On April 30th 2005 my world took an unanticipated left turn… straight out of my comfort zone and into heights of joy and depths of pain I could never have imagined. On that day, I learned that despite all of the caution my fiancée and I had taken, we would be parents.

This news came as a shock and brought no small amount of panic to me. We were NOWHERE near ready to care for a child. I had only JUST secured stable employment after spending most of 2004 either unemployed, or temping for various agencies. We were looking at having to move as our room mate had skipped out on us, leaving us with a lease we couldn’t afford alone. My fiancée was still a full time student working 3rd shift, low paying security jobs so that he could continue to go to school. But probably the 2 biggest reasons I was so terrified were: 1) I knew my fiancée was not ready to be a father. He knew that abortion was not an option for me, and I feared that he would take off, leaving me homeless and pregnant. 2) I had NEVER wanted to be a mother. I feared that my own violent, abusive upbringing had left me ill prepared to be a parent. Above all else, I was terrified I would be a horrible mother to any innocent little one entrusted to me.

We turned our phones off for the remainder of the weekend to do some serious soul-searching. We decided to raise our child together, and scrapped the plans we had already put in motion for the more traditional wedding we had been planning. We wanted to be married before the baby came, and we were figuring my due date would be late December or early January. We selected a chapel, arranged for our wedding to be on the anniversary of when we became a couple, and called the families to let them know what was going on. When we made the choice to marry and raise our child, we knew our families would not be happy with the situation we were in. But we had decided that we were HAPPY to be welcoming our first child… and nobody else’s opinion on the topic mattered to us one little bit. We were young, idealistic, and in love with each other and our child… we had no clue it could all be taken from us in a heartbeat.

Since my cycles were always unpredictable, we weren’t sure how far along I really was. I was also having some spotting, so I was given an immediate ultrasound. We were thinking I would be about 6 weeks along… and we were SHOCKED to learn that I was closer to 9 weeks!!! The next week, I went back in for a pap and the other diagnostic tests. I was also given an early Glucose Tolerance Test, which I passed with flying colors. We had another ultra sound because I was still having some spotting, and the baby was perfect in every way. The only negative was that I was found to have a Urinary Tract Infection, and was given antibiotics for it.

Even though I was in good health, and the baby was doing well, the OB chose not to continue as my Dr. of record because I am a plus sized woman. He told me he wasn’t comfortable handling a woman my size. He only saw me the ONE time. He treated me like I was cattle. He lifted my right breast up during the breast exam and then just let it drop. I have extremely large breasts, and they are heavy… so needless to say it HURT. He also poked my belly like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. I didn’t make the “HeeHee” noise though. I was too busy trying to keep my fiancée from assaulting him. When he was getting ready to do my pap he poked my thigh and had a disgusted look on his face. I guess he only liked doing paps on women who didn’t have a bit of jiggle to their thigh… He actually had the nerve to tell me he couldn’t believe a woman my size got pregnant without medical intervention. He did not even want to see me to follow up on my UTI once I had completed the antibiotics. He transferred my records that very day to a Perinatalogist who would not be able to see me until 6 weeks later.

3 weeks later, I was 13 weeks and getting out of the dreaded 1st trimester. The spotting had stopped, and I felt fantastic. It was 3 weeks until my wedding and 3 weeks until my next Dr.’s appointment. I was secretly hoping we would be able to get an early gender shot of our little one as a wedding present for ourselves. We had FINALLY gotten out from under our outrageous lease, and we were moving to a much less expensive home. I was happy with our new home because I would be allowed to paint the baby’s room, and I wouldn’t have to go chasing up and down stairs all night long. My fiancée forbade me from doing any of the heavy lifting or bending, so I basically directed traffic all day long.

That night, I started bleeding. My fiancée rushed me to the hospital closest to our home, which happened to be the hospital my old OB was associated with. By the time we got called back, the bleeding had stopped… but they were unable to find a heartbeat on the Doppler. They tried reassuring me that since I was heavier set that it would be hard to find the baby’s heartbeat. But they wouldn’t do an ultrasound. They sent me home not knowing if my baby was alive or dead.

