Mom to Silas Theodore
Lost September 2, 2011 at 18 ½ weeks gestation,
and twins Asher Saul
Lost May 10, 2012 at 19 weeks gestation
Lost May 14, 2012 at 20 weeks gestation
Michigan City, Indiana
I was absolutely ecstatic and shocked beyond belief when I found out I was pregnant with Silas. I think it took me 6 pregnancy tests over the course of a weekend to really believe I was finally being blessed with a child at 32 years of age. I had tried to conceive naturally for almost two years and I think I had just given up hope that it was ever going to happen. Needless to say, I was very involved with my prenatal visits and constantly read up on everything I could be expecting and what I should do to ensure a healthy pregnancy. I don’t think I ever prayed so much in my whole life! But as I got bigger, my pregnancy started to cause me concern. I had a lot of unexplained shooting pains when I would stand up or sneeze, and I sneeze a lot when I’m pregnant! The doctors always reassured me everything was normal and I got extra ultrasounds and examinations to ensure this. By the time Silas was born at 18 1/2 weeks, I think I already had 4 pictures of him proudly displayed around the house and near my bed!
One day, I thought I had a UTI and made an appointment at the after hours clinic because I didn’t even want to wait one day to stay on top of my health. But before my appointment came, I had the sharpest, shooting pain down my entire side that I had ever felt and it brought tears to my eyes. In a panic, I called my mom, who was unable to take me to the ER, so I ended up going with my grandma instead. I was in the ER all day and night but they didn’t find anything wrong with me. I had a pelvic exam and an ultrasound done on my side organs. In retrospect, I can’t believe they didn’t perform an ultrasound of my uterus, just to make sure everything was ok there, too. In short, since I wouldn’t agree to an X-ray for fear of harming my baby, they decided to assume I was having a bout with kidney stones. Either way, I was in unbearable pain that was coming and going in waves all along my right side. I wouldn’t take any pain medication and so they said there was nothing else they could do for me. I went home, absolutely terrified and convinced there was something wrong with my pregnancy and shocked they were calling it kidney stones. That night, I really thought my baby was going to be born at home while I was wallowing around crying in pain. But Silas stayed with me. By the next morning, I felt all better and by Monday it seemed like a bad dream.
At the end of my next workday, I had an extremely full bladder and when I got up to go pee, I suddenly felt a huge gush of fluid down my leg. I just stood there thinking, “Did I really just pee myself?” But then I knew I didn’t. I could smell the amniotic fluid and then it just hit me that my water had broken. I didn’t know what to do as I wasn’t all that close to my hospital. I called my mom again but she was no help, so I had to drive myself to the ER. I was so hysterical by the time I got there that I went in the main entrance instead of the ER entrance and everyone just stood there staring at me, a huge wet mess and crying so hard I could barely talk. Finally, I was wheeled to the ER by an elderly volunteer. In my panic, I had driven to the closest hospital, which was not the hospital for my doctor, so I saw someone new. He was very uncaring and crudely told me that I was going to lose my baby, but he didn’t know when. He explained there was nothing they could do for me because I was at a Catholic hopsital (wtf?) and I was too preterm. I was sent home to suffer and wait alone. This went on for weeks. Waiting and occasionally going back to the ER.
Everyone was pressing me to induce labor, but I steadfastly refused. Silas’ heartbeat was strong and he seemed so healthy whenever they imaged him that I just couldn’t bring myself to make a choice that was going to end his life. I tried to hang on. I knew I should be bedridden if there was to be any hope at all for the tear in my amniotic sac healing, but I had no help and my family was 100% unsupportive. I did the best I could all by myself, but kept leaking small amounts of fluid throughout the day. Faced with losing my job and being completely on my own I finally had to realize that God was not going to answer my prayers and save this pregnancy. Every day in this condition was excruciatingly difficult and also quite painful. With no fluid to cushion and surround my tiny baby, I was feeling discomfort in my abdomen and very worried about pain that my baby might also be feeling. So when I went to bed that night, instead of praying for the life of my baby, I prayed for God to take my baby back. I had to admit that my body was failing and there was nothing else I could do to save him. Within a couple hours of that prayer I woke up because I was in labor and again called my mother, who was once again no help. So, I got up and drove myself to the hospital to deliver. It was the worst labor I ever could have imagined. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. I didn’t know what to do to make things easier and I never received any guidance or instruction on when to push, which I was terrified to do anyways. I also didn’t get any pain relief until my baby was already in my birth canal. It took 11 very long hours. He was born completely in the caul…or so I was told. I was too frightened and overwhelmed to look and sobbing uncontrollably. I asked whether my baby was a boy or a girl and they told me it was a boy. Then I heard them take him away. To their credit, I was given several opportunities to see and hold Silas over the next two days but I declined. To this day, I don’t know what I was so afraid of and I deeply regret not taking that opportunity to be with my son. After this experience, I was apparently quite fertile because the first time I had sex after Silas’ birth I found myself pregnant again, just three menstrual cycles later. I was in denial big time. I went around sneezing and feeling peculiar movements in my abdomen for weeks before I used an insane number of pregnancy tests to convince myself it had happened again. I made a million phone calls trying to find a high risk specialist and/or get an OB to agree to see me before I was 12 weeks pregnant. It seems I am so hyper aware of my body that I notice my pregnancies by 5 weeks. I also suspected I was having twins before I ever had my first ultrasound at 5 1/2 weeks. But I never did find a specialist in my network and I switched OBs twice trying to ensure I was going to get the best possible care. Everyone I saw said I was unnecessarily worried and urged me to relax; they said there was no way it could happen again. But when I saw two tiny bean babies on that monitor, I couldn’t have been more upset. I knew how risky a multiple pregnancy could be and it sent my fears skyrocketing.
