Mom to Allison Hannah
Stillborn on October 29th, 2006 at 33 weeks 3 days
San Diego, California
In March of 2006, my husband and I got pregnant with our first child just a few months after getting married. We were very excited. At the 20-week ultrasound, we found out we were having a girl. I was a tomboy growing up and hated girly things such as dresses. I knew that I wanted to raise my daughter as an athletic princess. She could play sports and be a ballerina. My little soccer girl would be tough and graceful. She could wear cleats and be comfortable in dresses. She would be like me, and at the same time, not like me. This was my dream for her.
At about week 23, I started feeling my daughter’s movements each day. My doctor had me doing the kick counts at about week 26, however I was very rarely able to get enough kicks in. I mentioned this to my doctor at each appointment, but he wasn’t concerned. I didn’t realize how important the kick counts were at the time. I figured if the doctor wasn’t concerned, then I shouldn’t be concerned.
In the weeks following, I developed really bad water retention in my hands and feet. It was so bad that people kept asking me if I had pre-eclampsia. At each doctor’s appointment, I asked my ob/gyn about pre-eclampsia and complained about how bad the water retention was. My blood pressure and urine test were normal, so pre-eclampsia was not the issue. My doctor said that it was normal for a first pregnancy. I remember saying that perhaps it was normal, however my water retention was worse than others.
In mid-October, we attended the hospital’s “Childbirth Preparation” class. The arrival of our daughter was getting near. I wanted to be as prepared as possible. We learned quite a bit in that class, including different exercises to prepare for childbirth regardless of using pain medication and different breastfeeding techniques. It was a very informative class and a great way to bond with other couples anxiously awaiting the arrival of their precious bundles of joy.
On October 25th, I had a doctor’s appointment where my daughter’s heartbeat was heard. I was 33 weeks pregnant (7.5 calendar months). My doctor mentioned that at the next appointment, which was two weeks away, that he’d do an ultrasound and check my cervix.
On October 27th, I noticed that I hadn’t felt my daughter moving in a while. I wasn’t alarmed as she hadn’t been a very active baby, so I decided to wait until the morning as I was sure she would be kicking by then.
On October 28th, I still hadn’t felt her move. Around 10:30am, we headed to the hospital to get checked. My nephew’s birthday was on this day, and my sister was throwing him a party later. I figured we’d be at the hospital for a couple of hours and then get ready for his party.
When we arrived at the hospital, we were quickly put into a room in the triage area of the Labor and Delivery department. A nurse attempted to locate our daughter’s heartbeat with the fetal doppler device. She searched for a couple of minutes and was unable to find it, so she went to find a doctor. As she was leaving to get the doctor, she squeezed my right wrist to comfort me.
A few minutes later, the doctor arrived with a portable ultrasound machine. He quickly located the heart and told us that there was no heartbeat. “Noooooooooooooooooo!” I screamed in my head. I could see the still image on the screen, which will haunt me forever. There was my little girl, inside me, but already gone.
The doctor told us the tragic news in a tone that I’ll never forget. He seemed almost excited. I’m sure it was due to his nerves.
We were devastated. I could barely breathe. Ally was dead. My little girl was gone. I was living a nightmare, and no matter how hard I tried, I could not wake up from it.
We were asked how we wanted to proceed, whether or not I wanted to go home to let nature take its course or if I wanted to be induced. Without asking my husband, I said I wanted to be induced. I couldn’t imagine going home and delaying the birth.
We were given some privacy while they got a delivery room setup. My husband and I broke down. We held each other for a while. When I had calmed down enough to talk, I called my mom. My oldest brother answered the phone. I told him that I needed to speak with mom. He could hear something wrong in my voice and asked, “Is everything okay?” I told him, “No, I need to talk to Mom.” When she got on the phone, I told her that our daughter didn’t have a heartbeat. We both burst into tears.
We were put in a room that was at the end of the L&D corridor, in hopes that we’d be spared hearing live babies being born. Unfortunately it was a very busy day for babies to be born. Every room was being used, which meant we’d be hearing many babies screaming as they entered the world. This would normally be a joyous occassion, but it wouldn’t be easy to hear when you are about to have a stillbirth.
Before they induced me, I was given one more ultrasound by a different doctor just to confirm that Ally did not have a heartbeat. The result was the same. I was then induced with pitocin.
Before finding out this terrible news, I hadn’t yet decided whether or not I was going to have a natural delivery or get the epidural. Once we found out that she wasn’t going to be born alive, I knew immediately that I wanted the epidural and any other drugs they could give me to lessen the physical pain. I wanted to be numb.
When I felt the first bits of pain, I requested the epidural.
The next several hours are a blur. My parents visited us while we were waiting for active labor to start. While I had company in the hospital room, my husband was able to run home to get some things for us and also to put away all of the baby reminders. I can’t imagine how hard it was for him to do that, but I am grateful that he did it.
Around midnight, I felt a tremendous amount of pain in my bowel area. I called for a nurse. She checked me and said that the baby had descended. It was time to push.
At 1:58am on October 29th, Allison Hannah Kizer was born. She weighed 3 pounds, 4 ounces and was 17 inches in length.
Minutes after the delivery, the doctor checked my placenta and said that it was abnormal. It was the likely cause of her death. The condition is called velamentous cord insertion. My body had failed her.
We were able to hold our daughter for as long as we wanted. She was perfect. She may not have been breathing, but she was perfect in every other way.
We did not take pictures of her, which I now regret. I am very grateful that the hospital took pictures and provided a memory package to us. I will treasure it forever.
I saw many doctors and nurses while at the hospital, but the doctor and the nurse who were there for the delivery were exceptional. I can’t put into words how much it meant to me to have such an amazing doctor and nurse share this tragic experience with us.
We had our daughter cremated. Her cremated remains were placed in a beautiful urn that my husband selected.
We were later given a death certificate but not a birth certificate. How can there be a death without a birth? She may not have been born alive, but she was still born. I delivered her. I delivered her stillborn.
The 20-week ultrasound should have caught the abnormal placenta condition. Had the ultrasound technician or the doctor noticed the condition, I would have been monitored very closely. Ally would have been delivered, or maybe it would have been a c-section, when I was 32 weeks pregnant as there would have been an indication of fetal distress that week. She may not have survived, but at least she would have had a chance.
We have since been blessed with two rainbow babies, which helped ease the pain, but Ally will always be dearly missed. A piece of me died with her, I am forever broken.
You can contact Tara at firstname.lastname@example.org