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Kerry
Mom to Oliver
April 6, 2018
Syracuse, New York
 I am 36 years old and met my husband almost 5 years ago.  We were married June 23, 2017 at the most beautiful wedding we could have imagined.  We were married on Cayuga Lake in Upstate New York, where we’ve lived all of our lives, surrounded by family and friends.  Steve is three years older than I am.  We knew we wanted to try to become pregnant right away and were so excited to start a family.  It worked!  We considered ourselves incredibly lucky and couldn’t believe that we became pregnant on the first month of trying.  I had a positive pregnancy test on August 17, 2017 and texted my husband at work “Steve. Steve. Steve! Can I call you?!?!”  He called me right back and I told him the news.  We were shocked and excited.  It’s so odd that although we were actively attempting to get pregnant, we were still so surprised by the result!  Neither of us has ever been married nor do we have any other children, this was our first.  We are each the “baby” of our families, we each have siblings who have children themselves, so we know what it is to be surrounded by kids – our nieces and nephews.  We heard (too often) from our families, that we should hurry up and have kids.  I’m not sure we could’ve went any faster. ha.

 
Funny how in the face of excitement people can or will say and ask you anything.  Essentially, our families were talking about and thinking about the most intimate act in our marriage: sex and making a baby.  Yet…here I sit, alone in our kitchen, writing our story to strangers and a website to express my feelings, thoughts, and sadness.  Where are everyone’s prying questions now?  When I need them the most?  I receive a lot of very distant and appropriate how are you’s  But hardly any, What does your sadness feel like?  Are you able to stand up in the shower?  Or does the weight of your tears make you fall to your knees?  When you sit for hours in your baby’s room, do you cry the entire time?  Do you find it difficult to get out of bed?  You’re still healing from giving birth to your baby – how is the pain in your vagina?  Do you have hemorrhoids?  I did, they were the worst.
 
Death makes those closest to us so sad, so uncomfortable…they forget that only months earlier they were intimately involved in thinking about our private life.
Those of you who know what I’m talking about, fellow women, it’s the same with colleagues, strangers, and acquaintances who touch our bellies when we’re pregnant, who say to us, “WOW! YOU’RE HUGE!”, who offer their expertise in knowing if our baby is a boy or girl depending on if we’ve “dropped” or how fast the baby’s heartbeat is.  It’s the same when they offer unsolicited advice on how to breastfeed, get the baby to sleep, to let or not let your baby cry.  All of these private topics – way out in the open, open for discussion.  And now?
 
Silence.
 
Where’d you go?  Where are you?!  You so comfortably told me how to never let my baby cry and HOW to breast feed and you TOUCHED ME…now what?
 
You’re gone.
 
Not that I want anyone near me anyway.  Only my husband.  Who I am not sure I could love more deeply than I do right now.  Who I want to protect with every fiber of my being.  Let anything happen to me, let me have all the pain, let me have all the illness…If it means he will always be ok.
 
Anyway.  Pregnancy was a breeze for 30 weeks.  I was never nauseous, I was never sick.  I never had GERD.  In the first trimester I had depression and struggled with feelings of inadequacy and fear.  I was not myself.  But by 14 weeks, I was feeling great.  I swam 1-3 times a week and went to the gym to walk or ride the bike.  I was healthy.  The baby was healthy, always normal on the growth curve, heart rate always in the 140’s.  MaterniT 21 testing came back normal.  We were breathing easy.  We were preparing.  We were becoming excited.  The nursery came together fast, with a neutral paint color, ease in putting together the crib and dresser and a best friend who gave us a chair and photos for the wall.  We were ready.  The baby shower my sister planned was perfect.  Our baby received everything he or she needed and much, much more.  How grateful we were to know that our baby would want for nothing.
 
