Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mom to Avery
Stillborn on March 13th, 2010
Spring Hill, FL

I found out I was pregnant with Avery on October 16, 2009. Daniel and I had been trying to conceive since June so we were thrilled when the test read ‘Pregnant.’ We told everyone we knew right away. We could not wait! The news came at a perfect time, just two days before our first wedding anniversary. It was a beautiful celebratory weekend. My due date was June 22, 2010... and it couldn’t come quick enough!

My pregnancy was going perfectly fine. I didn’t mind feeling nauseous. I was just so happy to finally be having a baby. My dream come true. At 16 weeks, I started having elevated blood pressure so at 20 weeks, my doctor put me on Labetalol and it returned to normal. At 23 weeks, I had an ultrasound and was given the “80-90%” that it was a girl! Daniel and I rushed out to register at Target and Babies R Us, loving the entire surreal process. We could not wait to meet our sweet girl!

I had a routine OB appointment at exactly 25 weeks on March 9th. I saw the Physician’s Assistant. She wasn’t concerned that I had lost 3 pounds since my last visit. When it was time to check the baby’s heartbeat, it took her a long time to find it. It made me very uneasy, since it was always immediate before. Finally, she found it, but it sounded so much slower than it always did. The PA said it was normal and that the baby was probably asleep. She also assured me that it was, in fact, the baby’s heartbeat and not mine. Still, that night and all the next day, I found myself feeling concerned.

As Wednesday night, March 10th, rolled around, I started having really bad heart palpitations. It was so uncomfortable and I started getting more alarmed. Around midnight, I went into our bedroom to lay down and was suddenly overcome with a strong fear. I began to cry. I remember saying something to Daniel like, “What if she’s not okay?” He assured me that there was no reason to think that something was wrong. He was right. There was no reason that Avery wouldn’t be okay. I was 25 weeks pregnant. My ultrasound two weeks ago said she was perfect. I just went to the doctor the day before and all was well. But I felt so worried. Then, as suddenly as it came, the notion passed and I calmed down. But just for peace of mind, we got on the laptop and ordered a fetal doppler off of Amazon.

The next day, Thursday, March 11th, I called my doctor’s office and the nurse practitioner told me to go to labor and delivery at the hospital to get monitored if I was concerned. She assured me I was probably fine and just having a case of first time mom worries. I hoped so.

Daniel and I went to the hospital and after what felt like forever, we were brought back to a room. Three different nurses tried finding the baby’s heartbeat with the doppler. None of them could find anything. I kept looking at Daniel with a worried expression, but for some reason, I just could not believe that something could be wrong. Why would something happen to our baby out of nowhere? We were taken to ultrasound. The first tech prodded around while the screen was facing us. I could see Avery. She wasn’t moving at all. She wasn’t dancing like she usually did. I couldn’t see the flickering of her heart. The tech kept trying to hear it but there was nothing. Then she typed “NO FHT” on the screen and told us she was going to get another tech for a second opinion. Like that wasn’t obvious. When she left, I looked at Daniel and said, “She’s not okay.” He just looked back at me as if he wasn’t going to believe it. “I’m going to have to deliver her,” I added. “No,” Daniel whimpered, his face going white. I fought back tears as the second tech came in. She prodded around too, doing exactly what the first one did. She too typed “NO FHT” on the screen. No Fetal Heart Tone. Did they think we didn’t know what was going on? “I can’t discuss anything with you so I’m going to bring you back to OB.” Well, if we didn’t know something was wrong, we did now. The tech suggested I go to the restroom before we head back so I got up and went into the bathroom. After I shut the door, I looked at myself in the mirror, and said under my breath, “This is the worst day of my life.” After letting it sink in for a moment, I added, “My baby is dead.” And that’s when the tears came. I couldn’t believe this was happening. It felt so unreal. Like a bad dream.

