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When there's nothing to celebrate

Posted by on Jul. 27, 2014 at 7:10 PM
  • 24 Replies
6 moms liked this

 I had to share as this is a Nurse's perspective of seeing a family have a loss.  I know when I had Isabelle the nurse caring for us had tears in her eyes and another nurse after her cried.  It was nice to know they cared for us and felt our pain too.

When There’s Nothing to Celebrate

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Recently, I left work so late my kids were already asleep by the time I got home. Part of me wanted to wake my daughter up, ask her about her day, and stay up late talking about all the things she had done throughout the day. I wanted to scoop up my sleeping son, smell his baby-ness and cover him with kisses. The other half of me was so exhausted, I was glad that my husband had put them to bed before I had gotten home. I fell into bed, asleep before my head even hit the pillow. I woke up the next morning before anyone else was awake, put on a clean pair of scrubs, and went back to work, rested and renewed, but determined to finish charting in time to be home at a normal hour.

It was busy that day. A few hours before shift-change, a young mother came in to be triaged because she hadn’t felt her baby move for almost twelve hours. All of our triage beds were full, so we had to put her in a labor room. When I couldn’t find her baby’s heartbeat, there were so many things I wanted to say to her, but couldn’t. It wasn’t the right time and I was only her nurse. But this is what I wish I could have told her:

  • It didn’t take me long to stop looking for your baby’s heartbeat. I knew then the next chain of events that were about to occur. I couldn’t tell you anything, even though I wanted to, because I have to wait for your doctor to break the news. I hope they’re not too far away, and that they’ll be able to get here quickly.
  • The moment I stopped trying to find the heartbeat, I know all of your suspicions were confirmed, even though neither of us said a word. Your husband did not know to be concerned yet, because he wasn’t the one that had stopped feeling the movement. I know you needed him, so I chose my words carefully: Because I could not find your baby’s heartbeat with the monitor, I’m going to get someone to do an ultrasound. I will also call your doctor. Do you understand what I’m saying? Your eyes were glossed over with tears, but you did not cry. Your husband put down his phone.
  • When I walked out of your room to call your doctor, I prayed the entire way to the nurse’s station that maybe I was wrong. When I got to the nurse’s station, every single nurse, unit secretary, and tech asked me if I had been able to find the heartbeat. When I told them no, the tone changed on the entire unit.
  • When I called your doctor to tell them, I heard their voice catch in their throat. They didn’t have to tell me; I knew they were going to drop everything and come straight to the hospital.
  • When I walked back into your room, your husband was holding you and crying. I told you that your doctor was on his way to see you. I was so thankful that your husband finally understood and was next to you, comforting you.
  • When the ultrasound confirmed everything we already knew, you cried silently and your family cried hysterically. It’s usually like that. You won’t cry hysterically until you deliver your baby and see her with your own eyes.
  • As a labor nurse, when we are going to deliver someone whose baby has died, we hope with everything we have that the baby hasn’t been dead for long. We want you to remember her as she was: perfect, only sleeping, silent, and still.
  • You will want to know a reason, but you probably won’t get one. If you do, it won’t make anything easier, but, like you, I still hope you get one.
  • Even if you came to the hospital the moment you stopped feeling her move, it would have been too late. So don’t blame yourself for anything you did or could have done.

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I did not cry in front of the patient. I hugged her and kissed her head, got her towels and helped her into the bath. Afterwards, I put extra pillows in her bed as I tried to prepare her for her induction. I didn’t feel there were any words I could say at that time. She probably won’t remember that I stroked her arm when the doctor verbalized her fears. She probably won’t remember me telling her husband to call her mother. She probably didn’t know that I went home and cried for her, while I was in my bath. And she probably doesn’t know that I’m still thinking about her and writing about this, months and months later.