What I’m about to say will rile some of you up.  It will elicit feelings of disbelief.  Anger.  Sadness.  But, it’s my truth and I’m not sure how else to describe it.  Throughout pregnancy I never felt this “connection” other mother’s talk about.  I wasn’t “glowing”, especially in the 3rd trimester.  I did not take baby bump photos and post them on social media.  I did not document every second of pregnancy.  I was excited to raise a child and to raise them to be GOOD.  To be kind.  I looked forward to instilling qualities that could make them and us proud.  But, I did not have these natural feelings of “hugging my belly” or crying when she or he kicked.  I write this to set the backdrop for what it felt like to give birth…because it was a feeling that can’t be defined or described.  It is a love greater and deeper than any connection that could be felt while pregnant.
 
By 30 weeks I was a different woman.  Oh, the changes a woman goes through when pregnant!  I never knew it!  I’m so sorry for never understanding!  By 30 weeks I was not sleeping.  Painful carpal tunnel in both of my hands would wake me in tears.  Steve rubbed my hands in the middle of the night, every night.  I could no longer lay flat or breathe.  I spent weeks on the couch, not sleeping.  I was miserable!
 
At 34.5 weeks I was at work and it was around 2pm.  I had just walked to the bathroom and it exhausted me.  I decided to check my blood pressure.  I am a nurse practitioner and understand the dangers of increased swelling, weight gain, and the risk factor of being 36 for my first pregnancy.  I wish I could go back to this day.  Was it something I did?  Should I have never checked?  Should I have taken it easier?  What could I have done differently?
My pressures were all above 160/90.  One was 184/119.
I called the OB.  I was sent to the hospital.  I was diagnosed with preeclampsia.  The fear that was invoked when the intern told me they may induce labor that night was so strong.  Steve was perfect, telling me we were ready.  Telling me we may be able to take our baby home, telling me this was ok.  I heard him.  I listened to him.
I didn’t believe any of it.
 
They didn’t induce.  They told me the goal was to get me to 37 weeks – just like all the literature recommends.  They discharged me the next evening on Labetolol and told me they’d see me in the office twice a week for two more weeks.  They told me not to work.  They told me I was ok.  They heard the baby and told me she or he was ok.
I diligently monitored my blood pressures at home.  They were all high but I never had severe features like a headache, blurry vision, or liver pain.  I felt the baby move like he or she always did.
 
I’ll never, ever forgive myself for feeling miserable.  For complaining about my carpal tunnel.  For crying in exhaustion when I couldn’t sleep or breathe.  For taking a bath every night.  For not swimming more than I did.  For not feeling that connection I should have felt when pregnant.  You all will say “You didn’t do anything wrong!”  but I am not sure you’re right.  The baby was inside of me, I was responsible, how could I not feel guilt forever?
Why didn’t I advocate for more Labetolol, even when I was at 400mg twice a day?
Why was I resistant to induction at 34.5 weeks?
Why didn’t I ask the ancient doctor who I met for the first time when I was 36 weeks and 1 day pregnant to be more aggressive when the Non-Stress Test didn’t show as much fetal movement as it should have?  He followed up with an Ultra Sound and the technician told me she saw fetal movement…but…it wasn’t a lot!  I want more movement!!!  That was just a flutter of an arm or a leg!!! PLEASE, THE BABY IS NOT MOVING AS MUCH AS HE OR SHE ALWAYS HAD.
The heart rate was 130’s…it was always 130’s.
BUT WHY DIDN’T WE WAIT LONGER TO SEE DIAPHRAGM MOVEMENT?
PLEASE.
Please wait longer.
Please induce me now.
Why didn’t I ask those things?
Why didn’t I insist?
 
My next appointment was 3 days later.  It was to be my final appointment in the office before induction 4 days later.  I was 36 weeks and 4 days pregnant at this appointment.  I was alone at this appointment because I chose to go alone.  I wanted to receive the date and time of induction by myself so that only Steve and I could know.  My family and Steve’s family felt very overbearing in this final week.  I needed to be alone and have this information be private.
Instead, I received the worst news of my life, alone.
They couldn’t find a heart beat on the non-stress test.  They left me alone in the room to see if the ultra sound technician was available.
 