Daniel and I ended up sitting in a delivery suite, waiting. We sat together on a couch, crying. We knew full well what was going on. We were just waiting for someone to tell us what we already knew. Finally, a nurse came in and knelt right in front of me, wiping the tears from my face with her bare hands. “I know. I know,” she said kindly, then pulled me to her and hugged me tightly. Then she said that the baby was gone. Even though I already knew, I broke out in sobs when she said it. It made it more real. The nurse’s name was Daniele, and at that point, I had no idea that she would later be one of my saving graces. Daniele and another nurse told us what our options were. I could deliver the baby right then or we could go home and decide when to come back. They left us alone to decide. Daniel and I sobbed together and completely lost our composure. It was awful. I’ve never seen Daniel that broken. And I know I have never been so devastated. When I was calm enough, I picked up my phone to call my mom. When she answered, all I could manage was, “Mom... she’s dead.” I’ll never forget that horrific moment. Telling my mother that her first grandchild was dead. “No... Don’t tell me that,” she said, immediately losing it. It was terrible. So terrible. I can still hear the conversation in my head. As I talked to my mom, I could hear Daniel across the room, calling into work and trying to tell them that his baby died without breaking down. Hearing him say that tore my heart in so many pieces. I hated all of it. This was the worst day of my life... The worst day of our lives.

Daniel and I decided that we wanted to go home and we’d meet with my doctor the next morning to plan inducing. We went to my parents’ house, just a few minutes away from the hospital. The rest of the night was spent crying and crying and crying... And not wanting to believe what was happening. My whole world had been taken away from me. The carpet had been ripped from under our feet. Everything was falling apart. I felt so hopeless. I felt such a sense of dread. I didn’t want to look at or touch my stomach. I didn’t want to see its roundness. I hated that our baby was dead. And I hated that it looked like I was pregnant but she was just dead inside of me. I realized that the night before, when I had such a sudden fear of her safety, must have been the moment when she died. I know in my heart that some part of me knew full well that my precious little girl was passing away.

Daniel and I went home late that night but I could not sleep. I kept playing in my head what I knew would be happening the next day. I pictured giving birth to my dead daughter and how horrible it would be. I was so afraid. Did she have some sort of deformity that caused her death? Would she be disturbing to see? What would she look like? How much was it going to hurt? Would I be able to mentally and emotionally survive it?

The next morning, Friday, March 12th, we met with my doctor. She cried with us over what had happened. She said she’d spent hours the night before pouring over my file, trying to figure out what happened to Avery... if she’d missed something or if there was something she could have done. But she wasn’t able to figure anything out. At this point, the only thing that had been off was my blood pressure. That was the only thing she could peg it to, but she told me she was going to order several blood tests while I was in the hospital so they could figure out what happened for sure. My doctor told us that we should start with funeral arrangements. Then she scheduled me to be admitted to the hospital at 6:30 that night.

So we spent several hours sitting around my parents’ house just waiting. Waiting to go deliver our sweet girl. This day was different. I couldn’t keep my hands off my belly. I held it like I was holding her, savoring her inside of me for the last time. I knew it was just a matter of hours before she’d be gone. All day, my dad was on the phone with a friend of his who owns a funeral home. Daniel and I were being asked what color the casket should be, where we wanted to bury our baby, when we wanted the service to be. We had no idea what we wanted... We didn’t want any of this! I wanted to be picking out the color of her bedroom paint, not the color of her casket! We chose white. Closed casket. Then we had to decide on her name. Daniel and I still had been undecided, since there was still a small chance that she could be a boy. We sat and thought about it for a while. Then it hit me. “How about Avery?” I asked him. That’s the girl name we had originally liked even before I was pregnant. Daniel agreed. And we decided to give her my name as her middle name. Avery Nicole. I liked giving her a part of me to keep with her forever. I liked putting our names together.

