Mom to Mason Landon
Born too early on November 10th, 2007
Derby, KS
My name is Stephanie and my story begins in 2002. My husband and I had been married for a year, but together for five years. We were doing foster care for a wonderful sweet baby boy and decided it was time to try for one of our own. Fast forward a year and still no luck. We tried clomid (fertility pills) and had absolutely no luck. In 2004 we moved back to Wichita and gave it a break for awhile. In the meantime we adopted 3 year old twins from the foster care system and our family was taking shape. I got a great job at a local aircraft company and decided in 2007 it was time to try more aggressive fertility treatment. We opted for a treatment in which injections are given to mature the woman’s eggs and then an injection is given to release them once they are mature. After a month of painful, expensive injections, sonongrams, and blood work, we were pregnant! I cried when I found out and I thought my husband would explode from excitement.

The pregnancy seemed to be going great. Very little morning sickness, every sonogram showed a healthy growing baby boy, we got to 20 weeks and we thought we had it made. Then I started having some very thick, mucus discharge. After a few days of this I called my OB’s nurse. She said that an increase in discarge is normal. For the next week it got heavier and heavier and still I was told it was normal. Finally, I made an appointment and lied about why I needed to be seen in order to get in. My gut was telling me that it was not normal, but there was no blood, so I let myself be eased by the nurse.

I left work that day just generally feeling blah. I kept feeling like the baby was kicking me way low, but this being my first pregnancy, I didn’t know to worry. When I got to the doctor, I was 21 weeks exactly. After chit chat in which the doctor told me he was sure I was fine he began his exam. He inserted the speculum about halfway and then just froze. I immediately began to get uneasy. He took it out and began looking over my file. He asked if my last sonogram showed anything unusual, I said no beginning to panic. He than told me the my membranes were bulging and did I have a ride to the hospital? I had no idea what that meant, but I told him I didn’t. I really began to panic when he asked the nurse to call an ambulance even though the hospital was only a few blocks away. The ambulance was going to take awhile so I said I would take myself. He said not to stop for anything.

I get to the emergency room just weeping. I don’t know what is happening or if my baby is going to be safe. They put me in a wheelchair and rush me to labor and delivery. The nurse tries to comfort me and says something about just needing bedrest and I begin to calm down. I have visitors while I am waiting for a perinatologist and I am feeling like everything might be ok. They start talking about a cerclage. I don’t know what this is. They explain that I am dilated to 4 centimeters, and with a 21 week old baby, that is dilated enough for the baby to literally just fall out. What!? How can I be dilated without any contractions? They explain that I have a cervix that can’t stand up to the weight of the baby and just gives out and dilates. They said that a cerclage is a purse string stitch through the cervix that closes it and holds the baby in, but only a preinatologist can do this surgery.

The perinatologist Dr. O’Hara shows up a few hours later. She is very friendly and reassuring. She says that a cerclage may be possible and would save my baby. She has to make sure I am a good candidate. She does an exam and then looks at me with tears in her eyes. She says that she is sorry, but I am now dialted to 6 centimeters and fully effaced. She said it would be like trying to stitch wet tissue paper and that she can’t do it, she needs to preserve future fertility. I cry and tell her I don’t care about future fertility, this is my son, I want him safe and sound. She holds my hand and cries, but says I am too far gone.

I ask what will happen to the baby and she tells me he will be born in less than 24 hours, that he is too young to survive and so he will be placed in my arms and he will pass away. How can this be happening?! How could we have waited six years to be pregnant and then just hold our baby in our arms until he dies? Who could ask this of me? I am strong enough for this. My mind says this is my fault, that I am letting my son and my husband down. After several hours of weeping, I just stop. No, this will not happen, I will not let it. I will do whatever it takes.

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Mom to Lyra Mae

Stillborn on December 18th, 2009 at 30 weeks
Wichita, KS

I intended to have very few children. And they would be a long ways down the road of our marriage. 5 years maybe? I wanted to travel and do my art and career. Husband was generally more open to the thought of children, and when we moved back to Kansas after completing school, we decided to try doing the trifecta of “the most stressful things in life”: moving, starting full time jobs, and getting pregnant after 3.5 years of marriage. We’re pros at flying by the seat of our pants, so we just went with it, and told everyone from the moment we knew we were pregnant.

