Monday, February 11, 2013

Our baby's death and the journey through the aftermath

It has been a week and I think now is a good time to get my story out.  I think I should start at the beginning...

Sam and I thought we were done for a while (as in several years) or completely with having babies.  My body needed a break and I was starting to enjoy the kids and going places with them and seeing them interact with each other.  Brea stopped nursing right around the year mark and she was now not needing as much marked attention from me.  She's been getting right in the middle of everything with her brothers and sister and its been great!  I was looking forward to the holidays and all the plans I had made.  It was going to be great!

Before I knew I was pregnant, I thought my extreme energy drain was due to getting ready to visit family over Thanksgiving and then the aftermath.  I just thought I was a little worn out.  So, I had already started resting more and keeping up with my eating so I could rebuild my energy levels.  After two weeks of feeling that way, I knew something else was going on.  A pregnancy test confirmed my concern.  I cried.

In all honesty, I was pretty put out with God.  I had felt like there was some sort of an understanding that He would give us a much longer reprieve this time and well, He had messed up my plans.  I also thought He was positioning us in our life for specific ministering purposes and being pregnant just made everything come to a stand still.  So, I didn't understand the purpose of any of that, either.  I was very frustrated.  I also didn't want to have to go through another pregnancy.  I have a hard time with different circumstances throughout my pregnancies and quite frankly didn't want to have to go through another labor and delivery.  Because it hurts! :)  I was really looking forward to a long, long break and that just didn't happen.

Sam wasn't thrilled at first, either, but he had a perspective change nearly right away.  He had to then deal with my yucky attitude.  Ew.  I think its important for me to say that the baby was never an issue for me.  I love our kids and was perfectly fine adding another one to our bunch.  I don't know exactly how I do this, but I see the pregnancy as separate from the baby.  I didn't want to have to deal with the sickness and the fact that Sam has to pick up my slack and do pretty much everything around the house and with the kids as well as go to work.  I really hate that part of it the most. :-/  I didn't want have to go through another time of not being able to go and do fun stuff with my family because I just didn't have the energy for it or physically it just wasn't feasible.  Again, I never had animosity towards the actual baby, even though I know the one isn't viable without the other. ;)

After about a week, we had our routine down and I was resigned to having to go through this pregnancy process once more.  I was able to keep the nausea at bay by chomping on sweet tarts and sour jolly ranchers, staying in bed for long periods of time and staying on top of my meals.  I was also already in the habit of going to bed waaay earlier than I normally do.  That kept me from going into the crazy spiral of anxiety, throwing up and then not being able to eat anything and not getting enough sleep.  I only threw up once and it was totally my own doing...involving my mouth guard, peroxide and not rinsing the mouth guard before I stuck it in my mouth.  yeah.

I had a midwife appointment with my fantastic midwife.  I thought I was not as far along as I apparently was due to being able to hear the heartbeat very well and right away, meaning between 10-12 weeks.  Since I wasn't going to do a sonogram until late pregnancy, it would be more apparent how far along I was at my next visit.  The uterus should be at a certain place and I should be feeling the baby move and kick.

About a week or so later, I was feeling some thumping.  Slight mostly, but some solid ones, too.  It just seemed to confirm that I was indeed farther along than I had guestimated.

So, on my next visit, sure enough, my uterus was at the 16 week mark.  She tried and tried to find the heartbeat, but she just couldn't.  I was still dealing with nausea for parts of the day and I was still feeling the thumping, so I wasn't concerned.  Also, its not uncommon for the baby to not cooperate in hearing the heartbeat.  I toyed around with scheduling a sonogram just to see what was going on and to make sure everything was okay.  I did have slight spotting on occasion from the beginning and it would clear up and then come back if I overdid it.  I thought I might have a placenta previa and the blood was from that.  I had had that with Braden.  It was slight, but it had formed a clot over my cervix and would leak out more than normal amounts of blood.  I still didn't think it was something to be concerned about and that it would clear up on its own if that was what was going on.

