Mom to Gracen Maize
Born asleep May 3, 2011
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
My story initially starts in October 2010 – the 25th to be exact. That was the day we got our first positive pregnancy test after 16 months of actively trying. We were blissfully excited until about 5 weeks along when I started spotting. Beta draws revealed that the numbers weren’t doubling like they should have been. An ultrasound at 6 weeks determined there to be nothing in the sac. My OB suspected a blighted ovum. We scheduled another ultrasound for a week later. The night before the ultrasound, I miscarried, on my own, at 7 weeks.
Fast forward to January, 2011. It was our first cycle officially trying after the miscarriage, and one of the most annoying ones. I, normally being a cycle day 16-18 day ovulator, did not ovulate until cycle day 27. We’d had many gear ups prior to that, too, so to say we were tired of baby dancing was an understatement. We only did it once, on the day of ovulation, so when I got a positive pregnancy test 11 days later I was shocked, to say the least. Betas doubled, even tripled appropriately, so once we passed the milestone of our first loss I allowed myself to get excited. Other than some random spotting and bleeding issues, my first trimester went perfectly and once I got past 13 weeks I thought we were in the clear. Little did I know…
The afternoon of 18 weeks 2 days, I had some spotting when going to the bathroom. At first I wasn’t concerned much, but then it got a little worse and seeing as I’d not had any spotting for about a month, and I was well into my second trimester, I got a little worried. So, I went to the ER. They tried several times to find the heartbeat, and heard some noises that they *thought* might have been it. So, they left, and the ER doc, without even telling me what was going on, discharged me.
Of course I was having none of that, and demanded to speak with a nursing supervisor (I was hysterical at this point, and had no indication that my baby was either okay or not okay). She came down, and spoke with everyone involved. The ER docs told her that they thought they found a heartbeat, and everything was fine, and yadda yadda. I still wasn’t convinced, so they told me if I wanted an ultrasound, I could get one, but that I would have to be seen as a new visit and wait my turn. I was fine with that if it meant I got the assurance I needed. My husband, being that he didn’t want to wait until 3 a.m. to be seen (I didn’t blame him), and believing everything was fine and this was just for my own reassurance, left to do what he was planning that night.
Shortly after 1 a.m. I got called back, and after gowning up and drinking my requisite amount of liquids, I got taken back to radiology. The tech was nice, even letting me see the screen (where I saw his beautiful little face), but while I didn’t notice there was no heartbeat right away, I did notice that when she put the Doppler on him, there wasn’t the requisite thump of the heartbeat. But, I was still oblivious and in a fog, and it hadn’t sunk in yet.
They brought me back to the room, I saw the tech go over to the ER doc and whisper something in his ear, and he immediately came in and told me, “I don’t know what it was we’d heard earlier, but your baby has no heartbeat. It measured 17 weeks 4 days.”
I didn’t know what to do, or think. Eventually, I called my husband, who came down and comforted me while we tried to make sense of what happened. We got released and went home, called my OB the next day, who prescribed some medicine to help get my body ready for the process. He told me to come in that Monday and we would talk about options, etc. I agreed, and spent the weekend in a fog, unable to believe what was actually happening to me.
The both process started on Sunday. I had picked up a prescription for Cytotec to start the process, but was hesitant to take it because I was sure I was still feeling movement. So, after putting in a quick call to the OB on call and asking about it, I was told to head in to L&D and she’d do an ultrasound just to verify. We headed in at that point and were told to wait in the triage room. Doctor came in a short while later with the ultrasound, and did verify there was no heartbeat so I could go ahead and take the meds. I honestly have nothing but good things to say about this doctor – she sat there and comforted us for a good 40 minutes when she never had to. Not only that, but she gave me an idea of some of my options.
So, I took the pills (all the while apologizing even though I knew it was for the best) and went to bed. Around 6:30 Monday morning I wake up with contractions. I get up, realize I’m bleeding, and head to the hospital for my 8:30 appt to speak with my OB about my options. He’s on call on Mondays, and got a call for an emergency c-section, so we had to wait for him for something like an hour and a half. He finally came in, and we went over my options – we can either induce (even with my disability because of the size of the baby, he felt I may be able to deliver vaginally), or do a D&C. We told him about how important it was for us to be able to say our goodbyes and opted for the induction. Keep this in mind because it comes into play later.