I couldn’t find anything since we hadn’t unpacked from our move, so I called the old OB’s office the next morning and explained the situation. I asked them to give me the Perinatalologist’s office number if they couldn’t see me. I was told they would call me back with it. I called back 4 more times before I FINALLY got the number. The Perinatalologist’s nurse told me she couldn’t help me because I wasn’t officially a patient of record. Fortunately a different Dr. from that office overheard the conversation and had her nurse call me in to fill a cancelled appointment on her books.

We saw our beautiful, active little baby… happily playing and squirming around. At one point, she stretched out her arm. We could see every little finger… it looked like she was waving at us. They saw a small dark spot that they said was probably a small subchorionic hemorrhage that was mending itself. They said as long as I didn’t have another episode of bleeding not to worry about it. I spent a few days on bed rest, and then happily resumed my life not knowing the worst was yet to come.

Two weeks had gone by since the scare. I hadn’t had a single spot of bleeding since the night my fiancée took me to the emergency room. We were happier than we had ever been. The baby’s nursery was painted, and the wall border was hung. We had bought the lamp that matched our Classic Pooh Bear theme, and I had found some adorable wall decals to stick up. I was faithfully updating my pregnancy journal and had started a photo album with the ultra sound pictures. We were starting to discuss names, and we were both sure we were having a boy.

On Father’s Day (6/19/2005) we headed over to my grandfather’s house for dinner. Every one had bought my fiancée Father-To-Be cards and New Daddy gag gifts. We spent a wonderful day honoring the special men in our family and ate my grandfather’s favorite, home made Chop Suey.

That evening, while we were lying on our bed watching TV, I began having contractions. I thought I must have over done it, and not had enough water, so I drank a big glass and took 2 Tylenol and lay back down on my left side. For about 10 minutes, the contractions quit, but then they started back up stronger.

I called the Peri’s answering service. They said not to go to the hospital unless the Dr. said to. 15 minutes later, I called back to ask why he hadn’t called and that the contractions were getting worse. 15 minutes after that, I called back to say that I was in agony, and heading to the hospital, to please PLEASE have the Dr. call my cell phone. He called about halfway to the hospital… his answering service had written my home # down wrong and cost me over 30 minutes that could have been used to get me to the hospital quicker… it may not have helped, but it may have.

The Dr. told me to tell the triage people I was his patient, and they would not make me sit in the waiting room. So I got put into a room in emergency right away, only to hear about 6 trauma codes called one right on top of the other. I sat in my nice, private room for several hours before anybody did a pelvic exam on me. The nurses kept stopping in to check on me, draw blood, and tell me it was more than likely Braxton-Hicks, not real contractions… because I wasn’t far enough along to have real contractions. I wasn’t bleeding or leaking amniotic fluid, so nobody but me and my fiancée thought anything was really wrong.

Because one of the traumas had been a really bad car wreck involving a pregnant woman, the ER OB specialist was busy trying to stop her labor. They couldn’t bring anybody down from L&D because it was crazy busy up there that night. So my fiancée and I sat. And we sat. And we sat some more. Finally about 2 am the OB specialist came in to do my pelvic. She was chattering and smiling and telling me not to worry, while she was getting her gloves on and getting things set up. She said it was more than likely Braxton-Hicks and if it didn’t stop they could give me drugs to make it stop. Then she started the exam and I watched the smile fade away. She looked up at me and said that I was laboring and that I was almost 2cm dilated.

She told me one of my Dr.’s associates was doing an emergency C section, but that as soon as he was done she would have him come down and check me himself. She told me to stay on my back, not to get up or even to sit up, and then she left. I was still in the stirrups and had nothing over my lower half except the giant paper towel. They hadn’t given me a gown; the Dr. just had me strip my lower half while she stood on the other side of the curtain. My fiancée dug through a cabinet and found me a blanket and put the foot of the bed up so that I didn’t have to stay in the stirrups with my paper towel like a side show attraction.

