Mom to Emily

December 28, 2010

Atlanta, GA


I was going to copy what I had posted on my blog, but I just changed my mind. I’m going to start fresh, from the moment we discovered her. The word “Pregnant” lighting up the little screen. I was shaking in anticipation and some fear of this incredible news. My boyfriend at the time never had a doubt or fear. He was instantly happy, and looking forward to having a baby. I had the expectant nausea for about 14 weeks but luckily was never sick. I had some cramping, constipation, all normal. I didn’t think anything was abnormal until about 16 weeks and wish that I had pushed my feelings at my doctors more, demanding to know all the tests that could be done to make sure there weren’t any problems. I was T-I-R-E-D, totally exhausted by the afternoon to the point that I thought I was too tired. Now, I know being tired is normal but I just knew what I was experiencing wasn’t. The doctors kept telling me I was on my feet too much since I am a teacher, and I just needed to sit more. They told me my iron was low, so I had to take a supplement. In the end, I trusted the doctors. What else could I do? I was high risk because of my age and saw a Perinatal specialist at the hospital as well as my OB at the practice I went to. I had an amnio at 16 weeks which came back good, so I announced my pregnancy to everyone. I still remember the nurses voice telling me about the amnio. When she was done she exclaimed, “Now, enjoy your pregnancy!” Those words still haunt me to this day. 

At all of the ultrasounds the doctors kept telling me how big she was, and that she was going to be a big baby. I agreed. My sisters have four children between them and the “smallest” was 8.5 pounds. My last appointment at the Perinatal Office went awesome, I saw all four chambers of her heart and saw her moving around. A big baby, an “unremarkable” amnio. “Everything is great,” he told me “I’m discharging you, you don’t need to come back until later, when your doctor wants you to.” I remember leaving the office feeling like I was walking on air. I mean, when the specialist tells you everything is great how can anything go wrong?

I wish my OB at my 28 week appointment had stressed the kick count. I wish I had taken to heart the e-mail I would get from my pregnancy app and e-mail subscriptions talking about the kick count. She had started to get into a routine, but wasn’t on a set pattern. I thought since I felt movement there weren’t any problems. I had begun having occasional contractions by 18 weeks, and unfortunately thought that it was her moving to an uncomfortable position. They would last a minute or two and go away every few weeks. Now, having been through labor I know what those “movements” were, contractions. She really slowed down (I know now, looking back) by 29 weeks and I still didn’t think anything of it since I still felt movement.

I turned 30 weeks right when Christmas Break started at school and decided to stop putting off everything and did my baby shower registry. That week we were going to get all the baby furniture and he was going to paint her room. We didn’t have a lot of things, I kept putting it off, deciding to wait for my baby shower to see what all we needed. My maternity pictures were scheduled that week with a good friend of mine, and I was e-mailing props and deciding colors and positions for the shoot.

December 27, 2010 was on a Monday and my routine appointment was at 11am. I was in a hurry because I had a dentist appointment at 2:30 the same day. I was chatting with another woman in the waiting room and we were joking about how much weight we had gained. I told her about my excessive swelling which the doctor had told me 2 weeks ago was normal. I reached down and moved my sock to show the marks and felt a fissure of alarm. “That’s weird,” I told her. “I’m usually swollen more than that.” At that moment I went on mental auto pilot, just knowing deep down in my bones that something was very, very wrong.

When my doctor was looking for her heartbeat he actually joked, “C’mon, I know you’re in there.” and then went to see if the ultrasound room was empty. “Let’s just take a peek,” he told me. The best way to describe this is the feeling of your head under water, where everything is fuzzy and muffled. “Is this normal?” I  asked him, knowing it was not. “Let’s go, now,” was his only response. In the room I only watched his eyes. I was in a complete mental haze, total shock. His eyes told me everything. “I’m sorry, so sorry,” he said. “there is no heartbeat.” he proceeded to turn the screen to me and I looked at the exact spot her heartbeat should be. Nothing. It was still, so still.

