Mom to Austen Elizabeth
November 11, 2015
My pregnancy was not perfect by any means – but, I knew the whole time, it would be worth it in the end. Every time I complained about being tired, uncomfortable or how I didn’t have anything that fit, somebody was always there to remind me how it would all be worth it in the end.
My husband and I had been married for about a year and a half when we decided we would stop not trying to get pregnant. We had been through the rough first year of marriage, came through closer and happier and we decided that we’d let the universe take over and see what happened. My very first cycle, BAM, pregnant. And before I could even wrap my head around that, I started to bleed. I’m not sure you can even call that being pregnant, because the stick was barely dry before I began to miscarry.
We didn’t let that get us down, and the very next cycle, again, I peed on a stick and it was positive. I was in shock, to say the least. I had read so many stories about how it sometimes takes couples months of trying to conceive before it happens and with what had happened only the previous month, I was a little apprehensive, but thrilled at the same time.
We scheduled our first appointment and the six long weeks we had to wait were excruciating. We were excited and announced to our families on Mother’s Day, when I was exactly 8 weeks, signing the cards to our moms from their little grandbaby that would be joining us in time for Christmas.
That first appointment was the happiest day of my life, hands down. We had the first ultrasound of the day and when we saw our little one just kicking away with a strong heartbeat, the tears of joy that came over the both of us was exactly what you would expect – perfect. Since we had heard the heartbeat, we began to tell our friends and then made the big Facebook announcement when I was 13 weeks, when I thought all was “safe”. The outpouring of love and congratulations were welcomed and we started the countdown.
Unfortunately, we had our first real scare later that week. After a long week, I was tired and came home from work and discovered I had started to bleed. Freaking out, I called my doctor, who told me to head to the ER. One of my closest friends met me there and waited with me until my husband could get there. All the worrisome thoughts of how I’d “jinxed” myself by doing that stupid facebook post kept running through my head and I sat anxiously waiting to be called back for a doctor to see me. After waiting for nearly four hours, I was finally called back and they did an ultrasound and everything looked fine. We breathed a huge sigh of relief; we’d dodged a bullet and our little girl was still in there, kicking away and growing.
I tried to take it easy over the next few weeks and made it to our 20-week scan on August 3, our second wedding anniversary. The ultrasound technician said everything was looking good, but that my placenta was too close to my cervix and we’d need to come back for another ultrasound in a few weeks to make sure that it had moved. We were assured that in most cases it does move on its own, but that they wanted to be sure.
We were a little nervous, but a few weeks later, at 28 weeks, I passed my glucose test, got another ultrasound where everything checked out and was told that our baby girl was measuring ahead and would probably be a big baby by the time she arrived.
In the next few weeks, getting ready for baby was kicked into high gear. We took our babymoon, celebrated my 29th birthday, and started setting up the nursery. The heartburn and endless nights of getting up to go to the bathroom were tough and I complained constantly. I was swelling a lot and couldn’t wear my wedding rings anymore, which broke my heart. But I had that ever constant kicking from inside of me to remind me that this was all going to be worth it in just a few weeks time.
The week of Halloween was when things had started to change. Fetal movement had decreased a little bit and then one morning, I realized that I hadn’t really felt her move in a day or two. It definitely was different than it had been and I called my doctor. The nurse I spoke to on the phone tried to keep her voice calm as she made it clear that I was to come in immediately to be checked out.
My husband met me at the doctor’s office and we did a NST. We sat in that little room and I clicked the button every time I felt a movement, which was not often, and waited as the nurse took the results in to the doctor. Our little girl had “failed” and they wanted to get me over for a BPP right away. I was told not to worry, that she was probably just being stubborn and that everything would be okay. We got back and they did the ultrasound. Everything was looking good and I was told that I had a lot of amniotic fluid, and that could be the reason why I was feeling less movement. She “passed” all the markers except the breathing exercise, which took a little longer, but in the end, turned out fine. Since I already had my regular prenatal appointment scheduled for two days later, I was told to just come back for that and talk to the doctor then.
Two days later, at my 32-week appointment, my husband wasn’t able to come with me. I met with the doctor and we went over the BPP. He said that sometimes babies are stubborn and get really comfy in there so they don’t like to take their practice breaths but that I shouldn’t worry. He checked me out, told me that her head was already really low and then did the Doppler. That perfect little sound of her heartbeat filled the room and filled me with relief once again. He said because she was measuring large and because of her position, I shouldn’t be too concerned if I didn’t really feel her move around much, but if I got nervous, to call the office and I could come back and get checked out again. I thanked him, and headed home, feeling reassured and happy.
That next week went by in a whirlwind. We celebrated my husband’s birthday, went to our parenting classes and toured the hospital, meeting other first-time parents and seeing where we’d be bringing our little girl into the world.
That next Monday, at my 34-week appointment, I told my doctor that I still wasn’t really feeling a lot of movement and that it was starting to scare me a little bit. He tried to ease my worries and told me that he’d schedule weekly ultrasounds so I could have the peace of mind each week. He told me to do kick counts and sent me across the hall to get the ultrasound done. Apparently, one of the techs had gone home early and we were told that we couldn’t get in until the morning. So we went ahead and scheduled out the remainder of my prenatal appointments and ultrasounds and left feeling good that we were going to get to see our baby every week until she decided to join us.