As time drug on I was getting desperate for a pee break. My fiancée finally tracked down a nurse’s aide to bring me a bed pan. The guy said he would be back for the pan in less than 3 minutes. After 5 minutes of trying not to tip the stupid thing which was still under me, my fiancée pulled it out, and set in on the floor of the hallway, to make a little statement, so to speak. It was still there 20 minutes later when he went to find me some water.

My Dr.’s partner finally came in at around 4 am. He gave me 3 options.

1) Cerclage and bed rest at home until 26 weeks

2) Hospital bed rest with no cerclage until 26 weeks

3) Induction

None of these were feasible options for me. I had only been at my job for 6 months and was not eligible for extended personal or maternity leave until after 12 months. I would have lost my job and insurance, and our household income was too much to qualify for Medicaid. #3 was not an option because it felt like agreeing to an abortion to me.

I wanted the cerclage, 2 weeks of bed rest, then the ability to go back to my desk job, but I was told that my Dr. would have to OK that. The other Dr. admitted me and I was to be taken to ante-natal until my Dr. started his shift at 10am. Everybody figured I could wait that long as the contractions had stopped, and I still wasn’t bleeding or leaking any amniotic fluid.

After I was settled in to my room it was about 5:30am. My fiancée had a final exam at 11am, so I sent him home to get some rest and go take his test. The nurses came in to check all my vitals YET AGAIN and question me about whether my fiancée had beaten me or not. I found that an incredibly cruel line of questioning for a woman in the hospital without ONE SINGLE MARK ON HER. I could’ve understood the need to ask had I been bruised anywhere, but C’mon!! The nurses put me with my head lower than the rest of me until my Dr. came to check me out. I had them turn off my lights so I could try to get some sleep while I waited.

At about 6:15am on 6/20/2005 I woke to a very intense, sudden pain in my abdomen and the sensation of liquid running out of me… and I knew it wasn’t urine. I hit the call button in a panic yelling that my water had broken and nurses came rushing in. They didn’t say anything just called for an IV cart and proceeded to run an IV on me. A Dr. came in to check me and told me that my water hadn’t broken, but that I was almost 5cm dilated, and there was nothing they could do to stop my labor at this point. They had me move onto a gurney so they could take me up to L&D, and I looked to see my bed was soaked in blood… I had had a placental abruption and there was no longer any chance to save my baby.

I was taken to L&D and put into a room. They hooked me to Pitocin to speed the process along, and started pumping me full of Nubain so that I wouldn’t be in too much pain from the Pit induced contractions. They brought the hospital chaplain and a nursing student to keep me company. I put in a long distance call to my sister, and she began the 2 hour drive to be with me. Then I waited for the end of my child’s life.

Around 8:30, the chaplain was called to the bedside of a man who had undergone heart surgery and was not going to survive, so it was just me and the student nurse. That lady spent almost 3 hours with me, talking and trying to comfort me, but for the life of me, I cannot remember her name…

At 9:00 am I was contracting pretty strongly about 2 minutes apart. My office had just opened, so I called them to let them know what was happening and that I would need a few days. I had no sooner hung up the phone, when I felt a HUGE pop inside of me and the sensation of fluid running out again. I had the student nurse call for the Dr. because I just couldn’t do it. I felt something trying to come out of me, and I knew it was the baby. I tried so hard to fight it, thinking that if I could just keep her safe inside of me she would live… but she was so small that the next contraction just brought her out. All of the Drs. and nurses had warned me she would not survive delivery, and that because her skin was still pretty transparent she would appear very reddish. They also said there was nothing they could medically do to try to help her, as her lungs would be far too immature at that stage of the pregnancy. We could see that her heart was still beating very slowly and erratically, then the Dr. cut her cord and in less than 60 seconds her heart stopped. She was just far too small for her lungs to even try to take in oxygen.

I delivered my 16 weeks 5 days gestational baby at 9:15am 6/20/2005. Weight: 2.8 ounces, Length: 6.25 inches.

