Angela
Mom to Reese Noel
Stillborn July 7th, 2006
Albuquerque, New Mexico
I choose to share this with you as a woman and as a mother. The women who have shared their stories of loss with me have carried me through this and they will continue to do so. The woman I know who have gone through such tremendous loss are among the softest, gentlest, warmest, nicest woman I have ever been blessed to meet. They have wisdom and strength that far surpasses my own and I hope and pray to be like them. I cannot thank Becky, Katie, Jill, Darcy, Sandy, among others for sharing their stories with me long before we where ever lead down this path. I follow in the footsteps of them and remember that I am not alone in this and I never will be.


The week of June 26th, 2006 was absolutely wonderful. Linds and I spent every day that week together. Tuesday we went to CEC, Wednesday we went to the pool, Thursday we went to McD’s, Friday to another pool, Saturday was Vance’s 2nd birthday and we celebrated at Peter Piper, and Sunday we where supposed to get together but I was quite ill and Linds’ kids where a bit burnt on the pool. That Wednesday, the 28th, I was laying in bed resting when the baby started to kick like crazy…I had been feeling sporadic kicking since 12 weeks and called Levi in because I thought he might be able to feel these feisty kicks from deep within. He laid down next to me and I placed my hand on my belly, the baby let off one HUGE kick and then was silent. I thought it was a bit odd, usually our babies start kicking, it gets a little stronger and then they kick down to when they are sleeping. The kicks ended so abruptly. As you can see we where super busy. We where rejoicing that Vance was 2, we where out there playing and having fun.

At night I was exhausted and went to sleep right away. By Saturday I mentioned to Levi that I hadn’t been feeling the baby, but neither of us thought much of it because I was only 15 1/2 weeks and the baby was probably just in a position where we couldn’t feel movement. On Monday, July 3 I laid in bed and begged the baby to kick me, just once, to let me know that they where okay. I got no response, but  again figured that the position of the baby was the reason. Tuesday, July 4th we spent all day rearranging the kids rooms. We moved all of the baby items out of Vance’s room and into the baby’s room (we where in the middle of changing Faith’s room to the baby’s room) and we cleaned out every nook and cranny. Even though Faith has been sharing Alorah’s room since Feb we still had her clothes in her old room, I figured it was time to start moving everything since we where getting close to the Big U/S and would soon be able to decorate the nursery.
We went to Babies R Us and started stocking up on supplies and marveled at how good it felt to start getting stocked up early…we had room to store all of the babies things. That night we went to Linds’ house for a 4th of July BBQ and had an amazing time. I have nothing but wonderful memories of our time together that day. We laughed and ate great food and our children where running around with each other…it was such a fantastic holiday. When everything settled down I told Linds that I hadn’t felt the baby move in a while and wondered if I should get worried. We both figured no, the baby had to just be in an awkward spot. Surely there was nothing to worry about. Besides the next day was my appt. and I would schedule the big u/s and we would be on our merry way.

