Mom to Caroline Avery
Born an angel on September 2nd, 2010
and 3 first trimester miscarriages
September 2005-February 2006
Whispering Pines, NC
Hi. My name is Whitney. I am 35 years old. My journey to become a parent began about 6 years ago, in the summer of 2005. My husband and I had been married for 2 years, and decided it was time for us to start our family.
We felt extremely lucky, blessed and equally surprised that we were able to conceive the very first month we tried! We were so excited. Our baby was due to be born in May, right after my husband finished with school. We had many exciting things on the horizon, and life could not have been better– until exactly 8 weeks into the pregnancy. I woke up on a Sunday morning to some spotting. I was trying very hard not to panic, but as the bleeding got worse, I knew things were not right. We ended up losing our baby. “Blighted Ovum” is what the medical professionals called it. I hate to admit it, but I was shocked. I thought miscarriage was something that happened to other people, not me. I was naive and heartbroken. I had done everything right– no drinking, no caffeine, ate my fruits and veggies, never even missed a vitamin that I remember. How in the world could I have lost my baby?
Things actually went from bad to worse after that. I ended up having 3 first trimester miscarriages in a row. All of them at 8 weeks or earlier. After the first one in September, I had one in early December and then again in February of the next year. My OB was completely cold and heartless about the whole thing. She told me my pregnancies “didn’t even count as real pregnancies” because the losses were so early. She flat refused to do any testing on me or my husband. This time, she called them “chemical” pregnancies, but to me, they were my babies.
I was beginning to wonder if we were even be capable of having a baby at all. Everywhere I looked, there were pregnant women, women with newborns, families with multiple children. Was it too much to ask to have a child of our own? I decided to take myself to a reproductive specialist (since my OB was so very non-supportive), which turned out to be a very costly endeavor with no real answers. All of my testing, and my husbands testing came back normal or negative. My doc told me he suspected I have a progesterone deficiency. He suggested we try one more time, with progesterone supplementation to see what would happen.
Well, I’m not sure if the progesterone was the problem or not, but I am happy to report that 9 months later, we gave birth to a healthy baby daughter. Her name is Lauren. She is now 4 1/2 years old and the absolute joy of our lives. Sometimes I look at her and swear she is a living miracle.
In the fall of 2009, my husband and I decided we wanted to give Lauren a little brother or sister. We used the progesterone again, and we got pregnant again the first month of trying. We were joyous, but of course cautiously optimistic. After having so many losses, we knew nothing is guaranteed. Our baby was due September 14, 2010. Once we made it out of the first trimester, I thought we were in the clear. The 20 week scan revealed a thriving, healthy baby girl (YAY a sister for Lauren!), and I thought everything was going to be just fine. But I was wrong.
I wish I could write and say that our baby was born alive and screaming, but if that were the case I wouldn’t be writing about it. My story does not have a happy ending. None of our stories do. It is tragic that anyone has to experience any of this. But, even after the heartbreak of my miscarriages, I was still naive enough to think that stillbirth would never happen to me. But it did.
I was at the doctor’s office on Monday afternoon August 30th for my 37 week checkup. I mentioned to my doctor I had noticed that the baby hadn’t been moving as much the weekend before. I hadn’t been too concerned about it, I just thought she was running out of room (we already knew she was going to be big). My doctor decided to do a non stress test in her office. She saw some things on the heart rate strip that she didn’t like, so she sent me to labor and delivery at the hospital for additional monitoring. When I got to the hospital, there was a different doctor on call. He ordered an ultrasound to check the baby. When the tech was performing the ultrasound, he saw something concerning. He told me it looked like one of the baby’s umbilical vessels was no longer patent or flowing blood. I was scared to death. The doc came in to talk to us after the ultrasound. I expressed my concern over the blockage in the umbilical cord, but the doctor told me that the baby had “passed” the ultrasound exam, and that we were free to go home. I pressed him a little about the blockage, and he told me that there was “no way” the tech could have seen a blockage on the scan.
Somewhat reassured, we went home. I continued to have decreased (although SOME) movement over the next 2 days. I was worried about it, but I didn’t want to be the one who cried wolf and go back to the hospital for the EXACT thing we were just discharged for. But, by Wednesday afternoon of September 1st, I was just about panicked. I called the hospital when my husband got home from work. The same doctor that had sent us home on Monday was again on call. He told us to come back to labor and delivery to get checked out again. Even though I was worried, I still didn’t imagine that things were as serious as they actually were. My husband and I were even a little excited on the drive to the hospital. We honestly believed that we were going to be delivering her that night. Lauren was finally going to be a big sister!
When we got to the hospital, the nurse was having a hard time finding the heartbeat. She told me not to worry, sometimes it’s hard to find it depending on the baby’s position. She told me that she was just going to quit wasting time and have the doctor do a bedside ultrasound. That way she would know exactly where to put the monitor. The doctor came over wheeling the ultrasound machine with him. He barely spoke to us. I got the feeling that he was aggravated that we were back again. He put the ultrasound probe to my stomach and I will NEVER forget the look on his face. His face was just blank. I looked over at my husband’s face and his eyes were tearing up and he looked like he was in agony. I remember asking “she’s ok, isn’t she?”, and the doctor didn’t even say a word. He just shook his head no. I jolted up and looked at the ultrasound machine, and there she was– just floating, no heartbeat, no movement. I think the official term this time was “fetal demise”.
I don’t remember much about what happened after that. I do remember thinking that maybe everybody was wrong, and if they just got her out, she might move, or cry, and they would HAVE to help her. I told them to please deliver her as soon as possible. I was already scheduled to have a repeat c section the next week, so they willingly took me to the OR as quickly as they could. But, it was too late. Caroline Avery Kuhn was born into heaven at 12:32 am on September 2, 2010 at 38 weeks and 1 day gestation. It is a day that forever changed me. She weighed 9 lbs and 5 oz and was 21 inches long. She looked perfect. Pathology on the umbilical cord revealed a blood clot. We are fairly certain that the clot is what took her life. I cannot express my guilt and regret for leaving the hospital that first night, when she was still alive. The “what if’s” are always front and center in my mind, and I’m not sure they will ever go away. No parent should ever have to go through this.
I think the hardest thing about Caroline’s death had to be coming home to my beautiful living daughter and telling her that she would, in fact, NOT be getting the baby sister she was so much looking forward to. It pained me to NO end to rob my child of her innocence about death, and to hand her a box of pictures and momentos instead of a baby. She still talks about her “sissy” frequently, and is doing well. I try to allow her to talk as much or as little about it as she wants. I wish I could say it gets easier, but it really doesn’t. I have just kind of learned to live with the hurt.
We are currently expecting again. Our son is due to be born in late September this year. I won’t lie, it has been a roller coaster of emotions, and most days I feel like I am walking a thin line between sanity and insanity. I hope and pray everyday that things will be ok this time, and that Caroline is protecting us all from heaven. I know that our new baby will never replace her, but I am happy for the chance to have another child to love. Caroline will live forever in our hearts and I hope to one day see her again. Rest in peace, my sweet baby girl.
You can contact Whitney at firstname.lastname@example.org