The Dr. who cut the cord told me the baby was a boy. We had chosen the name of Alexander for a boy, but I just couldn’t use it. Instead, I chose to use a name I had always loved, but my fiancée wasn’t too wild about. I named “him” Royce Jamison, and I waited for my sister and for the chaplain to come back so that I could have my “son” baptized. I chose to have them go ahead and clean and dress the baby and take photos for me. I knew I wasn’t up to holding my child and saying goodbye until my sister was there with me. She and her boyfriend arrived several minutes after the nurses had taken the baby to clean and dress. She climbed up into the bed with me and we just sat, waiting for the chaplain to bring the baby back in. When the chaplain came back in with the baby, she told me that I would not be allowed to take my baby for services and burial as I was less than 20 weeks pregnant. She tried to delicately explain that the hospital would make arrangements after the pathology report was finished, but it was just one final blow to a shattered soul at that point… not even being able to give my baby a proper burial.

My sister’s boyfriend left the room as he didn’t want to intrude on the baptism and funeral service the chaplain offered to do for me right in my room. My sister stood as Godmother, and instead of Holy water, the chaplain caught tears off of my face to use to bless the baby’s head because she said God created nothing so pure as a Mother’s love for her child.

The chaplain was a total blessing to me throughout my ordeal. After the services, she took one of the Record of Birth certificates that the hospitals give out as mementos and did the baby’s foot prints for me. She did hospital bracelets, and a door card and everything they would have done for a living baby’s parents. She explained the baby’s portraits would be developed by a professional studio and sent to my home, which she said was a service donated to grieving parents by a local photographer. She even got the Dr. to give her the tape measure they had used to measure the baby. She put together a memory box for me. It had the small blanket, bear, cross, and the outfit the baby had been wearing, and all of the mementos. The only thing she didn’t think of, and neither did I, was to take a picture of me holding the baby… I grieve the lack of that picture to this day. I have several lovely pictures of the baby, but she is lying on a blanket in all of them… all alone.

Four days after our beautiful child passed on, my fiancée became my husband. I can honestly say I do not remember much about my wedding ceremony except thinking that no bride should be as sad as I was.

Four weeks after the baby died, I went in for my post partum check up. It was then that I was given the news that rocked my sanity. The child I had had baptized as a boy, dressed in blue, and every small memento I had of “his” life said BOY, was in actuality a GIRL. My son whom I was mourning so deeply was my daughter. I could not have her re-baptized. I could not get new pictures of her in pink clothing. I couldn’t even change the bracelets and certificates from the hospital because there was no way to replace them if they were damaged. I blamed myself for not knowing that my child was a girl and allowing everything to be made out gender specific instead of neutral. I renamed her Joyce Jamielynn, and tried to find forgiveness for something that I can now accept wasn’t my fault.

Between June and September of 2005, many things are hazy in my memory other than the constant mental torture I was going through… I was taking Ambien, and my increasing depression and talk of suicide prompted my husband and my best friend to sit me down and give me an ultimatum of going to therapy or having my husband commit me involuntarily. After I almost OD'd myself accidentally, I FINALLY agreed to go, so my husband and I sat down to outline what we wanted me to get out of therapy. One of the items that we both considered extremely important was no more medication. I wanted to be given encouragement and coping skills to get through this Hell on my own, not have my strength provided to me out of a bottle. Plus, I was afraid I would get used to relying on pills to “keep me even” and I would never be able to process and deal with my grief on my own.

My therapist was less than supportive of my viewpoint on medications, and of my desire to begin trying to conceive again in October. She pushed very heavily for me to begin a medicinal regime of anti-depressants and sleeping aids. When she told me I was “disconnected from reality” because I admitted I still cried daily barely 3 months after my daughter’s death, I stopped going. I didn’t answer her phone calls, and I refused to see the psychiatrist she wanted to refer me to. Something in me just wanted nothing to do with drugs or the people insisting I needed them to be “normal”.

Thankfully, I heeded my inner voice… because I discovered at the beginning of October that I was pregnant.

My pregnancy was 38 weeks of absolute mental Hell. Physically, everything was exactly what my Dr. wanted to see, but my demons rode me hard the entire time I carried my child. I kept thinking that once I got past 16 weeks I would ease up on the worrying… but then 16 weeks came and went with me STILL unable to relax and enjoy the miracle unfolding inside of me. After 16 weeks, I became fixated on “getting the baby through” to VIABILITY at 24 weeks. It became my talisman word for 2 months… “Hang in there a little bit longer baby, you’re almost to VIABILITY.” Once I was 24 weeks, I became fixated on 34 weeks because most babies born at 34 weeks live if they are otherwise healthy… 10 more weeks of obsession.

FIANLLY my child was born, and all my misguided notions of being able to STOP WORRYING went right out the window. Now I had to worry about SIDS, inept day care providers, Shaken Baby Syndrome, crazy people trying to steal my baby, SUDCS, diseases of all manner, and everything else that every mother worries about every day.

Then Jamielynn’s 1st birthday sprang out to smack me in the face. I fell apart. I had a beautiful, HEALTHY newborn, but I hurt so badly for my poor lost angel that I couldn’t breathe. I had to lay my daughter down, but I couldn’t make it out of her room. I fell to my knees sobbing for the child who I could not hold, all the while overflowing with love and THANKFULLNESS for the one sleeping before me.

After our child’s birth my husband and I were VERY reluctant to think of another child, but we were definitely NOT ready to take surgical steps to prevent another baby. So, I had the Mirena IUD inserted. I had 2 confirmed chemical pregnancies, and 1 more that was never confirmed via blood test in a 10 month period. I had it removed on 9/21/2007.

I was not given a pregnancy test by the Dr.’s office before the removal. I miscarried the baby I never knew I carried 3 days later on 9/24/2007. I had been having dreams of little boys, so I decided to name this little angel Aaron Jacob. It is all I can do to remember him.

I learned one thing about this process we call grief. Anybody who has ever TRULY experienced it will NEVER tell you that time will heal your wounds. I have learned over the past 3 years that time doesn’t HEAL wounds, it just softens the gaping edges of the hole in your heart. I still hurt today as much as I did on 6/20/2005, and sometimes I cry just as hard as I did that day. Now I have fresh jagged edges in my heart, and I am hoping that someday they will soften too…

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Comments:

kRiSt...
Jun. 4, 2008 at 11:18 PM guns i am totally speechless..saying sorry for your loss doesnt quite cover it..you are a great friend to me and you are a strong woman..but sometimes even the strongest women just need to let it out and put it in gods hands..so i just want to thank you for sharing your story with all that will read it..im sure it will touch their hearts as much as it did mine..luv Krista☺♥☺

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gusti...
Jun. 4, 2008 at 11:42 PM your story touched my heart  i am so sorry for your losses

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MyTri...
Jun. 9, 2008 at 10:46 AM I know I've read this before but I was bawling just the same now. (((HUGS)))

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Msval...
Jun. 10, 2008 at 4:02 PM I am sorry for your lost.I don't no what to say to you. So I will just ask God to heal your heart and send you peace

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maria...
Jun. 16, 2008 at 8:13 PM no matter how much I keep wiping, the tears keep coming....this is such a sad and beautiful story all at the same time...you suffered such a loss, but now have another beautiful baby....my heart hurts for you...there are just no other words....

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jbradsh0
Jun. 16, 2008 at 8:59 PM I read about you in CR.  I am so glad you are in that group. I cannot imagine what you are going through with your angel's birthday so close at hand.  I know that time doesn't heal all wounds.  I will pray for you.  God bless you and your husband, and your precious 2 year old.

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court...
Jun. 16, 2008 at 9:22 PM

I can't imagine how horrific it was for you and still is.  You will be in our prayers.

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tigre...
Aug. 2, 2008 at 12:21 AM

Hi - I just wanted to offer prayrs to you and your family.  I have two angels and two with me.  God has a plan for all of us and HE will not forget you or our family. 

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