Angel #1 Stillborn at 20 weeks on November 18th, 2009
Angel #2 Late miscarriage at 14 weeks on October 14th, 2010
Angel#3 Late Miscarriage at 15 weeks on March, 25 2011
November 15, 2009…That was the last day of my life that I could truly say I’ve been given an easy hand at life with only minor mishaps and nothing really bad has ever happened to me.
My husband and I met for the official ultrasound the morning of November 16th, so excited to know the gender of our baby. Wondering if our streak of same gender luck was going to change. Honestly, I didn’t really care all that much. The ultrasound tech started looking at the baby and said, “I’d like to see some movement here,” and she shook her ultrasound wand, shaking my tummy. Very quickly she moved to the heart. I just stared at the screen with a blank look on my face. I knew exactly what I was seeing…the absence of a heartbeat. I was too numb to even cry, but in retrospect, I was at least grateful the ultrasound tech was upfront with us and told us straight out the baby was no longer alive. My husband and I were truly in shock and were advised to check into Labor and Delivery that evening to get labor underway.
We left to gather our other girls at a neighbor’s and aunt’s house and told them each individually that the baby in Mommy’s tummy had died and it was okay to be sad. Each was heartbroken. Over the years we’ve dealt with each of their own grieving processes.
I checked into Labor and Delivery and started taking Cytotec. That was a long night, day and night. 30 hours later I delivered our sweet, perfect baby girl. We held her for 30 minutes – 3 hours. I really couldn’t tell you as time stood still. We looked at her sweet body, her fingernails, her tiny nipples, toes, fingers, tummy, little lips and kissed her good-bye. Watching the nurse carry her out of our room was the darkest moment of both my husband’s and my life. We sobbed in each other’s arms. I spent a couple days recovering in the hospital and then at home and one week later set off to see family in another state for Thanksgiving. This was a highly anticipated trip by my girls and I felt I couldn’t tell them we weren’t going this year. When we pulled up to the house Thanksgiving morning with all my husband’s family inside, I realized that my heart was still way too raw from being broken and I spent the next 2 hours crying on the guest room floor while 50 cousins, aunts, uncles, and kids all ate the Thanksgiving feast. I simply had no strength to pull it together.
The soon-to-follow Christmas season was a painful time. Every family and company party left me feeling completely empty. Attending church also made me feel horrible when it should have helped. My bleeding had not slowed and my doctor had me take Methergine on Christmas Eve. This drug made me cramp very badly and I tried to keep on a happy face for my girls while I was in pain. By Christmas morning, I was violently vomiting in the bathroom while my girls waited to see what Santa had brought. I just felt horrible! I sat on the couch all day watching my girls play with their new toys and inside I felt like dying. It felt like the worst flu with the worst heartache combined. The bleeding still persisted. I was so anemic and by January was passing golfball-sized blood clots. I counted 50 in one week. I finally got my doc to listen; something was wrong with me. He finally agreed and 2 months after I delivered our baby, I was in surgery for a D&C, which finally got me on track with normal cycles.
For the 8 months following the loss of our little baby girl I was kept up at night with the dilemma of do we try again? We decided we needed to try again and conceived on our first try, something I hadn’t expected. It felt like a miracle to us. Our next baby even had the same due date as the one before. I felt that God had given me this gift, a second chance, and in my heart I was ready. Everything seemed like it was going to be alright this time. I started measuring my tummy on my own at about 12 weeks to look for small increases in size. Sure enough, I knew that baby was growing. I encouraged my husband to come to my 14 week appointment. I told him, “I know this baby is alive this time. Come with me to hear the heartbeat.” When it was our turn to see the doc, we did all our Q&A and then we listened for the heartbeat on Doppler. I looked over at my husband as the doctor searched, and searched. I was dumbfounded; we couldn’t find the heartbeat. We went across the hall to the ultrasound machine. Sure enough, a sight I knew too well, a baby with no heartbeat. My doctor told me the baby measured 14w-1d, I was exactly 14 weeks along and we believe the baby died possibly just that very morning.
The fetus was too big for a D&C, and I told my doc I didn’t want to check into the hospital this time. I was sent home with the Cytotec. I told my husband I needed some mega maxi pads and being the control freak that I am, I wanted to pick them out. We piled the girls into the car and my hubby drove me to the grocery store. My girls didn’t even know I was pregnant. I had already started the inducing drugs 6 hours earlier. I picked out some huge pads and as I was walking in the store, my water broke. I was soaked down past my knees. I looked around and grabbed the pads and high-tailed it into the bathroom to clean up. I then bought this open bag of pads in self-checkout and hoped no one would notice. We went to bed not knowing when the baby would come. At 12:30 that night, I went to the bathroom with heavy, but not too painful cramps and had the catch bowl my nurse gave me sitting in the toilet. I pushed the baby out into the bowl, but couldn’t get the placenta to come out. I cut the umbilical cord with hair cutting scissors and placed the baby in a zip-lock baggie. I went back to the bathroom every 45 minutes hoping the placenta would come out. No luck.
By 4:30am I had lost an alarming amount of blood. I passed out on the toilet. My husband said he heard my faint call-out in his dreams before I passed out and the next thing I knew he was shaking me to wake up. I was so weak and we went to the ER. My blood pressure was 75/35 on arrival and they double IV’d me with two bags dripping into each arm. My doctor’s partner was already at the hospital and came to try to scrape the placenta out, but it was cemented in. I had no painkillers and oh it hurt. They got me into surgery for a D&C and I was released by noon. It was such an ordeal. It looked like someone was murdered in my bathroom. We took the fetus to the ER with us since they needed to run tests and I realized 4 days later that I wanted the fetus back to cremate, but I was sure I was too late. I thought the pathology lab would for sure have disposed of it by then. I had my nurse make some calls and by luck, the fetus was still in pathology and all their testing was done. I was able to have him/her cremated. I felt so relieved. I wanted to tell my baby, “Mommy took care of you, like I did your sister before you. You’ve received equal treatment, the best I could give you” I sat out in the hospital parking lot and rubbed the toes of my little baby before taking it to the funeral home. It sounds morbid, but I felt comfort spending those moments with the baby in such an odd location. My nurse was sure to tell me, “Most women don’t come back for the fetuses. Definitely don’t look at it. It will be too disturbing.” I ignored all her orders.
After losing my second baby, I was devastated all over again. My doctor had given me so much hope telling me the first was a fluke and lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice, but he was so wrong. Once again, amidst my grief, I was left with this huge decision. It consumed me. Once again, I found myself looking up at my dark ceiling after going to bed with this huge weight on my shoulders. I knew we were ready in every way for another baby. I was so crushed. I prayed for guidance and felt so lost. All my tests came up negative. No answers for why our babies died. No clotting disorder, no birth defects, no genetic defects, no infection, no nothing! My babies’ hearts simply stopped beating with no warning. Until that moment, they thrived, moved, and grew. My doctor told me about Lovenox, a daily injectable drug to help prevent clotting. But I didn’t appear to have any clotting disorder. He told me many of these disorders are still being discovered and it was a very good change this was the cause of my losses. He felt like a clot had plugged the umbilical cords of my other babies. I searched and searched my soul and decided I had the strength to do this. I couldn’t stand the thought of moving forward in life without giving all I have to bring my child into our family. I also felt a deep confirmation from God that he was mindful of me and that I would be blessed.
Three months later, I quickly conceived once again. Upon a positive pregnancy test, I began the Lovenox shots once a day in my tummy. The first two days were scary. My husband had to do the shots, but by the 3rd day I decided to put my fears aside and do them myself. For the next 2 months, I gave myself shots every morning at exactly 7:30. As the sting wore off I’d wake my girls for school. They had no idea I was expecting yet again. Kids just don’t notice things like women’s round tummies. I was so cautiously optimistic! I felt like this was it. I felt peace. I felt like God had answered my prayers. I felt like Lovenox would keep my baby alive. It was a staggering $720/month with insurance for the generic. I rented a fetal heartbeat monitor online. It arrived in the mail on March 24, 2011. I tore open the package, went to my room and placed the monitor on my tummy. My baby was alive the previous week at my 14 week check-up. I searched and searched. I couldn’t find anything. I watched some YouTube videos of other women using these monitors. I knew I was doing it all right, but as you’ve guessed, there was no heartbeat. The damn monitor had come one day too late for me to hear that wonderful sound. One flippin’ day too late! I called my doctor’s office, but they don’t answer the phones on their lunch break. Can you believe that? So I drove to my doctor’s office, walked in, was greeted by a very rude receptionist and I told her I needed to have my baby checked, that I’m sure it’s heart had stopped. My nurse came out and got me. She took me back to hear the heartbeat. There was none. The ultrasound tech measured the baby. It measured 15 weeks. It had died the previous day. I called my husband at work and he came right over. My doctor wouldn’t let me deliver at home again since I had been on Lovenox. I checked into Labor and Delivery the next morning and delivered another perfect baby girl. It was no surprise at that point that the placenta wouldn’t come out. My doctor was away that day, so my doctor’s other partner, who happens to be my uncle, performed a D&C for the placenta. I was numbed with a spinal block and was awake for the whole uncomfortable event. I recovered in the hospital for a couple days, and returned home empty handed once again.
The stress and grief of losing my babies has brought me to tears many, many times in the time since. I honestly feel that getting crushed so many times over 2 years gave me a form of PTSD. In the months to follow the last loss, I could feel my sorrow be replaced with depression and an inability to function in many ways. It was clear to me I no longer had the ability to carry a child to term and no doctor could change that. I no longer had hope, and I was turning into a horrible mother to my living children. Somehow I was able to turn a corner that Fall when I started going to the gym regularly, and really took control of my eating. I slowly felt light return to my life. I think being able to take control of my health helped me feel control of my life where I hadn’t any over the previous two years, I even lost 35+ pounds and am more fit than I’ve been in over 15 years. I’m now doing well, and have accepted the absence of my 3 children. It still hurts like hell in a way I cannot explain. I still cry. I still get side-swiped by triggers and go through ruts. But I feel like I’ve survived. I look forward to the day when I’ll see my 3 children again. Until then, I cherish them in my heart.