Amber

Mom to Violet Evelyn Ochoa

Stillborn at 36 weeks on August 12th, 2011

Honolulu, Hawaii

I suppose I’ll start from the very beginning.  I found out I was pregnant on Christmas Eve.  I wasn’t trying to conceive, I have always been told I have PCOS, and I would have problems with fertility.  I was shocked and scared, but I fell in love with my baby from the second I saw those 2 pink lines.  I was 27 years old when I discovered I was pregnant, and I have always wanted children.  I have 2 sisters, and they both have kids.  My fiance, Felipe, was also quite shocked!  Once it set in, we were both very excited but also very scared to be parents for the first time.  

To say I was paranoid would be an understatement.  Every little ache or pain sent me flying to the ER.  Everything made me panic.  I had my first ultrasound at around 5 weeks, and I had many, many more throughout my pregnancy, mainly because I was a crazy, paranoid, pregnant lady!  We found out we were having a girl when I was just 15 weeks along.  I just KNEW I was having a girl before they even told me.  Everyone around us told us it was a boy.  I always said, no, I really think it’s a girl.  I was right!  I remember when I first started feeling little flutters in my stomach.  It was amazing.  I fell more and more in love with my daughter every day.  Those little flutters turned to kicks, punches, and elbow jabs.  I loved it.  I really consider those moments with her the happiest time of my life.  Everything was going great with the pregnancy, besides some normal aches and pains, all the tests and ultrasounds were normal.  I started to calm down a little bit.

When I was 32 weeks pregnant, I started having horrible pains in my lower back.  It was excruciating.  I thought I was having back labor.  We went to the hospital in the middle of the night.  It ended up being a kidney stone.  They did an ultrasound on my baby then, and the ultrasound technician kept asking me how far along I was.  She told me my baby’s abdomen was measuring a little behind, maybe 5 days behind the average.  She estimated the baby weighed 3 lbs. 8 oz.  Of course this freaked me out.  I was in the hospital for about 2 days with the kidney stones, and my OB didn’t mention it when he would check in on me.  I asked him about what the technician said, and he just said, “Oh, I saw that.  Don’t worry about it.  It’s nothing to be concerned about.”  

I saw him about a week after I was discharged from the hospital.  My fundal height was measuring a little small, maybe 2 cm behind.  Of course I panicked about this too, but he said I was growing a centimeter a week, and it wasn’t anything to worry about.  I noticed at around 33 weeks that her movement had drastically decreased.  She was always such a hyper baby.  I told my OB about it, and once again he told me not to worry about it, she was just running out of room, as long as I could do my kick counts once a day, it was fine.  I didn’t feel very reassured by anything he told me.  I was so worried.  Everyone just told me I was crazy and paranoid since it was my first pregnancy.

On August 8th, I had my 36 week OB appointment.  My fundal height was 34 cm.  He said it was fine.  He did an ultrasound to check her position and her fluid levels.  Her heartbeat was in the 120’s.  Everything looked fine, or so we thought.  Two days later, on August 10th, I just didn’t feel right.   I usually have hot flashes like crazy, but I was cold. I tried to take a nap and I woke up after half an hour really sweaty and nauseous. I didn’t think much of it. Around 11:30, I started having a lot of Braxton Hicks. They were scaring me a little, ,just because they were happening really often. I started timing them and they were coming about every 10 minutes all night long. I was having some mild cramps, but they didn’t hurt. A little bit of my mucous plug came out as well. I was up until at least 5 or 6 in the morning. I slept for a couple hours then on Thursday morning, I called my OB just to see if I needed to come in. His nurse called me back and said it was fine but if they got closer together to call them back. I continued having them all day. They didn’t get any stronger or closer together though. I was trying to feel my baby, I couldn’t tell if the movement was her or the contractions.   I decided I hadn’t felt her enough so I called my OB again. He told me when you contract, the baby doesn’t move as much but since I was worried and because of all the contractions, I should go in to labor and delivery just to get checked out. This is where my nightmare began.

 My fiance and I left our apartment around 8 pm. We got to the hospital, they put me in a room and we were just waiting.  A nurse came in eventually and they were asking me a bunch of questions about my contractions. I told them I didn’t care, I just wanted to make sure my baby was ok. They strapped the fetal monitor on me, and nothing happened….she kept moving it around to find her heartbeat. I panicked. I just KNEW….she tried for a really long time to find it, having me roll on my side, all kinds of things. They never had a problem finding it before. I started bawling, and my fiance tried to calm me down. The nurse said my baby might just be in a weird position, and a doctor was going to come in and do an ultrasound.

