Momma to Clara Dawn
Born Still September 20, 2015
Beckley, West Virginia
In June of 2010 I married the love of my life. I was freshly 20 years old and we had been dating for less than a year, but I would have married him after less than a month. He is golden to me, was then and still is. We decided we wanted to wait to start a family, spend time getting to know each other better, traveling, and enjoying being young and married. In October 2014 I went through a spell of fatigue and the thought of pregnancy hit me like a ton of bricks. I had an IUD, we had not talked about getting pregnant yet, I was scared what he would think if I was and I was scared for the baby if I was because of the IUD. My sweet husband wasn’t upset at all, it turned out we were both excited… and then bummed when I took a test and it was negative, so that made the decision for us it was time to get off of birth control and try to get pregnant!
I had my IUD removed on November 5th 2014, and got my positive pregnancy test exactly two months later on January 5th. We were over the moon, our families didn’t even know we were trying and we relished in a couple of weeks of having this delicious secret to ourselves, though my husband did make several comments to my mom that I was sure would spill the beans. We made sweet little announcements, bought cards, and took our families out to breakfast. Everyone cried with joy and it was beautiful, just like my entire pregnancy.
We celebrated her so thoroughly during the life she lived in my belly. We had the perfect gender reveal party, revealing her gender not only to our family but to ourselves at the same time. We had a huge blow out of a baby shower, decorated to the nines with all the colors of little girls dreams. I spent more on my baby shower dress then my wedding dress cost! We took a fabulous babymoon cruise. Our sweet girl, though she never lived outside the womb, traveled more than some people get to in a normal span life time. She went to Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mexico, Jamaica, and Grand Cayman. I am so glad that we gave that to her.
Everything was perfect. I was perfect, our baby girl was perfect, so much that at one of our fun 4D ultrasounds our ultrasound tech kept going on and on about how perfect she was, it was so intense my husband cried as we left that ultrasound. My weight crept up appropriately, as did my belly size. I never had a spike in blood pressure, it never took more than a minute to find her strong heartbeat, and there was never a sign of gestational diabetes. All the pregnancy “issues” I never had one. The heartburn was intense, but it wasn’t in vain, as I’ve never seen so much hair on a newborn.
My due date, September 12th, came and passed. I went to the doctor on September 15th and we discussed what would happen if I passed 41 weeks, how we would induce, the norm. I wasn’t worried. All the statistics say most first time moms go past their due date, and of course I know the due date is really just an estimate anyways. My greatest worry at that appointment on that Tuesday, on that last day we heard her sweet heartbeat was that I wouldn’t get the natural birth I had been longing for. THAT was my only worry.
I went to bed Thursday night, the 17th, aware that she hadn’t been very active since earlier in the day, and made a mental note to get up when my husband did for work to really pay attention to what she was doing. The alarm went off at 4, and at 4:30 I still hadn’t felt her. I called L&D and they gave me the normal run down, lay on my side, drink something sweet, and count her movement. There weren’t any definitive movements, none. I knew something was wrong, I feel like I knew she was gone. We went to the hospital, and the poor sweet nurse searched. And searched. Frantically searched, I think she knew, too. She called in ultrasound, and luckily a doctor came too. They didn’t make us wait to hear the news that she had died. I appreciated that.
Everyone we came in contact with in the hospital were angels. Everyone was feeling so much pain with us. They gave us the very, very best situation that could be given in our circumstances. They kept a cart stocked for our many visitors with coffee and juice and pastries. They pumped me with plenty of pain meds to keep my body calm as I was induced. Labor and delivery went as perfectly as my entire pregnancy had, I only had to push for a short period of time and it came to me so naturally. At 12:55am on September 20th, this big, beautiful, porcelain, perfect girl was born into this world after her passing. She weighed 8.14lbs and was nearly 21 inches long. Her hair was so thick and long it nearly curled around her ears. I am so, so proud of that hair. I can’t believe I grew such a big beautiful girl within my body.
NILMDTS came and took photos of her in all her beauty in her little outfit that she was meant to come home in. We loved on her as much as emotion would allow, slept for a few hours, and had her brought back in the morning to love her some more and tell her goodbye. Nothing has ever been as hard as giving back the baby that has been the center and forefront in everyone in your lives mind for nine months, giving back what my body worked so hard to grow so perfectly for this world.
We opted not to have an autopsy, but pathology on her placenta came back perfect just like everything else always did. I guess our girl was one of the many unexplained stillbirths that occur too often each year.
The one thought that never entered my mind was this. I knew miscarriages happen, I knew about genetic disorders and chromosome abnormalities. I knew at what week the chance of miscarriage fell significantly and I knew at what week she would have a chance of survival if she was born early. I knew after she was born the chance of SIDS and how long that chance lasts. I knew how fragile her little life would be in the weeks following birth before she got her vaccines. I knew all the risks. I knew everything.
Except I didn’t know that stillbirth still happens.