Fast forward a couple of weeks.  I was supposed to be 18 weeks and 2 days.  That was two Fridays ago.  The bleeding had been more consistent that week, but had tapered off again.  I had rearranged our school room that morning and knew I had overdone it, so I put myself on bed rest for the rest of the day to recuperate.  I was still feeling the thumping, but to be honest,  I had started to notice some anomalies.  First, my boobs had been starting their ascent into uncomfortable sizing like they alway do during pregnancy, but they seemed to kind of stop or plateau.  I thought that was odd, but thought it might just be my imagination.  Also, the thumping I was feeling was mostly in one area.  I did feel it in other places around my abdominal area, but very infrequently.  It was mostly on my lower right hand side.  Again, didn't cause much concern, just made me a little suspicious.

That Friday night, I stayed up just a bit longer than usual and noticed that the bleeding had increased and I had passed a few small clots.  I was concerned enough to call the labor and delivery department at the nearest hospital to talk it over with a nurse.  She said I would have to go to the emergency department because I wasn't 20 weeks yet, if I did decide to come in.  She could tell that I was wondering what the cause was, but that I wasn't overly concerned because I could still feel movement and I thought a previa was the culprit.  Plus, I hadn't had any cramping at all.   I decided not to go to the emergency room and to just rest more the next day and see if it would clear up on its own.  I went to bed and had a good night sleep.

The next morning I woke up and the bleeding had increased quite a bit and it was bright red.  I told Sam that I wanted to go ahead and go.  He would stay home with the kiddos and I would drive myself.  Right before I left the house, I passed a huge clot and it scared the mess out of me!  I ran out of the house.  I still hadn't decided which hospital to go to.  I could go to the Scott and White hospital in Temple which would be a good 30 minutes away or I could go to Metroplex which would be 15 mins away.  I was concerned with Metroplex because their facilities had been very antiquated until they partnered with Scott and White.  I didn't know what the status of their emergency room was because I hadn't been there in a while.  I decided to go ahead to Metroplex because it was closer and if Sam ended up having to come to the hospital, it would just be easier access.

On the way to the hospital, I just kept praying, "Please, not the baby, Lord, not the baby!"  In one moment, all that irritation and frustration had melted away and I would deal with anything just to have that sweet little baby be just fine.

I got to the emergency room and was still bleeding very heavily.  I had started to feel a little odd.  My energy was lessening and I had this strange sense of not being okay.  They were very efficient and I didn't have to wait at all.  They got me straight in.  They put me in an exam room and the nurse was very understanding and caring.  She was quite a character. :)  She also tried to find the heartbeat, but couldn't quite get it.  It did sound as though she had found it a couple of times but it was a faint sound and lasted only a second.  I had to wait for a while to get an ultrasound.  I was still bleeding, but I wasn't filling up a whole pad in an hour, so I was still hoping that it was all going to be okay.

I was brought in to have the ultrasound done.  A full normal one as well as a vaginal one had been ordered.  The tech said that it would take about 30 minutes to do the regular one and then if she needed to do the vaginal one it would take a bit longer for that one.  She took several measurements and I asked if she could see the baby and she said not really.  It took less than ten minutes for her to complete her process and then she looked at me and told me she had nothing to show me.  My heart sank.  She said it wouldn't take very long for her to put in her report for the doctor.  I was wheeled back to the exam room.  When I was left alone, I broke down.  I knew then that my baby was dead.

I called Sam and managed to give him the news between sobs.  He was heartbroken and so frustrated that he couldn't come up to the hospital right then.  He started calling around to see if anyone could come over to watch the kids so he could come and be with me.  Our sweet friend Eileen and her daughter dropped what they were doing and started over.  They were a good 30+ minutes away, though, so it would be a bit.

The pace picked up quite a bit after that.  I was put on a saline drip and the doctor came in and told me that the baby measured at 12 weeks according to the ultrasound.  He started citing statistics.  I know he was trying to help and handle a hard situation the only way he was trained, but I was wishing at that moment that he would just go into silent mode and get it all over with. (If you are reading this and you are a doctor or a nurse, please don't quote statistics at someone who is dealing with a miscarriage unless they ask you for them.  It doesn't help and only makes it worse.)

I was really hoping that Sam could be there with me during it all, but he couldn't come until someone traded places with him at the house. The doctor started the procedure.  He broke the little bag of water.  He was hopeful that he would be able to deliver the baby's body and the placenta there, so I might be able to avoid a D and C.  Again, no cramping at all through any of this.  When the nurse came in before the doctor to tell me the baby was indeed dead, I said, "Then what was I feeling?!"  She said it was most likely my uterus twingeing in preparation for the miscarriage.

They weren't saying much so I asked how long it would take for the baby's body to come out and he said it already was out.  I asked to see the body and they were rather reluctant, but I was insistent.  The baby fit into a little plastic specimen cup.  I could see the legs, but the rest of the body was covered with part of the placenta.  I asked if they could tell if the baby was a boy or girl and the doctor said that the baby was too young for him to tell.  I asked what they did with the body and whether I could take the baby's body home with me.  He said they had to send the body to the lab.  I told him I didn't want them to just throw the body away and that I wanted to make funeral arrangements.  They put specific instructions for the lab to call me to handle all of that after Monday.  I really hated the thought of my baby's little bitty body being kept in a lab in the hospital in an indifferent place in a specimen cup where his existence as a baby that had lived for a time isn't valued.  It really tore my heart up.

He had gotten most of the placenta out, but he couldn't get a piece of it out.  I was bleeding a lot by this time and they went ahead and scheduled me for a D and C.  I was having to wait a while for the procedure because it was the weekend and the O.R. team had to be called in.  I was in the exam room still and the nurse had come in to check on me and prep some equipment to put in a second iv just in case as I was getting off the phone with my mom.  She left the room and two seconds later, I felt like my body was on fire and then the edges of my vision started getting dark and and closing in.  I had the thought that I didn't want to die and go out like this and I pressed the call button with the little strength I had left and when the nurse answered, I tried to talk but I couldn't and so I managed to say help twice.  The nurses came in, took one look at me and went into emergency mode.  I had lost a LOT of blood, apparently. They tilted the bed way back to where I felt like I was upside down and then they moved me to what I assume is an emergency operating room or prep room.  It was larger with lots of lights.

 In the midst of all of that, I started shaking uncontrollably because I was freezing!  Once they had made the decision to schedule me for a D and C, I wasn't allowed to drink or eat anything, so it had been a while since I had had any water.  I kept saying I was really thirsty.  Another nurse came in and asked if I knew where I was and told me I had lost more than half of my blood volume and that they were going to give me a transfusion. (a first, never had a transfusion before)  I hadn't been able to keep my eyes open, but I hadn't conked out all the way either and could hear what was going on.  I looked to my right and recognized my friend's sister-in-law as one of my nurses.  That was comforting in all the chaos.  The nurse who had seen me since my arrival refused to leave me and so she was there all the way until I went to the O.R.!

Also, about that time, my doctor who would do the D and C procedure came in and I recognized him, too!  He was my OBGYN when I was pregnant with Zekey.  That, too, was comforting in a way because I was familiar with him.  I was hooked up to all kinds of sensors and had tubes and wires coming out of everywhere.

Sometime during all of this, our friends Jason and Lucy came in.  They had been in Round Rock on a weekend date and left right away when Sam texted them.  They asked if he wanted them to come to the house or to come to the hospital.  Since Eileen was on her way, he told them to come to me so that I wouldn't be alone.  It was such a blessing to have them there with me.

I was given another bag of saline and the blood and I did feel better after that.  I was still so, so thirsty mouth was really dry.  I asked if I could have an ice chip to swish around in my mouth and that was permitted.  I was also still freezing!  I had 3 blankets on me, but I couldn't stop shaking....oh, I was so cold!

I can't remember exactly when, but I was also given a urinary catheter.  I'd had one before, but ugh... The putting it in was uncomfortable, but I was really not looking forward to the taking it out and having to pee on my own after that....OUCH!

The doctor attempted to make another try at getting the rest of the placenta to come out, but he wasn't able to get to it.  It was a very painful process.  That part hurt the most out of everything.  So, the D and C went ahead as planned.  I had to wait in the pre-op area for quite a while, but I was glad because our friend James drove Sam to the hospital and he came in and was able to be there with me for a bit before I was moved to O.R.  I was so relieved he was there and we were able to cry together and grieve a little bit.

I cried off and on as the realization began to set in that the baby was no longer inside me and was, in fact no longer alive.  I wasn't able to really grieve very much because of all the activity and craziness.

The anesthesia nurse came in to go over the possibilities for anesthesia for the procedure.  I told him I really didn't want an epidural due to my really bad experience with the one I had with delivering Braden.  He said they would most likely do one of two kinds.  One would be a sedation where I would likely not be responsive, but would be able to hear what was going on around me.  The other would be the general and I would be out completely.  I was concerned.  I had never had either.  I had always hoped I would avoid being put under because when I was much younger I watched an episode of 60 minutes or some show like that that showcased people who had been put under and woke up mid-operation and could feel everything but couldn't let anyone know that they were awake!  I felt like I might be one of those. ;)

Sam wasn't able to be with me in O.R. so the staff was really thoughtful and really good with communicating every step of the way.  They took Sam and our friends to the waiting room outside of the O.R. Recovery rooms to wait for me to come out.  I was wheeled to the O.R. and there was a bit of a funny situation.  The anesthesia nurse asked if I was okay with them cutting off my bra if the need arose.  I had been able to keep that and my shirt on the whole time.  I asked him if I could just go ahead and take it off before they got started because it is a favorite. :)  He said that was no problem and he totally understood because he had 4 daughters and he knew the price of those things!  Haha!  They had unhooked me from all the emergency area equipment so I was able to do that somewhat quickly.  It was interesting how each department has their own equipment and they change it all out...except the i.v. catheter.

After the bra had been taken care of, they hooked me up to all of their equipment and because I was still shaking uncontrollably from being so cold, they put the plastic sheet thing over my body and started blowing warm air under it.  I finally started getting warm and the shaking stopped.  That was another blessing!  I was given a second bag of blood and more saline.  I was watching them all busy prepping me when I started feeling light-headed again and dopey.  I thought I was heading into the blood loss fainting thing again, so I asked if I should be feeling that way and the anesthesiologist told me he had given me a little something to relax...sneaky!  Then, they put that face mask over my mouth and nose and told me to breath deeply.  I remember breathing twice and then nothing.

The next thing I remember is being woken up from a dream I can't recall.  I could hear them telling me to wake up and I was responding with a weird groaning sound.   They were wheeling me to the recovery area.  I was finally able to form words and I told the anesthesiologist that he could have left me under longer. :)  It was rather refreshing, in all honestly.

I'm not sure how long I was actually under, but the doctor came in right after I was set up in recovery and told me that the procedure only took about twenty minutes.  He said that as soon as he had prepped me, the piece of placenta came out on its own and he didn't have to do much else.  I have wondered a few times if it would have been fine to skip the whole D and C anyway and if it was like how the doctors have a tendency to be in a hurry to get the placenta out after you deliver full term and don't let it come out in its own time...

I don't know how long I was in recovery, but I was so stinkin' thirsty by then.  The nurse was so gracious and got me lots of ice chips and fed them to me.  I was VERY grateful.  I was wheeled to a different department and room where I stayed until I was discharged. Sam had to go back home for a couple of hours to relieve Eileen and wait for Juan and Donna to get there.  He had texted them and they packed and got on their way from San Antonio to stay with the kids overnight so that Sam could stay at the hospital with me.  Seriously, the family of friends we have is beyond amazing.  God has truly, truly blessed us in so many ways and one of the most astounding blessings is the group of people he has put into our lives and made into our family.  Without them, I would have gone through all of that physically alone!

I had two really great nurses taking care of me during the rest of my stay.  After I had been in that room for a couple of hours, I started asking when I could eat something.  I was put on a liquid diet, so I got some pudding to start before a tray was brought in with pureed chicken noodle soup and various drinks and more pudding and jello.  That was interesting, but the soup more than did the trick and I was good til morning.  Sam and I both got very little sleep.  I had to have my vitals and bleeding checked every two hours and had to be given a pill to help my uterus contract down to size every six hours.  I had also been given another bag of saline with pitocin in it.  I was also able to get the second I.V. that they had put in my right hand out.  It was a very sore spot and I was glad to be rid of it.  The catheter also came out and the dreaded burning the first few times of going to the bathroom began. :(  I was also supposed to get a final blood count done at 3 or 4 in the morning...

This was a hard time for me.  I cried a bunch.  I was going through all of the aftermath of giving birth to a baby without the baby.  My womb was empty and so were my arms and the emptiness in my heart was now very obvious.  Even though I knew I was going to be woken up plenty, I had a difficult time getting to sleep.  I cried for quite a while before I fell asleep and the constant waking took place.  I did get some sleep between checks, but when 6 am came around and I had to take the last of the pills, I couldn't go back to sleep and the crying started up again.

Sam and I were both eager to get back home.  The doctor came in and said my platelet count was high enough though my iron was on the low end of normal and I would have to eat lots of iron rich foods to get it back to where it needs to be.  I was given instructions to have complete rest for at least two days and increase my activity level as I felt I was able.  I have to have complete pelvic rest for 4 weeks at which time I have a follow up appointment and ideally no pregnancies for 4 - 6 months.

I was discharged by about 10:30 that morning.  Coming home was both relieving and sorrowful.  Again, I was faced with the reality that I had no baby to bring home with me.  Sam and Juan and Donna kept the kids pretty occupied so that I could rest.  Sam's mom came about lunch time and stayed until Friday.  The first couple of days were hard.  I hadn't had any pain whatsoever aside from the time trying to get the placenta out, but on the third day I was extremely sore and super sad.  I am so grateful that Sam's mom came and stayed as long as she did.  We also had two separate groups of friends bringing us meals.  I can't even express what a HUGE blessing that has been for us! We are so blessed and so grateful!

Sam took Monday off and I was so, so glad.  I really needed him to be home with me.  He did go back to work Tuesday and had a hard time because of the misguided comments that were made.  We know God has a plan and that our sweet baby is with Him for a reason and that compared to this world, he is in an astoundingly better place and that as much as we love our sweet baby, God's love is so much more abundant for him and we are eagerly awaiting the day when we get to meet him and get to know him.  But...let me express that what we have really appreciated, in the midst of the sadness and hurt, are the people who have just expressed their sorrow for our loss and given us a hug and either let us be or just hang with us and let things be what they are.  He is doing so much better now, though, and his grieving has produced a greater appreciation for the kiddos we have with us now and a deeper love for them.  He has expressed a sadness for the little hand that won't be held in his and not having the relationship and experiences he has been blessed to have with our other kiddos.  I think that will come up for the rest of our lives...

The director of the lab called me on Tuesday to discuss what needed to happen next.  I was so very impressed with the way he handled the call.  First, he always referred to the baby as "your baby" and not a specimen or fetus.  He was also able to tell us that we had had a boy.  I was really relieved to know because I was having a hard time figuring out a name.  We had had a sense that we were going to have a boy. : ) We have named him Moses and his possible middle name is Caleb.  He gave me all the info I needed to contact a funeral home and then gave me his cell number.  He said he wanted to be available to talk to me directly when I had made the arrangements.  That impressed me so much and was just one more blessing in the midst of the sadness.  He could have been quite another way and I'm so glad he wasn't.

I was really grateful for Sam's mom being there for support and information.  The first place I contacted for the purpose of having our little one's body cremated quoted me almost $750.00!  I thought that was a lot, but he explained that because the process was the same as an adult body, the cost was the same.  Sam's mom encouraged me to contact other funeral homes to see if that was consistent.  I called a second one and they asked me what week the miscarriage had occurred at and then quoted me $150.00!  That's quite a difference!  I then called a third one and I was sold on them.  They said it would be $100.00 and their manner and word usage was so much more endearing.  After a few calls back and forth, the funeral director shared that she had lost a child at the age of 2.  I just really felt peace about going with them and that they would treat our baby's body with dignity and the life that had been lived with value.

The baby's body has to stay at the lab for two weeks and then it will be released to the funeral home. We have a little less than one more week to go. We have decided not to have a service at this time.  We plan to buy some land in the country in the near future where we hope to build a home at some point.  We want to plant a tree along with his ashes as a memorial.  It will be nice to see the tree grow even though we won't be able to see our baby grow.  Its a very soothing, but bittersweet thought.

We are still on our journey through grieving.  I didn't really mention the kids reaction to everything.  They don't really understand all the way, but they do know that the baby I had in my belly is dead and that he isn't in there anymore and that he is waiting in heaven with Jesus to meet us one day.  Braden has been praying for another baby that will live for me.  I think he understands that there is sadness about it and he doesn't like to see me sad, but it doesn't quite get all the way to him because he was rather removed from it all.  Zekey has expressed sorrow and is solemn when talking about the baby.  Ailey has had the strongest reaction.  It took many days of talking about the baby not being alive and then one day she said what if she were in my belly and she died and that sort of thing.  We talked about all of that and I think she understands to the extent that a 3 yr old can.  Its still early days yet for us, but I do think we are healing well and not in a hurry.

No comments: