Mother to Charlotte
Stillborn November 13th, 2010
King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
During the second half of my pregnancy with Charlotte I noticed that it was very different from when I was pregnant with my first daughter Lorelei.  I couldn’t feel her move as much, but I chalked it up to the anterior placenta and moving around too much to notice her movement.  At each appointment I would voice my concerns to my doctors who told me to check twice a day, morning and night.  And so I did.
On Saturday, October 30th, I woke up to no movement.  Since I had called the OB before with movement issues, I knew they’d ask me to eat something sweet and wait three hours for movement so that is what I did.  I drank orange juice, even ate Halloween candy, and still could not feel movement.   By 11 AM I called my OB who then told me to go to the hospital for monitoring.  The whole way there I knew it was going to be okay because really, this type of stuff just doesn’t happen, right?  You always hear about it but it never happens to you.  I thought eventually I’d feel the movement and I’d walk into the hospital saying it was all okay.  Well I didn’t feel the movement but I still walked into the hospital confident it would all be okay. 

The nurse hooked me up to the NST monitor and found her heartbeat right away.  I stayed a bit while the nurse decided to get my information for when I’d be back in the hospital for delivering.  I told the nurse how stupid I felt, but I couldn’t feel her move so what was I to do?  The nurse assured me it was the right thing to do and to keep doing it if it happens.  She even said that it’s better to be safe than sorry because it doesn’t always have a happy ending.  I didn’t know that I’d be back again in two weeks and be that person with the unhappy ending.  After a while the nurse deemed Charlotte “happy as a clam” because the NST had shown that her heartbeat had nine accelerations when they were only looking for a minimum of three.

On Tuesday, November 9, Lorelei and I went for my biweekly appointment.  The nurse found the heartbeat and then the OB came in.  She asked about movement, I gave my regular response that I do not always feel her move.  I even said that I’d be in for monitoring every day with how little I felt her move.  Looking back now I wish the OB would have been prompted by my response and given me an ultrasound.  Then they may have seen the fluid that was around Charlotte’s heart.  But the OB did not, and sometime later that week, Charlotte’s heart stopped beating. 

After two busy days of running errands, on Friday November 12th (at 37 weeks gestation),  I went to the hospital for monitoring again.  Hoping that everything was okay, the nurse hooked me up to the NST monitor.  After a few minutes of searching for the heartbeat I told her that I was going to vomit.  My heart was beating fast and I felt sick.  The nurse said she’d call my doctor for an ultrasound.  She still sounded confident that they would find a heartbeat though I already knew my worst fear was coming true.  My OB came down with the ultrasound machine, she put it on my belly, and I looked at the screen.  There was no flicker.  I knew before she said the words that my sweet baby was dead.

After finding out that Charlotte had no heartbeat, it felt like I was in slow motion and everyone around me was scurrying. I highly doubt that they were since she had already passed away. My OB explained that they would get me upstairs to a perinatologist to confirm there was no heartbeat. The nurses asked me several times if I had anyone to call to be there with me. I told them I would call S but that he had my daughter and so he’d probably have to wait until someone was able to come watch her. Because we did not know how long it would take for S to get there they kept asking me if there was anyone else. I didn’t want anyone else. So after calling my husband Sean with the devastating news, the nurses (who were awesome), put socks on my feet, put me into a wheelchair, and wheeled me up. At that point I still had not cried. I was in shock.
I feel horrible that I don’t remember the nurses names! The one nurse said she would stay with me until Sean got there. The perinatologist did his scan quickly, took measurements, and confirmed there was no heartbeat. He told me there was fluid around her heart and liver, and that she only measured 30 weeks (his guess was 3 pounds 15 ounces, which was pretty close to her actual weight of 4 pounds 1 ounce.) During the scan Sean called me to find out exactly where to come in the hospital because had never been there before. Still I did not cry.
They wheeled me back down to the L&D room that I was in, and I waited until Sean got there. I asked the nurse what the next step was and if we could induce today. I wanted it over with.
My OB came in, said she was going to Starbucks and if she could get me anything. As if there was nothing wrong I instantly asked, “Do they still had the Pumpkin Spice Latte because I had been meaning to try it but never got around to it.”  Sometime after this was when I cried for the first time. I remember saying, “I never thought this would happen!” And the nurse hugged me.
Sometime after that I called my mother. I asked her to tell my immediate family but I didn’t want anyone else knowing yet. I texted a few friends too.
Sean got to the hospital and came in the room. We hugged and cried.
The nurses were great and brought us information on the decisions we’d have to make. Call clergy? Baptism? Funeral home to call? Burial or cremation? Would we want to hold her after she’s born? Take pictures? Request an autopsy? Take my blood for testing?
I was induced and had a long time to wait in order for me to reach 10 centimeters so we talked and cried on and off through the whole labor.
Charlotte was born sleeping at 3:54 PM, weighing 4 pounds, 1 ounce, and 17 inches long at 37 weeks gestation. 
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