Dani's Story of Charles Thomas
By Dani Bovee
This is a story of goodness. This is a story about a little boy who was every good thing in my life.
On October 20th, Nic and I found out that we were pregnant with our first child. The first two emotions to flow through me were excitement and fear. My biggest dream in life has been to be a mother. I’ve always known I was born to be a mother. It is a part of my calling. The excitement rushed through me as I became aware that my biggest dream was coming true. The fear came with all of the thoughts of “what will it be like?” “what type of mother will I be?”“how is my life going to change?” and “what if things end badly?” These are fears that went away as I settled into the fact that this was going to be the best journey that Nic and I would take together.
As the weeks progressed, I became obsessed with pregnancy and all of the development our baby was going through. I had three different apps, 4 different books, and I watched at least 40 YouTube videos about what to eat, what type of exercise to do (not that I did any), what type of baby clothes to buy, and what was the BEST type of stroller and car seat. I wanted my baby’s life to be perfect. I didn’t want to OVER spoil him, but I wanted him to have everything. I even researched what type of pre-school our child should eventually go to. The one thing that I was most obsessed with researching was the percentage for miscarriage at certain weeks in the pregnancy. Each week, the percentage got smaller, and it was addicting to know that I got through just one more week. When the first trimester finally ended, I was blissful. I thought that it was smooth sailing from there. We told the internet, took maternity pictures, and even bought our child his first stuffy and hat (though we didn’t know it was a boy).
It became so fun to dream about all of the things we would get to do with our child, like take them on their first camping trip, buy them their first lego set, teach them how to read books, ride a bike, and just watch them experience this life for the first time. We loved guessing if it was a boy or girl and everybody had a gut feeling it was a little boy in there. I finally got around to making a registry of all of the essentials that we would need and even set a date for our baby shower. It took me about 15 weeks to finally settle into the fact that “THIS WAS HAPPENING!”
After waiting and waiting, around 17 weeks, I felt the first baby flutters. These quickly became little kicks that I would feel every night before I went to sleep. I so looked forward to laying down and feeling our baby dance inside my womb. It was so addicting to feel him alive and well inside my body. The first time I felt him besides right before bed was during choir rehearsal. He would kick and kick whenever the music was being sung. I knew he would love music just like his mommy and daddy. I became so settled in the joy that our little baby was bringing already that I had no fear. I was on cloud 9. I loved looking in the mirror and seeing my little bump get a little bit bigger each week.
We had an appointment set for Feb. 12th to do an anatomy scan and find out the gender. I had it in my calendar and was literally counting down the days. I couldn’t wait until I found out if it was a boy or girl and I definitely couldn’t wait to know for sure that he was doing well and that everything was developing correctly. My classes were so excited for me to do a gender reveal and my students were already taking bets on whether it was a boy or girl. I couldn’t wait to celebrate with them when I found out.
On Friday, Feb. 1st, I was 19 weeks and 5 days pregnant. I was in Denver on a trip to All-State choir with my student Hayden. Thursday night check-in and rehearsal had gone really well and we were having a great time! We got to go to The Cheesecake Factory and have dinner on Thursday night and then we got to bed at about 10 pm to get ready for a big day of rehearsals on Friday. I went to bed blissful as I felt my little baby keeping me company in that big empty hotel room. The next day, I had rehearsal monitor duty first thing in the morning. We had an amazing continental breakfast at the hotel and then went to our 8 o'clock rehearsal. I did the tardy recording for the tenor/bass choir and then was done. At 9:00 we had a directors meeting to talk about all of the All-State changes for next year and we got to meet new directors. It’s always amazing to see just how many directors there are in Colorado. I’m so glad to be one of them. At 9:30, I went back to the hotel, grabbed some decaf coffee and a muffin and went up to my room. I laid down and watched a couple episodes of “Grace and Frankie” which is a new show that I got into.
Then, when lunch came around I walked back to the Embassy Suites and checked in with Hayden. He decided to go to Smash Burger with his friends and I didn’t want to be weird so I just went by myself to a place called “Mixed Greens” and ordered an Asian salad. It was so good. Hayden would’ve hated it because he doesn’t like vegetables. I drank a natural root beer and walked around the 16th street mall. I loved people watching and feeling the energy of the city. Hayden and I then went back to the Embassy to watch the All-State Jazz concert. It was incredible! During the All-State jazz performance, I felt a cramp that was like a period cramp. I decided to go back to my room and wait until Nic got here. I watched another episode of Grace and Frankie and then heated up my leftover spaghetti and was just relaxing on my bed. I went to the bathroom around 3:00 after feeling a couple more cramps and when I wiped, there was a bit of blood. I had a pang of pain in my heart and fear came back like a flood. Oh no. I told myself to not panic and just go lay down. I laid down and the pain was still there in my belly.
Some things in life are so unexpected that it just takes your breath away. Some things are so out of your control that you feel like you are on a roller coaster and you want to get off but it’s already going 60 miles per hour and you can’t stop it even if you tried. Nic and I were on that unstoppable roller coaster from the day we found out we were pregnant. We knew from the beginning that this was in God’s hands. As I laid in my bed, feeling the pain and feeling our child kick my hand, I cried out in my heart, "please God, help us."
At around 3:30, Nic showed up. I walked down to meet him outside and the cramps were so strong it hurt to stand- it just felt like a bad period. I told Nic and we went back up to the hotel room and talked about it. We thought it may just be Braxton-Hicks contractions and that they should go away. They were just dull period cramps, and I didn’t think it was anything to worry about. We walked to Embassy because I had my director choir rehearsal then the balcony sing.
During the balcony sing, my cramps got so bad I couldn’t stand and I started sweating, that's when I started to think this was bad and that I needed to go to the hospital. I started freaking out a little bit and told Nic we had to go- like now. I told Hayden, Hunter, and Hunter's director that I had to go to the hospital because I was having bad stomach pains. As we were walking to the hotel the contractions amped up and it became SO painful to walk. I was trying not to panic. I kept thinking not tonight-I can’t be having the baby. I called Emi and my mom and Christi and dad but Christi was the only one to pick up. I asked her what Braxton Hicks contractions were like and told her that we were going to the hospital. At this point, I was dizzy with the pain and could barely talk. We got to the hotel but our cars were in the valet parking lot, Nic told the valet person that this was an emergency and he had no doubt because I was sitting on the pavement crying and clenching in pain. They got our car out as fast as possible and Nic was en route to the nearest hospital which was luckily only 5 minutes away. The contractions were becoming stronger and closer together in the car and I had to cross my legs to keep myself from pushing which is exactly what my body was wanting to do. I felt consumed with grief already because in my heart, I knew this was bad- really bad. Having Nic by my side assuring me that we didn't know for sure what was happening was a relief. He had so much hope and I started to believe that maybe he was right- maybe it was going to be okay.
When we got to the ER they saw that I was in labor and put me straight up into the labor and delivery unit. They got me in a wheelchair and it felt like it took them forever to get across the hospital to the unit I needed to be in. When we got to our room, they had me try to pee in a cup. I couldn’t pee- I didn’t want to push because I felt like the baby would just pop out. They put a contraction monitor on my belly and sure enough I was having contractions every couple of minutes. They really wanted me to pee in a cup so after drinking a lot of water, I had to pee.
When I went pee, I was wiping and felt something coming out of me. I can’t even describe the amount of fear I had at that moment. I thought it was the baby. I came out of the bathroom practically naked and told them that there was something coming out of me. They looked inside and sure enough, the entire water sack was slipping out. They got an ultrasound machine in the room and looked at my uterus. Sure enough, my water sack was slipping out because I was almost fully dilated. They asked me if I wanted to know if it was a boy or girl and I said yes. They said it’s a boy! I knew it. I had a wave of joy crash over me at the news of it being a boy, but that joy was quickly followed by pure fear when they told me that they would have to push the sack back into my contracting uterus and then sew it up in order to save this baby. I was willing to do anything to save my sweet boy but in the meantime, my uterus had other plans- it was still contracting out of my control. They inverted my bed so that gravity was pushing the sack back into my body. It was extremely uncomfortable because my body was trying to push it out. The doctors needed to do blood tests so they stuck a needle in my hand and drew blood. They needed to see that I didn’t have an infection before they could sew up my uterus with the baby inside. They didn’t even have time to get the blood test done and make the decision before my contractions were so strong I was crying out in pain. They decided to put me back flat so that all the blood wasn’t rushing to my head. I heard a big pop as the water broke came crashing out. Less than a minute later something else came out and the doctor said: “that was the baby.”
By this point they had me on an IV with some drugs going into my system- I think more for the emotional trauma I was going through than the physical pain. I was in shock. I couldn’t hear anything they were saying I just watched as our little teeny tiny baby boy was picked up by the nurse. They clamped the umbilical cord and cut it. They asked if I wanted to do skin to skin and I nodded yes. Meanwhile, the doctor had her hand up in me trying to pull the placenta out. She told me to push and it only took about three big pushes before the placenta came out. It was so shocking to see all of the blood on the nurses and doctors hands and to all of a sudden have my son put on my chest. I was on that roller coaster and this was what was happening. He was so little, but he was so perfect. He had all of his fingers and toes and was so cute. I couldn’t even cry- I was in shock. All I could hear was my sweet husband sobbing over us. I could feel his tears shower us with his love. The doctor was explaining what had happened, but I couldn’t really listen. I was just staring at this perfect little person on my chest and feeling Nic beside me.
They explained to us that there was no hope for him- it was just too early in the development and even if he did survive, he would live a life with serious problems. I could just feel mine and Nic’s hearts breaking at the same time. But instead of breaking once, it felt like each heartbeat we witnessed was another shatter of our heart. He was alive in this world- our son was alive. We didn’t know how many heartbeats we had with him but the doctors and nurses were amazing. They left us and let us have alone time with our precious son. We looked at every inch of him and talked about every little detail. He had Nic’s body structure for sure- strong and tall and so perfect. He had my little ears and a mix of mine and Nic’s feet. He had my double jointed hands and he had the most perfect cute face I have ever seen. He had his auntie Bri's nose and you could see that he was already developing the famous Bovee Brows. He had the most perfect body and we just couldn’t believe that he was still breathing and that his heart was still beating. The doctors were surprised at how long he lasted and we were so thankful. They asked if he had a name and we decided to give him the names of our grandfathers, Charles Thomas Bovee. They wrote it down and it just felt so good that he had a name- it is a strong name for the strongest little boy in the world.
After about 30 minutes, the Chaplin came in to baptize Charles. We prayed over him and Nic got to baptize him with some water from the tiniest little cup. I felt so much peace at that moment but I also felt so much loss. I didn’t have enough time with him- I was being crushed under the reality of this journey. Why was this happening?
After the baptism, we took turns holding him on our chests. We didn’t ever want to leave this moment. I just wished that he would live. His heart rate slowed down but it was still beating and finally, we saw some fluid come out of his nose and he closed his mouth. I knew that this was it- our son was leaving to go be with the father in heaven. Even though the sadness I was feeling was indescribable- I couldn’t help but feel thankful for our time with our son. I just love him so much and was thankful to witness life in him.
The nurse told us that this is our time with him and that we can sleep with him and hold him for as long as we want. She did say that she could take pictures and get his weight and height and also do his foot and hand prints. We let her take him and while she was doing that, we called each of the parents and sisters. The grief was amplified as our family learned of the news. It really was a testament to the power of family and community.
Zoe and my parents decided to come down that night and Christi and Noelle and Rachel and Mark were going to come in the morning. The nurse, Annie, brought Charles back in and weighed him at 10 oz and he was 10 inches long! He was very tall for his age- that is Nic coming out in him again. She gave him back to us and reassured us that there was no time limit. We could spend as much time with him as we wanted. No time is enough time.
Eventually, the doctor came back in and described why this happened. My cervix was thinning over time and I had no idea, so I was dilating but I wasn’t having painful contractions the whole time- it’s what they call ghost labor. They assured me that I would have babies in the future, but I will be at high risk for pre-term labor again so they will have to sew my cervix shut and give me hormones to keep it tight. Though the sadness was crushing me this whole time and I felt like I had let Charles down, it gave me hope that this wasn’t it. I just felt betrayed by my body- it didn’t even show any symptoms of anything happening until it was too late. There was literally nothing I could do- but I wished there was. She assured me that I shouldn’t blame myself and that the grief would be a long process- in fact, this would never leave us- but it would get easier. I was assured at the thought that I never had to forget Charles- I never had to "get over it" because in my heart I knew that to be an impossible task. My heart was changed. My life was changed. I would never be the same. I was a mommy.
She left and Nic and I just sat there holding our precious son as we waited for my parents and Zoe to get there. When they got there, another wave came crashing over us of this heartbreaking journey we had been set on. My parents and Zoe wept with us as they took turns holding Charles in their arms. I thanked them for coming to endure this with us because I know it is a sensitive experience for my family. My mom and dad lost two of their own son’s in a similar way. Zoe lost her twin in a similar way. I didn’t know how it was going to be for them. Even though it was crushing for them to watch this happen, they were so thankful to get to see Charles in person and to hold him in their arms. I was also thankful and in awe that he got to be in his grandparents’ arms too. We all prayed together and eventually they had to go to bed as it was now 1 in the morning. Nic went with them to the hotel to get them settled in and in the meantime, Nic put Charles in my arms and I got some alone time with him. I just stroked his face and told him that I was sorry for this happening to him. I told him over and over how much I loved him and that he was perfect and how proud I was. It was so heartbreaking to look at him- this perfect creation and know that my time with him was so short. He was so peaceful but I was in turmoil. It felt good to have his body next to me- I was used to having him inside me. I missed him so much already. The nurse put him in his cold bassinet because I was about to fall asleep and when I did, it was only for an hour before the nurse came back in to hook me up to some antibiotics at 4 am. By that time, Christi was on her way and I couldn’t go back to sleep. Nic came over and laid in bed with me and we tried to rest our eyes until Christi got there. When she did, another wave of grief came over us as she hugged her son and felt his grief. She got some precious alone time with Charles as well holding his little body and looking at his face. Her tears showered him with love and Nic and I rested our eyes as she sat and held him- it was comforting to know he was in loving arms. I was exhausted.
At 7:30, Rachel came from Greeley and yet another wave of grief showered over us as she saw her little nephew and held him. It was comforting to have her there with us and I felt like my sisters and parents and my husband were really holding me together at that point. A little bit later, my parents and Zoe came back and it was really good to have them there. I wanted to FaceTime Bri and that was just such a tender moment because she was sobbing and we were all sobbing. She has such a tender heart and I know that she felt so alone in Montana. I wished we could’ve teleported her to Denver to hold Charles. It was so good to have everybody in there. We eventually hung up the phone and a little bit after that Noelle showed up. She was just heartbroken to see her nephew and her brother and me so crushed and she was so sweet to Nic and me. She got to hold Charles and I loved watching her look at him.
Mark was the last person who was going to come. He was flying home from Florida and was going to land in CO Springs at 10 am, then drive down to Denver. Of course, we were happy to wait for him because that meant more time with Charles’ body. Mark got stuck in traffic, but eventually, he showed up. At this point, we were all crashed with another wave of grief because Nic really let it all loose when he started hugging his daddy. I wondered if it was because of that Father-Son bond that he was grieving with his son. We all lost it. We knew our time was shortening and I felt like half of me just wanted to leave because it was just too hard, but the other half of me was clinging to our son with all of my might- never wanting to leave him and his perfect little face.