I saw what the ultrasound tech saw.  Or, didn’t see.  No fluttering, tiny, sweet heart.  No movement.  My hands flew to my face as I lay flat and unable to sit up because of my large belly.  I couldn’t move. I needed help, HELP ME!!! PLEASE HELP ME!
The technician’s face was filled with horror and sorrow and sadness and sympathy.  She stuttered in her movement but not in her words, “I’m going to get Dr. _____, Kerry.”
 
I was alone, again.
My baby left me, too.
 
They returned together.  They hugged me.  They put the probe on my stomach again so Dr. ______ could verify death.
“WHAT’S THE SEX?!” I sobbed.
I’m so grateful the technician remembered Steve in that moment, “Why don’t I write it down on a piece of paper and you can open it together later?”
“IS IT BECAUSE I TOOK SO MANY BATHS?!” I sobbed.
“No, Kerry.  No.  This is nothing you did.” Dr. ____ said into my shoulder, her arms around me.
“IT’S SO LATE.  IT’S SO LATE.  WHY NOW?  I’M ALMOST 37 WEEKS.  IT’S SO LATE!!!” I sobbed.
“We know.  We know.  We’re so sorry.”  They said, 4 arms around me now.
 
I called Steve.  “STEVE!!!!!!”  I sobbed.  “steve.”  I whispered.
“Kerry.  Kerry!!! What?!  What’s the matter? ARE YOU OK?  What’s the matter?!”
“There’s no heartbeat, Steve.  The baby has no heartbeat.” I sobbed.
“I’m on my way.  I’m coming.  MOVE THAT TRUCK, I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE!!” He screamed at his colleagues, “I’m coming, Kerry.  I’m on my way!”
 
I waited the hour it took for my husband to arrive.  They made a nurse sit with me, “You don’t have to sit here.” I said as I stared at the floor, my nose running.
“Yes I do.  I want to.” She stared into my face.
I was no longer alone.  The doctor explained the process of labor, induction, and delivering our baby to Steve and I.  They said my health is of importance now.  My blood pressures were 160’s to 170’s over 90’s.  They wanted to get the placenta out of my body.  The placenta is the driver of high blood pressures in preeclampsia.  The cure is delivery.

We went to Labor and Delivery and we navigated decisions like, when to call our families?  Who do we call first?  Do you want me to put the phone on speaker?  Will you talk this time?  What is labor going to be like?  I don’t want to do it.  Please don’t make me do it.

I put off induction for 2 hours while I fretted and we called our parents and siblings.  Everyone cried with us and told us how sorry they were.  I can’t remember any exact words.
 
I struggle with memory loss in the midst of this grief.  Steve has been my mind and my memory.
 
A different doctor in the practice, one who I saw the most throughout pregnancy, was going to delivery our baby.  She explained the process: they would insert Cytotec into my vagina.  “Is that safe? I’m sorry. I’ve read some…Is it ok to use? I probably don’t know anything…but I’ve read…”
“What have you read, Kerry? It’s ok, you can ask me anything.”
“Is there an increased risk of uterine rupture with its use?”
“We’re going to use a very small dose and we prefer it in this situation because the other medication is like a tampon, stays in your vagina and takes much longer to act.”
“Ok.  Ok.”
 
The exams to feel my cervix were so painful.  How can a woman relax?  How?  I was closed and 50% effaced.  She inserted the first dose of 25mcg of cytotec at 6:58pm on Thursday April 5, 2018.
 
By 1130pm I was 1cm and only feeling intermittent cramping.  The pain was manageable.  Dr. ______ inserted the 2nd pill of 25mcg of Cytotec
By 330am I was 3cm.  The pain was unbearable.  Much to my dismay, but others’ coaxing to relieve my pain, I accepted morphine.  I was scared; I’ve never had any type of pain medications.  Would I be able to be present mentally?  Please don’t let me be out of it when I have to give birth!  You have to understand, I imagined my delivery to be medication and induction-free.  I imagined breathing and walking and my husband rubbing my lower back.  I imagined a bouncy ball and a jacuzzi tub and long, hot showers.  Ina May Gaskin was my hero!  I never pictured an epidural, paralyzed legs, and morphine lulling me into a strange sleep.  I certainly didn’t picture giving birth to a stillborn baby.
Immediately upon receiving the morphine I burst into uncontrollable tears and rapid breathing, I was having my first panic attack.  The nurse said, “what’s going on?” to me.  As Steve climbed out of his sleeper chair and into the hospital bed with me, to spoon me and wrap his arms around me he said, “it’s just been a very long day.”  She left us alone.  To cry and to be scared together.
 
