Mom to Emily
December 28, 2010
At all of the ultrasounds the doctors kept telling me how big she was, and that she was going to be a big baby. I agreed. My sisters have four children between them and the “smallest” was 8.5 pounds. My last appointment at the Perinatal Office went awesome, I saw all four chambers of her heart and saw her moving around. A big baby, an “unremarkable” amnio. “Everything is great,” he told me “I’m discharging you, you don’t need to come back until later, when your doctor wants you to.” I remember leaving the office feeling like I was walking on air. I mean, when the specialist tells you everything is great how can anything go wrong?
I wish my OB at my 28 week appointment had stressed the kick count. I wish I had taken to heart the e-mail I would get from my pregnancy app and e-mail subscriptions talking about the kick count. She had started to get into a routine, but wasn’t on a set pattern. I thought since I felt movement there weren’t any problems. I had begun having occasional contractions by 18 weeks, and unfortunately thought that it was her moving to an uncomfortable position. They would last a minute or two and go away every few weeks. Now, having been through labor I know what those “movements” were, contractions. She really slowed down (I know now, looking back) by 29 weeks and I still didn’t think anything of it since I still felt movement.
I turned 30 weeks right when Christmas Break started at school and decided to stop putting off everything and did my baby shower registry. That week we were going to get all the baby furniture and he was going to paint her room. We didn’t have a lot of things, I kept putting it off, deciding to wait for my baby shower to see what all we needed. My maternity pictures were scheduled that week with a good friend of mine, and I was e-mailing props and deciding colors and positions for the shoot.
December 27, 2010 was on a Monday and my routine appointment was at 11am. I was in a hurry because I had a dentist appointment at 2:30 the same day. I was chatting with another woman in the waiting room and we were joking about how much weight we had gained. I told her about my excessive swelling which the doctor had told me 2 weeks ago was normal. I reached down and moved my sock to show the marks and felt a fissure of alarm. “That’s weird,” I told her. “I’m usually swollen more than that.” At that moment I went on mental auto pilot, just knowing deep down in my bones that something was very, very wrong.
When my doctor was looking for her heartbeat he actually joked, “C’mon, I know you’re in there.” and then went to see if the ultrasound room was empty. “Let’s just take a peek,” he told me. The best way to describe this is the feeling of your head under water, where everything is fuzzy and muffled. “Is this normal?” I asked him, knowing it was not. “Let’s go, now,” was his only response. In the room I only watched his eyes. I was in a complete mental haze, total shock. His eyes told me everything. “I’m sorry, so sorry,” he said. “there is no heartbeat.” he proceeded to turn the screen to me and I looked at the exact spot her heartbeat should be. Nothing. It was still, so still.
He went on to tell me what would happen next, and if I needed to call anyone. I wanted to call Alex, but left my phone at home. I remember telling him that morning that he didn’t have to come with me, and to go to his estimate for a job. The nurse brought me back to her office and looked up my emergency contact so that I knew his phone number to call him. I have since memorized his number beyond pressing the button on my phone to call him. “I have bad news,” I told him, and he didn’t seem to believe me. “Is it sure?” he asked, and I told him that I would see him at home. I couldn’t do it over the phone. They kept asking me if I was ok to drive home, and I kept repeating that I could. I was still in my fog of shock that would blessedly stay with me for a long time. It is amazing how our body reacts to an emotional trauma to protect us.
I returned home and arrived at the same time as Alex. I confirmed that there was no heartbeat, and that I saw on the ultrasound screen. He deflated in front of me and we went upstairs to wait for the doctor to call me and tell me to go to the hospital. I couldn’t speak to anyone on the phone. I missed my Mother with an intensity that I hadn’t felt before, and still do. She passed away a year and a half ago. I shared the news with those closest to me via texting. He sobbed in her nursery the whole time I was on the phone, and then we laid down on the bed together until the doctor called me to tell me I could come in.
