Sunday, December 14, 2008

One month after the storm

All things considering, I'm doing good. Today at 9:40 am (the time he was born) I found myself reading yet another heartbreaking story of a mom losing her baby. All of the feelings I experienced that day resurfaced as I walked through her story remembering every detail of mine. Feeling as though I was hit by a train and had my life sucked out of me. Some days it still feels like a dream. Like I'll wake up and still be pregnant awaiting the birth of our son. That it was just a nightmare and not something *I* would ever have to experience because it's what other people experience. As much as I wanted to believe it only happens to other people, I knew that just wasn't the case and it can strike anyone. Reading countless stories over the years led me to believe it's not at all rare.

The morning I started to feel something was off I read a late term pregnancy loss story. I tried hard to stay away from any hint of late term pregnancy loss stories because that's the last thing any mother wants to think about. I felt I needed to read this mother's story and offer up any support that I could. It's always painful to read about a mother's heart being broken into pieces and dreams shattered. During the time that I was reading the story something just felt "off." Every other time I've felt off I was usually told that everything was fine and to remain positive. After reaching the "magic" week 13 all is supposed to be fine. At least that is how it usually goes. After getting to the next milestone of 24 weeks it gets even smoother. All of the worries I had in past pregnancies of not feeling a lot of movement and being reassured all was okay and everything turning out fine made me think it would be the case this time. But I just knew something was different. Shortly after I wiped the tears streaming down my face after reading this mother's story I ordered stuff for his birth. I was getting ready to order the birth kit and it dawned on me that I hadn't felt him move. For a second there I couldn't hold back the pessimism and told myself that I would be in the very same position. I just felt all doom and gloom. And I was right. My instincts were right. I went looking for his heart beat and couldn't get it. My doppler was dying so I figured that I couldn't pick anything up because it needed a new battery. I thought I picked something up after a few minutes. I want to believe I did. It read 136 and I found it low so I felt slightly reassured. That just didn't last.

I tried to put my worries behind me and keep busy, but after a while the worry wasn't shaking. I tried some more to find his heart beat and got frustrated with the dead battery in the doppler. I called Mark at work to see if he could pick up a 9v battery and he told me we had one. What a relief I thought that was. I didn't have to wait anxiously for him to come home with one. But now with a working battery I knew I couldn't just chalk it up to a dead battery making it harder to locate heart tones. The afternoon didn't bring anything promising and only revealed what I already knew. My baby was gone. I tried frantically to find his heart beat for two hours off and on. Mark came home saw me on the bed with a stark worried look on my face and new something was wrong. He could tell I had been trying a long time. All he asked was how long I had been trying. All I could say with tears in my eyes was, "Too long. Over an hour." I tried to remain calm and collected, but in the back of my head I knew he was gone. I tried to analyze the situation and take a pragmatic approach and I think much of that had to do with trying to shield myself or protect myself from the hurt and pain I knew would come flooding in once it really hit me, my baby was dead.

I kept thinking maybe I could wait until my next appt. with my midwife since it was the following day, but I knew I couldn't wait that long and I knew deep down inside she wasn't going to be able to reassure me. I had to call her and tell her my deepest fear. I knew I couldn't wait until the next day. I could tell she was trying to keep my spirits up but she knew as well as I did that heart tones at that point in pregnancy are not difficult to find. It never took me longer than 30 seconds to find his or the girls' heart beat.

So instead of waiting 'til the next day she came by. It seemed like the longest 90 minutes of my life. Waiting just to hear the bad news from someone else. She commented on how huge my belly was. I tried to hide my pain and worry and laughed about my ginormous belly. I put on a smile and tried to make jokes and lighten the mood. The whole 30 minutes she tried I didn't let my hurt show. I wasn't sure when it would all come out or when it would really, really hit me. I was guarded. I didn't want to believe it was happening to me. The whole drive to the hospital felt like it took forever. I tried to keep the conversation lively and asked about her births and we talked about the kids. Even though we had much of the same conversations before I needed something to talk about to take my mind off of what was coming next. It was all so short lived. I kept thinking in the back of my head that I *can't* be going to the hospital. That was NOT the plan. I did not want to step foot on the labor and delivery floor. I told myself that in this situation that was the place I needed to be.

I already knew what I was going to be told when the CNM put the huge globs of ultrasound gel and the transducer on my belly. It's not like I didn't already know. Seeing no movement on the screen just cemented everything I knew and was feeling. The OB coming in to confirm he was gone really didn't hit me. I already knew. I knew when I put my doppler to my belly in the afternoon and couldn't find anything. I kept thinking that it couldn't be real. This couldn't be my situation. I was supposed to have my beautiful baby boy at home welcomed by my arms. He was supposed to be born in a serene and peaceful environment surrounded by his loved ones. I was supposed to hold his warm body tightly against my bare chest and be overcome with joy and love. This was not the experience we had been planning throughout my entire pregnancy. I couldn't fathom having to prepare myself to deliver a dead baby. I wasn't going to hear or see the crying pink baby, instead mine was going to be lifeless. Instead of being greeted with happy faces and nurses everyone was sad. No one knew what to say. Just sadness. Even with all of the sadness I told myself that if all I was going to have is almost 35 weeks with him, then it's a good thing I cherished those weeks and took in every moment we got to spend with him after his birth.

I've learned a lot about myself this past month. This experience has shaped everything about me and the impermanence of this life and how it needs to be cherished. It has taught me so much.

I long to have my arms full. I want something to look forward to. I want to experience the joy of welcoming a new baby into our life. I have so much love to give and I want to share it with a new little person. To go through a pregnancy and childbirth only to have empty arms hurts so much. The idea that I have a "history" and will have to go through two pregnancies just to get one baby is hard to take in sometimes. Having to tell people that I have three children but I get the privilege of raising two just seems so... not right. I'm miss him so very much. I have learned to adapt to my new world and draw strength from myself and loved ones. I do my best to keep my spirits up and stay optimistic. I knew he will always live on in our hearts and will forever be loved and cherished.


Inanna said...

I kept thinking... if I'd had a doppler, maybe I would have been able to catch something earlier? Hard to hear your story, knowing you had one, and still... couldn't do anything :( I'm so sorry, mama.

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