Sunday, July 18, 2010
October 25, 2009 - The morning after A's baptism. I had slept on the floor of R's room and woke early to find AF had not arrived. I went into the bathroom, debated with myself a bit and then took a digital HPT. I watched the little hour glass turn over and over and then...Pregnant! I was shocked and kept staring at it in disbelief. I climbed into bed with DH and whispered, "Well, I'm pregnant." It seemed so easy. God had given me the desire of my heart after all.
7 weeks - I made an appointment at Dr. L's office and while waiting for the nurse practitioner to arrive, Dr. L poked her head in the door, "I think it is time we have another. What do you think?" She always makes me laugh. I was very happy that day.
12 weeks - Dr. L couldn't get the heartbeat on her doppler. She left to get the ultrasound machine and I sat on the bed and tried to breathe. It was a miscarriage. I was sure. Would I need a D&C? Did I want to miscarry at home? Back with the u/s machine, we were both surprised to see a wriggling baby. She was all arms and legs and moving so much that Dr. L still had trouble getting her heartbeat. I was so glad to see her alive. My busy baby. The fireball I always imagined for my daughter. The perfect balance for my introverted little boy. Back at home, I got out my maternity clothes, admired my growing belly and made plans.
16 weeks - My breasts which hadn't changed at all over the course of the pregnancy had suddenly swelled up over the weekend. I spent Monday throwing up and Tuesday on the couch with horrifically low blood pressure. E, my midwife, came for an appointment and once again, we couldn't get a heartbeat on the doppler. She said it had happened before, especially with someone with a very retroverted uterus like mine. I tried not to worry, but called her the next day to ask about being referred for an ultrasound. She came over that night with a better doppler. Still no luck. DH assured me that everything was fine. Over the next week, I continued to weigh myself in the morning and look at my belly in the mirror. I didn't seem as firm or big as I remembered being at this point with R, but I didn't think much of it.
January 25, 2010 - 17 weeks 2 days - I'm bleeding. My heart was beating wildly. I couldn't think of what it meant. R was asleep so I couldn't scream in fear like I wanted to. I stumbled out of the bathroom and found DH outside of the door. (Oh, this was just like last time.) He asked what was wrong before I could speak. "I'm bleeding," I said. He held me and said everything would be okay. We retreated back into the bathroom together. I got E's number but decided to wait out the night. I lay in bed, thought I felt the baby moving and prayed.
January 26 - I woke up to cramping and downward pressure. Not good. I called my midwife to get an ultrasound appointment. I claimed I could go alone, but DH took off work and we drove 40 minutes to the clinic. I don't remember what we talked about on the way. Nothing so serious as this possibly being the end. We waited a long time in the reception area. Then we were taken back into the office. They weighed me and I noted for the first time that my weight had plateaued. I had even lost a little. We got into an exam room, the doctor came in after a short time and started an abdominal ultrasound right away. I saw the familiar form of my baby's head appear on the screen immediately. Move, baby, I thought, move. I reached out and took DH's hand. The doctor pointed at the baby's chest area and said, "Right in here is where we're looking for cardiac movement." There was just a black hole where a beating heart should be. The baby was still. "I'm sorry," said the doctor, "I don't see a heartbeat." I knew. Of course, I knew, but I had held on to hope until that moment. Now, I clutched my husband, sobbing. I can't believe this is happening, I said. Please let this be a bad dream.
The doctor gave us a few minutes and then came back, did a few measurements and scheduled me for an induction the next day. We drove home feeling battered and in shock. My best friend bought me a huge bouquet of flowers. We called family. I had a glass of wine with dinner, took a tranquilizer and brought R into bed with us. We all curled up together. My heart was broken. I was glad to have my living child, warm and breathing next to me all night.
January 27 - In the morning, I got in the shower and touched my belly. It was such a small bump, but it was there...for a few more hours, anyway. This is the last morning the baby will be inside me, I thought. The last morning I will be pregnant. Packing for the hospital was difficult. I didn't have any clean non-maternity clothes to wear that fit. The idea of leaving the hospital wearing maternity clothing but without a baby was terrible. I sat the bed and cried because I had nothing to wear.
When we arrived at the hospital at noon, I informed the admissions person that I was there for an induction as I was told to the day before. I was all bundled up because it was winter and I sensed right away that she didn't realize what type of induction this was. Please don't say anything stupid, I thought. PLEASE don't say anything stupid. The woman made several cheerful comments about how we must be excited, when DH finally said gruffly, "This is for a miscarriage." "Excuse me?" she replied in confusion. "The induction is for a miscarriage." "Oh," she was all flustered then. "Well, that just ruins my whole day."
We were admitted, went up to the L&D floor and were shown into the lactation room to wait while my room was being made ready. I stared at the little yellow machines and the nursing pillows and felt numbly disappointed that I would not be nursing this summer as I expected. The rest followed the normal procedures. The small room, the gown, the blood draw, the IV and the parade of nurses, phlebotomists and doctors. We were left alone for a few minutes and I turned to my husband and confessed that I was scared. He squeezed my hand and tried to look brave for me.