We arrived at the hospital and I had to fill out a ton of paperwork since I hadn’t turned in my preregistration forms. I mentally blocked out all of the women there waiting to go upstairs to give birth to their living children. The nurse kept asking for my husband to do the paperwork so I could sit down and I was getting increasingly annoyed until I looked at her paper and saw that my doctor had written “threatened miscarriage.” Whatever. Even he couldn’t write the truth, and it was certainly NOT a miscarriage this far along. I wanted to scream, “It doesn’t matter! She is already dead!” but instead told her we were not married and I had to do the paperwork. She typed faster and rushed as fast as she could and they wheeled me upstairs.
I was placed far away from the “regular” L & D patients and babies and was thankful for that. My door had a special paper taped to it, like angel wings. Marked, I remember thinking, I am marked for life. I was having contractions on my own and they let them continue to the morning, hoping my body would go into full labor on its’ own. I didn’t progress enough, so at 6 am they gave me pitocin. That still wasn’t enough so at 9 am my doctor (a new one) came in and broke my water and stretched me to 6 cm. She said things would progress faster, and she may not be in my room when I gave birth since I would probably have her quickly.
She was right. The contractions were horrible and I declined an epidural. I wanted to feel everything, really feel it. I remember hitting the on call button and screaming, “Help! Help!” It was all I could do when I felt her coming. No one came. I gave birth to Emily 12/28/10 at 10:40 am alone. Just her father and myself. A few minutes later my nurse and another woman came in and I began screaming, “She is here! She’s out!” “It’s ok,” she had the audacity to tell me. “The doctor said this would probably happen.” Nothing was ok, not ever again, but I didn’t have the emotional energy to say anything.
She was perfectly formed, just small. 3 lbs, and 17 inches and I remember thinking that she would have been very tall. “Look,” Alex showed me, “her hair.” It was just as I said all along, she had a full head of his dark hair, not auburn like mine or blond like my Mother. We spent four hours with her. She only left once to get a bath and pictures. The hospital and Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep both took pictures to document her existence and short life. She had his chin, lips, she looked so much like her Daddy. One nurse even remarked, “He has strong genes.” We also had her blessed.
My uterus stayed hard and my doctor was called back in to re-asses me. I had a lot of blood clots in me that needed to be removed. My option was a D & C or to have her pull them out with her hand. I chose to have her do it, I didn’t want a surgery after avoiding an epidural. She warned me it would be extremely painful and she was correct. I screamed and squirmed but she pulled them out. A lot of them.
My blood pressure spiked and stayed dangerously high. I had severe postpartum preeclampsia. My reflexes were too good (never knew that was bad before) and I was moved upstairs to recovery because I couldn’t go home until they got my blood pressure under control. Originally I was told I could go home not long after but now that was not an option. I had to stay two more days. I wish I could say my nurses were nice, helpful, caring, or any good adjectives but they were not. They were uncomfortable that they were forced to deal with me. They did not want to be around me, and mostly came in and out as quickly as they could, monitoring my blood pressure, giving me medicine, changing my IV mostly without speaking to me at all. The blood pressure never really went down, but they let me go home and gave me pills for my blood pressure. It stayed high for at least two weeks afterward.
Five weeks later I was called with the results of my blood work. I was diagnosed with a genetic blood clotting disorder, Prothrombin Gene Mutation G20210A, a Factor II mutation. I am relieved to know the cause and have the knowledge to manage this mutation. This is a lifelong medical condition that I need to manage the rest of my life that puts me at an increased risk of blood clots, PE, DVT, and strokes. I am still bitter that women are not even given the option to test for blood clotting disorders during pregnancy. In a future pregnancy I will have to give myself Lovenox injections daily. I was told the blood thinner would improve and perhaps prevent the anemia (yes, my excessive exhaustion had a cause) I experienced as well as the postpartum preeclampsia.
I am told that I am lucky to be alive. What they don’t know is that a piece of me has already died, and will never return until I am reunited with Emily. I love you baby girl.
“Sometimes love is for a moment. Sometimes love is for a lifetime. Sometimes a moment is a lifetime.”
Nicole blogs at www.imprintsontheheart.wordpress.com
You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org