I found out I was pregnant in Morocco after four months of traveling around the world with my partner Ted. It explained why I was so hot in Egypt while we were walking around the pyramids, why I was so starving in Dubai, and why I couldn’t get enough sleep in Singapore! Our son, Pablo Valentine, was conceived in Bangkok at the beginning of April 2017. He was the ultimate love-child, hence the middle name! My first ultrasound was in Spain; that’s where we heard his heartbeat for the first time. We planned on traveling more together, but settled down in Portland, Oregon to have a home to raise our child in. We felt Pablo kick for the first time weeks after moving into our new family home. The plan was to have a set home base for the pregnancy and early infant months and then to travel again when he was a little over a year old.
Sometimes things in life do not go according to plan. At 33 weeks we found out Pablo had stopped growing and measured in the 10th percentile for his gestational age. Two harrowing days later, I had an emergency C-section because our son was in fetal distress. Pablo was born November 11, 2017. The first time I saw him, I couldn’t believe how beautiful he was. My initial thought was, “he looks nothing like me!” and then he reached his hands towards the clear window in the c-section divider to hold our fingers in his hands. I knew at that very moment he was mine; I’m notorious for grabbing people as they are speaking to show affection. We were so proud of how well he was doing in the NICU. He was putting on weight fast and exhibiting healthy-baby signs. He loved kicking the blankets that were bundled around him off with his giant feet. He may have been very small—3 pounds, 5 ounces—but his personality was larger than life. One of his nurses joked about his facial expressions reminding her of Jean Luc Picard’s from Star Trek Next Generation; it made perfect sense because his parents are very expressive people. We busy were making preparations to bring him home, in 3-4 weeks we were told.
The hospital called us in the middle of the night on Pablo’s 10th day. Everything changed—our son was very sick. We rushed to get there as soon as we could. Pablo had an infection called Necrotizing Enterocolitis. We were told it was very, very serious. Neither of us knew what this was. As the hours went by, we could see that he was getting much worse. Soon, we realized our son was never coming home with us. It was the most painful hours I’ve ever had to endure watching his life come to a sudden end.
We kept ourselves busy organizing a small memorial service. It was then that I became obsessed with the idea of finding a necklace to remind me of how it felt to hold his body against mine when he was inside and outside of the womb. I came across Tiny Tags and knew immediately that their necklaces were exactly what I was looking for. I’m not much of a jewelry person—I almost never wear any—but, it was so comforting to to think about carrying his name with me at all times. I still wear my Pablo necklace day and night. I often wish that people would look at it closer and ask me about who Pablo is; when you have lost a child, you want to tell everyone you meet about them, but you hold back for the fear of making them sad or uncomfortable.
On December 27, 2017 we were married. It was Pablo’s due date. We had a small ceremony with just a handful of friends who were still in town over the holidays. Pablo’s ashes were with us on our wedding day and my Pablo necklace from Tiny Tags was the only piece of jewelry that I wore.