Around 2PM, the doctor inserted the Cytotec and the waiting began. The waiting was terrible. I didn't want to be there, being induced and giving birth to a dead baby in the first place. The anticipation of the ordeal before me made the hours agony. At 6PM, the doctor gave me another dose and when they all left the room, I started to cry. "I don't want to do this. I can't believe I have to do this. I don't want to do this." Tears sprang into my husband's eyes, "I wish you didn't have to do this either." As day turned to night, I began to think that I had made a mistake agreeing to the induction. Nothing was happening. I imagined telling them that I'd changed my mind, that I wanted to go home and just wait for nature to take it's course. I was given another dose at 10PM and finally started to feel some cramping. It got worse quickly and I asked for meds. I already had more pain in my heart than I could handle. I saw no point to putting up with any more. The meds allowed me to sleep for an hour before the pain woke me up. I asked for more meds and went back to sleep again. This cycle repeated itself every hour until I had had every narcotic available.
January 28 - The cramps turned to contractions the early hours of the morning. I figured that meant that I was closing in on 4 centimeters and hopefully getting closer to being able to deliver. There was now breaks in the pain and DH and I swayed together during the contractions, just like when I had given birth to R. I was grateful that we had experienced labor before but at the same time, it meant that I knew undeniably that this was birth. I stood next to bed at one point (I was too uncomfortable to lie down anymore) and bawled after one contraction, "I can't believe I have to do this and I don't even get a live baby at the end." I was angry.
The baby started to descend and I felt pushy. Suddenly, there was a pop and gush of liquid. I scrambled up on the bed and yelled at DH to call the nurse. The baby just fell out. It was so sad. When R was born, . there was this dramatic sense of emergence. This baby tumbled out like a drowned mouse. The nurse came in at that moment and when she confirmed that it was the baby, I laid back in relief. "I did it. It's over. I did it." The placenta was still attached, so the doctor cut the tiny umbilical cord and took the baby over to a tray for examination.
It wasn't over though and I spent the next four hours vainly trying to deliver the placenta. The experience was horrific. I bled and bled, passed dozens of cloths and replaced the pads around me uncounted times but the placenta just wouldn't come. I eventually gave up trying to work around the hospital gown and took it off. I hobbled to and from the bathroom wearing only a tank top and a pad shoved between my legs. The room looked like a slaughterhouse with a trail of blood marking everywhere I had been. Any sense of privacy or embarrassment that was between my husband and I was stripped away. He was with me the whole time, brought me new pads and took away the blood soaked ones. I think a lesser man would have vomited or passed out. I was so blessed to have him with me that day.
As dawn broke, the nurse came in and said that I couldn't go on bleeding at the rate I was and that they were going to slip me for a D&C before the scheduled surgeries for the day. I agreed that that sounded like the best way to go. I was exhausted emotionally and physically and just wanted it to be over. I had delivered the baby whole and that was really my only goal. In the end, the doctor decided that the placenta was detached and just stuck in my cervix and could be removed without surgery. The anesthesiologist came in and I remember nothing until I woke up feeling DH's hand in mine and heard the nurse talking over my head. The procedure had worked and the doctor had been able to remove the placenta manually. This was a blessing actually, as it allowed for a thorough examination of the tissue and provided a sample for DNA analysis.
After breakfast, they brought the baby back to me. I wish I could say that I spent many touching moments with her, but the truth was that I was in too much shock to feel much of anything. I didn't even recognize how beautiful she was until looking at pictures later. The ultrasound measurements had put her at 14 and half weeks, but her condition was so good that it was pretty clear that she had not been growing as she should have been and was actually small for her age. (I now believe that she probably had died after I started bleeding from the placenta abrupting.) She was perfectly formed with beautiful hands and feet. The only feature she had really lost was her nose. I could clearly see my own familiar pointed chin and cupid's bow lip on her face. I had made a tiny hat the morning before since I knew there would otherwise nothing in the universe for her to wear. I put the tiny hat on her head; we took a few pictures and then I wrapped her in a scrap of soft fabric and tucked her little body in a small bamboo box that once held tea.
Though exhausted, I paced the room for a few hours to get the drugs out of my system so I could go home. They finally released me about noon, giving me a gift bag with a teddy bear, a copy of "We were gonna have a baby, but we had an angel instead" for R and a frame with the baby's hands and footprints in it. The nurses were all so kind and tender. One of them recommended a funeral director and arranged for him to come and pick the baby up from the hospital. I am still grateful for all they did for me.
It has been a long road. My husband grieved hard at first, while I remained stuck, waiting for the DNA test. My nurse concluded that we couldn't tell the gender just by looking at the baby, but from what I know now, it was obvious that she was a girl in those early stages of differentiation. When the tests came back and confirmed that she was genetically normal and female, I cried and finally started to mourn my only daughter. We named her Ruby - our little glorious July jewel, rarer than diamonds. I had so many dreams for her and cannot wait to see her again.
Thank you to all of you who comforted me during these past months and sent me cards and gifts. I cannot express the generosity of spirit I saw in people I have never met or haven't seen in years. It moves me to know that so many believed Ruby's life to be significant.
Posted by Grace at 11:43 AM