Mom to Faith Elizabeth
Born sleeping on September 28, 2011
On Tuesday, September 27, at 1:30pm, my husband and I went in for our “big ultrasound,” also known as the anatomy scan, where all of the baby’s organs and growth/development are checked, and where we would find out if baby was aboy or a girl. I was 2o weeks 6 days pregnant. The tech began the scan, took a few measurements and pictures, and then said she “needed to get one more thing” and would be right back. I knew immediately that something was wrong. I sat up and looked at her screen and saw a blank spot under heart rate. It felt like she was gone forever and my husband tried to keep me calm, but then the nurse walked in and said, “The doctor will see you today.” Everything for the next few minutes is a bit of a blur, but I remember saying, “No, no,” my husband holding me, and the doctor coming in to tell me how sorry she was and explaining how we would proceed. I knew that I was too far along for a D&C and that I would actually have to deliver my baby. The doctor gave us the option of going home for a bit and then coming back to labor and delivery when we were ready, but that seemed pointless to me. I decided we needed to go to L&D now and get the process going, as horrible as it would be.
We sat in one of the examination rooms for a while until we could pull ourselves together enough to walk down to the 2nd floor of the hospital where L&D was located. He had already called our families and told them what happened and that we needed them to come as soon as possible. Eventually, a nurse walked us to the 2nd floor and we got situated in a room and tried to steel ourselves for what was ahead.
The nurse explained that they would begin giving me IV fluids and oral Cytotec pills to start contractions and dilation. She also explained that at 21 weeks, this was considered a viable birth. Our baby would need a name and would be issued a birth certificate. This felt somewhat comforting because it meant our baby would be a baby, our son or daughter, and not just a “fetus” that we lost. She said the doctor had ordered an epidural whenever I wanted it, which I chose to do after my first Cytotec dose. I figured there was no point in feeling the physical pain on top of the emotional pain I already had.
My first dose of Cytotec was at 3:30pm and would continue every 4 hours until delivery, which they said could take anywhere from 12 hours to 2-3 days. My husband had to run home to get some clothes and toiletries for us, so, luckily for him, he missed the epidural. My mom was there holding me, though. They had to give me a huge bolus of cold IV fluid just before the epidural, and it made me shake uncontrollably. It was a horrible feeling. The epidural itself was not bad, though, and was over relatively quickly.
I think it was soon after that when my dad and brother got to the hospital. There were lots of hugs and tears. My husband’s dad and many of our friends visited throughout the evening. We felt very loved and blessed to have so many people around us. My parents’ pastor and his wife came as well to visit and pray with us. My amazing sister drove in from Memphis that night, and she and my mom stayed at the hospital with us until about 11pm. I was continuing to receive Cytotec but not making a lot of progress. I asked for an Ambien to help me sleep. I think that I halfway slept through some of the night, but mostly I was thinking. I got on my iPhone to look up information about the causes of stillbirth and coping with the aftermath. I was also contemplating possible names for our baby should it be a boy or a girl. I wanted the names to be meaningful. I came up with Faith Elizabeth for a girl and Joshua Anthony for a boy. The meaning of Faith is obvious enough, but to me it meant faith in God that he would get us through this, that he would take care of our baby in Heaven, and that if it was His will we would someday have another child. Elizabeth is a long-standing family name, as well as my middle name. Joshua meant “God rescues,” and I liked Anthony because it carried on my husband’s Italian heritage and is a family name for him. I think I knew in my heart, though, that I would have a daughter.
Throughout the night, I tried to recite in my head as much as I could remember of the song “Jesus, I am Resting, Resting,” while I tried to sleep. All the while, the vitals and IV machines beeped and pumped and the blood pressure cuff squeezed my arm every 5 minutes. It was a long night for both of us…
We were of course awake early the next morning. I texted my mom and sister and asked them to come on to the hospital whenever they could. I have a hard time remembering most of that morning due to the Ambien, I think. I just know that I continued to take more Cytotec every 4 hours and the doctor increased it at the 7:30amdose in order to speed things up. The nurses would come to check my progress every hour or so. I could feel the incredible tightening and contractions in my abdomen and hoped something had to be happening. Cytotec also causes nausea, which was getting pretty bad, so they began giving me Zofran along with it. That, at least, kept me from getting sick.