He went on to tell me what would happen next, and if I needed to call anyone. I wanted to call Alex, but left my phone at home. I remember telling him that morning that he didn’t have to come with me, and to go to his estimate for a job. The nurse brought me back to her office and looked up my emergency contact so that I knew his phone number to call him. I have since memorized his number beyond pressing the button on my phone to call him. “I have bad news,” I told him, and he didn’t seem to believe me. “Is it sure?” he asked, and I told him that I would see him at home. I couldn’t do it over the phone. They kept asking me if I was ok to drive home, and I kept repeating that I could. I was still in my fog of shock that would blessedly stay with me for a long time. It is amazing how our body reacts to an emotional trauma to protect us.

I returned home and arrived at the same time as Alex. I confirmed that there was no heartbeat, and that I saw on the ultrasound screen. He deflated in front of me and we went upstairs to wait for the doctor to call me and tell me to go to the hospital. I couldn’t speak to anyone on the phone. I missed my Mother with an intensity that I hadn’t felt before, and still do. She passed away a year and a half ago. I shared the news with those closest to me via texting. He sobbed in her nursery the whole time I was on the phone, and then we laid down on the bed together until the doctor called me to tell me I could come in.

We arrived at the hospital and I had to fill out a ton of paperwork since I hadn’t turned in my preregistration forms. I mentally blocked out all of the women there waiting to go upstairs to give birth to their living children. The nurse kept asking for my husband to do the paperwork so I could sit down and I was getting increasingly annoyed until I looked at her paper and saw that my doctor had written “threatened miscarriage.” Whatever. Even he couldn’t write the truth, and it was certainly NOT a miscarriage this far along. I wanted to scream, “It doesn’t matter! She is already dead!” but instead told her we were not married and I had to do the paperwork. She typed faster and rushed as fast as she could and they wheeled me upstairs.

I was placed far away from the “regular” L & D patients and babies and was thankful for that. My door had a special paper taped to it, like angel wings. Marked, I remember thinking, I am marked for life. I was having contractions on my own and they let them continue to the morning, hoping my body would go into full labor on its’ own. I didn’t progress enough, so at 6 am they gave me pitocin. That still wasn’t enough so at 9 am my doctor (a new one) came in and broke my water and stretched me to 6 cm. She said things would progress faster, and she may not be in my room when I gave birth since I would probably have her quickly.

She was right. The contractions were horrible and I declined an epidural. I wanted to feel everything, really feel it. I remember hitting the on call button and screaming, “Help! Help!” It was all I could do when I felt her coming. No one came. I gave birth to Emily 12/28/10 at 10:40 am alone. Just her father and myself. A few minutes later my nurse and another woman came in and I began screaming, “She is here! She’s out!” “It’s ok,” she had the audacity to tell me. “The doctor said this would probably happen.” Nothing was ok, not ever again, but I didn’t have the emotional energy to say anything.

She was perfectly formed, just small. 3 lbs, and 17 inches and I remember thinking that she would have been very tall. “Look,” Alex showed me, “her hair.” It was just as I said all along, she had a full head of his dark hair, not auburn like mine or blond like my Mother. We spent four hours with her. She only left once to get a bath and pictures. The hospital and Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep both took pictures to document her existence and short life. She had his chin, lips, she looked so much like her Daddy. One nurse even remarked, “He has strong genes.” We also had her blessed.

My uterus stayed hard and my doctor was called back in to re-asses me. I had a lot of blood clots in me that needed to be removed. My option was a D & C or to have her pull them out with her hand. I chose to have her do it, I didn’t want a surgery after avoiding an epidural. She warned me it would be extremely painful and she was correct. I screamed and squirmed but she pulled them out. A lot of them.

My blood pressure spiked and stayed dangerously high. I had severe postpartum preeclampsia. My reflexes were too good (never knew that was bad before) and I was moved upstairs to recovery because I couldn’t go home until they got my blood pressure under control. Originally I was told I could go home not long after but now that was not an option. I had to stay two more days. I wish I could say my nurses were nice, helpful, caring, or any good adjectives but they were not. They were uncomfortable that they were forced to deal with me. They did not want to be around me, and mostly came in and out as quickly as they could, monitoring my blood pressure, giving me medicine, changing my IV mostly without speaking to me at all. The blood pressure never really went down, but they let me go home and gave me pills for my blood pressure. It stayed high for at least two weeks afterward.

