Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mom to Stevie Joy
Stillborn on May 8th, 2010

Minneapolis, MN

Stevie Joy was stillborn on May 8th, 2010, at 26 weeks, after a beautiful and perfectly uncomplicated pregnancy. She died as a result of blood clots in her umbilical cord. It has since been determined that I have two rare genetic blood clotting disorders: MTHFR and PA-1. It's now been 10 weeks since my daughter died, and although the sadness is still there all the time, it's becoming less and less crushing and all-consuming.

This is a letter to my daughter about her birthday:

Precious little Stevie Joy,
It breaks my heart to have to type this, but I want to remember your first and only birthday forever. You are so special to me and your dad. You will always be our first little girl, and we will love you forever. You made me a mother, a better person, and I know you will always be a part of me until the day I die. I love you so much it hurts.

Here it goes. On Friday morning I called the doctor's office because I hadn't been feeling your little kicks I had become so used to feeling for the last day or so. I wasn't too worried, but I was hoping for some reassurance and peace of mind. I didn't even bring Dad with me to the appointment because I really thought I was surely over-reacting. I let work know I was going in for a quick check-up, but shouldn't be more than 30 minutes late.

When the doctor walked in, she looked a bit surprised to see me (my last appointment was just over a week ago, and everything looked great!) "What's going on?" She asked. "I just haven't been feeling her move for over 24 hours, so I called and they said I could come in for a quick check. I'm sure I'm just a paranoid first-time mom," I said. The doctor then had me hop up on the chair for a listen with the doppler. I expected to hear the comforting sound of your little heart, like I have so many times before. She moved the doppler around my belly for what seemed like forever. A couple times she thought she picked you up, but then discovered it was actually my own pulse she was hearing. I started to get a little nervous. "I don't want to torture you," the doctor said, "let's go down to the ultrasound room for a quick look."

We quickly walked to the ultrasound room. It was dark and quiet. The doctor squeezed the cold gel onto my belly and turned on the machine. She looked at the screen in silence for a moment before turning it towards me so I could see it. "This is the heart right here," she pointed out, "and I'm not seeing any activity. I want to have the ultrasound tech double-check and take some measurements before we talk about what this means." It was like my brain couldn't comprehend what she was saying, or what I was seeing. "You mean she's gone?" I said, feeling my face get hot. "Where's your husband? Can you call him?" she answered. I got ahold of dad at school (where he works) and told him he needed to meet me at the doctor's office right away. I felt like I was going to faint. The doctor lead me to a room to wait for the second ultrasound to confirm that the worst thing in the world had happened. I called my mom and could hardly barely form the words to tell her you were gone. She said she would be there as soon as she could. Then I waited. I felt like I was living in a nightmare, that this wasn't really happening to me. I just wanted to wake up.

Dad came into the room first, and tears were streaming down his face. Then my mom came in, and she was crying too. We all went into the same ultrasound room that we had your 20-week scan in, the day we found out you were a girl and that everything was perfect. The tech took some measurements. You were so still. I just wanted you to wake up and start squirming around like you did the last time we saw you, when you were such a little wiggle-worm that they had a hard time getting all the measurements they needed. But you stayed still and they confirmed your little heart had stopped beating. There were no signs of life in my womb. You were gone.

What happened next is still kind of a blur. I was told I would need to deliver you at the hospital and that I could either wait for my body to go into labor naturally (which could take 2 weeks), or be induced. We decided to induce labor that afternoon.

Once we were at the hospital, they gave me some medication to make my body start the labor/delivery process. It took about 20 long hours before I started to feel my uterus really contracting. Like me, my body just didn't want to let you go yet; we weren't suppose to do this for another 3 months!