I was able to sleep for about an hour.  I received one more dose of morphine and one dose of Nubaine before 730am when I finally accepted the epidural they had been offering since 330am.  I had been refusing because I was scared to be confined to bed.  I was scared to not feel my legs. I was scared to have a needle inserted into my spine.
I was scared it all.
 
The feeling of my water breaking woke me at 5am.  The nurse looked at the bed pad, “It looks like there is meconium in it.”
I later learned meconium is released when the baby is under stress, that this is done when the baby is still alive.  It’s so painful and heart-wrenching to imagine my poor, poor baby under stress.  Under so much stress that he or she pooped.  That he or she felt scared and nervous and stressed.  Did he or she know that they were dying?  Is that when it happened?
The pain of wondering what our baby felt at this time is too much to bear.
 
My fellow women, Nubaine does not work.  Oh, the pain.  The pain, the pain, the pain.  I tried to work through it.  I used breathing techniques, I shifted my positions.  I walked.  I vomited.  The pain, the pain, the pain.
 
The anesthesiologist was Dr. _____, “He’s very good at epidurals; you’re going to get a wonderful epidural.  He has absolutely no bedside manner.”  My best friend from college, an anesthesiologist herself, texted me as I hurriedly asked her how he was and if he was good.
She was right.  I experienced his bedside manner when he told me I was yelling so much and he couldn’t tell if it was at him or if it was due to pain…because I shouldn’t be having pain, he had given me a spinal first.  I rolled my eyes and tried to stop yelling.
 
WHY WAS I WORRIED ABOUT YELLING?  Who cares what he thought of my yelling?!  Add it to the list of regrets.
 
Steve had a nervous reaction and had to sit down during my epidural.  He became hot and flushed and dizzy and needed to sit.  It lasted 10 seconds before he stood back up and got back into place of being right in front of me face to face, forehead to forehead, so I could grip his shoulders.
 
After placement the nurses helped lift my limp, heavy, swollen legs into bed and I fell asleep.
I awoke at 1120am to the greatest sense of pressure on the left side of my vagina that I’ve ever felt.  I told the nurse about it and she asked the midwife to check my cervix.  The Midwife was a breath of fresh air.  Her arms felt heavy, sincere, and kind when she hugged me.  Her eyes were sympathetic and warm when I nervously asked, “WHAT’S THAT MEAN?!” after she told me I was 9.5 centimeters dilated. “It means your going to have your baby very, very soon.” She said, slowly and soothingly, her hand on my leg that I couldn’t feel.
 
I began to cry and my breathing hastened.  No, no, no, no.  No, please, no.  I can’t.  I CAN’T DO IT.  DON’T MAKE ME DO IT.
 
I didn’t say these things, they just haunted me.  They still haunt me.
Imagining the pain of delivering our baby and never hearing his or her cry.  Never taking a first breath.  Never seeing his or her eyes open.  It gives me an ache that is more painful than the most painful contraction or pressure of delivery could ever produce.
 
The nurse and the midwife explained to me how to push.  They told me each push was going to be a series of three pushes every time I felt a contraction.  “WHAT’S A CONTRACTION FEEL LIKE!?”  I nervously asked through pressured speech.
“You know, Kerry.  You’ve had them all night.  It’s ok, dear.  You’re going to be ok.  You’re going to feel like you have to poop.  The pressure will be incredible…and that’s when you’ll know when to push, ok?”
“OK!” I cried out.
“You can start whenever you want.  We can wait for Dr. _____ to get here, or you can start now.  You tell us what you feel you want to do.”
“I THINK I WANT TO START.  WILL YOU START WITH ME?  I THINK I FEEL THE PRESSURE, BUT I DON’T KNOW.  I DON’T KNOW!”  My eyes darting back and forth between the nurse and the Midwife.
“It’s ok, It’s ok, Kerry.  Let’s give it a try, ok?  Steve, lift her left leg for her.  Now, Kerry, take a deep, deep breath and PUSH!”
 
