As if Christmas isn't enough to deal with anyway, right?
I mean, last year, we managed to get pregnant in September, despite our son C. being in the hospital. I camped out in the room with him all three days...asthma is a bitch! which was almost the entire time we were supposed to be "trying", but still we did it, the eagle landed and we were the BFP! But, as our luck would have it, just after Thanksgiving, and of course, after we told the fam and the kids, I had a miscarriage. Which although I was sad, I had told myself, I am 39, if something is wrong with the baby, this is how it should end and we will try again. IT SUCKS....but I don't ever want to have to choose to end a life.
But, this couldn't just be any miscarriage, NOOOO. I went in to have the "routine" D & C at an outpatient facility and I woke up to the doc saying "Oooops, I accidentally perforated your uterus and your blood pressure is low and we have called an ambulance and are having you transported to the hospital, we need to make sure we can control the bleeding and that you don't need further surgery. Oh, and also, I think I left most of the baby in you so we'll need to do another D & C".
Yeah....you can imagine where my brain was going. On drugs, way to much information and then a bunch of guys saying can you slide over onto the gurney or should we lift you?? And all I could think was, "Will I still be able to have another baby??" "Where is my husband?" "I am going to be sick, please get me a pan."
So after 2 days in the hospital, my old (she's young really) wonderful but retired OB coming into save me and "fix" everything, we had Christmas of 2006. I was sad, but I thought, we can do this. I had done it before.
I had had a miscarriage in between my son and daughter too. I got pregnant the second month we tried, miscarried about 9 weeks into the pregnancy on Friday, October 13th, with a FULL MOON, yep, that freaked me out having to go under general, but I came out of it and then got pregnant in November and had a "perfect" pregnancy, despite a failed attempted induction (I wanted a VBAC) at 38 weeks, (didn't know you could fail at induction but my body and my baby said, "Not now, we're not done yet"), at 40 weeks I delivered my beautiful, perfect daughter.
So I thought, we had one miscarriage before, baby girl C was perfect after that, so we'll get back at it, and we'll make it happen.
And God laughed at me. Alot, apparently.
So we didn't really even try in January, but gave it our all in February, no luck, then March and April, BINGO. We'd done it again! And as fate would have it, so did my sis in law. We were due a day apart. January 5th & January 6th, 2008, me, then her. Or so we thought.
It wasn't a perfect pregnancy. I spotted early on, but had done that with my daughter too. I went in for ultrasounds almost every week, I was so paranoid. But everything was fine, every time. I knew the ultrasound tech "J", really well, she had done my son, my miscarriage, my daughter, my miscarriage and now this pregnancy. Every time I went in she would take a million pictures for me, checked everything over and over. She would joke, this will be the most photographed baby in utero ever!
At 11 weeks, I passed a blood clot. I thought for sure the pregnancy was over. It was a weekend. I was bleeding, not the good brown "old" blood, but real blood. I called my ob's service and she called me right back. She said, it's probably just a clot, we have so many images of the baby, it's SOOOO unlikely at this point that anything would happen. You have an almost 99% success rate now. So I watched it over the weekend and went in Monday morning sick to my gut and sure enough, there was my baby, happy as a clam tucked away, heart beating, moving around, apparently oblivious to the hell we had been through and the bullet we had dodged. Or so I thought.
So then I went in for my "advanced maternal age" ultra sound to test for downs and other chromosomal abnormalities. I didn't want an amnio and had found this "new" technology, at least for me, being almost 7 years out of maternal fetal testing, that would look at the baby, test my and hubby's blood and risk factors and then give us a new "risk" probability for the baby. But the biggest indicator would be what the baby looked like. So I went in for my test and told the tech my whole history and she was so sweet. She told me that if she saw something that made her worry, she would tell me. So she did the whole test, and everything was perfect. I watched the baby move around, wave,flip, and most important, all of the baby's measurements were perfect, all of them. And for a brief moment, I thought ok, this one is going to make it. She hugged me and even shed a few sympathy tears with me. (I was trying to be subtle but my tears were flowing). So I went home and we told the kids. Again. And they both said, "Is this one going to die too?" Yep, nice that my kids even know to ask that, but, they do. And we told them no, we thought this baby was healthy and that it was already much bigger than the one that had died. And we told them it was okay to believe, to hope and to love this new baby because we thought everything was going to be alright.
