Mom to Ivy Renee
Born Still on July 21, 2012
I woke up around 3:30am. I had only been asleep for an hour and a half at the most. I had to pee really bad as usual that late in the third trimester. I noticed my stomach was really hard, like a contraction that just wouldn’t let up. I was feeling a bit uncomfortable, nothing too bad, just some mild cramping. I almost tried to lay back down for a second but got right back up and thought, “No, something isn’t right.” So, I called a few people that I had been in touch with that day or within the days before but no one answered. Then I called my friend, Tonia. She answered right away, thinking I was calling about the missing person we were all so concerned with in our town. I told her I thought I was in labor and needed to go to the hospital but I needed to call someone else to come down and stay with my three kids. I called another friend, Angel, whom I hadn’t spoken with in quite some time, but I knew she’d be there for me if I ever needed her and she was. I even talked with her about maybe I was overreacting, but she assured me it was better to be safe. Angel and Tonia were on their way. I quickly threw some things in my hospital bag. I didn’t even have any clothes for Ivy packed. I was planning on waiting until Jason flew home and have him go upstairs in the attic and bring down all of Violet’s newborn baby clothes. He was coming home soon because my induction date was only 10 days away, August 10th.
Angel got to my house within minutes. She just lives right down the road. I had to wait a little while on Tonia because she lives in the middle of town and needed to find an open gas station at 3 am. Tonia finally arrived within 20-25 minutes of calling her.
I decided we should just drive my husband’s car and leave my truck for Angel and the kids in case there was an emergency.Their car seats were safely installed in my vehicle. I even joked with Tonia that I was feeling fine and could probably drive myself, but of course she said no.
With my half-packed hospital bag in hand and dressed in a nightgown, leggings and black flip flops, I got into the passenger side of my husband’s car. I sat my white leather purse on the floor between my feet.
For the first few minutes on the way to the hospital, we joked. I talked about how I was completely unprepared to be delivering a baby at 36 weeks and it was probably false labor. I even posted a Facebook status saying I was on my way to see if this was false labor in the hopes that my husband in Afghanistan would see it and call me as soon as possible. But then, as we were approaching the Clays Ferry Bridge, with my phone and Facebook in hand, I felt something warm. I gasped, “My water just broke!” Tonia freaked and floored it! I quickly typed the update on Facebook, again, hoping my husband and distant family would see it. And by the time, we were at the Lexington/Athens exit, I felt like I was in full blown active labor. I even had the urge to bear down and push. I called 911. I yelled for Tonia to just pull over and I was yelling at the 911 dispatchers that my baby was about to be born in the car! Tonia REFUSED to pull over! I was making her run red lights and everything. And then, with no control at all, I unbuckled my seat belt and jerked my leggings down. Something shot very rapidly out of my body. I thought it was the baby. I asked Tonia if it was the baby and she quickly looked down while driving and said “no.” I asked her what it was and she said she didn’t know and stepped on the gas again. When I looked down, I saw huge, red, gelatinous chunks. In a panic, I told 911 about what I saw and they told us to stop at the nearest hospital which was St. Joseph East on Richmond Rd. (I was supposed to have my baby at Central Baptist but this was as far as we made it) The dispatcher was trying to convince me it was just my mucous plug that came out but I KNEW that wasn’t it!
Tonia pulled into the emergency area sometime around 4:30am and ran to the ER door as I was getting out with my leggings around my ankles and gown soaked in blood. I still thought the baby was fine and this was a part of labor I hadn’t seen with my other three because I was always in the hospital bed with my knees propped up by this time. I don’t know how I thought this was an acceptable amount of blood loss. It wasn’t.
The emergency room door was locked, so Tonia began running from door to door beating on all of them. A black lady finally opened it and I told her I was in labor to which she tried to tell me to go somewhere else and I was like “I can’t! I’m bleeding everywhere!” So she called for someone who brought a wheelchair to me. A female hospital worker began to wheel me away as Tonia followed. I couldn’t get my mind off of what came out in the car and I kept repeating to the lady that I was afraid my placenta came out in the car.
My placenta did not come out in the car. I later found out, it was large amounts of blood clots.
We finally reached the elevators. I was still thinking my baby was ok but fear for my own life took over. I remembered seeing things like this on TV where this kind of situation was life threatening for the mother. “What if I die? How will Jason be able to take care of 4 children alone? They need me. I’m their mother.” I felt my blood go cold and then, my hearing left me. I couldn’t hear anything anymore in the elevator! I could see Tonia’s mouth moving but I couldn’t hear any sound. I prayed and begged God to save my life for my children. I still thought the baby was ok, but I could feel my life in danger.
We reached the room that I would later give birth in. As they helped me from my wheelchair to the bed, I noticed my belly was completely lopsided at this point. Ivy had shifted completely to the left side and was very still. The on call OB got out the ultrasound machine and before he said anything, I knew. I knew she was gone. This was not labor. This was something that was going to haunt me forever. And then after moving the probe all over my belly, he said “I’m sorry. I’m just not seeing a heartbeat here. I suspect you’ve had a complete placenta abruption.”
Then he told me the next few steps of what was to come. I would deliver my daughter vaginally by induction as soon as possible. Now that I knew my baby was dead, My three children at home were running through my mind and I needed, demanded, to know I was going to be ok.
