Brittanie Mom to Cora Rei Stillborn at 38 weeks, 1 day, on May 2nd, 2006 Highlands Ranch, CO
I became pregnant for the first time in August of 2005, 2\two months after getting married. I was ecstatic, but nearly upon conception the nausea started. At five weeks, when nausea is “supposed” to start, I was throwing up multiple times a day. By 10 weeks, after throwing up at least once an hour for nearly 24 hours, and starting to throw up blood, I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, or extreme morning sickness. Five days later was my first appointment with my OB, and I was severely dehydrated again, so he gave me anti nausea medication. He also did an ultrasound. It was standard for dating purposes, but I was also really worried that my severe sickness had harmed my baby. During that ultrasound we learned that our baby was perfect, and they set my due date as May 14th…Mother’s Day. It was perfect. We were overjoyed and I had never been so in love. My pregnancy continued to progress normally (with the exception of the hyperemesis, which plagued me my entire pregnancy [and my subsequent two as well]). At about 23 weeks we learned our baby was a girl, and we decided her name would be Cora Rei. Her name means “heart full of gratitude.” I meant it to teach her something, but in the end it has been teaching me.
April 30, 2006, I was exactly 38 weeks. I woke up that morning and she had very obviously dropped. Everyone at church commented on it, and asked how I was feeling, and while I was uncomfortable, it wasn’t anything noteworthy. I had to work from 5:30pm to midnight that night, and I figured six and a half hours of standing would help move things along. At about 10pm that night, a friend and coworker of mine came in. I expressed to her that I was worried that I was losing amniotic fluid. I didn’t really think so, but I did feel that something might be wrong but couldn’t put my finger on it. During our conversation, Cora pushed against my ribs so hard that I doubled over in pain. My friend offered to finish out my shift for me so I could go to the hospital, and I finally decided to “wait and see what happened in the morning.” I have never regretted a decision I’ve made so much in my life.
I woke up at nearly 11am the next morning. I hadn’t woken once in my sleep. I was immediately disappointed that I had not woken up at 4am with contractions and was not in labor. I had been very much looking forward to my pregnancy (and sickness!) ending and holding my sweet baby. My husband and I had errands to run, so I got up to take a shower. It was in the shower that I realized it. Cora had always become very active in the shower. On this particular morning, there was absolutely nothing. I bruised myself poking my belly to get her to respond, and ended up breaking down sobbing in the shower. I knew. I tried to convince myself that I was freaking out as I finished rinsing off and got dressed. I went into my bedroom and asked my husband to listen to my belly. It was something he had done frequently to hear her heartbeat (and hasn’t ever done since). He heard nothing, but convinced me it was just a fluke and I should try to eat and drink something to see if I could get her going. There was nothing. It was at this point that I called my OB’s office, only to get a message that they were out for lunch and they’d be back in an hour if I wanted to leave a message. I couldn’t put it into words, so I decided that I would just call back later. The next hour we did our errands, and it was torturous. I had a secretary that we were turning a form in to ask me how far along I was, and when I said I was due in two weeks her eyes lit up, and she babbled on about how exciting it was. I just nodded and went along with it. How do you tell someone you think your baby is dead?
When 1:00 finally rolled around I was on the phone with my OB again, only the nurse practitioner (whom I didn’t like because she seemed to think nobody besides herself had any intelligence) was the one who answered. It took me 15 minutes and nearly going into hysterics for her to realize I didn’t mean my baby was just quiet, but that there was a serious issue. She still sounded like getting me in for an ultrasound was humoring someone who was stupidly hysterical though.
So we went to the OB, and I had to sit in the waiting room until the room opened for me. It seemed that it was a very busy day and the waiting room was crowded. There were no seats that were empty on both sides, to I had to sit next to a woman who was going in for her “big” ultrasound and was very excited. Again, I just nodded and went along with it, not really telling her what I was there for.
My doctor tried with the doppler first and only found my heartbeat, and I was just holding all the tears in. Finally he turned on the ultrasound machine, very calmly getting the jelly and everything ready. When the image came up on the screen, I saw it before he said it.
“I’m so sorry, Brittanie. There’s her heart, and it isn’t beating.” That image and those words are seared into my memory. I close my eyes and it comes back like it was yesterday.
We went into his personal office then, to use his phone to call our families since our cell phones didn’t get reception back there. Our families were so far away. We were utterly alone, it seemed. My doctor called the hospital and scheduled to get me in to be induced as soon as was possible, and it turned out the earliest was the next morning. On the way home we stopped by each of our work places. My last day before maternity leave started was that next day…the day my baby would be born sleeping. While we were at Walmart filling the prescription for Ambien my doctor gave me, I saw the woman I had sat next to in the waiting room. She had a couple baby outfits in her cart. She saw my tears, I saw her questioning concern, and I ducked down a different aisle. I just couldn’t say it.
The next morning we drove to the hospital in silence. I had a sick feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. I have this horrid fear of corpses and zombies and such, so I was terrified of what it was going to be like for me. I couldn’t touch my belly, it just disgusted me. Labor wasn’t anything remarkable except that I have horrid veins, so it took four tries to get the IV in, and three for the epidural. My nurses were wonderful, and I saw tears in their eyes more than once. It reminded me that I wasn’t alone, and that what I was feeling was normal, that my loss was something to be mourned.
After 8 hours of labor, Cora Rei entered the world, weighing 6lbs10oz and 20 1/2 inches long. She was probably the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. She had the most beautiful curly red hair, and big hands for a newborn. That moment is my most precious memory, the few hours I got to spend holding my beautiful daughter. My life has changed forever.
Because we were living where we were because my husband was going to school, and knew we would be moving in a year or two after he graduated, we chose to have her body cremated, and we spread her ashes on the water of Jenny Lake in the Grand Teton Mountains in Wyoming on our first anniversary.
She would have been four this year, and I have missed her every moment of those years, and will for the rest of my life. I now have two rainbow babies. Erin is 3 and Patrick is almost 18 months, and Cora has taught me that every moment is precious. I hug my rainbows tighter because I don’t have her here.