Wednesday, July 5th

I got up that morning and started our day. There was a lot to do, the new appliances where being delivered and I had an appt. for my 16w 1d prenatal. Much of that day is a blur. The appliances where put in, and I fed the kids lunch, took a shower, got Vance down for a nap. My mom came over to watch the kids. I had been taking them to my appt’s but they where so bored I decided it was best to leave them home from now on (thank God). I kissed the girls, thanked my mom, and drove to my appt. Everything was the usual…weight (I didn’t look), bp was pretty good, urine fine, and then the nurse had me lay down for the Doppler.  She couldn’t find the heartbeat and I actually was not worried. Vance had done this at my 12 week appt. and Dr. Okun had come in and found it within seconds. The nurse said she’d get Dr. Okun to come find it. I said okay, and figured that everything was probably fine, it had to be. Dr. Okun came in and tried for over 3 min. to find heart tones with no success. My heart sunk and she told me she was going to take me straight down to Darcy (u/s tech) but that it would be a few minutes because she was in the middle of a u/s. I still did not panic, she told me that the plancenta may be in the way and to not worry yet.  I sat there whispering “please be okay, please be okay”. I didn’t have my cell phone with me, it was in the car, so I waited a good 15 to go back and see Darcy. I laid back and told her I was doing my best to be calm, she told me she’d tell me if it was time to worry, Dr. Okun stayed in the room. She put on the gel and I stared up at the screen in anticipation. I saw our babies beautiful, perfect profile, and then it’s empty chest. There was no movement, just grey and Darcy said “oh Angela, it’s time to get worried” I doubled over and screamed, Dr Okun caught me and held me while I shook and convulsed and screamed my heart out. It came from the deepest part of my heart and the pain was so incredibly intense. When I finally was able to breath I demanded the phone and Dr. Okun dialed Levi’s number and I moaned to him what had happened and to come as fast as he could. I had no idea what our options where, I was scared, and in such a state of sadness and shock.  I just could not believe that our 4th baby was gone. Just….gone.
Darcy has gone through this and had told me before of her loss. She hugged me so tightly and showed me such compassion. Darcy has a ton of u/s pictures in her room but very few of her patients…I have seen Darcy for every u/s scan for every baby and she got me a 4-D scan with Vance..I love that woman. She still, after 2 years, has Vance’s birth announcement on her bulletin board and being able to see our 3 children in that room meant the world to me. At the 10 week scan we brought them..and in that room, just once, Levi and I got to see all 4 of our children together…our one and only time. I thank God for that. Dr. Okun took me back to her office and consoled me. She wanted to wait for Levi to go over what our next step would be. I was terrified. My uterus isn’t in the greatest shape to begin with..how could I risk damaging it further with surgery. So many things where rushing through my mind. Levi got there and held me and we talked. I never had to ask him if we would try again. He told me in that room, after such devastating news, that we would absolutely have another child as soon as we where ready. The gift of never even having to wonder…my God. I love that man more then words can say. I was in such awe of him. Dr. Okun went over our options..and frankly, they sucked. At 16 weeks they could not do a c-sec. it would be a hysterectomy and would probably damage my uterus quite significantly, the chances of another child would probably not be there. At 16 weeks it is also not possible to do a D & C, it would be a D & E and there was no way I could put a baby through that. No way, no how. Plus, we found out later that a D & E would probably tear my cervix, possibly my uterus, and result in a hysterectomy anyway. Our only sane option: induction. Of course with 3 previous c-sections there where risks…big ones. A uterine rupture would surely end our chances of another baby and could risk my life. We decided it was our best option though. Nothing else was dignified for our precious baby. Dr. Okun inserted laminaria, seaweed sticks, which expand when moistened by the cervix to help dilate. We where given orders for the hospital, a million hugs and so much love, and sent home. Dr. Okun was truly amazing through everything. She was so warm and loving.
We got home and my mom took Faith home with her (I had called her from the office to tell her why my 20 appt. turned into 2 1/2 hours and she was devastated). Levi called my MIL to come get Alorah. We sat the girls down and told them that sometimes babies are meant to be angels, and that our baby was an angel and we had to go give our baby to God so that they could watch over us forever. They didn’t quite grasp it, but the grandma’s continued with it over the next few days. I called Kyle and Linds called me back and I sobbed on the phone that we had lost our Jingle Baby. She dropped everything and came over. We sat and talked and had our first of many long conversations about losing this baby. Levi took care of Vance, my dad came over and installed our new dishwasher, and Linds and I just talked. When I was in the hospital with Vance I didn’t let anyone in, I did it all myself and I learned a big lessen from that..you have to let people you trust help you in these things. Linds and Levi never left me through any of this, I always had one of them with me. Linds agreed to take Vance the next morning at 5:30am, we had to be at Pres. at 6.