As nurses, we make every situation the worst one: Oh, this was their first boy. Oh, they were finally having a girl. This was their first baby. This was supposed to be their last baby. Their daughter was finally going to be a big sister. Their son really wanted a brother…As a patient, you experience the delivery as a stillbirth. As a nurse, we experience the delivery as an IUFD, or intrauterine fetal demise. I have never personally had a stillbirth, but I’ve experienced an IUFD at practically every stage of pregnancy. It’s never easy when there’s nothing to celebrate, and your situation is always the worst one for us.

I stayed at work late that day, not wanting to leave the patient until her mother had gotten to the hospital. I knew the young couple would need their parents, I knew that woman would need her mom. When I got home, my house was quiet with sleeping kids. That night though, I scooped up my son and crawled into bed with my daughter and asked her to tell me all about her day. She talked endlessly about everything, until I finally fell asleep with her hair in my face and her knees in my back, thankful to be next to their two little warm bodies.

I hope that every mother out there who has ever been shattered by the silence of her baby’s unbeating heart knows that our hearts broke for you the day you came in to have the baby that you would not leave the hospital with. And every single time I watch someone leave the hospital empty-armed, I close my eyes and wish that if we meet again, we will all have something to celebrate.

by on Jul. 27, 2014 at 7:10 PM
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Replies (1-10):
LadyHawk_13
by on Jul. 27, 2014 at 8:33 PM
This is hitting way to close to home right now I went for my appointment to listen to the babies heartbeat for the first time 7/17/14 only to have the doctor tell me she couldn't find one I was by my last period 10 weeks 5 days. I found out on the 23rd that my baby had stopped growing at 6 weeks
sleepyfaeries4
by Member on Jul. 27, 2014 at 8:54 PM
A friend of mine posted this on Facebook today
ColleenF30
by New Member on Jul. 27, 2014 at 9:06 PM
2 moms liked this

To any nurse who has helped a mother with a stillbirth I wish to say thank you. As a mother of a stillborn I still remember names, and the expressionless faces that came into my room.

blessedmommie07
by Desiree-admin on Jul. 27, 2014 at 10:40 PM
*hugs* I'm sorry

Quoting LadyHawk_13: This is hitting way to close to home right now I went for my appointment to listen to the babies heartbeat for the first time 7/17/14 only to have the doctor tell me she couldn't find one I was by my last period 10 weeks 5 days. I found out on the 23rd that my baby had stopped growing at 6 weeks
blessedmommie07
by Desiree-admin on Jul. 27, 2014 at 10:41 PM
I found it on Facebook as well shared by Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep and Still Standing Magazine

Quoting sleepyfaeries4: A friend of mine posted this on Facebook today
.sp4rkl3z.
by on Jul. 27, 2014 at 10:46 PM
Saw this today on Facebook, same pages as you. I love it. I can't exactly relate but I have a new friend who DF connected me with who just had a full term stillborn a month ago. Sent it to her and she loved it too
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KarenM42
by Bronze Member on Jul. 27, 2014 at 10:53 PM
So sad, but beautiful somehow.
blessedmommie07
by Desiree-admin on Jul. 27, 2014 at 11:09 PM
It is beautifully written :)

Quoting .sp4rkl3z.: Saw this today on Facebook, same pages as you. I love it. I can't exactly relate but I have a new friend who DF connected me with who just had a full term stillborn a month ago. Sent it to her and she loved it too
blessedmommie07
by Desiree-admin on Jul. 27, 2014 at 11:09 PM
I agree.

Quoting KarenM42: So sad, but beautiful somehow.
lovebugs_mom906
by Lisa on Jul. 27, 2014 at 11:13 PM
2 moms liked this
Wow. This hits so close to home. I've heard stories of ladies and babies being treated awful, but all things considered, my experience was the opposite. I remember the first nurse I had putting her arm around me when I started to cry. They were starting the medication to get the induction going, and that's when it hit me why we were at hospital and what was happening. Each nurse that entered our room was kind, supportive and incredibly sensitive. They treated me, my husband and our baby with so much respect and reverence. I'm forever grateful they were the ones at the hospital that day.
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