Despite being utterly scared and ignorant about pregnancy and birth, we were also very excited. Husband poured over cloth diaper options, and we bought clothes very early on, even without knowing the gender. When we found out we were having a little girl, we immediately decided her name would be Lyra Mae, but decided to keep it to ourselves so we had a little secret between the two of us. It was a picture perfect pregnancy. No issues, no concerns.

Once we made it to the third trimester, I started to breathe a teensy bit easier. It was all downhill from here, right? Three days make up the finale of Lyra’s story. Three specific days in December which I look back on and wonder if we could have known.

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Mom to Lillian Grace
June 27th, 2010-June 27th, 2010
Wichita, KS

My husband & I found out last year that if we wanted a biological child our only option would be IVF. We began treatment in January of this year; our prayers were answered when we got our first BFP in February & we cherished every minute of my pregnancy knowing we may never get to experience this again. Sadly our world was forever changed 3 weeks ago on June 27, 2010 when at 22wks 6 days into my pregnancy I went into premature labor. Here is our daughter Lillian Grace’s birth story which I wrote for my blog the day after her birth…
As I was driving back from a weekend in Kansas City to Wichita I began to feel some lower back pain, it didn’t worry me too much initially because as most of you know back pain is a normal part of pregnancy. I soon started to feel concerned when the back pain began to come & go in waves; I decided to stop at the next rest area, thinking that maybe if I went to the bathroom I would feel better. When I went into the restroom I saw that I had begun to bleed. I can honestly say it was one of the most terrifying moments of my life. I was traveling alone, in the middle of no where in Kansas & completely unaware of the nearest hospital. I quickly got back into the car, tried to pull up information on the closest hospital in my GPS & called my husband. Unsure of what to do I got back onto the interstate & began driving towards Emporia, which was about 30 miles away & my closest hope for a hospital. I don’t think I’ve every prayed so hard in my life & thankfully after about 10 minutes into the drive I spotted a Sheriff & Patrol officer in the middle of the interstate. I quickly pulled over to where they were sitting & told them what was happening. They called an ambulance & from there I was transported to Emporia Hospital. I was promptly hooked up to an IV & given oxygen, at this point it was becoming obvious that the back pain I was feeling was indeed my worst nightmare… contractions. En route to that hospital my water broke. At this point I knew that in all likelihood the worst possible case scenario was going to happen & felt the most horrific sense of hopelessness & loss of control I have ever experienced.
Nick was able to make it to Emporia to be with me shortly after my arrival there. After being evaluated at this hospital they quickly determined I needed to be transported to Wesley Medical Center in our hometown of Wichita due to the severe prematurity of the labor. The doctor at that hospital was able to pick up a heartbeat on the baby & started me on antibiotics in the hope they could stop labor. She explained that if I was able to make it to 24 wks (which is considered viability) then they would start me on steroids to try & help baby develop quicker, but if my contractions returned they would not stop them. She also discussed the grim reality that 90% of the time once your membrane ruptures you will deliver within 10 days (most much earlier) & even if we got another week before her birth Lillian’s chances of survival, especially her quality of life would be bleak.

I was then placed into another ambulance & had to endure the 70 minute drive to Wichita. I was blessed to have an incredibly kind & compassionate EMT with me along the way, it was by far the most difficult ride of my life. The contractions began to get worse & all I could do was continue to pray that God let us get to the hospital before the baby was born. By the time we arrived at the hospital my contractions were 2 minutes apart. I remember the nurses asking that someone get a doctor quickly. I recognized the resident that came into the room right away; she was doing a rotation with our RE’s office during our embryo transfer a few months prior. She literally was one of the doctor’s who put Lily into my body & now she would be delivering her out into the world. After about 20 minutes the doctor evaluated me & found that the baby was already in the birth canal & that when I was ready I could deliver her. With an incredible staff of caring people by my side & my amazing husband holding my hand Lillian Grace was born into this world at 6:17pm weighing 1 lb 1/2 oz. Her heart beat for just a few minutes & then as quickly as she came she left us. Giving birth to a baby I knew wouldn’t survive took every ounce of my strength and was the most devastating moment in my life.

