Mary Anne

Mom to Emma Suzanne “Emma Sue”

Born sleeping May 17, 2012

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

My husband, Jeff, and I met in June of 2008. He wanted to date me from the start, but I had just gotten out of 2 really bad relationships, one right after the other, and decided I wanted to be single for a while. I also had my son to think of.  After a summer of freedom Jeff was still coming around, so I finally decided to give him a chance. We got along great. He treated me like I should be treated, not what I was used to. And after a few months together I finally introduced him to my son, we made it official that we were a couple in November. He had already started talking about having children, but already having one child from a failed relationship I wasn’t ready. After sometime we started talking about marriage, and I started to feel more secure that this was the man I was going to marry. Wanting to have another baby pretty bad, I decided to go ahead and start trying with Jeff. So I told him I wasn’t starting a new pack of my birth control pills and we could start trying. I thought it would take some time to get pregnant since I was on birth control so long, but we were pregnant right away. Halfway through the pregnancy, we decided to get married, a little sooner than we expected due to Jeff having bad health problems and me having had very good insurance at the time. We were married in September, and our daughter Aubrey was born that New Year’s Eve via c-section like my son.

Our wedding was very small civil ceremony, and we never had a reception.  We had planned to have what we called our “big wedding” on our 2-year anniversary. Leading up to our wedding, I would not have sex with Jeff for the couple months before the wedding since we had conceived so easily the first time I did not want to be pregnant again for this wedding. That September we renewed our vows in our Catholic church and had our reception. It was the best day of my life. The weekend before the wedding I had just ended my period, so I said it was ok for us to have sex because if he did get me pregnant it would be too soon to tell or to harm the baby if I drank at the wedding reception, as I would just be a couple days pregnant. Sure enough, sometime before or after the wedding I had become pregnant because I did not get my period again after the wedding.

To be honest, I was a little arrogant. I knew this baby would be healthy because I already had 2 very easy pregnancies resulting in very large healthy babies. This pregnancy was different. I had morning sickness the whole first trimester, including horrible sciatica. Neither of these symptoms did I have with the other 2. Everyone said it was great that I felt so bad because it meant my hormone levels were high which, was good for baby. I was in a car accident shortly after my last child was born and have a disc bulge that I believe was aggravated by the pregnancy, causing the sciatica so early. The second trimester was a little better. The sickness was gone, but the sciatica was still there and I was beginning to get swollen feet. But my baby, who we now knew was a girl, was very, very active. This made me happy. I worked long 12-hour overnight shifts, and the swelling and back pain was getting real bad. The sciatica would also send shooting pains down my leg, making it hard to walk and work. By the third trimester I had to cut my shifts down to three 10-hour shifts.

We were getting very close to the end, and I was getting very big, which I was used to with my other kids, but this time I was swelling everywhere. Work was very difficult and I would often have to sit. I normally work 3 days a week and lately we had been very busy, so I couldn’t sit as often as I would like to. We were scheduled for our final ultrasound, and then in 2 weeks we were to schedule our c-section for many reasons, including the fact that my other 2 were delivered via c-section, which is why we were planning a third. The ultrasound was great. She was turning around, doing somersaults like usual. All looked good. At this point we had already named her Emma Suzanne, Suzanne after my mother. She measured 35 weeks and I was 34 weeks pregnant. My next week at work, I had not been feeling well at all. I just knew I was close to the end and worked through it. My last night of work, I didn’t feel her move as much. I just thought she was running out of room and I was real busy and just missing the kicks. After my last night of work, I came home and slept. When I woke up, my husband had dinner ready and we ate. After dinner, her usual very active time, I felt nothing. I finally told my husband I think we needed to go get checked out. I called my doctor and he said to come right into the hospital. We dropped the kids off to my mother’s and headed to the hospital. I was starting to get very scared because the whole ride I still felt nothing. Even so ,I still felt we would get there, and they would hook the monitors up, and send me home like I was crazy and making it all up. The nurse, who was 9 months pregnant, and I would later find out I actually knew through my good friend, could not find the heart beat. I froze in panic. She told me she would have the doctor check with the ultrasound. The doctor could not find her heart beat either, and there was no movement. They still wanted to check with my doctor, who also found nothing. They told me they were going to send me down to radiology, just to confirm on the “better” ultrasound, but they were pretty confident that there was nothing and my baby was dead.

Waiting for them to take me down to ultrasound the tears started to come. I’m not much of crier, so I was still trying to hold back. The ultrasound tech was not ready apparently, and I was left waiting in the hall outside the ultrasound room in my wheelchair with my husband. Apparently something was wrong with their computers. The tech finally took me in and started the ultrasound. She was very quiet, but at one point said, “Ok, there is your baby,” in a very happy voice. Then back to silence. I don’t know if she knew why I was there, but her enthusiastic voice gave me hope. I asked her if she found the heart, and she said, “Sorry, no.” I broke down, and so did my husband. After she was finished she gave us some time alone in the dark room. We cried, and began to text our close friends and family. Then our phones just kept ringing. Everyone was in disbelief…most of all we were.

They took me back up to the maternity triage, and began to place my IV. I asked the nurse what was going to happen next. She took my hand and began to explain. She realized she had my hand on her pregnant belly and quickly moved it and continued. I was to deliver my baby via c-section as planned. They were going to ask the anesthesiologist if I could go under general anesthesia so I did not have to be awake during the delivery. I was grateful. I sobbed through her whole explanation. She asked if I wanted her to stop, but I said no. I needed to know. Then they would recover me and take me to a room to spend time with my baby. I asked what would happen after they took her away. She told me she would go to the morgue. I was comforted by this because I didn’t want her to just be medical waste. At some point during the nurse’s explanation she told me that the baby, who had measured at 35 weeks just a week prior, only measured at 32 weeks, and they estimate she has been gone for about 24 hours. I hated hearing this because I believe in my heart if I had left work early the night before, and gotten checked when I thought something was wrong, we could’ve saved her. My husband stayed by my side through all of this. He could not be present during the surgery since I was going under general, so he went home to get some things for my hospital stay. I went in at 1:30am, and had her at 2am. Our baby Emma Sue was born sleeping May 17, 2012. 4lbs 10oz, 18 in. at 35 1/2 weeks.

I woke up in recovery, and my husband arrived shortly after. The drugs I was on had me feeling strangely, not happy, but not able to feel the sadness I knew was inside. I didn’t cry much more than just tears filling my eyes. They gave her to me and she was beautiful. It was so hard to believe she wasn’t alive; she just looked like she was sleeping. She was so small, at least half the size of my other 2, and she looked just like my son. She had light brown hair with blonde in it, and blonde eye lashes. Her skin was pale, and her lips blood red. Her skin had spots of what looked like blisters that were peeling; the nurse explained that was because she was already starting to decompose inside me. My parents came, and my mother in law, we all took turns holding her, and crying. My mother rocked her. My husband said he didn’t want to see or hold her, but he did. He held her and cried and didn’t want to let her go. Finally after a couple hours we told them to take her. I told them if they didn’t take her now I wouldn’t be able to let go. Now I wish I’d held her longer, kissed her more, and took more pictures. Right after she was born the nurses took pictures and made me a beautiful memory box which they later added her nightgown, hat and blanket.

I spent about a week in the hospital. I had to make her funeral arrangements, and the decision for an autopsy. Because of the autopsy we had to have a closed casket. I think that made it easier for everyone, but not for me. I wanted to see her again. The pictures will never be enough.

The service was beautiful, my priest came and did the prayer service at the funeral home and again at the Cemetery. The outpouring of support from family and friends was just amazing. I never felt so loved. That weekend was Memorial Day weekend, and we spent it with friends and family. I planted a rose bush at my mother’s house that a friend gave me. I decorated around it and made our own little memorial garden for her at my mom’s. That helped. We visit her grave once a week.

It’s only been about 2 1/2 weeks since I lost my precious girl. I think about her every second of every day. I cry uncontrollably out of nowhere. I know one day it will be easier, but now every day gets harder. Her due date is coming up soon; it is also Father’s Day. I don’t know how to go on. I feel like I failed as a mother to protect her, and I disappointed everyone. I took for granted how easy it was for me to get pregnant, and the healthy children I have had. I complained so much about the difficulties I had with this pregnancy, but I would go through a hundred times worse, for a hundred times long just to have my baby girl alive, just to feel her kicks inside me again. She was supposed to complete our family, now we have to try again. I am scared to go through this again. Tests show there was a kink in the umbilical cord at some point. It had righted itself, but either cutoff blood supply long enough to kill her, or didn’t open back up enough for her to get adequate blood supply. Otherwise, she and I were both perfectly healthy. Doctors say it’s about as likely as lightening striking twice for it to happen again, but that won’t stop my fear. I turn 30 in 5 months, and that is when I wanted to be finished having children. We even discussed me getting my tubes tied after Emma. Now it’s all changed. I am scared that having this baby will not fill the hole in my heart. I know a new baby will never replace Emma. I just pray it helps us feel a little more complete. Being a mommy to an angel is not as sweet as it sounds.

You can contact Mary Anne at lilirishmare@aol.com.

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Comments

  1. Victoria Tapia says:

    Mary-Anne,

    Please accept my sincere sympathy in the loss of your precious daughter, Emma. I too am the Mom of stillborns. I lost my daughter, Gracie at 29 weeks and my son Joseph at 35 weeks. It never goes away, but someday it won’t burn as much when the wind blows.

    I know that you’re not yet ready to fathom having another baby, but when you feel your heart can heal enough to think about it. Please look up Dr. Jason Collins, he is an OB/Gyn who specializes in Mom’s who have had stillborns.
    He is located in New Orleans, he is very hands on and will call you directly, in addition to you having his home & cellphone numbers. He helped me to figure out what happened. It was hard to hear at first, but now I’m glad to know.

    Also, if you’re ever wanting to talk, please don’t hesitate. Sometimes it helps to talk to someone who’s gone through the emotional journey you’ve just entered into.

    As always I wish you well.

    Victoria Tapia

    Twice Blessed By Angels & One Miracle- Gracie, Joseph and AJ’s Mom.

  2. Hannah says:

    Hi Mary Anne,
    Just read your story and am so sorry to hear you have to go through this torment.
    My son was stillborn on 11 january this year at 35 weeks.
    Seeing your story has encouraged me to write my own down and share it.
    Praying for strength and God’s perfect peace for you.
    Hannah

  3. Tijuana Harris says:

    Hi, I understand your pain. My baby was born sleeping June 11,2012 at 26 weeks. Hannah was wrapped up in her cord . Hannah was perfect … she had hair , nails and my long fingers … She was 1lb and 10 oz.. She was going to be a big girl. The pain is sooo deep and other people will never understand how we feel . Im sooo lost for words . Everyday I THINK OF HER … I’m blessed to have three older girls ( 16,9, and 5) but nothing can replace her .

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