Thursday, August 31, 2006

The saddest days of my life...

I went to my 20 week dr. appointment on Monday morning. NS did not come with me, mostly because I didn't ask or insist that he come...I figured this would just be a routine appointment that would take all of 15 minutes and the only thing he'd miss was hearing the heartbeat.

My blood pressure and weight gain were good, 5 pounds in 5 weeks...right on track. The nurse practioner came in and asked how I'd been feeling; I'd been feeling great and feeling baby movements consistently since the last appointment. Next was listening to the baby's heartbeat with the doppler. Well, she couldn't pick it up. This didn't really worry me since this happened a lot while I was pregnant with the twins, always with M's heartbeat and he seemed to like the same spot in my uterus that this baby had chosen. So, we go to do an ultrasound, which is standard procedure when the heartbeat can't be found with the doppler.

Once she started the ultrasound, I began to realize that this was probably not going to be good news. Heartbeats are not really hard to see on an ultrasound, especially this far along in pregnancy, but I didn't see it. She moved the wand around my belly for a few minutes, saying that she was just trying to get the whole baby in the picture, but I knew before she said anything that it didn't look the way it should. I didn't see the heartbeat, and the baby did not move at all. She finally confirmed what I didn't see and took a measurement. The baby measured to be about a week smaller than it did at my last ultrasound, which had been 5 weeks before, at that last appointment.

I had to wait for about 5 hours to have a follow-up ultrasound with the technician to confirm the diagnosis and then to speak with the doctor about what was going to happen next. My mom picked me up that morning and stayed with me until the next appointment, and since NS was at work and unable to retrieve the messages I left (one completely unclear message that was left while I was still crying and the other a bit more clear, though not completely, left after I'd been able to calm down a bit), she was with me at the next appointment, too, when the ultrasound technician confirmed everything we'd already seen...that my baby was no longer living and was measuring to be about 14 weeks instead of 20.

The doctor informed me that the baby had to come out somehow. The option for a D&C was fairly risky for how far along my pregnancy is and would only be able to be done about 90 minutes away. The other option was to induce labor and deliver the baby, which in his opinion, was the safest route for me to take. I opted to go through the labor and delivery, but I was definitely scared. I'd never gone through that before and never thought I would. He said I could actually go to the hospital right then or wait until the next morning. I needed to be able to spend the night with my boys and to spend some time with NS before doing this, so I chose to wait until the next morning.

The tears flowed freely. I could not believe what had happened. Why had my body been playing such a cruel trick on me, acting like it was sustaining a life when that life had ended weeks ago? Why was it making me feel a tiny baby move and kick when it simply wasn't possible for that baby to do those things anymore? Why has it not realized what happened? These are the questions that plagued me that afternoon and that night. Although realizing that 99% of me was certain that my mind and body were just playing tricks on me, I started to wonder if it was somehow possible that they have just missed a second baby.

The reasons I decided that I would need to have this unlikely possibility ruled out without question are:
* First ultrasound was perfomed vaginally. Baby measured a day shy of 15 weeks and seemed perfectly healthy. These were done abdominally, and the baby was only measuring 14 weeks.
* I had been feeling movements at specific times of day, when resting at night and most recently during the day. Movements were noticeable after eating or drinking something sugary. All of these were in similar places to where I'd felt M moving while he was in my belly, and he was a hider, although easy to see on ultrasounds because he was next to his brother rather than really behind him.
* I had still grown and gained weight.
* My breasts still felt very tender, not achy like they were with my boys, which only lasted about a week, but tender to touch, which was the way they'd felt all along for this pregnancy.
* I have heard recently of a couple of people who've had ultrasounds performed during pregnancy and still didn't find out there were actually two babies until very late in pregnancy, like third trimester.

So, I knew that night that I would be asking for another ultrasound the next morning before allowing anyone to start the labor induction process. I just needed to be 100% sure instead of 99% that my body was wrong.

