Samantha

Mom to Allison Paige

Delivered stillborn on April 22, 2011

Pennsylvania

It all started out so effortless.  We got pregnant during the second month that we tried and my pregnancy was pretty easy.  I did not get sick and I did not have a lot of nausea.  I was more tired than I had been in my entire life, but aside from that, I was ok.  And super excited.  Right away, Gary suspected that we had a little girl on the way, but it took longer to convince me.  Ok, so it took an ultrasound to convince me!  But as much as I wanted a little superhero for my husband to play with (he loves comic books), once they said the words, “it’s a girl”, our lives changed.  Gary beamed from ear to ear and I think I almost immediately wondered if there was a minimum age for manis and pedis…

The Fall of 2010 went by fast and Gary and I celebrated our first Thanksgiving as a married couple and then our first holiday season as newlyweds.  We went to New Orleans for New Year’s to surprise my “baby” brother for his 30th birthday.  And everywhere we went, our little lady went with us.  As my belly started to grow, so did our hearts.  We started talking about names and colors for her nursery and dreamed of all the places we would go once she was here and all the adventures we were going to have.

The baby kicked more and more in my growing belly and as Spring 2011 came, happiness was all around us.  We visited daycare centers and chose the one we thought would be the best and we settled on a name, although we kept it a secret till the very end.  We were so excited to meet Allison Paige.  Allie was named after my paternal grandfather, Allen, and Gary’s maternal grandfather, Paul.  We covered all the bases with this perfect name!  We nicknamed her Allie cat to go with our Zoe cat who is the other resident in our house and she pretty much rules the roost.  We were covered from A-Z…

Thursday, April 21st started just like any other day. Gary made us fruit smoothie’s for breakfast and we went to work. We work together so we carpool and the ride in was just like any other. As I sat at my desk and started work, I drank my smoothie and smiled for Allie liked the drink and often kicked when I took a sip. I had been feeling her less and less and I had started to drop and I was now 37 weeks. Being full term meant there was not a lot of room in there for her to move around and so I was not that alarmed that I did not feel her as much. After all, I had been to the doctor that Tuesday and we heard her heartbeat and all was fine.

Sometime after lunch, I remember telling Gary that I disliked not feeling her as much. I also remember emailing him later that afternoon that I had felt her. I was worried a little, but what first time mom is not? We finished out the work day and went home.

That night was our last Labor and Delivery class. It was a 4 week class that we enjoyed for the most part, although it did freak us out a bit. We watched lots of movies (some showed WAY too much if you ask me and I am not a prude!) and practiced breathing and talked with other soon-to-be-parents. At the end of class, I happened to mention to the nurse that led the class that I had felt decreased movement over the past few hours. She said not to worry too much, but to get something sugary and go home and lie on my left side and wait for 6 kicks in an hour. If I did not feel them, then she suggested I call my doctor. Just to be on the safe side.

So, I did as she asked. And I felt nothing. So after about 15 minutes or so, Gary decided to call the doctor and she suggested we go to this hospital and get hooked up on monitors to see what was going on. There was no need to wait an hour – it was time to go…now.

I started to cry. A lot. I was in a blind panic and could not see straight. I asked Gary if he was worried and he flat out said no. We had gone to every doctor’s appointment that we were supposed to, had all the blood work done that was required…in short, we did everything we could to make sure our Allie would grow strong and healthy and this little hiccup was just us being overly careful and cautious. Nonetheless, we flew to the hospital.

Upon arrival, I was offered a wheelchair. I politely declined as I was in no pain and felt fine to walk to the Maternity floor. We talked to the nurse on the way to triage about how happy we were to being this close to being parents and how we knew she was a girl, and other such small talk. I started to relax and feel a little better. Once there, they hooked me up to a monitor and then…nothing. They put a monitor on my finger as they said they wanted to differentiate the heartbeats…not read mine instead of the baby’s and vice versa. When they could not hear her heartbeat, they rolled in the ultrasound machine. And then they called for another nurse. And then another. And then I heard them whisper to call the doctor.

We asked what was happening and they said it was too soon to tell – there could be an issue with the cord or the baby could be hiding, but none of that made sense! There were no cord issues before and she had never “hidden” before. What the hell was going on??

After a few more minutes, we moved into a Labor and Delivery Room and they instructed me to put on a gown and wait for the doctor who was on her way. I changed and then sat on the bed and after some time had passed, I asked Gary what he thought was going on. He was stoic and calm and said he did not want to alarm me, but if the baby was in distress, they would have rushed me off to surgery. But they had not done that. They had us wait. Which he did not feel was a good sign. And he was right.

Our OB came in a short while later and with the ultrasound machine, she looked to see what was going on. After an eternity, she turned to Gary and me and with a crushed look upon her face, she said she was sorry, but there was no cardiac activity. Everything stopped. My world literally froze.   It was then that we heard the words “fetal demise” for the first time.  It’s the new word for stillborn, apparently.  The doctor continued saying that we did nothing wrong and that this was not our fault and she was so sorry and she asked if we need or want anything.  I also remember saying that I wanted my baby. It was all I wanted from the moment we made her.  And now she was gone. And I had to deliver her.  The hard part was just beginning.

