Mom to Eden Elizabeth
Stillborn March 18, 2012
Greensboro, North Carolina
Around 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 17th, I noticed I was having a few small contractions. I didn’t think too much of them since I had been having painless contractions for the past week or so. I had been at the hospital earlier that day for my blood pressure and for the 3 hours I was there, only 1 contraction had been shown on the monitor. I figured that these contractions were either fake or still the very, very start of early labor at 38 weeks. I went about my business, putting my 2-year-old son Isaiah to bed, and then fell asleep on the couch after watching my boyfriend Keith and his friend play a few games of pool. I woke up around midnight and realized the contractions were still coming pretty consistently. I asked Keith to stay up and watch a movie with me, even though I knew it was a bad idea considering it was the last full night of sleep we’d be getting for a while. We stayed up, watching Nightmare on Elm Street and talking about how unprepared I felt while Keith rubbed my back and reassured me that everything would be taken care of. At about 5 a.m., my contractions were about 7 minutes apart. Keith had already fallen asleep and even though I felt un-ready, nervous, and anxious, I decided to try to get a few hours of sleep.
I woke up around 7 a.m. on the 18th and walked around the house, unsure of what to do. My contractions were still about 6 minutes apart, so I decided it was probably time to finish packing the hospital bag that I had put off for way too long. Eden’s coming home outfit still hadn’t been washed so I did a load of laundry while I called my sister to tell her to start driving down to our city. Even though my contractions still weren’t extremely close together or intense enough to go to the hospital, I called my OB to let her know what was going on and to see when I would need to start my IV antibiotics (I had tested positive for Group B Strep.) She assured me that everything would be fine if I waited until my water broke or my contractions were 5 minutes apart to come in to L&D. Soon after that, Isaiah woke up and I became occupied with entertaining him while trying to finish getting everything together for the hospital. I tried to wake Keith up, but decided that it was probably best to let him sleep for a few extra hours since my contractions still weren’t too painful.
Finally, at around 1 p.m. when my contractions had increased in severity and started coming at intervals of 4 minutes, I decided it was time to go. Keith and I dropped Isaiah off at a friend’s house and left for the Women’s Hospital. We arrived at approximately 1:45 and after getting insurance information straightened out, we were taken to our room, Room 166. We were only in the room for about 10 minutes when a nurse came in to hook me up to the contraction/heartbeat monitors. The nurse put the gel on my stomach and tried to pick up Eden’s heartbeat on the monitor. After about 20 seconds of being unable to find it, she called another nurse tech to come help with an ultrasound. Keith and I had started to become a little uneasy, but I tried to stay positive since the nurse had told us that there was a possibility that she was just in a hard-to-hear position. But after another doctor was called in with a bigger ultrasound machine, we saw the looks on the nurses’ and doctor’s faces and knew that something was wrong. I looked at Keith and we both started sobbing. The doctor stayed and looked on the machine for another minute, but he had already started apologizing for our loss.
Keith went out of the room to call his dad and tell him what had happened and nurses were coming in and out of my room constantly. Everyone was apologizing and giving me sympathetic looks and hugs. I was completely broken, crying from both the emotional and physical pain of everything that was going on. My OB, Dr. Richardson, finally arrived at the hospital and she held my hand as she talked me through everything that was about to happen. She checked my cervix and even though I was only dilated to 3 cm., I decided I wanted an epidural ASAP since the pain of the contractions was unbearable in addition to all the emotional heartbreak I was already feeling. After the epidural, Keith’s father came into my room and was able to calm me down a little. My nurse, Heather, sat down beside me and asked me a ton of questions- if I wanted to see/hold the baby when she was born, if I wanted pictures taken of her, if Keith and I had discussed cremation vs. burial. Every time she asked me a question, I just wanted to scream and cry about how unfair the whole situation was. After a couple hours had passed, my cervix was checked again at around 5 p.m. I had already dilated to 5 cm, but Dr. Richardson still guessed that delivery was still many hours away. Being told that, Keith ran to get some food while his dad stayed in the room with me. During that time, I called my mom to let her know what had happened. I had planned to calmly explain the situation to her, but as soon as she picked, I started bawling and all that I could say was that she was dead. I hung up after we talked for a few minutes and I was just starting to calm down when I realized that I was starting to have some intense pain. Dr. Richardson thought my epidural dosage just needed to be upped, but when she checked my cervix one last time, I was dilated to 10 cm. and Eden was ready to be born.
