Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mom to Audrey
September 10th, 2009-September 11th, 2009
Demoines, Iowa

It was 6 am Sunday morning when I woke abruptly. As my water broke I rushed to the bathroom thinking, "this is too early, oh God no no no, it's too soon for this!" That was September 6th. I was 24 weeks 6 days pregnant. So, off we went to the hospital and my life was forever changed - just like that, in a matter of seconds.

When my husband, Jamie, baby and I arrived I was examined and admitted due to premature rupture of membranes. I had no infection that caused the rupture according to blood cultures, and at this point it is only speculation that my cervix may be incompetent. I was told, "this will be your new home here at the hospital until this baby decides he/she is ready to be born." (We didn't know we were having a girl, because she wouldn't un-cross her legs during her ultrasound.) All we could do was wait and pray that she stayed inside the womb. Which meant I was on strictly bed rest, which I was not fond of, but I was full of hope and optimistic about my baby being a miracle. I was willing to do whatever it took like any mother -to -be would.

We were given milestones to meet, the first was 48 hours. I was given steroid shots in the bum (ouuucch) those first two days to help with lung development. We made it and we were so relieved. After all, that's what the perinatologist told us was so important for her survival. We continued on with such confidence and we reached 25 weeks...Monday came and went, then Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Thursday at about noon I got a headache I didn't think much of, why would I? I'd been laying in this hospital bed for days now, my back felt achy and my neck was tense. I remember visiting with my dad, we were sitting there sharing our hopes and dreams for the future as we watched a building being constructed across from the hospital. I had no doubt that I would be taking this child that was inside of me not only home, but out and about-to the mall. Anyway, I had a second visitor as my dad was leaving, a dear friend who brought me some comfy maternity sweats for my anticipated long stay. As I visited with her I started to feel as though something in my body was making a turn down a one way street. As she left I called the nurse, I was beginning to get ill and go into labor. My nurse called the OB on duty, who called the Peri.

At 6:59 September 10th our sweet baby girl was born. I had a c section because she was breach. The peri warned me the day I was admitted that a c section would be necessary if "baby" didn't drop into position by time of delivery. I was prepared for that mentally, however, since I believed I would beat the odds and continue to carry her closer to her due date I really thought I wouldn't end up with this scar I will forever carry. (In more ways than one). With that said the OB came into my room just before they prepped me for surgery and said, "If you want we can try vaginal because baby is so small." I said no because I was sure that she would die before delivery if we "tried" vaginal. I was afraid of the toll the infection was taking on our baby, her heart rate was very sporatic on the monitor. Having the surgery seemed my only way of saving her.

So, there I was laying on the table in the OR looking into my husband's eyes when I heard the OB say,"You have a girl." It was not the joyous exclamation that Hollywood portrays. His tone reflected what we were all thinking..." possibly just for now." I didn't get to hold her, hear her cry or even look her over to see that all her parts were perfectly made. Instead a team of experts worked to secure our daughter's place in this world and I was taken back to my room to "recover." I told Jamie to stay with Audrey and don't worry about me, just update me whenever he could.

So, he did. I vaguely remember what order the updates came, thanks to morphine. The first obstacle - she had a blood clot in her umbilical cord where they needed to put a tube; they would continue to work, until they were successful and indeed they got through it. I was told at one point she wasn't getting much oxygen to her blood though she was hooked to a ventilator, then she turned around. She started to slip at another point and Jamie signed a consent to do a blood transfusion because she was fighting the same infection that sent me into labor. All the while I was trying to wiggle my toes-I'd be able to go see her when I could. I never wanted to simply wiggle my toes so bad in my whole life. I was scared and I was numb emotionally as well as physically.

Finally, after almost three hours, Audrey's doctor came to my room and asked my nurse if it was possible to get me over to Audrey's room, she wasn't doing so good again. It just so happened that I could wiggle my toes, so off I went wheelchair bound along with Jamie and all four of my parents, who had been there waiting since I went into the OR.

Jamie and I went into her room first, her doc. told us we could touch her and explained that the ventilator was up as far as it could be, there was nothing more they could do. I asked her "Are you telling me you got me in here to say goodbye?" She said, "We're not giving up on her yet, there is just nothing more we can do." I cried a little and I begged God to keep her alive. I asked him over and over "please don't let her die." I couldn't say anything else.

At some point the doctor asked me if I wanted to hold her and I did. She removed the ventilator and switched to a manual pump to keep her lungs going. Jamie held her, then the grandparents and back to me. It all seems a blur at some points but I remember her doctor saying "She's letting us know she can't go on." Jamie and I held her until she took her last gasp.

She died at 12:31am September 11th. There it was- my biggest fear, we lost her and I was in shock. I couldn't imagine that God would let this happen to me. I mean hadn't I already been through enough? I survived being sexually abused as a child, raped as a teen, healed of a broken engagement and suffered a previous miscarriage. How could you allow something else to rip away at my womanhood?

I spent 7 more days in the hospital fighting infection, medically speaking (Chorioamniontis) caused by the bacteria E-coli. I had many ups and downs with fever, chills, shaking violently and hours of feeling good- well, physically as good as possible after a major surgery that also included problems with the incision.

The hours following Audrey's birth and death were filled with confusion, shock, saying the right things to family and caretakers, and making the kind of decisions I never imagined we would be forced to make....burial or cremation, service or no service, and if we did choose burial then where, if we did have a service which funeral home, who would we wish to attend? And what about pictures, did we want someone taking pictures of Audrey, did we want her to be with us in my room, did we want to be involved with bathing her, dressing her? I felt too disassociated to engage in these decisions that would thrust me into reality. Perhaps the morphine paralyzed all of me, or was it grief, or both? All I knew was that in my chest was a deep abyss - I felt half dead. Or was it half alive?

How could one go on living with such pain? How could I escape it? Possibly the best place for me for 7 days was the hospital, despite what I thought at the time. I thought I knew pain until Audrey's death-boy was I mistaken, this has been the worst kind for me.

We decided to allow Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep to come in and take pictures of Audrey in an ivory satin gown I picked out from the hospital's selection provided by volunteers for situations such as ours. We kept her in our room the entire next day and I held her a few times although it was very hard for me, I thought I was being too morbid. We first said we wouldn't have a service as we didn't want to draw attention to ourselves or ask people to attend a service of a baby no one knew. I mean- who wants to ask people to do such a thing as feel sorry for you! Well, thank God we came to our senses-we chose to bury her in a baby section of a beautiful cemetery and we had a graveside service open to whoever wanted to be there. We allowed people into our pain.

Now I can't imagine having it any other way, the love we received from friends, family and coworkers was unexpected - not that we doubted we had such love available - but it was a great feeling to get a hug from people we never imagined would be there. So, that was Sept. 26th-the day we buried our daughter, a week after I came home from the hospital. Looking back I wish I would have held her even more, because when I came home is when an even deeper pain came over me. It was then that my arms started to ache to hold my baby girl. This is not figuratively speaking - I mean literally ached with emptiness. Grief is strange like that I guess.

The months following have been like a rollercoaster, some up some down. I've learned to be gentle with myself. I take comfort in knowing that one day Audrey and I will meet again. She is spending eternity ultimately happy and fulfilled beyond what I can begin to fathom.
Michelle blogs at Loving Audrey
You can contact her at


Antoinette said...

<3 Audrey <3

Beautifully written Michelle...Knowing the story already, did not change the pain i felt in this post...Thinking of you xoxo

Jenn said...

I am so sorry you are having to go through this. Many hugs and prayers for you.

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