So much of what happened over the next few days was a blur.  I know we called our families to let them know what was going on and within hours, the waiting room starting filling up with our loved ones.    Everyone knew that I was in the midst of delivery and could not spend much time with them, but they wanted to be there just in case.  My mother was at the hospital in no time.  My father-in-law and brother-in-law drove from NJ to PA at midnight that night.  My brother and his wife flew in from Austin, TX.  My friends skipped work and got sitters for their kids and came and sat with each other.  No one wanted to believe what was happening and no one wanted us to be alone.  Nor did they want to be alone.

Since I was not ready to go into labor naturally, I had to be induced.   I believe the process started around 12:30-1:00 am and whatever they gave me immediately made me vomit.  Oh, so that is how it’s gonna be, huh?  Luckily there was not much in my stomach at that hour and I did not get sick again.  They started me on pain meds and then we waited to see how far along I was.  And we waited.  And we waited.  At some point, I got an epidural.  In hindsight, I think they may have administered it too early as I never really progressed after that.  At 6:00 in the morning, I was 2 cm.  Same at 9.  Same at noon.  At one point I got to 3.5 cm, but we were a long way from the desired 10.  We were exhausted and drained and starting to fade.  My mom and Gary had both asked about a c-section and were both told that it was better for me to deliver vaginally.  (Side note: this experience has made me add the word “vaginally” to my vocabulary and I am not happy about it!!).

At some point, the doctor told Gary that it was the patient’s right to choose how she wanted to deliver.  That was all we needed to hear! After the OB checked me at 4:15 and announced that I had still not progressed that much, we made the decision that although it was major abdominal surgery, we had to agree to the c-section.  None of us could sit in that room any more and wait for my body to be ready to push our baby out.  It could have easily been another day at that point.  So we said let’s do it and waited for the shift change at 7pm to move on with this next chapter in our lives.

Gary gowned up and sat beside me for the whole procedure.  He looked so handsome and proud!  He had dreamed of this moment for the past 9 months! The anesthesiologist was the father of a friend that I had grown up with and that turned out to be a good thing as I was distracted, asking him questions about his kids and his grand kids.  Gary sat next to me and supported me and loved me and somehow, we made it through.

When they first pulled Allie out, Gary walked around to see her and came back to report that she was beautiful. She had his long toes and my dark curly hair.  They let him cut the cord (symbolically, since she was already removed from me) and that meant so much to him.  The doctors finished working on me and then we went back to the Labor and Delivery room.  Our little girl was born.

As they were checking me closely and monitoring all my vitals, they brought Allison to see us.  They took such great care and swaddled her up so nicely in a hand knit blanket that I assume was made by a volunteer at the hospital.  We introduced ourselves to her and stared at this wonder that our love had created.  There really is no love like the love you have for your child.  I get that now.  I do not remember what we said as there were so many tears, but I know we promised her that we would always love her and always love each other for she deserved that.  We both held her and kissed her hello and then goodbye.  We then asked the nurse to take her away as we did not want to dwell on the fact that she was like a doll – beautiful and still.  We had our time with her and that would have to be enough.  It was all we had but it was so much.

The moved us off the Maternity floor so that we could start to heal emotionally as well as physically and they got Gary a cot in a private room with me so that we could be together.  It was close to midnight at this point on Friday and we had not slept since Wednesday night.  As soon as we were in our new room, we both collapsed.  We brought our Allie into this world as we planned to do all along and now it was up to us to do right by her and make her proud and that meant we had to take care of ourselves and each other.  So that is what we did.  And it is what we have been doing ever since.

Samantha blogs at http://samgaryzoe.blogspot.com/

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Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your story, we have a lot of unfortunate things in common. I lost my first baby, also a daughter at 33 weeks on May 5th, also after a totally uneventful pregnancy. I’m going to go check out your blog, I just started a blog too if you want to check it out.

    I like the idea of a tattoo also.

    • Samantha says:

      Thanks so much for your support, Rachel. Your blog is incredible. The part about shopping at Kohl’s was just one more thing / story that we have in common. Crazy, huh? I tried to “follow” your blog but it kept glitching on me so I will make in a “favorite” and just check back often.

      Hang in there and keep writing. That’s my plan anyway!!

  2. Thank you for sharing, Samantha. I am tryly sorry for the loss of your baby, Allison Paige. I especially liked that you & your husband’s legacy to her is taking good care of yourself & each other. What a wonderful tribute to her. Thank you for sharing.
    Franki,
    Danny’s Mommy

    • Samantha says:

      Thanks, Franki. Your words and your story are so powerful. Thank you for taking the time to make Allie a part of your life and I promose to leep the memory of Danny alive with me as well. I am so sorry for all of us.

  3. Im so sorry for your loss. No one should have to live with this.

    lookitsjessica.blogspot.com

  4. I’m so sorry for your loss! I know how you feel being a mom that had the same thing happen to me. Almost to the tee. Hope you can find a great support group (I’ve only been to one so far and it was amazing). If there is anything you need or just need someone to talk to you let me know.
    Hugs and prayers to you and your family
    Ann

  5. I am so sorry for your loss. As a mom of 4 beautiful and healthy children, I cannot imagine experiencing what you had. I really have no real words to say that may comfort you since I personally do not know how it feels, except by imagining it and it tears me to pieces. The one thing I do want to share is that my eldest daughter is named Samantha Koellhoffer and her birthday is April 22nd.

    • Samantha Koellhoffer says:

      Pam,
      For some reason, I just saw your post now. Wow. Thansk for sharing. I have goosebumps! Thank you.
      ~Sam

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