So, I headed upstairs to L&D, got admitted and settled in. OB started me on vaginal Cytotec, and we start playing the waiting game. Contractions are coming every 5 minutes or so and lasting 30 second to a minute. Doc gave me a Dilaudid on a pump for the pain. I’m already dilated 1-2, 70% effaced from taking the oral dose the night before. Things are going well, at first. He gave me the Cytotec every four hours, and I dilate a bit further – 3-4 cm, 100% effaced, but as time goes on my contractions are getting less and less intense.
I finally got to 5 cm, and am basically stuck there for the next 12 hours. OB broke my water around midnight. All the while, I’m losing tons of blood. My OB gave me several double doses during this time and they literally do NOTHING. I’m barely feeling contractions, and haven’t used my pain meds in several hours.
At around 8 a.m. Tuesday my OB comes in, gives me one more dose of a stronger medication (I don’t remember the name) as a last ditch effort and tells me that if there’s no further progress by noon he’s going to have to do a D&C. Granted, I didn’t have to get to 10 cm because of the baby’s size, but the baby still needed to come down and he wasn’t doing that. Around 8:30 I start feeling tons of contractions and tons of pressure. They go ahead and tell me to push – I do so, and manage to push out a bunch of huge blood clots, but nothing more than that. 10:00 hits and I’m nothing but tired, in pain, and just want to give up. I sleep off and on until noon, resigning myself to the fact that if there’s no progress made by then, what will be will be.
12:00 hits and the OB comes in. Checks me, and guess what? No progress. At this point it’s time to do a D&C. The OB tells me he’ll do what he can to salvage enough to get footprints and find out the sex, but that we won’t get to hold him or anything. As much as this sucks I know it’s for the best because at this point I’m at risk of infection with all the vaginal checks and what not.
So, I head into surgery, nothing too eventful about that. I was put under general anesthesia, and was only in surgery for about 30 minutes – the pre-op and recovery took much longer. I was never told anything while down there, but as soon as I got back to my room Jon told me the good news – my OB, knowing how important it was for us to be able to say our goodbyes, was able to not only find out the sex (a boy) and get footprints, but he was able to get him out in one piece. To be told he was intact, after being told there was pretty much no chance of that happening, was a miracle in itself.
Within a few minutes the nurse brought Gracen up to us – all 5.5 inches, and 2.2 ounces of him. She had warned us he looked quite discolored, but when she unwrapped him, all I could see was how beautiful he was. He was discolored, yes, but perfect in every way. He lay on a yellow blanket, on top of a white blanket (we still have both of them) and when he was placed on my chest all I could say was that he looked so much like his older brother – with my eyes. We held him, passing him back and forth, for the better part of an hour. I was so happy just to be able to hold him and see him, but looking back on it now, knowing how fragile he was, if I’d have birthed him naturally I don’t know if he’d come out in one piece. Later when I’d talked to my OB and tried to thank him, he told me he knew how important it was for us to be able to get our closure. I can’t thank him enough for that.
I was supposed to go home on Wednesday. Throughout the day on Tuesday and later that night, my pulse was through the roof – in the 130′s and 140′s. They thought it was because of the blood I lost, but as the night went on I started developing a fever. My white blood cell count was going up, plus the fever and the pulse – you know what that means…infection. So, I was put on a course of antibiotics. Wednesday rolls around, OB comes in and says I’m not going anywhere because I’ve developed what is likely to be a uterine infection. Best case scenario, I go home on Thursday, but more than likely Friday.
The final two days were a bit of a blur, with antibiotic infusions every 6 hours, figuring out what to do with Gracen’s body, beginning my grieving process, all the while fighting off an infection on very little sleep. Looking back on things I had an incredible experience in the OB unit and I can’t thank them enough for everything they did for us – things they didn’t even have to do. I finally went home Friday, and it was fairly smooth sailing after.
We’ve since learned that the most probable cause of Gracen’s death was a combination of his cord around his neck and issues with my placenta. We’re now trying again, and haven’t had luck thus far. But, I have faith that I will be pregnant again, and I will have a healthy baby.
You can reach Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org.