It seemed like forever, but eventually some random doctor came in. He put the thing on my stomach, and I could see her heart…it wasn’t beating. He just said, I’m sorry. I started screaming, my fiance was crying, it felt so surreal. Like it wasn’t really happening. I don’t know how long I sat on that bed hugging Felipe, bawling and screaming. I just yelled, this isn’t happening!  Over and over. I called my mom. She could barely understand me. I had to tell her my baby was dead and to come to the hospital. She started asking me a bunch of questions, asking how I knew, if they were sure, which just made it harder. Seeing my baby on that ultrasound was the worst experience of my life. Felipe and I just held each other and cried.

My parents got to the hospital, and a little bit after that, my OB came in. He was very sympathetic. He said I did everything I was supposed to, I was an excellent patient with all my prenatal care. My mom asked him to give me a tranquilizer or something. He ordered me a xanax but he said they had to do a more in depth ultrasound. They couldn’t give me the xanax till after that. I guess so he could confirm her death.

It was probably around 10:30 pm and they had to call in an ultrasound tech. I begged them not to do the ultrasound, I felt like I couldn’t deal with it. I didn’t want to have to go through it. I knew my baby was gone. He said it could possibly help them find out what happened to her. The ultrasound tech got there, and I just turned my head so I couldn’t see anything. A bunch of nurses came in to look at the ultrasound, which really upset me. I just kept asking how much longer…how much longer… It felt like forever. After they were done, they gave me a xanax. I asked if they could see what happened, and he said no.

My OB started talking to me about our next steps. He said it was my decision, but he thought it was best to induce me as soon as possible. I begged him to just do a c section. He said it was best for me and my future pregnancies, if I have any, to try for a vaginal delivery. I said ok, I just want to get it over with. They put a cytotec pill in my cervix, I wasn’t dilated at all and my cervix was still hard. They had to put a new one in every 4 hours. They started it around 11:30 pm, and then I was supposed to get my next one at 3:30 a.m. The same doctor that did the first ultrasound was on call and they had to wake him up to give it to me. He took over 45 minutes to get up. The nurse said he’s hard to wake up sometimes. So I had to wait a lot longer. He got there at about 4:30, he looked very irritated and grumpy.  I know he’s a doctor and he sees stuff like this a lot, but his bedside manner was horrible. He put another pill in, and I still hadn’t dilated any. He didn’t say a thing to us.

I was having some cramping, and they told me they could give me any medicine I wanted. I told the nurse and they gave me 2 percocets because I have tailbone problems and it was bothering me. She said my contractions were every 2-3 minutes apart, lasting at least a minute, even though I wasn’t dilating. Then she said, do you want an epidural? I said not yet, I didn’t think I was in THAT much pain. She said she would get me a shot of fentanyl. My OB called my room and he told me that I didn’t need to suffer, and he thought I should go ahead and get the epidural. I said ok. The anesthesiologist came, and it really didn’t hurt as bad as I thought. I don’t know what they normally give in an epidural, but they gave me a lot of fentanyl in mine. It worked and I was numb but mostly just on my right side. For some reason though, at least 3 times I would start feeling severe pain and he would come back in, check the catheter, and then inject me with higher doses. It helped for awhile but it would eventually wear off. My legs and butt were so numb I could not move them at all anymore. I got my last pill around 9 a.m. and I was about 1 cm dilated.

At around 2 p.m, my OB came in and broke my water. I was still only 1-2 cm. They were going to start giving me pitocin a few hours later.  My sister and nephew came to visit me around 4. My nephew is only 2 and he wasn’t happy at all so her fiance left with him, and my sister stayed but she left the room for a couple minutes. During that time, I started feeling sharp stabbing pains in my left groin area. They got excruciating. I felt tons of pressure and I looked down and there was something like blood clots on the bed. I just knew it was time. The pressure got so much worse SO fast. I started screaming for Felipe to get the nurse. I was screaming, she’s in my vagina! I don’t think anyone believed me. The nurse came in and checked me and I could tell from her reaction that it was definitely time. She said, ok, I’m going to call your doctor now.

I was in so much pain, the anesthesiologist came back and gave me even more medicine, which helped a lot. I was freaking out because it was all happening so fast, I was not mentally prepared at all. I thought it would still be hours and hours. I was crying and saying over and over, I can’t do this! This was supposed to be the happiest day of my life, I had fantasized about the whole labor and delivery process so much, holding my baby for the first time, looking at her, breastfeeding her, and instead it was the worst day of my life. I wasn’t pushing, but my body was just taking over, I guess. I felt her moving farther and farther down. My nurse said the doctor was running over from his office, which is right next to the hospital. I didn’t think I could wait that long. He got there pretty fast, they broke the bed down, and Felipe stayed by my head the whole time telling me I could do it, how good I was doing. I could not have done it without him. My sister was in the room too. I only pushed a few times, maybe for 3 minutes. It happened so fast.

