Mom to Bridgette Johanna Gail
Born into Heaven June 25, 2009
I will never forget the day I found out I was pregnant. My boyfriend at the time and I were living paycheck to paycheck and just scraping by. I had just made the three hour trip back to my hometown to see my doctor to get back on birth control. My PAP was normal and the pregnancy test was negative, so I turned in my prescription at the local pharmacy and started the long trek home. My mother was going to pick up the pills and mail them to me. I got them about a week later and played the waiting game for my period so I could start my pack. I was so busy and working two jobs that I didn’t even notice I was late. One day, Brian looked at me and said, “No offense, but aren’t you supposed to be all emotional and craving chocolate right now?” All I said was, “Oh, *shoot*!” We bought a pregnancy test, and it took all of thirty seconds to confirm what I was not ready for: I was pregnant. I came to him with the test with tears in my eyes. He took me in his arms and told me not to worry, that we would be a family.
My whole life changed. I quit drinking, I quit smoking, I quit smoking pot. I decided to live my life for this baby. My life now was being a mom. The first few weeks of pregnancy were not easy. My mother was so mad that she refused to talk to me. I cried every day. My boyfriend, who had always said that if I ever got pregnant he would straighten up as well, got further into his video games and pot smoking instead. I was working two jobs and he barely worked four hours a week. But aside from my stressors, the baby was perfectly healthy. Things started looking up. My boyfriend got me a puppy for Mother’s Day. My mother started talking to me again, and warmed up to the idea of being a grandmother. My father and stepmother sent me a box of maternity clothes (I couldn’t afford to buy any). But the stress of two jobs, WIC appointments, somehow not qualifying for food stamps and still being unable to keep up with the bills took its toll. Finally, my grandmother offered us a room in her house, with the condition that Brian and I slept in separate rooms. Even with that condition, I was ecstatic and started packing immediately. I gave my two week notice at both jobs, and my mother and stepfather (whom I consider “dad”) made arrangements to come down with a trailer. Even the little baby seemed excited, at least I assumed so with the kicking! About a week and a half before we left, I was at work and had a bad cramping around the area of my left ovary. At first I brushed it off, as did all the ladies at work, all of whom had had one child or more. They told me it was just growing pains and not to worry. For the first hour I didn’t. The second hour I did. After about two and a half hours, I finally told my manager I needed to go to the hospital, because I thought something was wrong. She said okay, and I went and got my boyfriend and we went to the emergency room. After some scoffing from a very rude nurse that insisted that I just had growing pains and wasn’t drinking enough water, we finally got to a room where she pulled out an ancient heartbeat monitor. She couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat for 10 minutes. We were panicked. Finally, I heard the familiar woosh woosh and finally took an even breath. But I was still apprehensive. She called my OB-GYN, who couldn’t be troubled to come in, and told her to tell me to drink more water and rest. Turns out I had a bladder infection, too. We went home dissatisfied, without having an ultrasound done. Finally, the day we moved, I was feeling a little sick. I took it easy on the moving (not that anyone would let me lift a pillow) and mostly took care of the puppy (Sirius). We got onto the road and I lay halfway down on the back seat for most of the drive (with frequent potty breaks for mommy and little puppy). By the time we got to my Grandma’s house, I was exhausted, but happy to be home! I went to bed that night still under the weather, but comfy.