I screamed my way through the first push and quickly learned to hold my breath instead.  If I needed to make noise, I could grunt or growl deeply, but to hold my breath while I pushed.  I wanted to be good, I wanted to do it right.  I wanted to do something right.
“WAS THAT OK?” I anxiously asked.
“Yes, you’re doing so well, Kerry.”
 
At some point about 10 minutes of pushing later, my doctor arrived from her office.  The midwife used her magical arms to hug me goodbye and she told me something nice that I can’t remember now.
 
I pushed for 40 minutes.  At some point I got on all 4’s and pushed that way too.  Steve reminds me that I also asked, “IS ANY OF THIS EVEN WORKING!?” to which the nurse and doctor said, “Oh, yes! Definitely, Kerry, you’re doing so well.”
I didn’t believe them.  But I no longer believed anyone anymore.
 
I’ll never forget when the doctor took off the end of the bed,
My eyes widened, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”
“You’re going to have a baby on this next push, Kerry.  You’re going to have your baby.”
 
I began to cry and my breathing hastened.  No, no, no, no.  No, please, no.  I can’t.  I CAN’T DO IT.  DON’T MAKE ME DO IT.
I didn’t say these things, they just haunted me.  They haunt me now.
 
She was right.  I had our baby on that next push.  The pressure I had felt immediately subsided.  A feeling of relief washed over me like a calm I have never known.
Steve peered around my knees, looked at the groin of our baby, came close to my face and said quietly, “It’s a boy.”  Then, he kissed me.
 
I cried, I cried, I cried.  I cry now.  A boy.  A baby boy.  Let me see him, please let me see him.  Give him to me.  Give me my baby boy.  Give him to me.  Please.  I want him.  Please.  I need him.  I need him.
Steve cut his umbilical cord.  The nurse put a blanket around him and she laid him on my chest.
 
“We named him Oliver Patrick.”  I cried out to the nurse and the doctor.
 
They cried with us.
 
Oliver never opened his eyes.  He never breathed our air.  He never let out the sweet, infant cries that I knew he had inside of him.
 
Oliver stayed with Steve and I for 10 hours.  We held him all day, cuddled him all night.  Kissed his cheeks thousands of times.  We passed him back and forth.  I had time alone with him when Steve left the room to get a drink.  Steve had time alone with him when I took a 20 minute nap.  I remember my eyes being so heavy, but feeling so guilty for wanting sleep.  I woke 4 times in 20 minutes, searching for Steve and Oliver, even though they were right next to me, cuddling and lying in bed with me.
 
He weighed 5 pounds 10.7 ounces and was 21 inches long.  He had my husband’s family’s cheeks but I think he had my nose.  Even though my husband thinks it was his nose.  I know it was mine.  His lips are his own.  They are too perfect to be either Steve’s or mine.  They are his own, perfectly shaped lips.
 
 He was perfect.  He remains perfect in my memory for the rest of my life.
 
Kerry can be reached at Kerrylaine@hotmail.com
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Comments

  1. Barbara Goessling says:

    This is the most beautiful thing I have ever read. I am so sorry, that I couldn’t protect you from a pain like this… from a life with this memory. And yet, Oliver is also in your memory… your beautif son. With some happiness, so much pain. I love you, Mommie.

  2. So sorry for your unimaginable loss. I have been there too.

  3. I am very sorry for your loss. Ameli

  4. Oh honey, I am so, so sorry. My story is different than yours, but I too lost a perfect baby boy. The way you express your shock and disbelief and regret all resonate with me because I feel those things too. It’s so unfair this happened to you. I wish you’d never heard of this website and Oliver was in your arms. I am so, so sorry. I am here if you ever need someone to talk to. My story is on this site, posted last August. What a beautiful boy Oliver must’ve been,

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