Updated: May 15, 2020
(Luca's story was written by Desiree', after an extensive interview with his mom, Dominique. I'll do my best to tell their story!)
Luca Grey; so very wanted and so very, very missed!
Dominique met Luca's daddy, and they fell in love! They dated for 5 months before she got pregnant. That first pregnancy test only showed a faint line, and wanting to be absolutely sure, they purchased another. After the second (now digital) test read "Pregnant", they knew it was for real!
Luca's mom was unsure, after only being together for 5 months prior, that having a baby at this time would be something they both wanted. Before now, abortion has always been an option for Dominique, though it wasn't what she really wanted for her baby. However, raising a child as a single mother/broken family, was also something she was not prepared to do. She asked Luca's dad to make sure he was fully on board with being a father, and without question, he was. He was actually VERY excited!
A few weeks past since the positive pregnancy test and all was going well. However, one day, Luca's mommy started having some spotting. They were living as a couple in Maryland at the time, and trying to find an OB to accept a new patient with bleeding, was nearly impossible. Dominique came back home to her family in NJ with her boyfriend staying behind for work, as she was nervous that her baby would not be okay. Not only was she bleeding, but having discontinued her antidepressants cold turkey, had side effects that were unpleasant at best. Upon arriving at home, Dominique and her mother went to the local Emergency Room, explaining about the unexplained bleeding and also, issues with stopping her medication. They immediately did an ultrasound that revealed she was 6 weeks 3 days and her baby had a strong heartbeat. (Looking back now, she was never given a physical print of her ultrasound and had there been worse news, it would have been the only memory she physically had from her pregnancy. That's not ok!) The official diagnosis was "Subchorionic Hemorrhage", which caused her pregnancy to now be labeled a "Threatened Miscarriage".
After that, her pregnancy was normal and textbook. Dominique felt the usual pregnancy symptoms; nausea and heartburn her constant companion. At about 15 weeks while working at a mall makeup counter, she fainted out of nowhere. When she fell, her face smacked the counter, leaving a mark there forever but no real injury to her or the baby. She would tease her belly after that incident, telling Luca he was naughty to his mom and he wasn't even here yet!
Another thing Luca's mom mentioned is the disconnect she had from her pregnancy. Not because she wasn't enjoying it or happy, but because things with Luca‘s daddy were on and off. He went from being excited, to wanting to take custody of the baby as soon as he was born, back to loving Luca‘s mommy. Getting attached to Luca, while worrying about what kind family life he would have, was all she could think about. Looking back, and knowing what she knows now, Dominique really regrets not fully enjoying her time pregnant.
At 34 weeks, and still feeling alone, Dominique began to feel less movement. Counting kicks wasn't working but maybe nothing was wrong, as most people say that movement becomes less as babies run out of room. That night, calling a friend to be reassured, she was told the same thing. He was probably just too big at this point. (Which, to set the record straight, is COMPLETELY FALSE!!! Your baby should move and be active until the day you deliver!) The next morning, wanting to reassure herself, Dominique got out her home doppler and tried to find his heartbeat.
There was silence.
Since her doctor could not see her, Dominique and her mom left for the hospital. Upon arrival to L&D, the nurse attached her belly to the monitor. But the same silence she heard when using her home doppler, was present again, no matter how much they tried to move it to different areas. The doctor soon entered the room, wheeling in the Ultrasound Machine. Scanning her belly, Dominique already knew what he hesitated to say. The next words to fill that room were, "I don't know how to say this, but there is no heartbeat."
There was silence.
I asked Dominique what she was thinking as he said those words, but she said she thought, "Then this just wasn't meant to be". As if ANY baby "Isn't meant to be", my heart broke hearing that!!! I think that a baby, so loved and wanted by such a wonderful momma, was always meant to be.
This brings me to my next point; things people said when they found out about Luca. MULTIPLE PEOPLE said, "Everything happens for a reason". You should NEVER EVER SAY THIS! Unless the mother/parents believe that to be true, those words have no place in the mind and heart of a loss family! They told her, "You're young, you'll have more children". No, don't say that, don't EVER say that! She wanted THIS child. No baby will take the place of Luca, EVER.
Back in that ultrasound room, after learning her precious son was no longer alive, they sent Dominique home to wait. She was sadly told to come back that evening to be induced. (The thought of this just saddens me to the core!) Going home to wait, she called Luca's dad. She wasn't sure she wanted him there, because of past threats, but he deserved to meet his son. Upon hearing the news, he had no idea what to say. He went to Dominique's house and they sat together and cried.
Returning to the hospital later that Thursday evening, after not really being able to sleep or eat, Dominique tried her best to prepare herself to meet her son. Labor was induced and was actually very easy. Emotionally though, it was draining!
Luca was born, still, on Friday January 3, 2020 at 6:18pm. He weighed 5 lbs 5 ounces and was 18.5 inches long. He was absolutely the most beautiful baby!!
This is where I (Desiree) come into the story. The hospital showed Dominique a brochure for Infant Remembrance Portraiture with NILMDTS. She was not sure about a photographer coming in at this time. Was this what people did? Was it normal? She decided that she would listen to the nurses suggestion and have me come. When I arrived, I saw a huge family at her bedside and the most absolutely beautiful baby boy. Luca was stunning! After introductions, Dominique's family and Lucas daddy got him dressed in a perfect blue handmade outfit. We took photos of everyone in the room, down to aunts and uncles. Many many tears were shed, but the love I saw in Dominque's eyes, as well as Luca's daddy, was beautiful. They cherished every moment with him and took in all his features.
They kept Luca for a few hours after I left, including at least an hour of just mom dad and baby time, before handing him over to the nurses.
The day of the funeral was held the same day Dominique's baby shower was scheduled. Instead of opening gifts and celebrating her baby boy, she was celebrating his life in a much different way. And after that day, was the end of Luca's daddy (And his family's) relationship with Dominique. Even this past Mother's Day, there was never a mention of Dominique and her Motherhood from him or his entire family. (However very recently, Luca's paternal grandfather blessed Dominique with a beautiful bouquet of roses and his tears, after only just learning of Luca's passing. His love and compassion was very much appreciated)
4 month later and so much has taken place in Dominique's life. First, she memorialized her son by getting a tattoo of his name, "Luca Grey", on her neck with his ashes mixed into the ink. She started therapy with a great counselor, and through that, has started a legacy project for Luca by making custom Dream Catchers for herself and other loss families. She said its very therapeutic and a way to express her love for Luca, helping others as she grieves. Lastly, she started the Stillbirthday Bereavement Doula course, sponsored by Three Little Birds. Thinking of helping others in the future is scary, but something she really wants to do.
Looking back on this past year, Dominique said she can almost remember the moment she lost Luca. The days leading up to his passing were filled with concern for his well being, but with no obvious reason. She says now, death and dying are not scary to her. She knows that after she passes, she will be reunited with her son, and that thought is very comforting. With that said though, she's very excited for the future. Of course, we are too, and only wish her happy endings!!