Monday, September 20, 2010

Mom to Harper Elizabeth
Born Still on August 10, 2010
Lena, Illinois
I was always the little girl whose response to the question "what do you want to be when you grow up?" was a mommy.

I never really knew what else I wanted to be (and I still don't), but the one thing I knew for sure was I was going to be a mommy. I wanted a house full of kids and married a man who wanted the same. Little did I realize that my plans are not always God's plans.
I first found out I was pregnant in November of 2000. I was only 19 years old and not in a very stable relationship, but I was so excited to think my dream of becoming a mom was already going to be coming true. My pregnancy was normal and my first doctors appointment was around eight weeks. They didn't listen for the baby's heartbeat because it was too soon to hear it on the Doppler but I was to return in four weeks.
The weekend before my next appointment I began to spot and called the doctor right away. They told me not to worry and just take it easy until my scheduled appointment. But the spotting got worse and then I began cramping. I went to the ER and had my first ultrasound. The doctor asked if I was sure about my due date because the baby was only measuring six weeks and I should have been close to 13 weeks. I knew my dates couldn't be that far off but they drew blood for an hcg count and told me to go home. The next day the cramping was much worse and I knew that I was losing the baby. I went back to the ER and they drew more blood and found that my levels were dropping.
I had a D&C and went home later that night. I was devastated to say the least. Many people told me it was for the best and as much as I hated to hear that I began to believe it. I was too young and in an unstable relationship, what business did I have having a baby? But the ache in my heart never went away and I knew I loved that baby as much as any mother could love a baby. Fast forward a few years, I grew up a lot after my first miscarriage.
I met my husband and found out we were expecting in June 2006. I was excited to be pregnant again. My heart had not stopped hurting from the miscarriage and I wanted a baby so badly. This time I started spotting around six weeks and just lost it. I knew for sure I was going to lose this baby too. I went in to the doctor for an u/s and to our surprise the doctor said he saw two sacs on the screen! Twins!

But our excitement was short lived. I had a clot in my uterus that the babies were attaching too and unless they were able to attach to a healthy part of my uterus the outcome wouldn't be good. I was to come back in a week for another u/s. A week later I was still spotting. The u/s didn't go well, but I was hanging on to any ounce of hope I could find. The doctor announced there was only one baby this time and we could see a tiny flicker of a heartbeat, but it wasn't even strong enough to be picked up with the vaginal u/s. I didn't even care...I saw that little bit of life in my child and I hung on to that with all I had. I didn't understand why they were only able to see one baby this week when last week they had seen two, but I just kept praying that the one they saw would keep growing.
I returned a few days later with as much optimism as I could muster but the doctor finally confirmed that there was no hope left. There was no heartbeat. Another D&C confirmed that there were two bags of water, so not only had a lost another baby, I had lost two. Three all together. I felt completely hopeless. I thought, "one miscarriage is normal, that happens to a lot of women, but two..."
I began to wonder if I would ever have a baby. I wondered why God would keep allowing this to happen to me. Miscarriage is a crazy thing, because there are no answers. Now I became determined. I was going to have a baby.
Three months later in October 2006 I became pregnant once again. I was a wreck the minute the test came back positive. I called the doctor and demanded an u/s even though they told me it was too early to pick up the heartbeat. I went anyway and sure enough there was no heartbeat. I came back a week later and the most wonderful thing happened...I heard my baby's heartbeat! Loud and strong...160 bpm! It was the most incredible thing I had ever experienced up to that point. A life was actually growing inside of me! A week later I began to spot. I couldn't believe this was happening to me AGAIN. Three times? But miracles do happen. I spotted the rest of my first trimester and did not lose the baby. I was on pins and needles the whole time, but I now have a healthy, beautiful 3 year old daughter! After so much pain and fear and worry and anxiety, God heard my prayer and blessed me with a the baby I had so longed for on July 16, 2007.
Six months later I found out I was pregnant again, turns out breastfeeding is not legit birth control! This time I was to busy (and tired) to worry much about my pregnancy, but everything was perfect. No spotting, no scares of any kind.
On October 3, 2008, after a fast and drug free delivery, not by choice! I welcomed my second baby into the world, a healthy little boy. I felt blessed beyond words. My dreams were coming true. It was so hard to remember the pain of the miscarriages when I was holding my two perfect babies, who were only 14 months apart. I thought the pain of the past was behind me, but like I said before, my plans are not God's plans. We waited a year this time before deciding we were ready for another.
December 5, 2009 I found out we were expecting again. I just assumed we would have another healthy, normal pregnancy and once we were out of the first trimester I had little to fear, or so I thought. I always had a nagging thought that something wasn't right about this pregnancy. Nothing was out of the ordinary, but something just felt wrong to me. Before our 20 week u/s I half-joking said to my sister I was afraid they were going to tell me the baby didn't have a brain or something. She just rolled her eyes at me...I have always been the worrier. But everything looked great at the u/s. We found out we were having another girl! The doctor did mention her right kidney was slightly dilated, but not to the point they were concerned. He left it up to me if I wanted to come back in 6 weeks for a follow up u/s. Of course I did, I wasn't taking any chances.
The next 6 weeks went by with little thought to the kidney. I went to the u/s not thinking much would have changed, but I was wrong. Her kidney was even more dilated and now they saw a "spot" on her heart. I was referred to a specialist to follow up with. I was crushed. I cried the whole way home. Two weeks later I met with the specialist where we had good news and bad news. The good news was the spot was just calcium deposits and they were not concerned, but the bad news was the kidney was even more dilated. The u/s tech also commented that the baby was so cooperative, she hardly moved during the scan. I had been noticing that this baby was much less active than the other two had been, but no one seemed too concerned about it.
We were to follow up with the specialist once a month to keep an eye on the kidney. There was nothing they could do about it until she was born, but they wanted to keep monitoring the amniotic fluid levels to make sure the baby was eliminating enough. We were told the worst case scenario she would have to have surgery after she was born. I was terrified to think of putting my newborn under the knife, but I tried really hard not to stress about it until we knew more. I decided to not see the specialist anymore because it was too much to see two different doctors and felt confident my OB could monitor the amniotic fluid just fine. So the rest of my pregnancy continued with u/s every other week until 36 weeks and then every week until the end. The fluid level was always great so there was little reason for concern. As my pregnancy progressed I felt more peaceful about things and just trusted God to take care of my little girl.