There was concern I may need to go into surgery initially as the placenta was taking a little longer to be expelled. Thankfully after about 30 minutes I was able to deliver the placenta. We were given several hours with our little girl to hold her & talk to her. In the most awful moments of our lives we were blessed to meet Erin of Baby Bloom Photography; she is a photographer who works with families in our situation. She did the most beautiful photo shoot with Lillian & us. The nursing staff took Lily’s footprints & made us the most beautiful casting of her feet & hands. We were given a beautiful keepsake box with a few mementos to remember her by.

I cannot properly put into words the amount of compassion we were shown by all of the professionals who treated Lily & myself during the past day. It was a terribly sad situation & each one of the amazing people that came into contact with us at the hospitals & along the way treated us with the utmost kindness. The doctors are unsure of why I went into premature labor at this time; in all likelihood they said that situations like this typically are a result of an infection that we did not know about but a lot of the time the reason is unknown. Please continue to keep us close in prayer, we now embark on a new journey & pray that God continues to grant us the strength to get through what the future holds for us.

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Mother to Isobel Nixie
Due August 7th, 2001; lost to miscarriage at 9 weeks

Kansas City, KS
Two months shy of my nineteenth birthday, I missed a period. As a freshman at college with few close friends and no mode of transportation, I didn’t know what to do or who to turn to. The whole thing was stupid anyway. I was having manic and depressive mood swings coming off of Prozac. I was feeling rejected by a guy so I started fooling around with another guy who was nice and who missed his girlfriend back home. It was just a silly fling to get us over them. None of these are excuses, just factors. Like I said, it was stupid.

Regardless, here I found myself. I had to ask my roommate for a ride to the drugstore so I could buy a pregnancy test. I tried to hide it from her but I’m sure she knew, even though she never said anything about it. I spent what seemed like hours in the “community bathroom” of my dorm floor reading the test instructions, peeing on the stick, and subsequently freaking out – all very quietly, I might add.

After a long night of crying, I started making a plan. I decided not to tell the father. For one thing, neither of us had any intention for our fling to last past the semester. I didn’t really want to be with him, nor he with me. Plus, I didn’t want him to have any say in the pregnancy or the baby’s future. I guess I was selfish, but we were both 18 and neither of us were ready for parenthood.

I started looking at open adoption agencies. I even thought of giving my baby up to a gay or lesbian couple to raise. I knew that I couldn’t provide for a child as well as a family could. I also knew that although I support the right for a woman to choose, I personally could not get an abortion because the whole procedure terrified me. I was going to have the baby. The problem was how to hide the pregnancy from my family.

By the time Christmas break arrived, I was going crazy trying to figure everything out and keep it all a secret. I truly had no one I thought I could turn to with this kind of information. I was so scared and worried about how my parents would react if they found out. I really don’t remember how I acted those weeks at home, but I vividly remember one night.

I was crying in bed after everyone else had gone to sleep thinking about what I was going to do. I finally broke down and prayed to God and told him that I just couldn’t handle this. I said I was lost and I needed help. The next day, my stomach hurt just a little. A few days after that, I started bleeding.

At first, I thought it was nothing, but after a day I started to worry. I read about ectopic pregnancies where the fetus attaches itself outside of the uterus and as it grows it could kill the woman. That had me really worried so I finally broke down and decided to talk to someone. I chose my preacher’s wife because I knew she was very young when she had her first child. I was so afraid to tell her because it would be admitting that I had done something wrong. However, I really had no choice.

We talked for about 2 hours before I told her the reason for my visit. She didn’t criticize or lecture or anything. For that I was relieved. She called a few people she knew with medical backgrounds and asked their recommendations. They suggested a visit to the hospital and so we went.

Once in the ER, time seemed to stand still. We waited to be called. We waited for a nurse. We waited for a doctor. We waited for a sonogram. We waited for results. It could have been days for all I knew. I remember when they did the sonogram and how I really wanted to see my baby, but was too shy to ask. I wish I had. I think that would have made it feel like a real baby instead of just some medical problem. They kept asking me how far along I was and if I was sure. I knew then that something was wrong.