That night, I awoke screaming with my grandma and Brian by my bed. I had been having fever dreams of someone trying to take my baby from me, people saying I was a horrible mother. My temperature was 101. We waited until morning. My mother came to check on me, and I wanted to go to the hospital the next day, but she is a “wait and see” kind of person, so we did. Finally, when the fever reached 102.5, we rushed to emergency. When there, the incompetent admitting nurse asked me 1,000 redundant questions I could barely think to answer, and then asked if there was any chance I could be pregnant. I said, “Yes, I’m 23 weeks pregnant.” She said, “Okay,” and then put a bracelet on me and asked me to have a seat. I waited and waited, for what seemed like hours, and finally entered my savior in scrubs. The triage nurse called me back, took my vitals, then again asked if there was a chance I may be pregnant. When I repeated that I was 23 weeks, he politely excused himself from the room. I will not repeat what he yelled at the admitting nurse, but I will tell you that someone from OB was there in less than 3 minutes with a wheelchair. I spent about 4 days in ICU with a severe kidney infection. My fever at times reached 104+. I didn’t know until later, but they actually lost my baby’s heartbeat a couple times that night. When I was finally stable, they checked my baby, which was all I ever asked them about anyway. I could tell by the looks on the nurse and doctor’s faces that something was wrong. The OB-GYN told me there was some fluid in my baby’s head and stomach that was unusual and that he was referring me to a perinatal specialist that I would be able to see in the next few days. I went home with my stomach in knots. The baby at this time was not as mobile as before. We went to the specialist, who did multiple tests. That was when I got the most horrifying news of my life: my baby had developed Fetal Hydrops. This was an extremely rare condition and I had only had maybe a 3% chance of it developing, higher than usual because I have lupus. The specialist called her colleague at UC Berkeley, but both came to the conclusion that nothing could be done. They informed me that the baby would not survive the car ride home and I should go the next morning to induce labor. I was numb. I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t speak. All the way home, all I could do was stare out the window, and beg God for a miracle. The next day was the silent ride to the hospital with my mom, dad, and Brian. There, they began the process of inducing labor. I never expected to hear that beautiful woosh woosh again. But I did!! I thought my prayers had been answered!!! I practically leaped off of that exam table and dialed the number to the perinatal specialist for a second opinion. I got an appointment for about 5 days later. I was bursting with new confidence that there was no way God would let anything happen to this child, not when I had tried so hard to protect it from everything. But when we got back to the specialist, the condition was the same. But this doctor called UC San Francisco, who said that there was an experimental treatment that might just work to save my baby. I told him to tell them we were on our way. We drove straight there and were immediately ushered to a room. Then came 2 days of tests and ultrasounds and what seemed like thousands of nurses and residents coming in to study me (this was a learning hospital, after all). I didn’t care. They were all wonderful and trying to help my baby. I slept for most of the time I was there; I was emotionally and physically drained. But finally, the verdict came. There was a treatment. It was extremely unlikely to work, and more likely for me to develop mirror syndrome, putting my life at risk, possibly in vain. Brian and I had finally come to the point where we had to make a decision: try the treatment, or induce. That was the hardest decision of my life. I cried, I screamed, I cussed at God, and then begged Him for mercy. I begged Him to take me and not her (I was at 25 weeks now and knew I was having a girl).
We decided to induce that night. They gave me morphine and assured me if she was born alive, she would be given morphine, too, to assure she would have no pain. But I knew by that point I would never get to see her alive. I could tell she was getting weaker. Through the night they gave me morphine every hour, until it made me nauseous and finally the epidural came. I woke up at 7:02 and gave birth to Bridgette Johanna Gail Pierre at 7:18. She was about 15″, 1 lb 14 oz. They told me she never felt any pain and I wish I believed them. My mother slept in her truck in the parking lot that night so I wouldn’t be alone. Brian slept in the chair next to me. We held her for a few short hours. The hospital gave me a beautiful memory box and little booties and a gown for her. I held her wrapped in a pink knit blanket, and marveled at how much she looked like me. I was so sad, and angry at how she had been stolen from me. I felt like a failure because to this day I believe if I didn’t have lupus, this never would have happened. And after the pictures and I finally was able to let go, they took my baby away forever. The autopsy ended up revealing that treatment at that point would have been for naught. There were valves destroyed in her heart that they could not have replaced. It has been almost three years now. I still feel the pain like it was yesterday. My puppy, who got me through her loss and probably saved my life, died at 18 months old in September 2011 from liver failure. Brian and I broke up before that. I was engaged and in a toxic relationship, and finally broke free. I am now with an amazing man who tries to understand, but doesn’t. He has a four-year old son whom I adore and we are very happy. But I never stop thinking about Bridgette, and this time of year still makes me depressed. I know I will see my Angel someday, and my Nana just went up to take care of her until I do. Bridgette, I’ll love you forever, like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be. I may have only held you for a moment, but you are in my heart forever. Mommy loves you!
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