birth story published on the return to zero blog

I think it is so great that this movie is being made, and I hope everyone sees it!

My pregnancy was pretty good overall–I didn’t really get sick or anything. I had smoked for about 15 years or so, but I quit as soon as I found out I was expecting. I did everything right: I quit talking ibuprofen and switched to Tylenol. I never ate any of the foods that could be dangerous. I always wore my seat belt. I took my prenatal vitamins religiously.

At first I really wanted a boy, and at the 5 month ultrasound we found out we were having a girl. I feel so bad about this, but I was so disappointed. Eventually I came around though, and I started to get really excited. Decorating her room was so fun; I started to think of her as my little princess, I was even gonna call her Princess Grace.

My baby shower was great, and I got a lot of cute clothes for her, lots of pink things. We took a two-day birthing class and a breastfeeding class. My last trimester was difficult; I gained the most weight. I developed carpal tunnel. I had a really hard time sleeping. I was very uncomfortable.

We did an u/s at 27 weeks and she was breech but we thought nothing of it. But getting into the last trimester in December we did another u/s at 37 weeks and she was still breech, so my dr. scheduled a c-section for December 18th (my due date was Dec 22). About a week or two later we did another u/s and surprise! she had turned around. So we decided I would go into labor on my own.

Between December 21 and December 27, I was in the triage 3 times. I was in pain. I thought I was in labor. My Dr. had prescribed Vicodin for the carpal tunnel but it was gone, and they would not give me anymore. I was dehydrated so they gave me an IV and sent me home.

I was dilated to 1 cm, they told me to expect some bleeding. I was in the early stages of labor. Grace was doing well, her heartbeat was good and everything. They basically said don’t come back unless the contractions get closer together, or you soak more than one pad per hour. I had a non stress test and a bio physical on the 26th, and again they said baby looked good. I was scheduled to be induced Jan 1st.

So when I started bleeding on the 28th, around 4pm, I didn’t think much of it. I told my husband Jim and he said if we go in there they will just send us home again, let’s wait a bit and see what happens. The night before I had been up all night, with painful contractions, and every time I contracted I had to sit on the toilet because I would have to pee and have a bowel movement simultaneously. Looking back that must’ve been when my water broke. I got zero sleep that night; every time I got close, another contraction would start.

So after the bleeding began, I decided to take an ambien (prescribed by my Dr.) and get some sleep because the contractions had seemed to let up. I did sleep off and on for about 7 hours. The next day I was still bleeding and I realized I hadn’t felt Grace move since the morning before and I got really scared. So we went back to the hospital, I was crying the whole way because I knew something was VERY WRONG .

I knew. I knew she was gone.

It had been my worst fear during my whole pregnancy and it was coming true.

We got there and two doctors did an u/s right away, they were shaking their heads and whispering to each other. They searched all over my belly and finally said the words I was dreading “I’m so sorry but we can’t find a heartbeat”.

So they took me to a better sonogram machine and did another u/s with the same results. They asked me what my birth plan was. I had intended to get an epidural. They admitted me to a birthing room and started an IV, pitocin, and an epidural. My stomach was pretty empty when I arrived and they don’t let you eat much when you’re in labor, and I couldn’t get out of bed either so it really sucked.

It took 24 hours for me to finally be ready to deliver Grace. My inlaws were there and they came in, my mother in law Mary held my hand and cried with me.

God it was so awful, sitting there knowing she was dead, knowing I had to give birth to her, knowing I would not take her home. Ever. Knowing we would go home to an empty bassinet, to an empty nursery I decorated just for my little princess.

I called my sister and told her. I called my mom as well, and she cried so hard, she wanted to come but I said no, don’t come. (They live 100 miles away.) I said come see me when I’m home. I had my inlaws there and that was enough for me.

I did not sleep that night, but I also didn’t feel any pain which was so nice. I just drank lots of fluids and snacked a bit. My good friend Fritz texted with me all night. I think my sister Cecily did too. It was nice to know they were thinking of me.

When they told me I was finally dilated enough, I hesitated. I was afraid but I didn’t know why. I put it off for an hour to get more meds; I knew it would be painful and I have a very low pain tolerance.

I pushed and pushed with each contraction for 3 hours, and it seemed to be going nowhere. To make matters worse the epidural wore off, and god it hurt so bad. I was screaming and crying. It was very traumatic. I know at one point I was swearing at them I was in so much pain. They gave me more meds but I could still feel it.

At this point the doctor said she was worried about how long it was taking and that we had a few options to help me along. We could use forceps combined with pushing, which could cause me to tear and could also injure the baby, or we could do a c-section which was risky. The risks included infection and even death because Grace had passed.

Jim said do not do the c-section unless you have no other choice. So we tried the forceps, I pushed while they pulled, and still we weren’t getting anywhere. They decided to put me under, and said they would try their best to avoid the c-section. They took me to an operating room, and left Jim alone in the birthing room, worried sick about whether I would live or die. He paced the room, waiting, amidst my blood that was everywhere.

It took them two hours, with two cuts to my perineum, and multiple doctors taking turns to get her out. They had to rotate her shoulders and even break her arm. She was big; 9lbs. 6oz., and apparently my birth canal and vagina are rather narrow.

They asked Jim if he wanted to see her, and he did. Her face was skinned in several places from the forceps, so she had wounds. But he said she was very beautiful. He held her and cried so loud and hard. The nurses came in to see if he was okay. They wanted to give Grace to me right away but Jim said no, I don’t think it’s a good idea. So they took her away as I was being wheeled in.

I awoke to Jim right by my side. They asked if I wanted to see her, but I was afraid of what she looked like and how I might feel. Jim told me he didn’t think I should, and so I decided to get some sleep. They said I could see her in the morning if I wanted.

After breakfast the next day, I decided I did want to see my daughter. I knew if I didn’t I would regret it for the rest of my life. I had to see her face, had to see what she looked like. I had the nurse put her on the table next to me; I was afraid I would drop her if I picked her up. I was very weak, and she was heavy, plus I didn’t want to see her broken arm. I held her little hand, her skin was so so cold, and I cried. I told her how much I loved her and how sorry I was that I lost her. Her wounds were scabbed up and she was swollen; Jim said she looked very different from the night before.

She looked like Jim a lot, but she had my hands. My inlaws came and spent some time with her too. We had the chaplain come and bless her. Jim left with his family to get some lunch, so I decided to take some pictures and say goodbye. If I didn’t do it then I was never going to. I kissed my Grace and told her I loved her.

We decided to do an autopsy, and have her cremated. Her ashes are in a beautiful heart shaped urn I keep on a shelf in our living room next to the memento box the hospital put together. It has a lock of her hair, a blanket, a hat, her hospital bands, her certificate of life, and her footprints. They made clay molds of her hands and feet. I’ve been sleeping with the blanket  for a week or two now, it helps me feel close to her.

We had a memorial at my inlaws a week after her birth. It was nice; my family came as well as some of my friends. My sister in law Laura put together a wonderful scrapbook, and she framed some of the photos too. Some of the guests even wrote notes to us, and we put them in the scrapbook. We got a ton of sympathy cards in the mail as well.

I met with my doctor last week and the autopsy results are still pending but she was able to tell me a few things. They think it was a placental abruption, they found an old clot in the cord. My water broke and I didn’t know it, so there was an infection. Also Grace had moved her bowels. I feel some relief now, I have to admit I’d been blaming myself for her death, thinking it was something I did or didn’t do.

It’s been a little over 4 weeks now, and some days are better than others. I left her room the way it was. I am not sure what I will do with it, if anything. On the good days I feel okay, and I don’t cry much. But on the bad days, I cry so hard, and I feel like the pain could kill me. Sometimes I talk to her. I have always kept a journal, and writing helps. I started another journal, in which I write letters to her. Jim and I talk about her all the time, and we found out we both fantasize about going back and saving her. I find myself wondering if only we had had the c-section on the 18th, would she be here now?

I would give anything to have my Grace, but I know she is gone. We know that no one can take her place, but we are anxious to try for a rainbow baby as soon as we can.

Unfortunately, I still have carpal tunnel, so I’m hoping to have the surgery soon. My doctor is going to test my blood for clotting disorders.

I never in a million years thought this would happen to me. In the beginning everyone kept telling me how strong I am, and while that is a compliment, I just remember thinking, “what choice do I have?”

Hopefully this film will help shed some light on pregnancy loss. Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you all.

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