Amazingly, by the time I made it to my third month, I had found a way to let go of my fears and appreciate my blessing of twins. I had started preparing for their arrival. I thought that it was a sign that it was meant to be; that I was meant to be a mother. But at the beginning of my fifth month I started having textbook Braxton Hicks. I was several weeks away from my next visit and I after all the research I had done, I didn’t think it was a big deal. But one night, it became a big deal. The contractions picked up in the evening and nothing I did would make them go away. I had more contractions in that one evening than I’d had all month. So I started tracking them. I decided if they got more than 4 in an hour I would drive myself to the ER. But then I started spotting and I think I lost my mucous plug. So off the ER I went. They confirmed that I was 2 cm dilated and Baby A’s membranes were protruding. My doctor decided I was too far dilated to perform a cerclage and I was admitted on bedrest. He came in that evening and told me I would lose them both. I cried and cried. That was the first time I was able to see both babies on the screen at the same time and watch them interact with each other. And boy, were they active! And then I went into shock and I think I stayed that way for a long time.
That first night in the hospital I found out I was having a boy and a girl, but Baby A’s water broke with a big pop while I was sleeping. I realized I was definitely going to lose another son. I struggled to decide on a name. Over the next few days he kept getting closer and closer to my cervix even though I had stopped dilating and was actually closing up. By that time, I had been given permission to get out of bed to use the toilet. And that’s when my son came rushing out, no labor at all. I had to catch him with one hand and pull the emergency cord with my other. It was by far the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to me in my life. I felt his beating heart and tiny movements in my hand. He felt like a fluttering bird. Waddling and holding my son between my legs, I was helped to the bed while the doctor arrived. He had planned for this day to perform a special type of delivery where my sons’ membranes would be left behind and sewed shut inside me in order to try and keep my daughter from being born. I held him right after the procedure was performed but I think he had already passed. I named him Asher Saul. He was the most beautiful and perfect baby I ever saw in my life. His perfection was so complete that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t held my Silas. I was fascinated with his features but too afraid to open his blanket and fully view him because he was so small I thought I might hurt him. Another regret I had with my first son was that they didn’t take a picture of his full nude body. And since I never saw Silas myself, all I had to remember him by were his pictures. So this time, I let them know when they were taking pictures, I wanted one of Asher’s full body.
In the following days I kept having problems with the staff. They ignored bladder problems I was describing until my bladder shut down and I couldn’t relive myself (an apparent allergic reaction to my IV antibiotics) and they somehow didn’t understand that I wanted to be put in the Trendelenburg position. I was still too early for the closest Level III NICU and maternity ward hospital to accept me and I was stuck at a basic routine delivery hospital. Four days later, contractions came on with a vengeance and I knew my daughter was about to be born. I spent over 24 hours fighting it until at last the pain was so intense and I was so exhausted that I gave up and pushed. A very young nurse had been attending me by herself and put Sadie in a warmed blanket and handed her to me. My first thought was how different she looked from her brother! She was exquisite. But then she gasped for air and my heart jumped. I didn’t know that would happen. She made thrashing movements. I was never told that even at 18, 19, and 20 weeks, babies can and will fight to live. It was absolutely heartbreaking. I held her while she died.
To this day, the hospital staff and I have remained in disagreement over their “life” at birth. They have tried to convince me that they were dead when they were born and that any movements I saw or felt were just the blood still circulating as an after effect of the umbilical cord. They couldn’t possibly be more wrong. I wish with all my heart that I had known these things before-hand. That I had known how beautiful they would be, how perfect, and how very alive and struggling, even if only for a couple minutes. I would’ve given anything to spend those few minutes of life with my first two.
I carry my failure with me every day. I failed to have healthy pregnancies, failed to protect my children, and I failed to hold the first two while they were still alive. My only consolation is the hope and prayers I send out every day that I might be reunited with them upon my own death.
You can contact Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.