My whole family (parents, brother, sister, and sister-in-law) were back at the hospital with us through the morning and early afternoon. We talked a lot about our plans for the baby’s remains and how we wanted to remember her. We knew that we would have her cremated but could not decide beyond that (and we still haven’t). Social workers came to visit us and talked about our options as well. The doctor encouraged us both to see the baby when he/she was born. She said it usually helped parents get a sense of closure. Eventually I decided that I would want to see her, but my husband didn’t think he could handle it.
At some point my doctor came by to check my progress and break my water to continue to move things along. My epidural started wearing off soon after and I could feel a lot of the pain and move my legs very well, so the anesthesiologist came by to give me another dose. That helped a lot. I think it was around 12:15 p.m. when my mom, dad, and sister decided to go to the cafeteria for lunch. The nurse had recently checked me and I was 3cm dilated and about 90% effaced, so we assumed we had a while, although the nurses had explained that I would not need to get to a full 10cm. My husband, brother and sister-in-law were in the room with me when I felt a rush of something and called for the nurse. My brother and sister-in-law left the room so that she could check me. When she did, she said the baby was right there and almost to ready to come. She had me try to bear down, which I think did more than she had expected it to. The next thing I knew, my husband jumped up and was over me, holding me, and the nurse told us the baby was out. It was 12:58 p.m. He stayed right there telling me to just keep focusing on him and everything would be okay. The nurse calmly called for more help and for the doctor to come as soon as possible. Most of the birth and the next few minutes are a blur to me. I just know we were both crying and I remember telling my husband, “It wasn’t supposed to be this way.” For months I had pictured the joyous moment in the delivery room when our baby would be born…this was not at all what I had imagined. The sadness seemed too much to bear.
Very quickly another nurse and my doctor showed up. They got my legs up in stirrups to deliver the placenta and finish everything up. Apparently there was a 50% chance that the placenta would not deliver completely and I’d need a D&C (I didn’t find that out until later), but thankfully everything was fine. The doctor told us we had a baby girl. She said there were no obvious problems with the baby, placenta, or umbilical cord that could have caused the death. I asked my husband again about the name and we both decided on Faith Elizabeth. The doctor and nurses cleaned me up and my family came back in the room. The nurse explained that she would clean up Faith and wrap her up and bring her back to us. My doctor came up to my bedside to comfort me and told me, “You took great care of her while you had her.”
A few minutes later the nurse came back with a tiny little bundle in her arms. She handed Faith over to me. My family gathered around to see her too, and we told them her name. She was a beautiful baby girl, but I will admit she was not what my baby was supposed to look like. She did have long fingers just like both my husband and me. She had a cute little round tummy and tiny feet and toes. My dad said a prayer over Faith while we all cried and loved on her. My husband stood to the side but was being comforted my family as well. I rubbed and kissed my baby’s head and held her until I just didn’t think I could take anymore. I gave her one more kiss, told her how much I loved her, and handed her to my sister. She held her, too, and then took her back to the nurses. The sadness and grief feels even more overwhelming now, remembering all of this. I can’t believe I had to tell my baby goodbye.
All of the prayers being sent up for us must have helped because I made it through the next few hours with a sense of peace. I was able to eat my first meal in 24 hours, we watched a movie, and 2 more of our friends came to visit us. The nurses took some pictures of Faith to send home with us and gave us a memory box with her blanket, hospital bracelets, and footprints. Once the doctor came back to check on me, we were able to go home at about 6:30 that evening. I hadn’t realized how painful it would be to leave the hospital without our baby.
Eventually, after seeing a specialist, we found out that Faith likely died from exposure to Parvovirus/Fifth’s Disease. It caused her to become anemic and go into heart failure.
Almost 3months later, things have not gotten any easier. In some ways, they are harder. No one should ever have to endure the pain of losing a child. We miss her and think of her every moment of every day.