Friday, October 22, 2010

Mom to Nola Sophia
Born at 22 weeks
Grosse Point, Michigan

After celebrating our 1 year anniversary my husband and I were ecstatic to find out that we were pregnant! It was an easy pregnancy compared to what others had told me of their experiences. We were relieved that we were able to conceive in just one month since we didn’t know what to expect. I had very little morning sickness and on most days my complaint was that I didn’t “feel” pregnant. 

Finally at about 18 weeks it was starting to feel real. I was starting to show and could feel our little girl move and kick and soon my husband got to feel it too. The first time he felt it was so amazing and he was so excited I couldn’t be happier. I always felt bad that I got to have all the fun and feel her moving around every time I ate and could only tell him about it so now that he could feel it too felt like it was that much more real to him as well. At this point I didn’t know that she was a she, but since day 1 I had a feeling that she was even though everyone around, family, friends, my husband, etc…all felt that it was a boy. I felt that I had a special bond with her already just by the fact that I “knew” she was a she. Often I would talk to her while I walked through our garden and butterflies for some reason would land right on my hand and just sit there. This is something that has never happened to me before or since, but almost everyday I would see a butterfly and it would land on my hand and just sit there and walk around on me for awhile, I felt like they could sense the presence of my little girl maybe.
When we went in for our NT scan everything looked great and my suspicions were correct it was a girl! After we left I couldn’t wait to go shopping to pick out some dresses and hopefully that night we could narrow down a name since we knew for sure what we were now having. Things were going so well I felt that my life had more purpose now than ever before, everything I did was done with a purpose, what I ate, what I watched, how I exercised. We had been helping our mothers plan dates and details for our upcoming baby showers and were planning on registering the following weekend, but little did I know that would never happen.

After dinner one night I started to feel some lower pelvic pain, it was after hours so I called the doctor on call and they told me that it was just round ligament pain to drink more water and it should go away. I had read quite a bit about RLP so I didn’t think anything about it; I did what he said I drank water and laid down. Throughout the night I barely slept, all night I tossed and turned in pain. In the morning I told my husband that I would go to the doctor just to make sure that everything was ok. They couldn’t see me until 1pm so I lay on the couch and could feel the pain getting closer together. I was getting very scared at this point and was wondering could this be labor? I had never been in labor before, but women described it to me as the most awful pain so I thought this can’t be labor. It was pain, but it wasn’t awful. I decided that I would just show up at the doctor early and hopefully they would see me. The pains got worse in the car and even worse in the waiting room. When I went back a doctor quickly checked me and said that this wasn’t good, I was dilated to 2cm with a bulging bag. They called an ambulance. I was so scared and cried the whole way in the ambulance and kept asking them why they weren’t driving faster? No lights or sirens I asked, this is my baby’s life here and he just blew it off as it was a hopeless case.
Once in L&D they had me in trendelenburg position and they gave me all sorts of iv’s. Doctors and residents were in and out all day everyday, some with hopeful messages, some more negative and harshly realistic. I wasn’t able to eat for the first couple of days and barely slept a wink having so much on my mind. My poor husband was sad and scared and by my side day and night. It was so hard when doctors would come in and tell us that we would likely deliver our baby soon and that she was not yet viable so they would not even attempt to save her, all while they say this I could feel her still full of energy kicking away at my belly. I felt like such a failure to her how could my body do this to her I wondered? She didn’t deserve this and had no idea what was about to happen how could this happen to her. Some of the more hopeful doctors would come and say you can make it we will keep you here as long as possible and they would give me so much hope that maybe we could keep her in longer and give her a better chance of survival upon delivery. All of my hope was shattered when I felt my water break. It wasn’t a big break it was just a leak, but I knew that it wasn’t a good sign. Still I made it two days laying there with my water broken hoping and praying for a good outcome.
A MFM doctor came in and explained to us that the likeliest of scenarios was that I would soon develop and infection and that I would have to deliver for the sake of my own health. Unfortunately, he was right; I soon lost my appetite and felt so hot. My mom and husband kept putting cold washcloths on me but they would immediately turn hot, they got a nurse in to check my temperature and it was 105 degrees. We were all a little afraid for my health at this point and knew that we had done our best for our little girl but that I would have to deliver her for fear of what would happen to me and my body if I didn’t. The doctor I got was very compassionate. I had originally gone with a midwife at the practice, but since the situation was what it was a high-risk doctor from the same practice came in to deliver me.
My husband and I decided to make it as positive of an experience as possible as we were already aware of the likely outcome. The doctor gave me a few pills to speed up my contractions and dimmed the lights. After only a few minutes of pushing our baby girl, Nola Sophia was on my chest. My husband and I were so happy to meet her that we didn’t cry once the whole night. We looked at her and took pictures of her, she was so little, 11” but absolutely beautiful! She had hair and eyelashes and eyebrows, her little ears were so cute and she even had little finger and toe nails. The doctor looked her over while we held her and said that she was perfect, just too small to make it. She passed after only a few minutes. The doctor shared with me that she had been pregnant 5 times, but had only 2 babies and that she too had been in a similar situation with a second trimester loss. I felt bad to hear someone else had to go through anything like this, but it gave me a glimmer of hope. I continued to hold her for the next two days that I was in the hospital. I couldn’t bear to think that she would be in the morgue, cold, no one holding her while I was just sitting in my hospital bed being observed for any further signs of infection. I was fine though, whatever infection was there had left as soon as I delivered her, my temperature returned to normal. For the next two days I would lay there and hold my baby and smile as I looked at her and kissed her and then I would break down crying since I knew she wouldn’t be coming home with us. My husband would lie next to me in my hospital bed and together would hold our baby girl and marvel at what a beautiful little girl we made and that we were so happy that we at least had the opportunity to meet her. He was so brave handling all of her burial arrangements while I savored every minute I could with my baby.
Finally, I was discharged and I handed her over. Nothing made me feel sadder than to change back into my maternity pants I had arrived in knowing that I no longer had a baby in my belly, and to be wheeled out of the hospital in tears with a memory box in my arms instead of my baby girl. Truly heartbroken, my husband and I drove home and noted how the world looked a little grayer than we remembered it to be. We often look at our pictures of our little Nola and say her name and talk about how much we love and miss her as I feel it keeps her memory alive. In the spring I plan on planting some perennials and a butterfly garden at her grave.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and miss her with all my heart.  

I hope that one day my husband and I will be blessed with a baby again so that we can once again feel that overwhelming love that Nola has given us, the love that other parents used to only tell me about. I now know what that love feels like because we instantly felt it for our little girl and will always feel that love for her in our hearts.

You can contact Autumn at


celeste said...

Autumn, this is such a beautifully written story of your daughter's short life. Thank you so much for sharing it. And what a lovely name that you and your husband gifted to her. I am so sorry for your family's loss.

My own son was stillborn at 22 weeks exactly, two days after I suffered PROM that led to his death. I can relate so much to the wonder and joy at seeing perfection in such a little body, and the terrible reluctance to give baby's body back to the hospital.

The butterfly garden you intend to plant sounds like such a fitting memorial to your beautiful girl. I am really amazed and awed that the butterflies came to visit with you while she was still alive in your body. I hope that after you have the garden completed, they will come to visit you often. Take care. You and your family will be in my thoughts.

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