at that time. Everyone told us the NICU is two steps forward and three back.

Boy were they right. We rode quite the roller coaster over the next 50 days with Elliott.

Elliott is now home and 15 months old. He is happy, healthy and such a little fighter. I am so proud of that boy. He fought so hard his first 15 months of life. He is a true miracle of God's merciful hands.

While we struggle daily with the loss of John Carter we also praise God for Elliott's life. I am still right in the middle of grief and trying to figure out what that looks like for me and my family. I want people to know John Carter's story and how much we love him and prayed for him daily. I miss him so much sometimes that my heart feels like it's breaking in two again.

God has been faithful to us in this journey in that He showed us what it looks like when his people are actually the hands and feet of Christ. It was amazing how loving, thoughtful, and kind people can be. Also the people who prayed for our sweet Elliott on a daily basis we are forever grateful too.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story

- Katie Bryant

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