Thursday, July 6

That night I did not sleep, I couldn’t. I spooned up around Vance with my hand on his heart watching him sleep and reeling from everything that had just happened. I held him all night long. We got up at 4am to hunt down trains and pack Vance, and so Levi could shower and we could get a few things together to take to the hospital. They said it could take a couple days…I never really imagined it would. We took Vance to Linds’ and it was so hard to leave him. I have never left him for more then 4 hours with Miranda since he was in the NICU. Certainly never spent the night away from him. I knew he would be mommied though, I knew Linds would take great care of him and I knew I trusted their entire family with our sweet 2 year old boy. I kissed him and loved on him, and we left. We got to the hospital and walking on to L&D is when Levi and I both lost it. We sobbed in each others arms for a good half hour in our room, room 12. The nurse gave us time to
process being there and knowing we would leave without our baby. We had been there so many times to see so many babies…and now we where on “the other side”. A place neither of us ever wanted to be and it hurt so much, I can’t even tell you. I finally found the strength to get into the gown. The doctor came in and took out the laminaria and hooked up the pitocin and we waited. It was around 8am and I had not eaten in almost 24 hours, and I still couldn’t. I just didn’t want to. I asked for something to help me sleep and they gave me ambian. I spent much of the day in a fog, hallucinating and grieving all at the same time. The ambian bought me an hour or two of sleep and then I was wide awake. Levi and I did do a lot of talking that day. He didn’t leave my side. We talked about every detail. We knew we wanted to have the baby blessed and cremated. We wanted samples of the cord and placenta to be taken so that they could try to grow chromosomes, we knew we would want to see our baby. The pit did nothing (didn’t help that for 3 hours it was running onto the floor instead of the i.v). My OB came and saw me in the morning and called my nurse throughout the day for information. She never left us hanging. That night Linds came with baby blankets..one blue and one pink, shampoo and conditioner (I had forgotten ours), gum, chap stick, magazines, and a heart full of love. Our talks together have been the most healing part of this process. She has been there from the moment we decided to have a 4th baby, to this very moment. She loved our baby as much as we did. We talked about their day and how Vance did. She took him to McD’s and bought him a train at Target, and introduced him to chocate mookshakes (chocolate milk shakes), and loved the heck out of him for us, and G was right there helping. We had decided to have my dad take him that night..but it probably wasn’t the best idea. He did go to bed for him, but he wasn’t happy there, he needed the stability of the *S* family and not being shuffled around. Linds asked us what we would name the baby…we hadn’t even thought about it. We almost immediately settled on Reese. Reese Noel for a girl, Reese Noah for a boy. When Linds left I finally ate 1/2 a turkey sandwich and some fruit, then Levi gave me a bath. I couldn’t get my IV wet so he washed my hair, and slathered my body, and rinsed me off, he took such tender loving care of me. After the bath the doc came in and inserted 2 laminaria, it HURT. They had already ordered phenegren to get me to sleep and she offered demorol as well. I gladly accepted..and got my first real sleep in 40 hours. I slept 12 hours solid.