She was delivered at 5:19 p.m. on August 12th, 2011.  They took her over to the warmer and wrapped her up. I couldn’t bear to see her yet. I was hysterical. I just said, I feel so empty. My OB said she was beautiful, she looked very peaceful, just like she was sleeping. I was afraid of how she’d look since she had passed away. They gave me another xanax, and my OB sewed me up. I didn’t tear very much at all.

Finally I was ready to see her. It took awhile for both Felipe and me to be ready. He held her first. She looked exactly like him. In every way. She had his curly black hair, his nose, his cheeks, his mouth. She was honestly the most beautiful little angel I have ever seen. As soon as I held her, I felt so much love for her. I always loved her, but seeing her made me fall completely in love. I didn’t want to put her down. I’m glad I chose to hold her. I know I would regret it if I didn’t. We took some pictures. I kissed her a lot, told her I was so sorry, and how much I love her. I will never forget her and nothing will ever replace her.

We named her Violet Evelyn. She only weighed 3 lbs 7 oz. Which was less than her estimated weight at 32 weeks!  My sisters had contacted Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, and they came and took a lot of pictures of her. I know I will want those pictures someday. I’m lucky my family is so supportive and loving. My younger sister called a bunch of funeral homes so we didn’t have to. We spent a good amount of time with her, but after awhile, her appearance started changing and we decided it was time to say goodbye. It took me forever though, I didn’t want my baby to leave me. I kept kissing her and touching her. Then I’d go back and do it more. Finally they got me ready to go to postpartum. The nurse I had for my delivery was the same one who couldn’t find her heartbeat the day before. I guess when she came in on Friday and saw I was still there, she asked if she could be my nurse. She was so sweet. She cried after I delivered.

I’m very thankful all my nurses were so sweet and supportive for me. And I’m very thankful the doctors kept me as pain free as possible. I went to postpartum and I was in so much physical pain. My tailbone hurt so bad, I thought it broke. They wouldn’t give me medicine besides ibuprofen. I hadn’t slept in almost 2 days, and I didn’t fall asleep easily that night. I slept a few hours. My OB came to see me around 6 a.m. the next morning. He told me what to do when my milk comes in, he gave me a prescription for a little bit of xanax, pain medicine, and stool softeners. He said I could be discharged that day if I wanted to. I did. We got to keep the blanket, hat, and little bracelet they used in the pictures.

When they were wheeling me out of the hospital, I lost it. I didn’t want to leave my baby there in the morgue. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I was supposed to be leaving with my baby, happy and excited. Instead, I was leaving alone. We left the hospital and decided it would be best to stay at my parents’ house for a little while. I didn’t want to be in my apartment where I spent so much time preparing for my baby. All her things were there, the crib, swing, bouncer, all her clothes, and blankets. We stopped at our apartment on the way to my parents’ so we could grab some clothes. A friend had packed up some of her things just so we wouldn’t see them. 

We decided to have her cremated.  I’m happy with the decision, I have her home with me.  Losing my daughter is the hardest thing I have ever had to go through.  It is a heartache you could never possibly describe to someone unless unfortunately, they have gone through it themselves.  My OB said he could not tell right after delivery what had gone wrong.  She looked perfect except for the fact that she was so small for being 36 weeks.  All my blood tests came back normal.  The tests they did on the placenta were normal.  A couple weeks after she passed away, I got a call from my OB.  Her chromosome tests came back.  She had an abnormality called Trisomy 13.  I was shocked.  She had none of the physical defects that are associated with it.  I’ve been told Trisomy 13 is “incompatible with life”.  Most babies who have it will miscarry, be stillborn, or if they live to be born, something like 5% won’t survive to be a year old.

My doctor had told us that we may never know what caused Violet’s death, so in a way, it’s good to know the answer.  I can stop asking myself all the what if questions, and stop blaming myself.  But it’s also very difficult because Trisomy 13 is rare, so I’m always thinking, why did this happen to my daughter?  How come every test and ultrasound was completely normal?  I wonder if she suffered any while she was inside of me and I have no way of knowing.

Even though I do not have my beautiful baby girl here with me, she will ALWAYS be my daughter.  I carried her inside of me for 9 months.  I went through labor and I delivered her.  I held her precious little body in my arms.  She will be a part of me until the day I die.  I am slowly learning to accept that my life will never be the same, there will always be an empty place in my heart.  It’s with my daughter now.

Thank you for letting me share my story.  I hope it can help someone else, in some way, to know that they are not alone in their pain.  It also helped me a great deal to just write about it.

Amber can be contacted at ambermariegregg@gmail.com

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