Five weeks later I was called with the results of my blood work. I was diagnosed with a genetic blood clotting disorder, Prothrombin Gene Mutation G20210A, a Factor II mutation. I am relieved to know the cause and have the knowledge to manage this mutation. This is a lifelong medical condition that I need to manage the rest of my life that puts me at an increased risk of blood clots, PE, DVT, and strokes. I am still bitter that women are not even given the option to test for blood clotting disorders during pregnancy. In a future pregnancy I will have to give myself Lovenox injections daily. I was told the blood thinner would improve and perhaps prevent the anemia (yes, my excessive exhaustion had a cause) I experienced as well as the postpartum preeclampsia.

I am told that I am lucky to be alive. What they don’t know is that a piece of me has already died, and will never return until I am reunited with Emily. I love you baby girl.

“Sometimes love is for a moment. Sometimes love is for a lifetime. Sometimes a moment is a lifetime.”

Nicole blogs at

You can contact her at



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  1. Thank you for sharing. I am glad you did not copy and paste from your blog, I am sure it was difficult but necessary for you to recall all of the details of your daughter’s birth. They will always stay with you but now others know your story and know that they too could be tested for this condition and save their baby’s life. Emily is SO lucky to have you as such a strong and loving Mommy. HUGS friend!

  2. It is Prothrombin Gene Mutation as it says in my story, not Rothrombin Gene Mutation. I forgot to say I was 30 weeks and 6 days when Emily was born sleeping.

  3. Syrita Jackson says:

    I’m glad I waited till you were ready to share. Please know I love you and am here for you. I have no idea how difficult this must be for both of you. You are in my prayers, Syrita

  4. Trameika Gee says:

    You have a very powerful story, one that will help and heal many other women. You and your husband are in my thoughts and prayers! Love, Trameika

  5. Travonnie Mackey says:

    Thank you for sharing Nicole. Your strength is inspiring. Even in your pain, you find the energy to encourage others through your story. Love you and miss you lots.

  6. Thank you for sharing. Although our stories are somewhat different, I too really wish I had paid more attention to the kick count. My baby started slowing down probably after week 26, but I just thought it was her natural rhythm, she had never been one of those babies that did huge kicks all the time.

    Having the doctor joke around that the baby was hiding or being stubborn also happened to me. I even asked if I should be worried and she said no, let’s just do a an ultrasound. I think she probably already suspected there was no heartbeat so I’m not sure why she was sheltering me at that point.

    Anyways, thank you for having the courage to share. I am so sorry for your loss.

  7. michele says:

    I am so sorry for you loss. I too lost my son at 34 weeks on Dec 28 2010. Our stories are so similar. I know how painful this is and I pray for you both to find peace in your hearts.

  8. This is so close to my story. I went for a non-stress test for suspected preeclampsia and no heartbeat. I was 37.5 weeks and expecting a girl we had named Genevieve (Vivi). I had the protective shock-fog but I couldn’t face pushing, and had to pretty much stand firm for a c-section, which in retrospect probably saved my life. It turned out our baby was a boy which kind of exploded the grieving process, I think I focused on the little girl I’d expected in order to put together my feelings on the sweet boy I held for far too little time. Long story short, I also have multiple clotting issues and had lovenox during my next pregnancy. That one resulted in a micropreemie who is nearly a year old, and the firm conviction that I am terrible at pregnancy. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Melissa Montes says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. Mine is very similar, although I am 10 years older than you. I also have some sort of blood clotting condition. (phosphatidylethanolamine antibody) My son was born at 36 weeks in February 2010. I did the heparin shots and the specialist and my ob took me off them after the first trimester even though I argued with them. In hindsight they said they should’ve kept me on them. I had 4 miscarriages before my son. My blood pressure also spiked when I was taken to the hospital. I was also very swollen, but my blood pressure was fine normally the whole “textbook” pregnancy. I had a horrible quick pain 2 days before he came. The nurse said he was kicking my liver and not to worry. I should’ve gone straight to the hospital that day. I wish I had paid more attention to kick counts too.
    I feel I should’ve been monitored much more. I will never trust a doctor again.
    I wish I had the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and I wish I had held my son longer. I just have one picture of him that the nurse took that I finally looked at months later. I was so traumatized and in shock, I didn’t even want to think about pictures of my sweet baby. You tell your story so well. I cried reading your story, because it is so familiar to me. Our babies will always be a part of us. I still dream about him.

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