Mom to Alexandra Grace
Born sleeping on November 16th, 2009
Cleveland, OH

I had a pretty uneventful pregnancy. I found out I was pregnant on April 27, 2009. I couldn’t believe it. When I took the test, I was expecting it to be negative. Then it turned to positive immediately and I was stunned! What?! So of course I had to take another test after that one…then another just to be sure. There it was, right before me, “pregnant”. At my first appointment it was confirmed that I was 7 weeks pregnant and due December 20, 2009. We even heard and saw a heartbeat! I remember it feeling a little surreal after receiving an actual due date. Wow, in December we’re going to have a baby. A baby! Get ready!

At 9 weeks I started spotting and this is when I started to worry about something going wrong. I went to my doctor’s and she said it was normal. I had a “sensitive cervix” and it was everything just making room for the baby. We had an ultrasound and everything was fine. There was a heartbeat and the baby was even moving around bouncing all over the place. Too early for me to feel anything, but she was moving. Everything was okay. I could relax, but I didn’t. The bleeding really worried me, even if it was supposed to be normal. I remember laying on the couch, crying and telling my husband I had a “bad feeling about this”. I eventually stopped spotting. It only lasted a few days. If I can remember anything about the entire pregnancy, it was a lot of worry. After every appointment I was always thinking… ‘okay, just have to get to the next appointment’. I just have to get to the next month…. everything is going well. I’m a worrier anyway, so I’m sure reading books about pregnancy and reading the things that could go wrong never helped. After 13 weeks I was able to relax, just a little bit. That is supposedly the end of the “danger zone” and there is a less chance of miscarrying. I also remember reading if there was a heartbeat at 7 weeks, there is a 97% chance that the baby will be born healthy. 97% huh? Stupid statistics.

Around 12 or 13 weeks, one of my friends had rented a baby doppler to listen to the heartbeat. She was due about a week before me. I thought that was a great, fun idea! I could listen to the heartbeat whenever I wanted and it would also put my mind at ease in between doctor visits. So I rented one. This became my routine. I would listen to my baby’s heartbeat at least once a day. At first it sounded like a ‘whoosh whoosh’ sound and sometimes it sounded like a horse. Then as I got further along, for some reason I had to listen to her twice, once before I went to work and once after I got home. Just to know she was there and doing okay. Now I’m beginning to think, did I listen too much? Did the doppler have some weird, crazy effect on her? Was it bad?

The rest of my pregnancy was fine. I had the usual aches and pains, but nothing that I thought was out of the ordinary. All my appointments, I was in and out within a matter of minutes. Everything was okay and going well.

Then this weekend came. It started out okay. Thursday, November 12th I had finished my last childbirth class. The car seat was in the car ready to go. We had taken all of the classes. I was ready for labor. The last class was infant care. I remember feeling a little afraid. It was starting to feel real now. I was going to have a baby in a matter of weeks. Were we ready for this?! Can I do this?

That Friday, my work threw me a surprise baby shower! Little did I know, it was also going to be my last day of work. I had not even worked a full day then. I left early to go see the daycare at my husband’s work. We were taking a tour. So exciting! The weekend was just spent doing everything baby. Washing baby clothes, folding clothes and putting them away, getting everything ready for Alexandra.

Sunday was the day I reached the 35 week mark. It was a relief to me. 35 weeks. Only a few more weeks to go. If she was born early, then she had good chances of surviving. She might be a little small, but she could survive. I was going to start packing the suitcase for the hospital this week. It was one of the last things I needed to do, which I put off because I almost felt like I was jinxing myself if I packed any earlier. How crazy is that? I was definitely not one of the pregnant women out there who did nothing but look forward to their baby being born. I was always afraid something was going to go wrong.