We circled around the hospital bed and prayed. It was a holy time for my family. We prayed against fear and any lies that the enemy was trying to plant. We prayed for comfort and for grace and peace. It was holy and beautiful. We passed our son around to Pops, Nonnie, Auntie Rachel, Auntie Zoe, Auntie Noelle, GiGi, and finally BoomPa. They all gave their final kiss and goodbye and packed up their stuff to wait for us in the waiting room. Nic and I had asked if we could do our final goodbye together in private.
I stood up and Nic and I collapsed in each other's embrace, sobbing because it was coming to a close- our time with our son in this world. I cannot even describe the amount of love that I felt for my husband Nic. This man that was literally my support and my comforter. Everything that we had gone through in our life together was all leading up to this moment. He is perfect for me in every way and I saw that perfection in our time with Charles. I’ve never seen another human being love so much. I could tangibly feel Nic’s love for Charles and me. It was overwhelming and really kept me floating above the sadness. I became so thankful for Nic and for his life and all that he was doing for me and all the had done for me and all that I knew he would do for me in the future. This man was made for me and all I could think of as we hugged and got ready to say goodbye to our son was, “for better or for worse” and we had definitely experienced the worst. I couldn’t have done it with anybody else by my side.
The little comfort I had walking up to the bassinet to say my final goodbye was that Nic was feeling the grief equally. We felt equally broken. We loved our boy equally, and we shared this heavy burden.
I kissed my son and said my final goodbye and then Nic took him to the window to let the sunlight pour out on his little face and sobbed one last cry over his son and showered him in more loving tears. He finally set him down. The hardest part was walking out of that room. I wanted to take Charles and run, but of course, I knew that he needed to be at peace. And so we left our son and went to be with our family. The rest of the day was a haze. We drove back to Colorado Springs with my family and went to lunch. I cried during lunch and I felt like it couldn’t be real. I kept touching my flat tummy and became overwhelmed with grief every time.
We stopped by Ranny and Papa’s and cried some more with my grandparents. They have been through this many times and it doesn’t get easier. Eventually, we got back up to Woodland Park and took Charles’ box of his pictures and teddy bear to the Bovee’s house to show Nat because he was the only family member that didn’t get to come down and hold him. Another wave of grief crashed over us as yet another one of our family members embraced the loss and reality of what had happened. Nat was Charles’ only uncle and he was so sad that he never got to do the fun uncle things and he was really grieving what could’ve been- just like us.
We finally got home and it felt weird. Nic and I were constantly touching- we didn’t like being apart because we felt so fragile. We got ready for bed right away and were in bed at about 6:30 (we had only gotten about 1.5 hours of sleep the previous day). We cried in each other's arms until we finally fell asleep. I woke up at 3 in the morning to go to the bathroom and cried some more. When I got back to bed, Nic was awake and we cuddled and he fell back asleep but I couldn’t and I cried and cried. Finally, I fell asleep.
This morning we woke up at 9 am and cried some more. I asked Nic, “What do we do now?” He said, “unfortunately, we call the funeral home and plan our son’s memorial and we cry.” And that is what we did. We told more friends and the grief expanded. When will it end? I don’t think I will ever get over this tragic and traumatic event, but I am hoping that the doctor is right about it getting easier because this is hard.
Nic and I know that Charles’ life purpose was fulfilled in the two and a half hours he was alive in our arms. He is a symbol of the good in everything. He is our joy and goodness embodied and we will always remember him that way. He is pure and he is thankfulness and he is holy. We created a beautiful human with a beautiful life purpose and we will always be impacted by his life. For such a small boy, he left a huge mark on our hearts and our lives. He confirmed our purpose of being parents and he really bonded Nic and I together during his time in our arms. I will never forget our sweet poppy- our tall, handsome, active, and precious son. The most innocent, and pure, and perfect person in our lives. We will always try to live our lives through the filter that there is goodness in every situation. Charles taught us that. As I look back, I still feel as though this is the best journey Nic and I will take. This journey lead us to Charles. This journey taught us what deep love truly is. This journey is our life. I will never stop sharing this amazing story and I will never forget our son Charles Thomas Bovee. We love you every day of forever and cannot wait to hold you in heaven.
Love, your mommy