The whole thing was very impersonal. It felt like they were all shaming me for what I had done. No one spoke to me like I was an expectant mother. They talked to me like I was a stupid child who had gone and screwed everything up. No one tried to reassure me that it would be okay. They acted like I was inconveniencing them. No one really acknowledged that there was a life involved, including mine.

The results finally came back. I was supposed to be 9 weeks along, but the baby measured at 7 weeks. The baby was at least two weeks too small and had no detectable heartbeat. They ruled it a spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) and said to go home and just let it pass. If I kept bleeding for more than 2 weeks, I was to return for a D&C to clear everything out. Then we left.

That was it. It was over. Immediately, I felt better. I could breathe again. I could think again. I could smile again. Even the pain seemed to go away as soon as we left the hospital. I just had to tell my parents. I felt like I could now because it was over and there was nothing that they could do or say to make it worse.

I was nervous and I could barely get the words out through my tears but I told them the bare details: that I was pregnant, but the hospital said there was no heartbeat and that the pregnancy would end on its own. My mom cried. My dad only asked if there was anything that could be done to save the baby and I told him no.

As far as the physical end of the pregnancy goes, I continued bleeding and having cramps, but took some prescription medicine to ease the pain. It felt like a normal period. One day I passed what felt like a clump of something. I went to change my pad and there it was – my dead baby. It was just a round, gelatinous clump of bloody tissue about half the size of my fist. I wanted to look at it, but I was repulsed. I flushed it like a goldfish. I wasn’t ready to admit it was my baby.

After it was over, I was so thankful that I didn’t have to go through everything and could maintain a normal life. I went back to school as if nothing had happened. I did tell the father that I had been pregnant and miscarried. All he said was “good”. We didn’t really talk much after that. I decided that there was nothing more to the story and never thought I would really care. At the time, I was still so self-absorbed that it didn’t really occur to me that I was rejoicing at the death of a baby.

It was months before I really thought about it again. It was approaching the due date and I started to think of the baby that wasn’t anymore. At first it was more like research. I wanted to see how far along I’d be and what the baby would look like. Then I started looking for information on miscarriages and the causes. Turns out there’s not much. Most miscarriages have no known cause. Some pregnancies just end. I started worrying that whatever the cause, it might affect me in the future and maybe I’d never have children. I still think about that.

Most of the stuff I found on miscarriages had to do with couples trying to have a baby. Very little had anything to do with teenagers and I found nothing on the loss of an unwanted child. I guess they figure that if it’s unwanted, the only thing to feel is relief at the loss. And I did, but then I didn’t. It became a child – a child with my DNA.

I decided that I should honor my baby and not just forget. I began by choosing a name: Isobel Nixie. Isobel means consecrated to God and Nixie means spirit. In essence, I named her for her death, though I picked the name before looking up the meaning. I also decided to give her a permanent presence in the form of a tattoo. The tattoo is her initials (INW) placed on top of each other to form a square with lines in the middle. It’s located on the inside of my hip, the relative position of her entire life.

I did all kinds of internet research on pregnancy, miscarriage, child birth, child development and all sorts of related topics. It was then that I discovered that there wasn’t much for people like me. I hadn’t wanted a child. I didn’t plan the pregnancy. But I was still feeling things for this baby. I constantly thought about how old my girl would be and how my life would be different with her.

That was almost 10 years ago. I still wonder about what my daughter would be like now. I still wonder if I’ll be able to have kids, should I decide to. My biggest fear is that she was my only chance to be a parent, and I blew it by praying for her to go away. There’s nothing like thinking you killed your baby. I know I didn’t do anything physically, but I still wonder if I didn’t kill her by not loving her from the beginning.

I know my story is different from many of the others, but I feel like I need to put it out there for the other women who may end up in the same position I did. Just because it wasn’t planned and it took me longer to come to terms with it, doesn’t mean I didn’t love my baby and doesn’t mean I don’t miss her. It’s so nice to see that there is more support out there now than back then.
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