Then that night, I got up to go to the bathroom like I had been for the past few weeks. I would get up at least three times a night. I got up at 1:00 a.m. and she was moving. Then I got up again at 5:00 a.m. and when I went back to bed, I felt her move. I always would poke her whenever I got up just to be sure she was still moving and to say hello. This time when I did, it was a little nudge and I relaxed and went back to sleep. Then I got up at 7:00 a.m. for work. Something was different. I couldn’t feel her move and every morning, I would always wait and see if I could feel her move. Once she moved I was satisfied and it was time to get up for work! But that day, I couldn’t feel her. I was thinking, ‘Come on Alexandra, move for Mommy and we can go to work’. But nothing. Weird, but I have to go to work. It’s time to get up. Then in the shower I noticed she wasn’t moving either. She always moved then. I would watch my stomach move like crazy. It was so weird! That day, nothing. I remember poking my stomach and asking, ‘Are you awake in there? Wake up.’ I know babies have their sleep periods and towards the end, they start to run out of room so I really didn’t think anything of it.

After my shower, I started to make some breakfast and it was time to listen to her heartbeat (my morning routine). That day, I pulled out the doppler, felt around and there was nothing but static. Was my worst nightmare coming true? I remember in the back of my mind, every time I listened I would think, ‘imagine if one day you do this and get nothing… how terrible that would be?’ Who thinks that? Who in their right mind would even think of that?! (Too much Grey’s Anatomy and ER!) I asked, ‘Where are you Alexandra?’ It was taking forever to find her. 10 minutes and still no heartbeat. Now I was getting worried. My husband was up and asked if I could find it. Nope, nothing. This was weird. All throughout the pregnancy I was always able to find it within a matter of seconds. Never this long. Something was wrong. My husband said she was probably just turned in a different spot or maybe it was the battery in the doppler. My husband knelt down and asked, ‘Alexandra… are you awake? Sweetie?’ Nothing. No movement either.

I was getting really worried so we decided to call my doctor. I started crying. I knew something was wrong. This wasn’t right. My doctor told me to eat something and call her back, but I insisted on coming in. I told her I already had and I still had not felt her move. We left for the doctor right away. I remember just hoping and thinking, ‘Please, let everything be okay. Maybe she’s just in a weird place. It will be okay.’ I even
e-mailed my work to let them know I was going to be “in late” that day. I thought we would go and everything would be alright and I could go back to work.
When we got to my doctor’s, the nurse listened with a stethoscope. My doctor then came in and tried with her doppler. Then she said sometimes babies are positioned funny and she would bring in an ultrasound. Now I was really scared. She brought in the ultrasound and I could see her face. She was looking and looking for the heartbeat. Then after a little while, she stopped and looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t see a heartbeat.”

Even though I kind of already knew something was terribly wrong, I was still hoping my doctor would have seen a heartbeat on the ultrasound and everything was going to be okay. When she told me she could not find one, I couldn’t believe it. She had been moving just a few hours earlier that morning! How could this be? What happened? What went wrong? I remember saying, “No, no, no…” and was crying and was asking what happened. My husband and I were holding each other. This wasn’t real.

After giving us a few minutes, my doctor came back and explained to us we had a couple of options. We could either have a c-section or be induced. She told me sometimes people did not like to have a c-section done because the scar reminded them of what happened. At the time, all I wanted was for the baby to be out. I had something dead in me. My baby was dead. I had just taken weeks of childbirth classes to prepare myself for labor, but to go through hours of labor only to hear silence afterward? It was too much. We decided to have a c-section, which I now somewhat regret. Everything happened so fast though and at the time, a c-section seemed to be the right decision.

We were told to go directly to the hospital to have an ultrasound to confirm there was no heartbeat. On the way there, my husband called both of our parents. I couldn’t call anyone. I didn’t even want to see anyone. I remember him calling and just saying, “We lost the baby, come to the hospital right away.” We lost the baby. How could we have lost the baby? She was with us a few hours ago.

When we got to the hospital, the lady at the ultrasound desk was rude and kept asking me if I had an appointment. All I had was an order with the word “STAT” written on it. Wasn’t that enough?! How can you not see that lady? My baby is dead and I need that confirmed! Don’t give me this bullshit! She finally realized what it said after I told her we were supposed to be seen immediately. All of this was not happening.

Once we had the ultrasound, it was confirmed there was no heartbeat. She looked so still on the screen compared to a few months ago when she was moving, turning, and flipping. At one time she even looked like she was waving to us during the ultrasound. She was so full of life and now she was so still.