Friday, July 7

Thank-God for that sleep. Having a clear mind was priceless, and I was finally able to get through conversations without crying and start to process everything. We asked the nurse a million questions and she answered them all. We where so afraid that since Reese had been gone for about 9 days (Darcy could tell on the u/s that the bones had already started to collapse) that our baby would not come out whole…or with skin. The thought terrified us. We really wanted to meet our baby. In the morning our new doc came in and brought up that the laminaria/pit was not working and it was probably time to start misoprostol. The risks of uterine rupture where increased, but at 16 weeks the lower segment of the uterus, where my c-sec scar is, has not been greatly stretched…so the risk was small. I had to talk to Dr. Okun before I could agree. We have made every decision with every baby together and this was no different. I had to have her opinion. She came in and strongly agreed. So, we took a deep breath and began our next phase. They took the laminaria out, I was fingertip, posterior, baby high. They put the Cytotec in at a low dose at 9am and said they would check me at 1…if no progress had been made they would put in the medium dose every 4 hours until something did. From 9-1 I rested. Jill’s husband, Steve, came by the pray with us and offer his support..which meant so much. My dad came by to say hi and we decided that Vance would stay with Linds that night. At 1 I had made no progress, they put in the next dose and at 1:30pm labor started. At 5 they put in another dose..no progress had been made. My contractions where spread out and not strong. I opted out of the epidural…I needed to feel this, I needed to know when our baby was born, I didn’t want to be told. Linds came around 7 and at 8ish my labor intensified greatly. Contractions where over a minute long and barely a minutue apart. For the next 3 1/2 hours I labored away..the last 1/2 hour was the worst. They had given me demorol but nothing worked and the pain was unbearable. I didn’t want the epidural for another reason..I wanted to know if my uterus ruptured. The nurse left and came back saying the doctor had no problem with my getting an epi. I finally agreed but before the nurse could even page anesthesia I felt the babies head descend into the birth canal. I got really, really scared. The nurse paged everyone and the room filled with more people. The baby was almost crowning when the doc got there. At 11:23 with one ‘umph’ and Reese was out. I couldn’t look, I was so scared. Thankfully Reese came out with the bag of water in tact so coming through didn’t damage any skin or hurt the baby in any way. Next came an intense hour of trying to get the placenta out. Linds and Levi looked at Reese and assured me I would be fine, encouraged me to see my baby. I was terrified, but knew I had to. The doctor told us I would have to have a D&C, the placenta would not budge and he did not want to have to re-dilate me…so we would have to go now. The nurse brought Reese to me, what a beautiful baby. Hands and feet perfect…such a sweet face.  Nothing looked wrong with our baby at all. Every 3.2oz and 6 1/2 inches where beautiful. The sex could not be determined…on a baby so small they just couldn’t tell for sure. I think Reese is a girl, and the girls have never stopped referring to their sister since we broke the news..so unless the report comes back other wise Reese Noel was perfect. I held our baby, and talked to Reese…I was so overwhelmed. I had to say good-bye before we ever got to say hello. I told Linds it would be hours before I would be back, and to please to take care of our babies. The D&C went fine, they put me under general, and then doped me up with fentanyl. My cervix burned and I was really sore. We where put in the same recovery room we had with Vance…it was too hard on Levi…I was doped up and he was utterly exhausted..it was 3am by now, so he went back to our L&D room to sleep and I was out.
Finally at 5am they put us in a room on the maternal special care unit, and we slept. They offered to bring Reese back to us, but I just couldn’t relive everything again. I asked the nurse to take our camera and take pictures for me, and I sobbed myself to sleep. We where given a hand painted box with Reese’s hat, measuring tape, hospital bands, a certificate of blessing, and a piece of stiff paper with Reese’s stats and footprints…they couldn’t get hand prints. I’ll never forget those perfect hands though. We where discharged at 9am and went straight to the funeral home to make arrangements. We picked out a walnut urn with a teddy bear engraved on it that will read: Reese N. P**** and under have the date: July 7th, 2006.

We came home and surrounded ourselves with our children and family.

Linds has been an absolute angel through all of this. Her grief is as deep as mine, we shared every day together, we planned on what we would do with EIGHT children next summer. We are so entwined. Reese was her baby too. We have been through life together, Jillian’s birth is one of my most treasured memories…and now we have been through death together…we have come full circle. She showed our family so much love and compassion…her kindness rocked our world. She had Maria come clean the house, she filled our fridge with yummy food, and she took absolutely awesome care of our little boy. He missed his mommy, but never once did he feel abandoned. She has been there every second that I’ve needed her to be. She brought Vance home yesterday and I begged her to bring sweet Jilly with her. I needed to hold a healthy, happy, beautiful baby and love on her. I know God brought us together because we are sisters in our souls. We never got blood sisters…we got each other. Our bond is so incredibly deep. She is hurting..her soul aches for Reese as much as mine does. We have grieved this together…and to have another woman to grieve with is invaluable. Levi has been fantastic, his support has been mind-blowing, and our bond has also deepened greatly…but being able to grieve the way woman grieve with another woman….there aren’t enough words. She owns a piece of my heart…and she also has Reese watching over her family. Reese already has, but we’ll tell that story another time. Linds and I will be back out there…playing with our kids and soaking up life…it is what we DO but don’t think for a moment that Reese will be forgotten. Reese is an angel baby for a reason, and we may never know why..but I got an amazing 16 weeks with that baby. I got to nurture and love and protect our baby. I am convinced that the kicks Levi and I felt Wed, June 28th, where Reese’s final kicks…and our baby passed away with both of us holding them.  No one will ever replace Reese, not in my heart and not in our family.

