October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss month. Every October 15th, candles are lit through out the world at 7pm to honor those little babies gone too soon. Every year since 2008, I light a candle for our little one lost. 8 years later I still remember the grief I went through. Through my grief, I found a supportive online community of over 100 woman. We are still a group of strong mommas who support each other through life’s highs and lows. It’s amazing how such an event in ones life can bring together so many woman, with so many different background, beliefs, ways of life, but that’s exactly what happened. We are all so different, yet we all share that one common thread of loosing a little baby who we each so dearly desired. I found great solace in my online community, and I don’t know what I would have done with out their support. You see, I was the first person I knew, and in my local group of friends to have experienced a loss. Unless you have experienced such a loss, it’s hard to relate to and understand what that person may be going through. I felt alone. It was hard to share my feelings with friends who didn’t understand. That’s where my online community came into play. I could confide in them and they understood. They knew the right things to say to make you feel better.
The emotions of pregnancy loss are often hidden. It’s these emotions and feelings I want to bring to the forefront. I asked my online community to give me one or two emotions they felt during their journey. There were several reoccurring emotions and it is those emotions that are portrayed in this Pregnancy Loss Series.
Most of the woman portrayed in the following series have also experienced the loss of an infant or pregnancy. Here are their stories.
Part 1: (Taken with permission from this mommas blog, Trent’s Story of Birth and Death) On Thursday December31st 2009 Ken and I were at the Hyatt in Orlando. We were scheduled to fly back to Midland after a week with my family for the holidays. I woke up at 3:45 to catch our flight. I was feeling awful and just thought it was lack of sleep. I went to the bathroom and lost my mucus plug. (Which I didn’t know at the time but, the hospital confirmed later). We got ready and headed to the desk to check our bags. While in line I was so dizzy. Ken offered me water and we proceeded to the security check point. I still felt miserable. I just thought it was being pregnant. When we got to the gate we were called to board and I ran to the bathroom. When I got into the bathroom I discovered I was covered in blood. I came out crying and told Ken. I was so scared. I was 20 weeks and 4 days pregnant. I called my mom and she said call my ob. I called my doctor and the answering service was able to connect me to him. He told me not to get on the plane and go to the nearest ER. Ken was already at the counter and the airline employees had already called 911. I sat at that gate scared, crying, and bleeding more and more. The firefighters and paramedics came on the ramp to get me. I was rushed out on a stretcher to Winnie Palmer hospital. I was numb at this point. I had no idea what to think. And I could not begin to expect kind of pain the next week would bring.The ambulance rushed me into triage at Winnie Palmer. They assessed me and immediately tried to find a fetal heart tone. Trent was kicking and his heart was just as strong as ever. The doctor did an internal exam and found that I had dilated to 5 cm and my bag of water was bulging in my birth canal. They rushed me from triage to the peri-neonatologist for and ultrasound. Again, Trent was moving and fine. It was the last time I got to see him on that screen. Again, I was given an internal exam. The Dr (who we later learned was one of the best at the hospital) explained to Ken and I our choices. I was in such a daze at this point it was hard to make any decisions. She told us that with the amount of bag that was already in the birth canal without any assistance I would deliver the baby within the day. I cried and cried. She asked if we wanted every option to save him. Ken and I were emphatic that we would do every and anything. She explained that she needed to an amniocentesis to drain as much fluid from around the baby in hopes my bag would retract. They would also use the fluid to determine if I had an infection. The doctor explained that with the bag being in the canal it was very likely the uterus could be infected with a very serious infection called chorisannitis. If this was the case she told me the chances of survival for Trent were zero. She told me my diagnosis was an incompetent cervix. She explained that this is a common occurrence but the problem is there is no way to diagnosis the condition until you have had a pregnancy that failed. She explained that I had dilated and to 5 cm and was fully effaced. … She told us that the chance that I would deliver Trent that day was about 100%… In the next few hours I laid in the hospital bed as they put in IV’s, assessed me, and doctor and nurses came in to prepare me for the worse. People started adding Trent and I to their prayer lists. My mom and dad arrived and both just cried in our room. We were counting down the hours for Trent to come. As night fell and we made it 12 hours the staff started to treat me with a little more hope. Ken’s parents arrived. We were just waiting on the end. I had a sleepless but, Trent was still with me. The next day when we hit the 24 hour mark the doctor’s started giving us other options. They put me on retraction meds and anti contraction meds. They still warned us with the bag hanging it could burst at any moment. I was placed on total bed rest. They warned of infection, they warned of delivery, they warned of losing my uterus…I remained hopeful. We had hundreds praying for our little family. The day went slowly. But, I made it 48 hours. The second day was just like the first. The third day passed with nothing but more time lying in a hospital bed. I made 72 hours. The hope was that in those 72 hours my bag would have retracted. But, my exam determined that my bag was still bulging with no change. I cried and cried. I had lots of hope that with retraction they could do the cerclage and give me the chance to carry to carry him to term. I laid there most of Sunday with a heavy heart. I knew the chances of carrying to term now were slim to none… I needed 20 days more just to be viable. I had a fitful sleep that night. Ken left on Monday. I was sad that morning for so many reasons. I knew in my heart I wasn’t going to be taking a baby home. I prayed and a talk with God. I told Him that if Trent was going to live a life of sickness or serious problems because of his early birth I was okay with God taking him. I cried and cried.
The Missing Piece
Part 2: I went into labor five hours later… The nurse gave me anti-contraction meds right away and told me that some women just have contractions for weeks and weeks. She said that because I was fully dilated my body may just think that it needs to contract. The small contractions continued all afternoon.My mom called at lunch on Monday and could see my spirits were down. She said she and Bridget would come and have dinner in my room. When she arrived I was having contractions about once an hour. She and Bridget were about to leave and I was starting to have more and more contractions. We called the nurse for more anti-contraction meds. She brought them to me. I called Ken and told him to get the next flight back. I knew the baby was coming. I started having much stronger contractions and they were only five minutes apart. They moved me to the Labor and Delivery floor. As they rolled me down the hall I cried out in agony, “He isn’t supposed to come yet.” I just yelled it and yelled it. I didn’t want him here yet. I needed 20 more days to make him viable. Just 20 short days. I arrived in the L&D room. Ken’s mom came back from the hotel, mom and Bridget held my hand, my sisters all came to the hospital and Ken booked a flight back. I was in active, hard labor. The hospital could not give me any drugs to help with pain or to make labor faster because he was preterm. If they assisted with labor it was considered aborting the baby. I arrived in L&D at 7pm and labored until 3am without the need to push. I started pushing at 3am. They called in the doctors and the NICU. We all knew that Trent would not be able to survive at such a young age but, I insisted the NICU be there to just try. I was emphatic that they had to be there. The doctor checked and I was still only 6 cm dilated. He finally gave me some morphine for the pain and said it wasn’t time yet. However, this check gave the doctors some important information. The birthing room was filled with a smell of infection. Every doctor or nurse that walked in could smell it. I was discharging yellow puss. The morphine slowed my labor and my contractions slowed to about one every 10 mins. I had been having about one every 3 mins that lasted 1-2 mins each. Ken was on the phone through it all waiting on his 5am flight. He listened to me labor, listened to me throw up, and listened to me cry for our son. I was in agony physically and emotionally. Ken held my had through the phone. His mom, my mom, and Bridget held my hand physically. I had no idea that the doctors were so concerned with the infection at this point. They had said nothing about it. However, a few minutes later they came back in with me to discuss my options. They told me that the infection was already in the uterus. It had to have been there a day or two. They were sure the infection is what brought on the labor. My body was trying to get the infection out. They told me that I had to make a decision. I needed to let them assist with my labor. He said that I had been laboring for so many hours and nothing had changed. He said I could lay there for the next 12 hours or two days in labor. He said the infection would spread to my blood stream within 6-12 hours. (We didn’t know yet it was already in me.) He told me that the least that could happen was that I would lose my uterus. He said that if I continued to labor on my own the infection would mean at the end of labor I would need a full hysterectomy. If I went much longer than that I could become septic and would possibly die within the week. Ken was on the phone to hear all of this.
Puttin’ On My Happy Face
Part 3: I had to make a decision. If I let them assist with labor they would make me sign a form saying that I was terminating the pregnancy. I said I could not do that. I could never sign a paper like that. (Keep in mind through all of this I was still in active labor with contractions every 5 mins or so). Ken said not to sign, I said not to sign. The doctors left. My mom was crying. Ken’s mom was trying to convince him to let me sign. The nurses continued to stress this was my life we were talking about. My mom finally said, “You can make another baby, Ken can’t have another you.” I opted to sign the papers. The hospital never brought the papers for me to sign. So, again God was taking care of me. As soon as I said yes an epidural was ordered. They gave me meds to help speed me along. Once the epidural was in place I could not feel contractions I started to think about what it meant to be giving birth at 21 weeks. I knew Trent would not make it. I just laid there and told my mom all the things I had dreamed for my son. I wanted to show him the world. I wanted to watch him take his first step. I wanted to nurse. I wanted to see him lie on his daddy’s chest and fall asleep with him. I wanted to watch him laugh for the first time. I wanted to kiss his little face every night as he fell asleep. I knew all of that was being taken away from me. The infection was getting worse. My temperature started to climb. The smell was filling the room more and more. That smell I will never forget. It was the smell of death. The nurses brought in papers that I had to authorize an autopsy for him. They brought me papers that said I authorized pictures to be taken of him. They never brought me the paper to terminate. At about 7:45 am the nurses told me they were having a shift change. I started feeling pressure around 8:00 am. I told them I thought he was coming soon. They walked away. Again, I asked for them to call the NICU. At 8:08 my water broke. I yelled, “My water just broke.” On nurse came over to look and walked away to call the doctor. I again yelled, “He’s coming he’s coming he’s coming.” My mom walked to the edge of the bed. The nurses took their sweet time putting on their gloves. Trent arrived at 8:10 all by himself. He just slid right out. The nurses did come and the NICU tried…but, none of the instruments would fit into his tiny little body. They worked for about four minutes. It is funny I was SO aware of the time. I wanted to know exactly what time everything was happening. I wanted to remember every minute, second of his life. When it was determined that he was too small I asked for him back. I held him in my arms. I ripped my gown off so I could feel him on my skin and he could feel mine. I wept and wept. He held my hand. He stuck out his little tongue in hopes of nursing. His eyes were still fused shut because he was so small. He was so peaceful. He lived his whole life in my arms. He only knew his mommies love. The Chaplin was there and baptized him into the kingdom while he was still alive. I knew he would go to heaven anyway but I wanted it done. Ken was still in the air and arrived about an hour later. I told Trent that his daddy loved him. I told him I loved him. I kissed his little head. They kept taking his heart beat. At 8:32 am he took his last precious breath. I tried to give him CPR on my own. I put my mouth over his. His lungs were too small to accept it. I cried with a pain I didn’t know I knew. It was heart wrenching to think I just watched my son die.
Part 4: I held him close for a few minutes more. The nurses took him to dress him for me. They took his little foot prints and dressed him. They handed my son back to me to hold. My mom held him, Ken’s mom held him, and Bridget held him. Bridget took pictures of every second of his life for Ken. She took video of him breathing. It was the most amazing, special 22 minutes of my life. We all just held and loved him. I knew he was already gone but, we had his body and we held him. The nurse began to clean me up, Trent was taken for pictures and finally Ken arrived. He came into the room and let out a noise that I will never forget. It was a pain that I knew all to well. It was the sound of a daddy mourning his son. He held him and kissed him and his tears fell on his face. The Chaplin snapped a few pictures of our tiny family. My dad came in a few minutes later and held his sixth grandchild. He wept for Ken and me. He wept for the life Trent never had. I was moved back to the 9th floor. At this point I had already had four rounds of IV antibiotics. The infection that brought my son to his early death was now coursing through my body with the same intention. The doctors and nurses were worried. That smell followed us to the next room. Trent came with us to the 9th floor. We were able to hold his little body all day. My whole family came to see him. Ken’s dad flew back in to hold him. They continued to watch my temperature the whole day and the antibiotics continued to flow. We spent the whole day with our son in our arms. I watched Ken hold him with ease and thought how he was such a natural at being a daddy. Every time I held him I tried to memorize what he felt like in my arms. I didn’t want to forget the weight of him in my arms. I kissed his tiny face over and over again. Ken and I took one last moment with him around 7pm before the nurses took him out. We said goodbye to our son together. Ken fell to the ground weeping when they wheeled him out. His whole body gave out on him. I just sobbed. I felt empty. I felt like a part of me just left that I would never get back. I had nothing left. I took a shower to wash the day off. I just cried and cried as the hot water hit my body. I just thought about the fact that my son would never get his first bath, we would never change his first diaper, and we would never have any of that with him. We lay in my bed with the IVs still pumping the life saving medicines into my body. At around 9pm I HAD to feel my son in my arms again. I needed to feel the weight of him. I needed to kiss him. I knew the nurses had him on the floor still. I knew that I had the choice that night to hold him and would never get the chance again. I went into the little room where they had him and for the first time was alone with my son. I picked his tiny, cold body up and wept again. I rocked him. I knew he was already gone but, I needed time with my son. I sang him the songs we had picked for his memorial service. I told him how much he looked like his daddy. I told him all the things I wanted to show him. I told him I loved him more than he could know. I told him the plan of salvation. I knew he was already in heaven. But, as his mommy it would have been my job to show him my faith and I needed to give him that. I sang and rocked. I kissed him over and over. And, finally laid Trenton James to rest forever in the arms of God. It was the most precious few minutes of my life.On the day of Trent’s birth and death my dad took over making the arrangements for his memorial and cremation. I picked two songs. I had been singing Mark Schultz’s “He’s my Son.’ The whole week I was in the hospital. I also knew my mom would want “I can only imagine.” My dad picked Amazing Grace and it is well with my Soul. The service was set for 3pm the next day. A parent should never have to plan their child’s funeral. But, especially the day of his birth. We had to sign his birth and death certificate in the same day. We had to pick his urn. The morning after Trent’s birthday I was given my last round of IV meds. The doctors took blood one more time. They came back around 10am to tell me the infection was gone. My son had given his life to save mine. Had he stayed inside much longer it would have been both of us. I was discharged that afternoon. We had a perfect memorial service for him at 3pm. We played the Mark Schultz song first and everyone wept. The chaplain read scripture about Hannah who prayed and prayed for a baby and then gave him back to God. She prayed for Ken and me. She gave a wonderful homily that included a saying from one of Dr. Seuss’ books that said, “A person is a person no matter the size.” It lasted over an hour. My dad sang two beautiful songs. We all sang together. Ken and I just held each other and wept. The hours after Trent’s death have been a blur. I have ached with a pain I didn’t know could exist. I have thought I would never smile again. I have laid in bed thinking I would just stay forever. I have cried tears that I thought should have run out long before. I can’t seem to wrap my mind around the fact that he is not inside of me and yet I can’t hold him in my arms. I ache for him. I long for him. I need him.I need his life and death to have meant something. I need to know that his 22 minutes were not for nothing.
My husband and I tried to conceive for 4 years. We went through countless tests and procedures only to be told we’d likely never conceive on our own. About two months after hearing this from a fertility doctor, I became pregnant! We were shocked, excited, and over joyed. Our doctor couldn’t explain it and told us it was a miracle. Our excitement and joy only lasted about a week. We soon learned our baby did not have a heartbeat. We prayed and begged God to spare our miracle child. We held out hope but a few weeks later I miscarried our sweet baby. Our hearts were broken. Praise God, our story did not end there. A year later and with the help of modern medicine we were blessed with beautiful twin girls. We thank God for them every day. Our precious rainbow babies! After two more failed fertility treatments we began to believe our twin girls would be our only natural children. At that point we truly turned the whole situation over to God and I found closure and peace that our two girls would complete our family. So, it was very shocking to learn 18 months later that I was pregnant with our son, Jack, who is due to arrive in just a couple weeks! While our journey to conceive was not easy and there was a lot of heartache along the way we are thankful for every step of this journey.
The Weight Of Empty Arms
I’ve been blindsided a time or two. Confusion, conflict, questions, fears, doubt, and anger have been unvited guests in what was suppose to be a clear, sweet, happy, and natural season of celebration. I am forever grateful God was never swayed or scared away by my guests. He never left the 16 yrs of infertility and 9 losses along the way party. I can now look back and see how He used the long battles & longer journeys to build muscles I never knew were there and strength I now would never want to live without.
Behind Closed Doors
Flowers Die Too
Excerpts from my own blog: April 17th. It turned out to be a wonderful, sunny morning. I was to go into work late after my 9:30 appointment. My manager called and our company attorney had given us baseball tickets. I was one of the lucky ones who was asked to go. Not only was I going to see my baby for the first time, but I wasn’t going to have to work the rest of the day either! When I arrived, we were taken into the ultrasound room, and the tech put the goo on my belly. There really wasn’t much to see, but I knew the baby was smaller than they expected. She asked if she thought my dates were wrong. I happily said yes. She decided to take out the internal wand. She shows us it was my right ovary that got us pregnant. (Hmm, who would have thought you could tell!), then proceeds to the sack. I could see a baby, but it looked nothing like what it should have looked like based on all the baby books and internet pictures. There were no little arm buds, and worst of all, I could not see a heart flicker. She measures the sack, and it was measuring right on time. She measures the baby… As she marks the last crosshair, I saw… on the bottom of her screen… 6 weeks and 4 days. That wasn’t right. I was 8 weeks and 5 days. It all happened so quickly. My heart started to race as she was explaining she could not see a heartbeat and that the baby was measuring 2-4 weeks behind. The fuzzy look to the sack was the baby starting to degrade, and they could tell there was no blood flow to the sack. I was able wait until the tech left before I lost it. My husband and I were ushered into the doctor’s office. My body had betrayed me. No spotting, no cramping.
It really wasn’t until the months mark after my D&C that I finally started to accept what had happened. Nothing anybody said to me or what their experiences were made any difference in the world. This was something I had to come to terms with on my own. I don’t know what made the difference, but I started to be more positive. I believed I would get pregnant again, that chances are it was a chromosomal abnormality, and that my next pregnancy would be healthy (even if I would worry incessantly). This positive attitude carried me until last night. I cried myself to sleep. The moment I had been waiting for, the culmination of the last three months, hit me like a ton of bricks. All my old feelings, my negativity came back and hit me in the face. I didn’t believe I could ever get pregnant again, the worry that I would face when I did get pregnant again, would it smolder my happy feeling of being pregnant and not let me enjoy that pregnancy? Could I ever carry a baby?
As much as loosing this baby hurts, I think I have lost sight of what was best for our child. Obviously, this baby would not have been healthy, and I guess I am/was being selfish asking him or her to suffer on my account, just so I would not have to go through this pain. But, at the same time, I will always wonder, why me. Why does anybody have to go through loosing a baby? Why was my baby not healthy? It’s hard to see all the pregnant people walking around. Every time I see one, I wonder why did they get to have a healthy baby and not me? Not that I would ever wish a miscarriage on anybody, but simply why me?
Why did I have to loose my baby, and why is life not fair? Two questions that will never be answered. Never be answered for entirely way too many people. I recently read on a pregnancy loss support site, that in 1999 there were 900,000 miscarriages in the United States. 900,000! That means almost 2,500 people everyday are grieving over the loss of their baby. Those numbers did not even include second trimester miscarriages or still births.
Still, even with so many people who have lost their babies, I still feel very alone. I still grieve the loss of my baby, and the hopes and dreams that came with my positive pregnancy test. Despite my biggest fears of having problems conceiving, having it take long to conceive and having repeated miscarriages, I have to keep telling myself one day I will get pregnant again and it will be a healthy baby. Someday soon, I hope I will be able to hold my child.
The raw feelings and emotions of loosing a child. They are unimaginable. The weeks and months after my loss I often wondered if I would or could ever be happy again. As the months went by, as I was blessed with another pregnancy (resulting in a healthy, full term baby) , I slowly processed my grief. It took time to heal the wounds, but like with all wounds there will always be a scar.