We were taken into the hospital afterwards and I was prepped for surgery. Due to the circumstances, I was going to be given a general anesthetic. The anesthesiologist came in to talk to me and mentioned he had personal experience with this happening to him and was very sorry. I would hear this mentioned at least a few more times. So, this kind of things happens to people all the time? Why does nobody talk about it? Why? I asked if I could see her afterward. For some reason, I thought they were just going to take her away and not let us see her. I wanted to make sure we could see our daughter.

Everything happened so fast. My husband and I left for my doctors around 9:00 a.m. that morning. Within a matter of hours, I was admitted into the hospital and at 12:51 p.m., Alexandra Grace was born. She was 5 lbs. 2 oz., 17 in. long.

I barely remember anything after the c-section. I remember waking up and feeling a lot of pain and feeling very empty. I wished it was a nightmare, but it was real. We had to decide whether or not an autopsy should be performed and we had to start making funeral arrangements. Really? How and why are we doing this? We decided to have an autopsy done so we could hopefully find out an answer as to what went wrong.

I remember everyone kept asking me if I wanted to see her. I did want to see her, but not then. I was too tired. I kept falling asleep because of the morphine. I was afraid too. I didn’t know what it was going to be like. I barely knew what to expect after having a baby who was living, let alone one that had already died. Eventually though, I agreed to see her because in a few hours she was going to have to be transported to another hospital for the autopsy. When my husband gave her to me, she was perfect. She had all ten fingers and toes and was a good size. She had lots of hair and she felt so soft and delicate. She had my nose. What went wrong? Why was she taken from us when she looked so perfect? We held her and had pictures taken with her. It felt so right and so wrong all at the same time. A priest came in and blessed her and we had a small service for her right in the hospital room.

Looking back, I wish we had spent more time with her. One reason I wish I had not had the c-section was because maybe we would have had more time with her then. There would not have been that time of not having her in the room. I wish I would have said I loved her or maybe I did. I really don’t remember what I did or did not say. I just wish we had a longer time with her. I wish we could have had her a lifetime instead of just an hour or so.

This was not how it was supposed to be. Babies are not supposed to die. Parents are not supposed to bury their own children. It’s unnatural. How could we ever get through this? A few days later, I was released from the hospital. That following Monday, we had a small private service for her and buried her. The first few months after were some of the hardest months I have ever gone through. I felt lost and alone. My baby I had hoped for son long was suddenly taken away from me. I spent nights crying myself to sleep and just staring into space wondering what went wrong. I thought my life would never be the same. It wasn’t until I turned to the internet, that I finally found some sense of hope and comfort. I stumbled upon a blogging community and it has turned out to be one of the best things that happened to me out of this terrible loss. I have met so many kind, supportive women who have gone through similar experiences and had similar feelings. I knew I was no longer alone. I knew my feelings were normal. I finally found hope in getting through this loss. Since then, I have created my own blog, helped many women as they have helped me, made lifelong friends and honored my daughter in ways I never thought could be possible. Alexandra has been gone for eight months now and not a day goes by where I don’t think of her. The hurt is not as painful as it once was and I have a new sense of hope. I am also currently pregnant with my rainbow baby and hoping for his or her safe arrival in February 2011.

Maggie blogs at Butterflies for Alexandra

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  1. Antoinette says:

    (((((((((((hugs))))))))))))) Love you and my niece and cant wait for your rainbow (my secret rainbow) too….What you have done for me in this journey I can never explain in words…I love you so much, and I am so happy that the girls brought us together….If any good came from this it was the life long friendships that We both have made…love you xoxo

  2. I looked at your blog. Congratulations on your little boy. My firstborn/first baby girl, Kylee Nicole was born at Metro at 33 weeks, and 4 days on June 18,2004 after I was sent there by LifeFlight due to Preeclampsia, she died in Rainbow February 1, 2005. I subsequently gave birth to my little boy (Leonidas) on September 6, 2007 and my 2nd baby girl (Baileyana Nicole) on June 14, 2011. What an amazing gift our Rainbow Babies are!

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