But in the back of my head, the voice, the fear, the knowing that everything isn't always going to be okay, something kept pounding away at me. I think I knew, or at least I was afraid of it because I kept thinking if I can get past 20 weeks, then there is no way I can have another miscarriage, then it would be a stillborn and that almost NEVER happens...
So, fast forward to the end of summer, I've had my "routine" 16 week ultrasound, again, perfect. In fact, baby was moving so much that it was hard for my friend, "J", ultrasound tech to capture all of the heart, brain, kidney shots they wanted for the radiologist. She told me and hubby, who came to the scan, she would get everything she could but that this baby was so happy and bouncy we'd probably have to come back if she couldn't get a still of the heart/brain/kidney's. She gave us a reel of film and my husband made sure to tell her which pictures he wanted for his desk and he had the shit eating grin he gets when I know he is really happy on his face. So after we left the docs, we went to breakfast and then he said, "Now, it feels real. Now I really feel like we are going to have another one...."and he was so excited, so happy. He looked at the ultrasound pictures over and over and over again. SO much so you'd think he'd never done it before, that this was his first baby.
I had started feeling the baby move around 15 weeks or so. Just the little flutters but I knew who it was. Then as our screaming hot summer progressed, I was reunited with an old friend of mine from graduate school, Haagen Daz Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice cream. I used to eat it when I was studying for exams and then it just sorta disappeared from the shelves. But this last summer it was back! So I began my evening ritual of going upstairs, sitting back on my bed and eating a few, or many, bites of the yummy stuff straight out of the pint. Then the best part, the baby would start kicking and I would just sit and watch and laugh and love it, a lot. I would cal out "Baby, baby, baby..." and just like that the kicking would start. I did this every night from June to thru August, never missed it. I told my husband I was going to screw up the stores inventory of the ice cream because I was buying it so much and when the baby was born I would probably start eating it like a normal person again, not a crazy pregnant woman and they would suddenly have all this ice cream and no one to buy it. He just laughed and would put his hand on my belly and we were happy.
I was right tho, I did stop buying the ice cream, after. I threw what was left in my freezer away too.
So it's the end of August and we are going to squeeze in two quick vacations before school starts. One to the river with my dad and baby bro and one to San Diego, just us. So the night before we leave for the River, I think the baby isn't moving the same, but I figure it's just because I have been running around so much trying to get ready. I will not panic I tell myself. I am 21 weeks now, everything is fine. We go on the trip and my husband and I spend a good part of the drive out there "picking" names for the baby. All the kids have "C" names and we came up with every silly name we could think of but in the back of my mind I was worried. I kept poking at my belly saying in my head, move, move but never got the big kick I wanted. When we got back from that trip, I scurried around to get ready for the next trip we were leaving in three days. My OB called, she wanted me to come back in for another ultrasound. She said everything was fine, but just as "J" had suspected, they didn't get enough shots of the heart and brain. I told her we were leaving for vacation in a few days and she said, not to worry about it just come in when you get back. So I made the appt for the day after we got back from vacation. I was going to mention to her my concern about the moving but my son was in the car with me and I didn't want to worry him also I had just spoken to my my sis-in-law and she had told me that she had been worried about the same thing and when she called her doc about it they told her it was very common at that point in the pregnancy for the baby to turn and to not be able to feel anything when the baby moves. I thought to myself, go on vacation, let your kids have these happy days and when we get back then I'll know.
I spent the whole vacation trying to make the baby kick like he had before but I never could. One night the baby moved into a spot where you could really feel his whole body along my belly. I even had my husband feel it. But now I don't think he was moving, I think my stomach contracted and that's why I could feel him like that. But that's the last time I felt him in my belly.
When we got home I took the kids to my parents house while I went to the doctors. I said I'd be back in an hour. I lied, but not on purpose.