The next morning, we got to the office early, driving separately, as I had to go straight into work after the appointment. We had to wait for nearly half an hour to get back there and passed the time talking about my baby shower, which was scheduled for that weekend. I was telling my husband that I was going to have to go shopping at some point because I didn’t have a dress to wear and I wanted to look pretty for all of the pictures. We discussed names for our daughter, because we still hadn’t been able to decide on what we’d like to name her and when we went back into the little room, we had wide smiles on our faces, because at this point, what could be wrong?
I remember laying on the exam table, shirt pulled up and that jelly all over my stomach and looking up at the screen as the little black and white image of our baby came up on the screen. I waited to hear the heartbeats that usually come and looked over at the tech, whose smile had faded and she looked over at me and asked the question that made my world stop.
“Did the doctor do the doppler yesterday?”
Panic came over me and I shook my head no and looked at her with wide eyes as she closed hers and tears started to roll down her cheeks and she said how sorry she was. My husband grabbed my hand and asked her if she was sure and if she’d check again. I screamed and sobbed and completely lost it. At that moment, I knew what it meant to have your heart shattered.
When the doctor joined us, she tried to fill us in on what would happen next. I was told that a C-section was not an option for me, that complications could arise and the safest way for me to deliver and have the best probability of having children in the future would be to labor and deliver vaginally. I was numb and frankly, the fact that she even mentioned the future kind of ticked me off. In that moment, I didn’t care about the future. I didn’t want any other children. I wanted the baby that I had already been carrying for 34 weeks. I wasn’t going to do this again. How could she even suggest that I’d have another baby five minutes after I found out that I’d lost this one?
We were told to go home, pack our bags and come back to the hospital. The process could take hours or days… There was no real timeline and since I’d never given birth before, they weren’t sure how my body would react to the induction process. My husband didn’t let go of me at any point as we walked out of the office and back to where we had parked. We both climbed into my car and started the phone calls. We called my boss and told her I wouldn’t be at work. We called my mom, who immediately started looking into flights to come be with us. We called his parents and my dad & stepmom, filling them in and telling them we’d be back at the hospital in a few hours to start the process.
The walk down the L&D hallway was more painful that I ever could have imagined. Large pictures of newborn babies lined the walls and it felt like they were mocking me with those smiles on their faces and knowing that I wouldn’t get to see that with my daughter.
After getting settled into our room and starting the induction process, our families started to trickle in and began offering help with anything we needed. My mom and older sister flew in that afternoon and came directly to the hospital. My younger sister had jumped into her car and driven 8+ hours to get there that evening… Our families had dropped everything to be there for us.
I got zero sleep that night in the hospital and tried to distract myself all night long as I felt the contractions start and then get more uncomfortable. The next morning, before they started to get too painful, I went ahead and got an epidural. They wanted to make me as comfortable as possible, and after a few hours, I started to feel the pressure.
Our daughter, Austen Elizabeth, was born at 2:37 p.m. on November 11, 2015. She weighed 4 pounds, 11 ounces and had a full head of dark hair. My husband and I kept our eyes on each other as I pushed and cried, wishing and hoping and praying to whatever or whomever that this was just a nightmare and that I’d wake up and everything would be okay…
Our nightmare didn’t end though and the next day, I was discharged from the hospital. We went home, surrounded by our family, to a house that felt empty, even with all the people around us. I was in a lot of pain and still in shock that this had happened to us.
We laid our little Austen to rest that weekend out on a piece of land my husband’s family owns a little ways away from where we live and kept it very small with just our families around us to support us through the day. She looked so beautiful and so tiny in her coffin, surrounded by little gifts to carry her away.
Making sense of this horrible situation is impossible. I have gone over every single moment of those last two weeks, trying to figure out what I could have done differently. I blamed myself for weeks, apologizing to my husband over and over for my failure. It was my body that had failed and I was her sole provider for all of those weeks and months, so I let the guilt wash over me. That has been one of the toughest parts. The constant second-guessing of every single moment, the guilt I feel for having complained for most of my pregnancy. What I wouldn’t give to have her here with me…
I am still an absolute mess. Those feelings of guilt have gotten better as each day passes and the suffocating weight of sadness has gotten a little easier to handle, but it is still a constant struggle to even get out of bed in the morning. I feel very lucky that I have my husband, who has gone above and beyond in every aspect. He has been my rock and during those darkest of days, he held my hand and made me believe that we’d get through this.
I don’t know what the future will hold, how can anybody try and plan after they’ve been through something as soul crushing as this? There are no certainties when it comes the future, and that’s a hard pill to swallow. But the one guarantee I have for the future is that Austen Elizabeth will be on my mind and in my heart until the day I die. She will never know the love her dad and I feel for her, but we will carry her with us until the end of our days. She made me a mother, and I will be forever grateful to my sweet angel Austen.
You can email Samantha at firstname.lastname@example.org.