We are setting up a shelf with the Urn, box from the hospital, an Anne Geddes print called Stone Angel, and it will hang right next to the framed photos of me with each of our children. Will we try again? Of course. In time…and definitely not this year. We will take as many months as we need to grieve Reese, and come to a place where we can open our hearts up to another baby. A baby with a very special sibling watching over them.

If you can believe it, I wrote this without crying, I have gone over every detail so many times, and I think it will help to have everything written out. We consider Reese a stillborn baby…I just can’t summarize going through 10 hours of labor as a miscarriage. We labored and birthed Reese with dignity, and will lay our baby to rest with love. I cannot express how much Reese was loved and wanted. I cannot express the pain I feel. I can choose to belive that Reese’s short life had a reason. I want to learn from this, grow, and be a better person for it. I will always cherish Reese.

I have my 2 week and 6 week checks to get through and we will go from there. We pick up the urn on Wednesday. Time will help.

Again thank-you all for your kindness. Please know that my choice to share this is because someone out there may have to face this and I want them to look to the woman who’s stories are told for strength and courage.

***ETA:
I did not leave the hospital without a scrip for Zoloft..I will be on it for a loooooooooong time. I started it yesterday. Every single doctor and nurse we had was phenomenal. Our baby was handled with such love, we where handled with such compassion. We where touched by so many wonderful people. Every single one was kind. We feel very blessed. Our hospital delivers 3000 babies a year..out of that less then 50 are born like Reese…please, if you are pregnant ENJOY IT! Do not fret. The chances of this happening are so very small. Life is so very precious.

ETA
My doctor called last week to tell us that Reese was, indeed, a little girl and she was 100% perfect. There was nothing wrong with her at all. We think she passed away from a cord accident and her frantic movement on June 28th was her fighting to stay with us. Rest peacefully Reese Noel. We love and miss you sweet one. Play with Gramps in the gardens of heaven and know that we will be together again someday my sweet daughter.

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Comments

  1. reflections says:

    just a little update to this…I had another miscarriage at 8 weeks in '08, the baby never formed. My husband and I are in the middle of a divorce, we separated for a year and I came home full of hope thinking things were going to be okay. Unfortunately that is not the case. I will most likely not carry anymore children. 2 losses in a row was torturous. It seems like everyone but me has gotten their "rainbow" baby and that has been a very bitter pill to swallow. I start school in the spring and I want to become a Pediatric Oncology Nurse..Yup, I want to help kids kick cancer's ass! That is my new focus, and of course raising my 3 blessings who are now 6, 8, and 10. To everyone who has been here and who will be here, holding an angel in your arms changes you forever. That pain never goes away, at some point you learn to live with it. Yesterday would have been her 4th Birthday and it still makes me cry, my heart drops, the pain is still very much there. I miss her ever single day and I have accepted that I always will. Love and Light to all of you…

  2. Shelly says:

    I’m so sorry for your losses and your divorce. How awesome you want to be a Peds Oncology nurse. My own little girl died of AML (Acute Myologenous Leukemia) and a form of NEC on February 1, 2005 at the age of 7 1/2 months (6 months adjusted). I’ve since had 2 Rainbow babies, a 4-year-old boy (Leonidas) and a 3 1/2 month-old baby girl (Baileyana), but the pain of losing her will stay with me always.

  3. Hannah says:

    I had to deliver my twins at 17 weeks and I feel the same as you about it feeling more like a stillbirth then a miscarriage. I have 2 rainbow babies but they in no way replace my twins.

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