I quickly began deleting my Facebook statuses. I sent my husband an inbox message telling him he needed to come home because the baby wasn’t ok. I could not bring myself to type the word dead on his inbox message. This was the only form of communication I had with my husband besides 10 minute interval phone conversations when he was able to use the phones. My brother text me asking what was going on. He showed up within minutes of the text messages. People began calling my phone and I just handed it off to Tonia. I could hear on speaker phone each conversation with my family member’s crying and freaking out on the other end. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. The only person I wanted or needed was on the other side of the world. Why did this happen like this? Why, when my husband was gone? Why,10 days before Ivy was going to be here? Why? Why? WHY?!?!?
They started my IV of pitocin. The nurse had me signing paper after paper and explained to me how much they recommended that I take the epidural. After having an epidural with my oldest child, I vowed to never have one again because he was sluggish and quit breathing at one point when he was born and had to be suctioned. So, needless to say I didn’t have another epidural with my next two children. However, the nurse said they didn’t want me in much physical pain because I was getting ready to go through the worst emotional pain of my life. I was completely shocked that I was getting ready to deliver my dead baby girl. I agreed to the epidural and pain medicine.
Within a couple of hours, it was time to push. I told my brother he could step out if he wanted but he stayed. Tonia stood to the left of me and grabbed my hand tight as my brother stood behind her at my side and I pushed a couple of times. During one push, I looked up at the mirror that is there for the mothers to see their baby crowning and coming out and I saw a head full of black hair. I died inside. She had my hair. I pushed a total of 3 times maybe. Ivy Renee Abney was born 5 lbs 11 oz, 18 inches long at 7:14 am on July 21, 2012.
They quickly laid her warm, beautiful, blue body on top of me and I sobbed louder than I have ever before in my life. We all cried.
Then they asked if I would like her bathed and dressed and brought back to me. I said yes because I recently had heard of a girl from our town also losing her 36 week old baby just two weeks before me. I knew that she had done all the things the nurses were offering. Had I not known of this girl, I wouldn’t know what to agree to. Honestly, I might not have agreed to much because it hurt so bad emotionally. My heart was shattered. From here, it becomes a bit of a blur.
Many friends showed up quickly. Angel offered to go get Ivy a cute outfit for her pictures but out of anger, I said no. I didn’t want this to look planned. I wasn’t ready for any of this. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to happen. I told her we’d just let the hospital put their clothes on her. Now, I wish I would’ve let Angel go get her a decent outfit. The hospital’s outfit was something I would NEVER put on my child. It was ugly.
They brought Ivy back to me. It didn’t seem like they cleaned her as well as they do normal, healthy babies but I didn’t really care. I stared at her, cried, cried to all my friends surrounding me. I took all her clothes off and inspected every detail of her perfect body. I took pictures with my phone while my friends watched. They all cried. They didn’t know what to say to me. But they were there and that’s all that mattered.
Next we took professional pictures through a service a wonderful lady offers through her photography business for situations such as mine. Then the chaplain came and we did a private baptism with Ivy.
It’s hard to remember when or how I finally spoke with Jason, I just remember my heart aching for him and my three kids. I wanted to go home so bad, but I couldn’t because of the amount of blood I lost. They estimated that I lost over a liter of blood and my hemoglobin ended up dropping to 6.2 by the next day. The doctor and nurses were encouraging me to get a blood transfusion. They pretty much scared me into it by talking about organ failure and that if I wanted to get home and be able to take care of my kids as soon as possible, I would need to take the blood. So, I agreed. The doctor wanted to give me 3 units but he settled for trying 2 with me.
By the time, they were ready to transfuse the blood, I was moved to a different room. Angel had stayed all night in my room and my Aunt Joann and Aunt Norma had arrived at 1am driving straight through from Texas to be there for me and help with the kids until Jason got home. Angel never left my side. She stayed the night with me both nights. It took 2 days worth of flights for Jason to get home from Afghanistan.
Jason’s flight finally arrived Monday, July 23, 2012. I was overcome with relief as soon as he walked in my room. Finally, he could share my pain and comfort me. He didn’t get to see Ivy when she was warm and soft. By the time he got to hold her, they had already taken her to the morgue. Her lips were almost black, she was cold, stiff, there was condensation on her face, but she was still beautiful in our eyes. He held her, kissed her, took pictures with her and me. And then I was discharged because they were able to get and keep my hemoglobin up to 8.2 after the transfusion.
I was wheeled out of the hospital in a daze, with a folder of bereavement information, a memory box, prescriptions, and everything I came in with except my baby and the blood soaked clothes I made Tonia throw away.
The drive home was hard. It triggered the nightmare of the drive to the hospital. On top of that, I had so many thoughts going through my mind. How was I going to explain this to Lane, Reece, and Violet? I knew they were going to be devastated! Lane already knew we lost Ivy, but I had no idea how hard it was going to be to explain everything to the three of them. I was going to have to tackle the questions of each one differently because of their ages and level of understanding something like this.
Seeing and holding my children when I got home was the best feeling in the world after what had just taken place. Immediately after, I was bombarded with funeral arrangements.
Its been 4 months [at the time of writing this], and Reece and Violet are still asking questions and telling me how much they miss Ivy. The one answer I give to all three of them that never changes is, “I don’t know why. No one knows.”
Amy has written more about Ivy’s story at http://angelbabymama.wordpress.com
She can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com