It felt like days, but 6:30 pm eventually rolled around. My parents drove us to the hospital. Daniele was there waiting for me. She put her arm around me and led me down the hall. My tears had started up again. She brought us into our delivery suite and handed me a gown to change into. When I went into the bathroom, I lost it. I had always dreamed of being here, being in these suites to have a baby. But here I was for all the wrong reasons, for the worst possible thing. To deliver a dead baby. When I came out, Daniele had me get in the bed and she gave me my first dose of medication to induce labor. She stayed a whole hour past her shift to spend time with me. She told us the story of how she’d been induced early to deliver her baby girl who hadn’t developed a brain. She was so positive and encouraging. It really helped. She actually had us laughing. Of course, the second I let out the laugh, I was overcome with so much guilt. How could I laugh?! My sweet baby is dead! But it was very healthy to be distracted by Daniele. She helped so much. She gave us so much hope. She made us feel like we would be okay one day. Without her, I really believe that I would have been so much worse off for so much longer.

My in-laws (Daniel’s parents, brother, sister, and sister’s fiance), my aunt and uncle, and my brothers soon joined us. I was slowly dilating. The contractions were getting stronger and more uncomfortable but it was still a slow process. The phlebotomist came and took 16 vials of blood from me for all of the tests that my doctor ordered. It took forever! Finally, around 1:30am, I was in a lot of pain. So much so, that it was making me cry. I could no longer focus on other things because the pain was reminding me why I was there. My body was trying to get rid of my baby. She was being taken away from me. Of course, through the wall behind me, I could hear a baby crying. A perfect, living baby. I knew I would never hear my baby cry. I started to cry. I was ready for pain medication. My parents suggested that I get some sleep so I could be rested to deliver and to spend time with Avery. I agreed. My nurse came in and she gave me Dolotid for the pain and Ambien sleeping pills. I said goodnight to everyone as they left to go home. We planned to let them know when to come back. Daniel and my mom stayed with me. It was almost 2am by this time. My drugs were kicking in but I still didn’t sleep too well anyway.

Around 5am, my nurse came in to check me and see how many centimeters dilated I was. “You’re almost there,” she said, pulling the sheet back over me. Then I felt something. I was still really groggy from the drugs. I said, “Something’s coming out.” I could feel something sliding. I knew it was Avery. I could feel her. The nurse pulled the sheet away and looked. She confirmed that she could see Avery’s head. My mom jumped up to wake up Daniel and within seconds, Avery slipped out, easily and painlessly. She was born at 5:05am on Saturday, March 13, 2010. The midwife from my doctor’s office was on call so she soon came in, though there wasn’t much for her to do. I was fighting to keep my eyes open, I was still so drowsy from the meds. All fear of what Avery might look like vanished. I wanted to see her so badly. “It’s a girl, right?” I remember asking. The midwife confirmed that she was in fact a girl.

Daniel cut the cord. The nurse wrapped Avery in a towel and handed her to me. I was shocked at how tiny she was. And she was perfect. Her face, her hands, her feet... She was perfectly formed. She was beautiful. She looked like Daniel. My love for her deepened so much. I couldn’t believe how much I loved her. After we spent some time with her, Avery was weighed. Just 8.2 ounces and 8 ¼ inches long. Our sweet little girl. We wrapped her in a little blanket one of the nurses gave to us and put a little hat on her. Then the rest of our families came in to meet her.