NS and I arrived at the hospital around 7 am, which was when I was told to be there. I hadn't been allowed to eat or drink after midnight, which wasn't hard considering I went to sleep around 930 the night before. I was checked in and changed and poked at for some 7 or 8 viles of blood by 8 am. I was taken down the hall to the high-risk office for the final ultrasound. The technician was very understanding of my need for certainty and made sure to slowly scan my entire uterus to ease my fear of going ahead with the labor and delivery of my deceased baby. By 10 am, the doctor had come in and inserted the pills necessary to begin the induction. He explained that this would likely be a very long process and I probably wouldn't actually begin delivery until the next day (because of this, I was allowed to eat up until the point when I started feeling contractions). He strongly suggested my getting an epidural because I would still be in pain during this process despite the small size of the baby. I had already signed the consent form for the epidural, knowing that I would ask for it if I felt I needed it. Minor contractions started around 1 pm. Nothing unbearable, just like PMS cramping off and on. By around 4 pm, they were starting to get uncomfortable, mostly because I was tired and wanted to rest but couldn't because of the contractions. After confirming that I had not yet begun to dilate, the nurse injected some Stadol in my i.v. to help ease some of the pain to allow me to rest. I was allowed two doses of the Stadol, but since I'd never taken anything like this before, we opted to start with just one. This worked really well for about an hour. So, I asked for the second dose, hoping that I'd be able to get some rest. The second dose couldn't have lasted more than 10 minutes. While I rested in between contractions, I was breathing through them every couple minutes. Just about 7 pm, the other dr. at the office I'd been going to comes in to check on my progress and to insert some more of the induction pills to keep things progressing. As he begins the examination, my water breaks. He's unable to determine how dilated I am but can feel the baby's feet trying to exit. They quickly set up the delivery table and advise me I am going to start pushing so that we can try to be done with this before the night is over rather than dragging it out over the next several hours or into the next day. The baby comes out quickly and easily. I had already told the nurse that I'd wanted to see the baby before it was turned over to the hospital, so they took the baby to the back of the room to clean it up as much as possible. Now, I needed to get the placenta out. Remember how my body didn't really want to believe that it wasn't still pregnant? Well, it hasn't changed its mind even after delivering the baby. My cervix was trying to close up again and only allowed a small tip of the placenta to come out. I pushed hard and well for just over an hour but never progressed. Finally, the dr. stated that a D&C was going to be needed because too much time had passed and I'd started to bleed too much. During my last few pushes, he had called the OR to see if they could get ready for me, so they were. A few minutes after he told me we were going down, I was on my way; I'd had just enough time to see my baby girl and hold her and to call my mom and tell her what had happened and what was going to happen next. NS was not allowed to come with me, later I understood this was because they were going to put me completely under anesthesia, so I wouldn't be awake. I woke up about an hour later feeling pretty rested and not in any pain at all, no more cramping, which surprised me. I was allowed to return to my room about 20-30 minutes after waking up. My mom and NS were waiting for me. My mom was holding my daughter, in her little pink blankets. She stayed for about a half-hour before leaving, and then I spent another hour or so with just NS and the baby. She was absolutely tiny, about the length of my hand from wrist to finger tips, but she had everything that makes her look like a baby: eyes, nose, mouth, ears, arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, and toes. One of her hands was curled up to her face and her legs were curled towards her, she was resting very peacefully. While it was hard to look at her and know that she is gone and that I won't ever be able to take her home, it helps the healing process to really know what she looked like and to see her look so peaceful.

The hospital gave me a wonderful keepsake for her, which included a blanket, dress, hat, and booties...all white. I don't know how they managed to have something so perfectly her size. The little white dress would still have been a little long but was just right for me to always be able to remember how tiny she was. I was also given the outer blanket she was wrapped in. Just so you can understand how cute and tiny these things are, here's a picture of the dress, hat, and booties on her pink blanket next to my hand.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I am doing fairly well, crying off and on as would be expected. I left the hospital early yesterday afternoon. I have had no physical pain other than soreness from pushing with all my might to get that placenta out the natural way and some bruises from having blood drawn and the i.v. attempts (third time was a charm on that one). NS is saddened by this, too, but has been a great support for me. He even stood by and witnessed the full bloody mess of delivery since nothing was done to cover me in any way (that's not what they show on t.v.) and slept with me in the uncomfortable hospital bed that night. We haven't officially chosen a name for her yet, but she will be named.

It saddens me to have to write something so tragic, but I will always know and believe that everything happens for a reason, no matter how unfair it may seem.


Jomama said...

I have no words. Only tears. This is not right. My friend who I just found out was pregnant the day before I found out you were pregnant had a miscarriage a few weeks ago. I am so incredibly sad that you two went through this.


Skyqueen said...

I don't even know what to say. I'm so sorry. You aresuch a brave person. Your words really touched me.

Dr.Jeeeol said...

Oh Woo- our hearts go out to you.

Anonymous said...

lurker here but I wanted to tell you that I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I hope the boys take it well.
well wishes.
ivys mom

GA girl said...

I love you. Stay strong, and call me if you need anything.

general said...


Your words made me cry. I am SO very sorry for your loss.

Please know that you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

Sarah said...

Oh Woo, I am so so sorry. I can't even find the words this is so sad. You are such a brave person. You, NS and your sweet baby girl are in my prayers.

Michele in Michigan said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm glad you were able to hold her. There's nothing more that I can say...

Jonathan said...

This is more or less exactly what happened with our second attempt at IVF.

I'll write about it one day when I'm feeling brave enough. I was scared shitless for Wendy but of course had to be the strong one.

baby~amore' said...

such a beautifully told story of your Angel's birth , though bittersweet.I am sorry your little girl didn't get to stay.
Yes , they do look just like a baby and we have every right to grieve them no matter how tiny. Her keepsake clothes are gorgeous.
My angel was born after an induced labour much like yours.Thank you for sharing your story.

lisaishere78 said...

I am sorry for your loss. 5 years ago I had the same loss, at 20 weeks along with my third baby. It was absolutely heartwrenching having to labor for 15 hours to deliver a lifeless little angel. I chose to see him but unfortunately decided not to hold him. A decision I will regret for the rest of my life. It was nice to hear your story, knowing I am not crazy for mourning what some people called a "miscarriage", for it was far different. I'm glad you had such wondeful support. I had my mom, but my husband handled it differently and chose to leave the room when the baby was delivered. May God bless you and your family!