Once the contractions started, it was very painful. I was given a morphine drip and then an epidural. I cried the whole time the were putting the epidural in, thinking about how I had been preparing to deliver you without one, but how now it didn't even matter one way or the other. The epidural took the pain of the contractions away completely. I knew I was having them, but I couldn't feel them. All of a sudden I felt a ton of pressure (kind of like I had to pee really, really bad), and I knew you were almost ready to come out. My doctor was stuck in traffic, on her way to the hospital, so they didn't want me to push you out yet. It was so hard to resist the urge to push. When the doctor finally got there, it wasn't long until you were out.

I could tell when I was delivering your head. The room was quiet, except for the sound of me and Dad sobbing. I saw Dad watch and break down in uncontrollable tears as your beautiful head came out. Then the rest of our body was delivered. I could hear then cut the cord. "What does she look like?" I asked Dad through tears. "Like a beautiful baby," he choked out. The nurse and doctor asked me if I wanted to see her. I was so scared. I had this vision of you as this perfect little girl in my mind and was terrified of losing that. I asked Grandma (my mom) to look at her first for me. She told me you were very fragile, and a bit swollen and bruised from the delivery, but that you were a perfectly formed baby and that I should see you.

I was so nervous as they handed you to me, wrapped in a blanket, with a tiny knit had on your head. The first thing I noticed about you was that you really did have my nose. I used to joke that I could tell you had my nose by the ultrasound pictures, but you really, really did. Then I saw your perfect little hands, complete with the most delicate little fingernails. And your feet, each with five adorable tiny toes. You got your Daddy's big feet! Those were the feet that had been kicking me! I could only hold you for a couple of minutes before it just became too difficult for me. I will never, ever forget the look on your father's face when it was his turn to hold you. He knew exactly how to hold you, and looked into your face with total love. He was so proud of his baby girl. "We had so many things planned for you, Stevie," he said. "I wish I could take you on a bike ride, and take naps with you laying on me." He held you for a long time and I just couldn't stop crying, watching him with you. Your dad loves you so much, and he would have been the most amazing daddy for you if you could have stayed here with us, Stevie.

Eventually both sets of your grandparents came in and got to see you. My dad took pictures of you, and a photographer with an organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep also took a lot of pictures of you, which I will treasure forever. We also got your footprints and handprints to keep. I just keep staring at your footprints now that I'm home, just in disbelief at how perfect and big they already were. Dad said he wants to get on of your footprints tattooed on each of his feet, so that when he is pedaling on his bike, you are right there pedaling with him.

Later that night we got to go home. It was really hard to leave the hospital. I wanted SO badly to be leaving with my baby in my arms.

That night and the last couple days have been the hardest, saddest days of my life. I miss you so much it hurts. I literally feel like a part of me is missing, and I just don't want to be happy ever again unless it's with you. I just don't understand why this had to happen to you, to us. Your dad and I aren't perfect, but we would have loved you so, so much and I just can't understand why we couldn't keep you. I can't stop thinking about everything I was going to do with you. Not only did you die, but all of the plans and dreams we had for you died too. I feel like I can't do anything but lay in bed, because everything reminds me of you. I don't even want to eat anything because every food reminds me of eating for you. The day after you were born was Mother's Day, which made everything especially hard. It was supposed to be such a happy, beautiful day. I feel like you made me a mom, but how can I be a mom without a baby in my arms? It's just not fair. I'm so sorry I couldn't keep you safe and alive. I just wish you were here with me and dad. I can't believe a week ago today we were putting your crib together, and now I am writing this.

I will love you forever, Stevie. You will always be our little girl. If you're up in heaven, please do what you can to help Mommy make it through this--I don't know how to go on without you Baby.

Love you forever,

Kristin blogs at Dear Stevie...
Contact her at


bir said...

Kristin, you are a beautiful person, and this is a beautiful thing you are doing in honor of your Stevie. Wishing you gentle days..

Dana said...

I've read this letter before, but it makes me cry every time. I can feel your pain, and your love for Stevie, through the letter.

Anonymous said...

So beautiful and touching. I am so so sorry for your loss Kristin. Your living legacy to Stevie is a beautiful thing that I am sure will help so many.
I wish you much peace.

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