I waited in the office, it was lunch time, Friday before Labor Day(can you hear God laughing) weekend and no one else was there. The ultrasound tech came out and it wasn't "J" it was the one I didn't like. She had done me a few times before when I had the miscarriage and I always felt like she didn't listen to me. So I was already anxious and now I had to have her there instead of my friend. I told her I was worried, that I wanted her to check and then if everything was okay, I told her don't tell me the sex. She just brushed me off and started scanning. I wasn't looking and she just kept scanning. I asked her can you see, is everything okay??? And she says to me, "Oh, yeah. I am just getting the placenta and all that then we'll get to the good stuff." And I ask her again but you can see the baby, right? Every things okay?" "Yes, yes" she says. And I think, thank God, okay, I am just a big worry wart. Then she stops and says it's so hot in here. I have to turn the air on, which she does and then stands there putting her hair up. Then she comes back to scan some more. And she does. And I am still not looking and she is scanning, and scanning and she's quiet and then she grabs my hands and looks at me and says "If the news is bad is someone here with you?" And I scream at her, "What, what is it," my head starts spinning, my thoughts are going wild because I still think the baby is alive, so now I am thinking it's missing an organ or a body part or what....and she says as all of this is running through my head, "I can't find a heartbeat, there's nothing there. I am so sorry." "FUCK" I scream. "What am I going to tell my kids" I am sobbing and in my head I am quietly thinking "Why does God hate me so much?" "no, no, no, no, no, no..." over and over and over.
She asks if there is someone I want to call. I tell her my husband. I ask her if my OB is there and she says no. I ask if my old OB is there, she says no. But she is going to go call my OB. She leaves me with my cell phone, lying like an bug trapped on its back, shirt up, belly exposed and a silent ultrasound machine. I call my husband. No answer, call his office line, no answer, cell again, nothing, cell again, nothing. I think about calling my parents but just can't. Call the cell again. He answers. "What's up honey?" Me, crying, "It's bad", him, "WHAT, what is it!?" Me, "It's dead, the baby's dead" crying so hard I can barely talk. "I'm coming, I'll be right there."
Some other doctor came in and told me that they had called my OB and she is on her way here. I ask her, "What happens now?" She tells me, you have to talk it over with your doctor. Then she leaves and the ultrasound tech comes back. I ask if I can sit up. She says oh, yes, of course. She helps me up and then quietly unplugs the machine and wheels it out. I am alone. It's quiet except that I can hear outside the walls. I can hear them talking. "She called her husband, her husband is coming" "Tell the front desk to bring him back to her" "Carla(my OB) is coming in."
I am thinking in my head, "my kids, who is going to tell my kids, how will they ever understand this, how will we ever get through this" . "Oh, baby, baby, baby...what happened to you?" Then I hear my husband. He opens the door and just holds me while I sob. I can hear his heart racing and his deep breaths through his nose. I know he is trying to be brave and not cry but when I look up I can see that he is crying too.
Then my OB comes in. I wish I could say she was a huge comfort, so sweet so kind. But that's not her. She was all business. Okay, I've called the hospital, spoken with a high risk OB and here are your options. You can deliver vaginally but you're at greater risk for rupture with your 2 c-sections. My husband, "Wait a minute, she has to deliver the baby??? She has to go through labor? Can't you just put her out and take the baby out?" Doctor, " No, you're at 23 weeks, it's either a vaginal delivery or a c-section, but let me tell you if you do it vaginally, "You'll feel great when you leave the hospital." (Ummm, no I won't. I will be leaving the hospital after delivering my dead baby. No matter how it happens, one thing I know for certain is I will not feel great when I leave the hospital. ) We talk more about "options" none of which is, can I go back in time and make my baby okay?? We decide to go straight to the hospital. I don't want one more person to see me pregnant, I don't want to spend another moment thinking or feeling any of this. I want it over. I want to forget, I want so desperately to be anyone else but who I am and who I know I will be for the rest of my life.
I tell my husband, we have to call my parents. So he says he'll do it. He starts to call but then looks at me and says, "I can't do it, not right in front of you, not like this." So he goes outside the room. I can still hear him. I know my dad answered the phone. I know my dad screamed because I could hear my husband tell him to not let the kids hear him. I know my dad was crying. I stopped listening.
When we were on our way to the hospital my husband was trying to make arrangements to have someone pick up my car. He was trying to give my mom directions to the doctors office. He had left a key for them at the front desk at the doctors. He was going over and over the directions with my mom. I was sitting there thinking who cares about the fucking car. It's the weekend, I don't need it, leave it. Just leave it. The whole way to the hospital that's all I could think about. "Why is everyone so worried about my car?"
We walked into the hospital and I prepared myself for the "looks". And they came. The "oh, look they're here to have a baby" looks. The nice smiles, friendly glances. They had no idea. How could they? I resented it all the same. I left my sunglasses on and tried to keep my head down. Of course the hospital admitting desk didn't have any information on us, even tho my doctor assured us we'd be able to walk right in and get to our room. Nope. We had to sit in the lobby and wait for them to figure out what to do with us. They finally told us to go to the security desk and a volunteer would take us up to Labor & Delivery. Sweet, little old lady. She was all excited, we walked up and she started to say "Oh how fun your having a " then she must have seen me or my husband gave her a look because she stopped talking and never said another word, the whole way up in the elevator, down the long halls, into an empty office. She just quietly went on her way. No one ever knows what to say to the lady with the dead baby.
They assigned a room to us and we were alone again. It was awful to walk into a delivery room all soft pastels, baby bed, heart monitor, a room that had brought so much joy into our lives was now welcoming us into hell.
We sat on a couch and waited. A nurse, came in and introduced herself to us. She told us what would happen. She was waiting for orders from the doctor. They would be drawing blood, lots of blood. I could get into bed. Did I feel like I wanted to get into bed? I thought, no, I feel like I want to leave. I feel like I don't want this to be happening to me. I feel like I don't know who I am anymore. I just wanted to stay on the couch. So I did. She told us about the special "sticker" they would put on our door so that everyone who came in, lab techs, nurses, etc would know that we were not having a "happy" delivery. I never saw it. I was always on the other side of the door. I don't know what it looked like but I am sure it's not what I pictured. A baby with a big red circle around it with a line through it. Whatever it was,it didn't work for everyone. But that's later. There was a shift change and a new nurse came in, Libby. She finally talked me into getting into bed. She had to start my i.v.. She didn't like my veins and told me she only wanted me to get stuck once so she left and got another nurse to do it. She got it on the first try and I was all hooked up. They started the drugs that would start the labor. But I didn't tell them, I had started to have cramps while I was sitting on the couch. My baby would have come that weekend whether or not I had gone to the doctors. I knew that then. A lab tech came to draw the blood. I had sent my husband out to eat. They had told us it could take two days for the baby to come. I wanted him to be with me once it really felt like everything had started so I told to go out and get something better than hospital food while he had the chance. So I was alone. She was young, I swear she looked like a teenager. But she was quiet and she apologized for having to draw so much blood, vial after vial after vial. Then it was done and she started to leave. She stopped at the door and turned back to me. "I'll say a prayer for you tonight" she almost whispered it. It was the nicest thing anyone had said to me all day. I tried to smile at her before I started crying.
The contractions went on thru the night and by 2 or 3 in the morning they were pretty regular and strong. They gave me some pain meds in my i.v.. That worked for a bit but then it started to make me feel sick. A new nurse brought me some other meds to make the nausea go away. She had had a stillborn too. She said, I know how awful it is. I know you can live through this. I asked her if she had others after the stillborn and she said no, it didn't work out for her that way. I didn't feel any better after that.
Around 4 or so I wanted an epidural. She caled for the doc. He didn't come. Called again. Still no doc. Finally about 30 minutes or more later, he came charging into the room. "Okay Mrs. X", "You've had two other s c-sections, no problems with the epidural, no issues with ....." he was ratling on and on and I amthinking in my head, "He didn't see the sticker, he didn't see the sticker" "Okay, lets get you up, sit up now, come on, lets get that baby out!!" he is still talking. No one else in the room is talking, I am quietly crying, legs over the side of the bed, the nurse is holding my shoulders. I am leaning into her chest, staring at the floor. He is still talking, loudly, going through the motions he is so used to. So cocky, so sure of himself. But he didn't see the sticker. The nurse doesn't say anything to him, my husband doesn't say anything and neither do I . I just sit as still as I can while he sticks his needle in my back, hoping my crying doesn't make the needle miss. I want him gone. As he cleans up his stuff, he says something to the nurse, some kind of code I think stands for "difficult patient". He packs up and says "Good Luck!" as he flys out of the room. My husband says, "What a dick.", the nurse says he didn't see the sticker, he didn't know, I will tell my supervisor, she will talk to him. I tell the nurse, "I don't want him back in here again, ever." The nurse leaves. I lay back and just keep waiting for it all to be over. I think in my head, "If this is the worst thing that ever happens to me, I can handle it." I had no idea what handling it meant at that moment. I just thought, this has to be as bad as it gets and I am still here. I can handle it. I still have my two C's, losing one of them would be so much worse I thought. And I think it would be. But, it as it turns out, that doesn't make losing the baby hurt any less either. Much as I was hoping that thinking in that kind of twisted logic would make it easier, it didn't.
The nurse came back in. She had talked to the doctor. He was SO SORRY! He wanted to apologize to us but understood that I didn't want him back. I was still pissed and didn't feel like letting him make himself feel better by apologizing to us. I told my husband, if he has to carry that feeling with him, maybe next time he goes barrelling into a room, he'll slow down and look, and listen and then if he doesn't see the sticker at least when he's in the room, maybe he'll remember us and what our room was like, the feeling and he'll be able to figure it out so next time he can offer some compassion to the parents or if nothing else, at least silence.
My water broke. There was meconium in it. The nurse thought maybe the baby had pooped too early and had ingested it and that was what killed him. My doc told me later, no they usually poop after they die, just the bodies way of releasing everything. Ifell asleep for a few hours. When I woke up it was after 8:00 a.m.. The new nurse, who had also had a stillborn baby, wanted to check me. My husband was still sleping on the couch. She said it'd probably still be a while but wanted to check my progression. She did. She looked up at me and said, I can feel the babys head, you're ready. I yelled to my husband to wake up. He came to me. The nurse told me, I am going to page your doctor but if she doesn't come in time, I can deliver your baby. I have done it before and I will take care of you. She sat me up and put a lot of those little fake hospital blankets down for when the baby came out. I leaned into my husband, buried my face in his shoulder and I was crying from somewhere deep down inside me I didn't know exisited. I had never heard a sound like it before. It was the only sound in the room. She told me , "When you're ready, go ahead and push." I did.
It only took two, maybe three pushes, and I felt him leave my body and then this earth. He was gone. It was quiet, not a sound. Not even me. Everything was still, just like it says. Stillbirth.
She was wrapping him in a blanket when I asked her, "What is it?" . (When we first got into the hospital we were asked whether we wanted to see the baby or name the baby or hold the baby, my husband and I hadn't wanted to know, we didn't want to name the baby or see the baby.) So she asked me are you sure you want to know. Yes, I said. "It's a little boy." I knew it. I had had the dream, I had always suspected and know I knew. "Do you want to see him?" Yes, I said. My husband now, "Are you sure?" "I have to." I said. "I can't" my husband said. Ok, I said. She brought him to me and laid him on the bed next to me where my husband couldn't see him. I lay on my side and he was beautiful. So tiny but a perfect little man. He looked just like his sister. I could only focus on his nose and mouth and they were exact replicas of my daughter. I looked at his tiny red body and thought how my whole hand covers his chest and belly, just like it did that night in San Diego, I could cover him with my hand. I held his tiny foot on my finger. I was surprised that he was warm. I don't know why I thought he wouldn't feel warm but I did. So I lay there with him and then my husband came over to look too. And he just stared down at me and we looked at our tiny son and it was the most unbelievably sad, heartbreaking and tender time, all the love in the world for this tiny baby, all the amazement that he looked so much like his siblings, and then all of the lost hopes, the broken dreams, the nightmare that was our reality, that this was the only time we would ever have with this beautiful tiny little creature and he would never get to share it with us, he was already gone.
The nurse took him away. She brought back pictures and his footprints and handprints but the pictures don't look like him, not the way I saw him and his foot prints have blood on them. But he is perfect in my minds eye. Always will be. For that brief moment in time, he was perfect.
Except that he should have been born this week. And he should have been alive.
And that is how I joined "the club".