We all cried and passed her around. Daniel and I switched off taking pictures. Then we unwrapped her so everyone could see her. I loved how no one was afraid to get close to her, to touch her, to hold her little hands and touch her little feet. We had to let Avery go for a little while so they could take her hand and foot prints and take her pictures. I missed her so much while she was gone. When she returned, I was shocked to see that she looked different. The longer we had her, the more she began to deteriorate. Her skin was cracking and beginning to peel. She was turning darker. It was so sad. Daniel and I sat in my bed together and we held her. Everyone else left us and it was just the three of us. Our little family. We began to cry as we looked at our daughter. “What happened to our little girl?” I asked, rhetorically, tears pouring down my face. I kissed Avery’s cheeks, her nose, her little lips, her hands, her feet, her belly... I snuggled her against my cheek, I pulled part of my gown away to put her cold little body against my bare chest. I wished I could warm her. But more than that, I wished I could see her look at me. I wished I could hear her cry. I wished she could squeeze my finger in her little hand.
Daniel and I took a few more pictures of her. Then we realized we shouldn’t take any more because her appearance was worsening. That’s when we knew it was time to let her go. We had everyone come back in. And out of nowhere, our pastor happened to show up... Perfect timing. We all gathered as he prayed. I don’t recall a word he said. I was too busy looking at my daughter for the last time, trying to memorize her face and everything about her. We were supposed to get a lifetime, but instead we got seven hours with her. Daniel called the nurse and told her we were ready. I dreaded her arrival. I didn’t want to give Avery up. I wanted to keep her. We were supposed to be having a baby and taking her home with us. When the nurse came in, we kissed Avery and told her we loved her. We handed her off. And then she was gone. It was the hardest thing I have ever done.

I got to go home an hour or two later. It was agony to walk out of the hospital doors empty-handed. I couldn’t believe I was one of those moms, leaving the hospital without my baby. But that was reality, no matter how much we wished it wasn’t.

Avery’s funeral was on Tuesday, March 16, 2010. We had a little service at the cemetery. We could not believe how many people came. Everyone was told to wear happy colors- no black, and not to dress up. Avery was a little girl. We wanted color and casual clothes, not depressing black and stiff dress clothes. As soon as I saw my baby’s tiny casket, I lost it. I was such a mess the entire time. There was such a chill in the air, even though it was sunny and beautiful out. After the pastor spoke, my dad’s funeral home owner friend advised us all that they would begin the burial and that we were all welcome to stay if we wanted to. I was surprised that no one budged. Daniel and I stood and went up to the casket to say our goodbyes. I ran my hands over it and cried. “I love you, sweet girl,” I whispered. Then I kissed my hand and touched the casket once more.

The funeral home owner and a cemetery groundskeeper each took a side of the casket, though it was small enough for one man to carry. I watched them lay my sweet baby in the ground. I cried as I watched the groundskeeper shovel dirt over my little girl. I pictured her little face and hated that I would never see it again, this side of heaven. When he had finished burying her, we made our way over. I knelt down on the ground in front of the grave. They had placed a temporary plate on it that said ‘Avery N. Feller’ on it. Seeing her name on a grave broke my heart. In the dirt, we wrote ‘Daddy and Mommy love you Avery.’ Daniel and I put our handprints in the dirt too. Our good friend (my sister-in-law’s fiance) ran and got a bag and collected a handful of the dirt for us. It’s sad how when your child dies, you will literally take whatever you can get.

The biggest comfort we have found in Avery’s death, is that we know without a shadow of a doubt that she is in heaven with our Savior. If she can’t be with us, there’s no better place for our little girl than playing at the feet of Jesus. We know we will see her again.

In the weeks that followed Avery’s death, my blood tests started coming back. I found out that I have a blood mutation called MTHFR. It’s a rare genetic defect that can cause blood clots and can be very dangerous in pregnancy. It appears that Avery had a blood clot in her umbilical cord. (It seemed to taper off right before it reached her belly, as if nothing could get through any longer.) Unfortunately, not a whole lot is known about MTHFR, but doctors have found that baby aspirin and extra folic acid during pregnancy (and lovenox injections in more severe cases) can prevent harm to the baby. I am very grateful to know why Avery died, but I still very much fear that it could happen again. If Avery hadn’t held on as long as she did, and been a miscarriage, they never would have looked into her death. It’s like she laid down her life to save her brothers and sisters. Because she died, we know how to save the rest of our babies. Avery is a little hero. My brave little girl.

Nicole blogs at The Avery Diaries
You can contact her at


Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails