For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Robin Boudreau…and I too am an Iowa City Mom. In addition to being a medical sales rep for Medtronic, a hobby photographer, and a food blogger, I am also a wife to my husband, high school sweetheart, and best friend, Ryan. Together we are the parents of 2 beautiful children, Bella + Ben…and one angel. It is to honor our angel Beau that I am writing each of you today.
As Ryan and I continue to share our journey, we are hopeful that others who have walked a similar path (or may do so in the future), find peace, strength, and encouragement. After reading our story, we’ll share with you our plan to give back and honor Beau along with other babies lost each year. So here goes:
In January 2013, I posted a vote on Facebook. We were 15 to 16 weeks pregnant and wondering…were we expecting a girl…or a boy? A week later, we were headed to Cedar Rapids to do an ultrasound with our dear friend Abbey, just as we had during our pregnancy with Bella. Abbey greeted us with her warm smile, and we joked about just what exactly we’d find. Would Bella have a sister…or a brother? Would I need to start shopping or would Bella’s wardrobe become hand-me-downs? Just before starting the scan, I looked to Abbey and said, “Abbey, remember, if you see that something is wrong with the baby….tell me. It is okay to tell me.” In her compassionate and professional voice, she said, “Of course. It won’t be official, but I will tell you.” This was the same conversation we’d had before scanning Bella.
Fortunately, as we started the scan, our little Beau was head down and rump up. Like any good little boy, he was proud to make it abundantly clear that he was a boy. I was shocked. I think Ryan was too…and Abbey, well she was just grinning from ear to ear. I think her words were, “It looks like we will be throwing you another baby shower!”
From there, Abbey began scanning the rest of his tiny body. As she approached his head, I immediately felt my heart sink. I calmly but abruptly said, “What’s wrong with his head?” It was clear to the three of us that something was drastically wrong. Unfortunately, there was no one in the office to call in, no one to grab a second opinion from, no one to make sense of what we were seeing. Poor Abbey tried to find comforting words and encouraging explanations, but clearly, we had all shut down. Ryan, having a background in neuroscience, knew that Beau’s skull and brain were malformed. Even I, from the few images I could make sense of, knew the diagnosis and prognosis, could not possibly be good.
After a night of tears, questions, and mounting fear, I called the University of Iowa Hospital on Tuesday morning. I pleaded with them to see us….how could we possibly wait? Despite my efforts, we were encouraged to visit on Wednesday with the Fetal Genetics Team. The rest of Tuesday was torturous. What was wrong with our son? Had I done something wrong? Was there something wrong with us? Could he live? And most gut-wrenching of all, would we be asked to choose? In those hours, Abbey met with two of the OB Physicians in her office. Though extremely rare, both physicians believed that Beau suffered from some form of acrania (missing skull) and that the severity of the defect would leave virtually no chance for survival.
Through the tears, I prayed. I prayed over and over again for God to make Beau’s condition clear to us. I prayed for clear scans, absolute diagnoses/prognoses, and for the decision to be HIS, not ours. With the help of a dear friend, I also prayed that we would be given no more than we could handle. No less…but no more.
As we sat in the waiting room at UIHC on Wednesday morning, I was consumed with fear, guilt, and pain. I remember scanning the room and fighting terrible thoughts…terrible questions about the others that sat around us. Through the frustration and anger, I reminded myself that being a good parent, a healthy 30-something, and a hard-working, contributing member of society doesn’t make me exempt from heartache, tragedy, or struggle. Maybe it was just our turn. Maybe we had something to learn. Maybe, just maybe, life happens.
After what felt like hours, we made our way into the ultrasound with a team of 7+ staff. I laid on that table, Ryan by my side, and baby Beau up on the screen as Doctors discerned several abnormalities throughout his body. With tears streaming down our faces, they confirmed our worst fears. Beau suffered from severe acrania (missing much of his skull) and a sizeable portion of his brain was protruding through the opening and developing abnormally. The Doctor looked at us and said, “The prognosis is extremely poor. The extent of these defects are incompatible with life.” I cannot put into words the pain and suffering that followed. How could this sweet little boy have not a chance? There would be no divine miracles. There would be no medical miracles. As hard as this was to accept, we found peace trusting this must be part of God’s plan. This WAS His plan. Somehow, we’d have to prepare for goodbye. We were losing him before we’d ever get to hold him.
That Friday, the time came to say goodbye. Our sweet Beau was delivered and handed over to Heaven. We were completely and utterly crushed by his departure but feel so very fortunate to have had him in our lives. He is our son. He will forever be with us. And most importantly, he has taught us so very much in just 5 days…about love, about life, about the strength of our marriage, about the compassion and support around us, about parenthood, and about loss. He is nothing but a blessing, and we are proud to share his story… a story that should not go untold.
Though I asked to see him, the staff urged me not to due to the extent of his head malformations, particularly, those of his face (double cleft) which were previously not apparent in the ultrasound. In addition to his cranial and brain defects, his left hand and foot were severely deformed, lending support to some type of genetic syndrome caused by a chromosomal abnormality. I trust the staff’s decision…for now we will always remember him as that beautiful little boy we’d dreamed of sharing in our future…one who probably looked so much like his daddy.
It is my hope that each of you reading this story will learn something from our struggle. And God forbid, should any parent have to experience this down the road, may you feel comfortable reaching out to us. Had one of my dearest girlfriends not confided her story with me years ago, this struggle would have been much darker. May you all hug your children extra-long this evening. May you appreciate the delicacies in creating life. No pregnancy is a given. Life is fragile and fleeting. We must appreciate every gift, in every form, every day.
You can visit my blog to read our full story.
As some of you may remember, last September 2014, we hosted our 1st Annual No Foot Too Small Benefit. In that inaugural year, we celebrated 15 babies that lost their lives far too soon…a majority of those babies were YOURS. Yes, ICMB families who reached out and shared their story – joining NFTS! That September evening we shared Beau’s story, held a silent auction, enjoyed live music, and came together as a special community – a community of families who’ve experienced an unimaginable loss. The loss of a pregnancy, infant, or child. At the end of the event, we’d raised over $10,000 – all of which was donated to the March of Dimes.
We are proud to announce that we are hosting our 2nd Annual No Foot Too Small Benefit on September 24th at Cedar Ridge Winery in Swisher. This year, we are doing something a little different – something very special to me. This year, we are selecting our very own No Foot Too Small Feature Family. We are honored to have chosen Blake & Stevee Tiernan from Cedar Rapids to share their story – Claire’s Story. You can read their story here.
As I did last year, I am inviting you to join us. We welcome you! Just as I photographed Ryan holding Beau’s footprint, I would be honored to photograph other families who are also left with a mere print of their child. I will print these images on canvases, hang them at the Benefit and present them to the families at the end of the night.
**You can find out more about our 2015 NFTS Benefit HERE.**
You may also visit our Facebook pages:
Thank you all for reading this very long post and we hope to see you at the event in September! If you’d like to get involved, feel free to reach out to me: [email protected].