Keith was already on his way back to the hospital when I called him to hurry up and get back. He came into the room and his father and our friend, Kevin, left to wait in the room next to ours. I started pushing at about 6:30 and Eden Elizabeth was born at 6:36 p.m. As soon as she came out, Keith broke down and started sobbing. She was so small and so still. I wanted more than anything for her to wake up and start crying. I tried to calm Keith down while I watched every single move that the nurses made with Eden. They asked me if I wanted her on my chest, I said yes. They laid her on me and I started crying uncontrollably. She was so beautiful, so perfect. I loved her so much, more than I ever thought would be possible. The doctors informed me that she was 5 lbs, 15 oz and was 19 in. long. She had part of the umbilical cord wrapped around her shoulder. None of the doctors were 100% certain if this was what caused her death, but it was their best guess. We chose not to have an autopsy done.
Keith was unable to stay in the room because he was so upset, so his dad and Kevin came in to comfort me and to see Eden. Two new nurses came in to check on me and to take pictures of her. They were so incredibly sweet and they took pictures for about 30 minutes. Don (Keith’s dad) and Kevin both got a chance to hold her and say hello and goodbye. The nurses told me that as long as I felt okay physically, I would be released the next morning. They also assured me that I would be able to hold Eden as long as I wanted to before they took her away. After another hour or so, they took Eden, Keith, and I to our room on the third floor of the hospital. I spent the next few hours holding Eden, kissing her and wondering why this was happening to us. My sister and a few of Keith’s friends came to support Keith and I, and to see Eden. Everyone was amazed by how beautiful she was and cried while holding her. Seeing our friends and families so emotional about everything that was happening was so upsetting, but also reassuring that we had such a strong support system.
Around 2 a.m., Keith came over to me and let me know that a nurse would be coming in to take Eden in ten minutes. I had a huge meltdown, sobbing and holding Eden tight to my chest. I didn’t want to let her go, I didn’t want to say goodbye. That was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. Keith said his goodbyes and handed her over to the nurse. I was shaking and crying hysterically for what seemed like hours. A nurse came in to check my vitals and gave me a pill for anxiety and I was able to calm down enough to get a few hours of sleep. Waking up on the morning of the 19th was absolutely horrible; I wanted everything to be a nightmare, but I knew it wasn’t. Physically, I was exhausted, but I felt okay. The nurse told me that I would be released that afternoon. Keith’s mom had been in Colorado for the past week and had gotten an early flight home. She and Don came to the hospital right after the nurse had signed my discharge papers and removed the IV that had been giving me antibiotics. I was about to get out of bed when I realized that I was freezing. Even though the sun was shining on my bed and the temperature in the room was turned up to 75 degrees, I was shivering uncontrollably. MIL asked for the nurse to check my temperature before I left and I had a fever of 103. The nurse ran out to ask the OB what to do. I was told that I would not be released for at least another 24 hours. For the next 2 days, I was in the hospital fighting off a fever and infection. Being in the hospital for the extra 2 days was horrible, I couldn’t sleep and all I could think about was how much I missed Eden and how I hadn’t seen Isaiah in 3 days.
Finally on Wednesday the 21st, I was released to go home. Going home without Eden in the backseat was devastating. It had really started to sink in that she wasn’t going to be with us. As soon as I got home, though, Isaiah ran to me and gave me a huge hug and I automatically felt better. Going into our room and seeing all of the baby clothes and everything that we had ready for Eden was extremely hard, but hearing Isaiah ask where his baby sister Eden was even harder.
We chose to have Eden cremated and we held a candlelight memorial service for her at our house the following night. Packing up her clothes and returning the double stroller, car seat, and all of the baby equipment to the store was indescribably heart-wrenching. Every day is hard and I constantly think about her and how perfect she was. Even though the heartbreak that I feel will never completely go away and there’s a place in my heart that will never be filled by anyone else, I’m at peace knowing that she really is in a better place. I’m so happy that she will never feel pain or heartache. I know she’s my beautiful angel and that she’s looking down on Isaiah, Keith, and I. I’m so blessed and so lucky that I have such an amazing family and I know that together, we’re strong enough to overcome anything.
You can contact Molly at firstname.lastname@example.org.