On my due date I went in for my last appointment. My OB striped my membranes and I heard my little girls heartbeat on the Doppler. She kicked at the doctor as he placed the probe on my stomach. This was the last time I remember feeling her kick and the last time I heard her heart beat. I went home praying I would go into labor. The summer heat was kicking my butt and I was so tired of being pregnant and chasing after two busy toddlers.
I had been contracting off and on for about three weeks so I was afraid I wouldn't know when I was actually in labor. I spent most of that day paying attention to my contractions but they never amounted to much. About 9 p.m. I realized that I hadn't noticed much movement since my appointment. I drank some orange juice and ate some fruit...still nothing. I pushed on my stomach and tried to wiggle her a bit...still nothing. My husband asked if we should call the doctor, but I said no, I was too tired to deal with it and wanted to go to bed. I think I knew that something was terribly wrong but I was in denial. I went to bed, but of course I could not sleep. Around midnight I was pretty sure I was in labor and around 3 am I told my husband it was time to go.
The whole ride to the hospital was silent. I just remember feeling so sad, when with the other two I felt excitement. I guess I just knew, but couldn't admit it to myself. We got checked right in and I changed into my gown and laid down on the bed so they could hook up the monitors. No heartbeat. Another nurse tried...nothing. Don't worry they said, we'll get the doctor in here with the u/s. I just looked at my husband and shook my head. Thirty minutes later the doctor was in. He kept asking lots of questions because he was not my regular OB. He said "I'm sorry, there is no heartbeat and no fluid around the baby." I screamed and covered my face with my hands. I just cried and cried, I don't even know how long. How could this be. I just had an u/s four days earlier and the fluid was fine. I just heard her heartbeat less than 24 hours earlier and everything was great. I just wanted to go home and crawl into my bed and pull the covers up over my head.
Then another contraction pulled me into reality. The first thing I said out loud was "So I still have to deliver the baby?" I felt so stupid after I said it, but I don't think anyone can ever imagine having to give birth to a dead baby. They got my epidural going and my parents and in-laws came to the hospital. We all just cried. Our pastor came and prayed with us.
At 8:48 a.m. Harper Elizabeth entered the world, but the only cries to be heard came from her parents and grandma. She had a knot in her umbilical cord and it was around her neck 5 times. She was 6 lbs. 11 oz. and 21 inches long. She was perfect and beautiful. The staff was wonderful.
We bathed her and dressed her and they took tons of pictures. We held her most of the day and our kids came to see her. My daughter held her and kissed her and told her she loved her. It makes me so sad. She was so excited to be a big sister again and she still doesn't understand why Harper isn't at home with us. How do you explain to a 3 year old and a 22 month old that their sister died before she was even born?
We left at 6 p.m. empty handed. I was broken. I thought I had felt enough pain with the miscarriages, but this was so much worse. So much pain. I sat in my overstuffed chair when we got home and realized that 24 hours earlier it still hadn't dawned on me that I hadn't felt her life can change in 24 hours!
Life is short, life is fragile, and there are no guarantees. I just have to cling to God and his promise to carry me through it. I still have lots of questions. I don't know if her being a less active baby was a sign. I don't know if her kidney had anything to do with the cord, but I do feel like that was God telling us that we needed to entrust her care to him. I thought my biggest fear was having to watch my baby go through surgery...I never imagined I would be planning her funeral and saying goodbye. Harper was a beautiful gift and I was so glad God chose me to be her mommy, if only for a moment.

Jen can be contacted at
Jen blogs at Holding Harper


Mommyto8 said...

I am so sorry, I do understand this pain, thank you for sharing your story. I am praying for you, and again, I thank you for sharing.

Kim Knoll said...

You are such a remarkable women and mother! I'm so proud to have you for my sister. I love you.

Robbie Capp said...

Jen, you are strong and you are helping others by telling your story. I am thinking of you often. Please take care of yourself.

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails