Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mom of Valentina Grace
Stillborn April 27th, 2010
Austin, TX

On Sunday April 25th, I stood up from bed and had a really large gush
of fluid. This is pretty typical for me; I'm constantly asking the OB
to do a litmus test at each exam because I am so "leaky." This time it
seemed larger than usual, and I immediately started feeling crampy, so
I called the on call OB. She told me to come on in and get checked
out. I was 39 weeks pregnant.

We went to L&D, were hooked up to the monitors and got the litmus
test.. I was not contracting, and Valentina was jumping around like
her usual happy self. The litmus test showed it was NOT amniotic
fluid... they looked under the microscope to be sure. And nope, not
fluid. So we were sent home, disappointed and tired of all the false
alarms. We got some lunch, took a nap, and I woke up and ate some ice
cream. Valentina loved it, she was jumping all over the place as
usual... she takes after fatty mom and dad. : )

I was getting really anxious and depressed, being in so much constant
pain from SPD (had it since I was 24/25 weeks) and just ready to have
the baby, so my husband suggested a little retail therapy to get my
mind off of waiting to go into labor. We drove to the outlet malls but
realized they were closed since it was Sunday. We drove back in to
town and drove to a huge out of the way Target (the only major store
open at 8:30pm)... I bought a new purse, a nursing tank, nail polish,
lip stain... just trying to pamper myself a little bit. Grabbed a coke
on the way out. Grabbed some pasta sauce and noodles for dinner.

When we got home, I settled on the couch to surf the internet while
Adrian cooked. It was about this time that I realized that I hadn't
felt my usual jumpy baby jump in a while... maybe even a few hours...
I immediately got nervous. I chugged the coke while Adrian finished up
dinner... nothing. I quickly ate my pasta and laid on my side...
nothing. I drank two glasses of ice water... nothing. At this point I
was on the verge of tears. I asked my husband to get our fetal
doppler (we rent one) and bring it. We spent 20 mins searching my
belly and.. nothing. We have NEVER had a problem finding her heart
rate, especially her being so big and full term now. In tears, I
called the OB on call and she told us to come in immediately.

We got to L&D after a long silent car ride. We were admitted quickly
and I was put in a gown. For the next thirty minutes, three different
nurses took turns trying to find Valentina's heart on the monitor.
Nothing. They all looked a little shaken, but they were doing a great
job of being very sweet and optimistic. They called the OB on call to
come in and perform a sonogram.

They turned off all the lights so the doctor could see the screen very
clearly. My heart was pounding out of my mouth, my husband was
squeezing my hand SO tight. We waited, watching the OB push the wand
all around my belly for about 20 minutes. My leg was kind of pressed
against her side and suddenly I felt her body sort of "sigh", like
she released her tension. She then turned to me and said, "There is no
good way to say this. But it appears that your baby's heart is no
longer beating. Your baby is no longer with us, she did not make it."

I felt like I was in some kind of surreal nightmare. I wanted to ask
her to check again- but we knew. I started crying and told my husband
"I am SO SORRY."- he grabbed my shoulders and told me "this is NOT
YOUR FAULT. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH." And we started bawling. We asked the
doctor what was next. She said I would have to be induced and
deliver the baby. I asked her if I could have a c-section but she said
because it was safer for me to try and naturally deliver, she could
not ethically let me. I would have to be induced and attempt a vaginal
delivery. The doctor and nurses then left us to have some privacy.

We cried and cried and held each other and then we called our
parents to tell them what happened. Made arrangements about who was
coming when, etc. I really wanted our families there for support.
Those phone calls were devastating. I also called two of my best
friends- also devastating. They wailed. We all did.

About 2:15am on Monday, they started the induction. They inserted
cytotec into my vagina and told me to get some sleep, that I might
start cramping, but they would give me another dose about 6:15am. I
was not hooked up to an IV yet, so Adrian and I pulled out the couch
sofa and attempted to sleep together for about 4 hours, but we really
only slept about 2. At 6:15 the nurse came in to give me my second
dose. When I stood up from the bed, my water broke. Like the movies-
it gushed out and wouldn't stop coming. The water was brown tinged-
the nurse told me there was meconium in the water, which is to be
expected when the baby is lost in the womb. I cleaned up and got into
bed, but continued to gush for a few hours. I received my 2nd dose of
cytotec ( I was probably 2cm at that point) and started to feel
crampy. They got my IV going after oh, probably SIX TRIES. It was
pretty awful. I was so swollen and bloated that it was hard to get to
my veins. I believe this is when the pitocin was started too. I tried
to sleep some more.

By about 8am I started waking up with strong, strong contractions,
mostly in my back. Back labor. It was horrible. It made me feel like
vomiting. The nurses told me that I was allowed to have any pain
medication I wanted, as soon as I wanted, including the epidural. They
said they didn't want me to go through any more pain, and they wanted
me to be as comfortable as possible. So around that time, I requested
pain meds. They gave me fentanyl in my IV which took the edge off,
but more importantly, made me sleepy and loopy, so I could pretty much
immediately pass out for an hour. I'd wake up the 2nd hour with every
contraction until it became unbearable and then it was time for
another shot of fentanyl. As we got close to noon, (and I was 3cm) I
realized I wanted the epidural. They prepped me and called the
anesthesiologist. This did NOT hurt at all. Only the initial bee
sting anesthetic. Once the medication started working, all of my pain
vanished. It was incredible. I felt a million times better.

I spent the rest of the day basically laboring without pain (unless I
would lean too much on one side and need to flip over a bit to even
out the epi- it was slightly angled to the right). I progressed
relatively quickly to 4cm and 90% effaced. The OB was checking me
every two hours. They reassured me that once I hit 4-5, it usually
started going pretty quickly. I spent the day chatting with our
families, who had all arrived by then. Of course, they were
distraught, but they also quickly began to attempt to distract us with
their funny anecdotes and tales of how we were as kids. : ) It was
really sweet and had me feeling loved. Emotionally, through most of
this process, I was pretty even keeled. I just knew that the delivery
was going to be incredibly difficult, physically and emotionally, and
I just wanted to get through it and then break down later. My husband
was incredibly upset all day, crying a great deal. I wanted to be
strong for him too.

As the day went on, it started to become obvious that my progress was
slowing. I eventually reached 6cm and just stopped. They kept
increasing the pitocin, but basically my contractions all day were
frequent (right on top of each other) but somewhat shallow and
ineffective. Around 9pm, most of our families left for their hotels,
but two of our best friends came in (one of mine, one of hubby's). We
decided to give it a few more hours of laboring and see where we were
around 11:30 or so. I was checked, there was no progress and my
cervix was starting to swell. At this point, the OB said that in her
opinion, we should go ahead for the c-section. But it was up to me,
we could keep laboring if we wanted to. She called my personal OB and
she recommended the same thing.

So we decided to go ahead and get it done.. we called our parents and
let them know- we told them to just stay in bed, that we would call
after it was over. Our friends decided to stay until after the surgery
was done. I was prepped for surgery and Adrian donned his "bunny
suit". I was really scared. I told him he needed to be extra strong
for me in there and smile at me a lot. I could tell he was terrified
but he was dancing around in his suit being silly for me. : )

I was wheeled in to the OR right at midnight, going into Tuesday April
27th. They changed out whatever meds were in my epidural for something
stronger, and offered me a sedative so I could be a little calmer and
fuzzier. They did mention it might make it hard for me to remember
some things about delivering. This was fine with me. As soon as they
started the new drip and began the process, I began shaking like a
leaf. I was freezing cold and my arms had to be held down by my
husband and the anesthesiologist. I also was very sleepy, but every
time I started to fall asleep, I would hear the HR monitor change and
it would freak me out and I'd wake quickly.

My husband was incredible.. he held my hand the whole time and talked
about how we should go on a trip to New Orleans soon (our favorite
place). He told me all about the wonderful things we would do there
and how much fun it would be, all with crinkly eyes and a
(mask-covered) smile.

Valentina was brought into the world at 12:24am on April 27th,
weighing 7lbs 9 oz, 20 inches long. They cleaned her off, swaddled her
and put a hat on her, and then brought her to Adrian, who brought her
to me. She was absolutely gorgeous. She had the most beautiful soft
creamy skin... all of my features- lips, chin, ears, eye shape- but
she had a beautiful petite version of daddy's nose. Exactly the
"perfect" features we had joked about hoping she had. She also had a
full head of dark wavy hair. She was a beautiful perfect angel.

I spent the next couple of hours after they sewed me back up shaking
and eating ice chips in the recovery room next door. Our best friends
came in one by one to hug us, rub one of my shoulders (I had shooting
pain in it from shaking so hard and uncontrollably from the spinal
block) and say goodbye (it was 2am or so by then). We were eventually
taken back to our labor room, where the nurses left us alone with our
beautiful princess. I laid in bed and prayed to stop shaking so that I
could hold her. Adrian brought her over to the side of the bed and
I suddenly knew that if I held her, I would stop shaking, so I did.
And I stopped. We held her for several hours, kissing all over her
tiny beautiful face and telling her how much we love her. It felt so
good to be with her. The nurses said we could have her as long as we
liked, but we really just wanted a few hours of closure and then to
sleep. We still ended up only sleeping from 6:30am-10am. Maybe.

I stayed in the hospital until Friday. During the end of the laboring
and through delivery, I got an infection and ended up spiking a fever
of 102, so I ended up on antibiotics for several days. But I honestly
didn't mind staying there, the nurses and OBs were so amazing. They
were so sensitive to our situation and couldn't have made the horrible
circumstances go any easier. We spent the days resting and letting
them take care of us. Our families were wonderful. We had a few
friends drop by, but mostly we wanted to be with family. I finally
started really letting myself stop acting like Superman on Thursday, I
started letting the tears fall. I also started having some issues with
sleep and mental things (mostly confusing reality with dreams), but
the hospital was amazing, sending us every resource they had for every

Sometimes I long for those days, the ones in which we were so well
taken care of. The days when our pain was so stark and fresh that
people handled us gently, tenderly, knowing our grief was so
overwhelming that we could barely breathe. Nowadays, I smile. I laugh
often. I love and I live my life. A stranger would never know my
sorrow. But inside of me, a candle always burns for Valentina, a love
so strong that it can never die nor be forgotten.

Annette blogs at Valentina in the Sky
You can contact her at


bir said...

Annette, I'm so sorry for your loss of Valentina, and for everything you've been through. Thankyou for sharing your story. Wishing you gentle days..

Anonymous said...

Thank you for you story. I am very sorry for you loss, but encouraged and inspired by your resolve. As someone who has suffered neonatal loss, I completely identify with your words, particularly the last paragraph.

Anonymous said...

I am in tears after reading your story. I wish you all the best in the coming days, months, and years.

Anonymous said...

Iam So Very Sorry For Your Loss One Of My Good Friends Has Lost Her Baby Girl at 23Weeks, Did You Find Out What Made Valentina Pass?? Love and Best Wishes And For A Happy And Healthy Future Jodie X

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