Momma to Sophie
Born into the arms of angels December 27th, 2006
The story of Sophie, Born forever sleeping on her due date, December 27th, 2006
I loved her before I knew her. She was and is my sunshine that waits for me in heaven. She is my rainbow on a dreary day. She is the pretty little redhead that I loved for 40 of the shortest weeks of my life while she was in my belly, and that I now get to carry in my heart and love for eternity.
Her story would not be complete without acknowledging her big sister and the pregnancy roller coaster that I rode for those 40 weeks and 6 days. That pregnancy was plagued with blood pressure spikes, protein in my urine and unbelievable swelling. She arrived, 6 days beyond her due date and was whisked away from me for 2 hours. I probably will never know why they had her for 2 hours before I was able to hold her, because when they gave me my beautiful little girl, healthy and happy, 2 hours after her birth, I had all but forgotten everything but her. It was only after Sophie died that I began to really question what had happened in those hours after Rylie’s birth.
Sophie’s pregnancy was mostly normal. As far as pregnancies go, it was almost easy. Sure, there were ups and downs, personally—particularly a visit from my father-in-law around the 19 week mark that left both my husband and I hurt and confused, ending any possible relationship my kids or I may have developed with my father-in-law, their grandfather. In hindsight, I wonder if that was the catalyst for what was to come.
My pregnancy carried on pretty much as routinely as any normal risk pregnancy might. It was Thanksgiving when I noticed something amiss. My ankles had begun swelling to the size of softballs. I made a mental note of it and discussed it with the midwife—who chose to send me to labor and delivery because my blood pressure was somewhat high and I was exhibiting pitting edema. That was December 1st, 2006.
I was monitored with a NST, but interestingly, no ultrasound was done to check Sophie’s growth. The doctor sent me home, saying—“Your blood pressure isn’t that bad, baby is active, and you just have meaty calves.” (Paraphrasing there, of course.) This was the same doctor who did the final ultrasound and determined Sophie had died less than 4 weeks later.
The next 3 and ½ weeks were filled with midwife appointments, swelling, fluctuating blood pressure, and migraine-like headaches lasting for 3 days each week for the last nearly 4 weeks I was pregnant. Of course, the midwife assured me it was normal-- take more Tylenol. I had no “floaters” in my vision, no upper right gastric pain, and no bleeding, so the headaches and blood pressure spikes were not enough cause for alarm.
I woke at 3 in the morning on Christmas morning to a contraction. I prayed. Please, if there is a God in Heaven. Please let my baby wait just one more day so we can celebrate Christmas with Rylie. I thought my prayer was answered.
At my last appointment on December 26th, my little girl’s heart was beating strongly. It was about 11:15 a.m.—the last time I heard that glorious “thunk thunk thunk” coming from her little body inside me. The 27th was my due date, and the midwife I was seeing that day decided that I looked like I wasn’t feeling good, and my blood pressure had been fluctuating enough, that she thought it was time for an induction.
Excited doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. Finally, after weeks of running back and forth to the doctor, and 40 weeks of pregnancy, she was going to join us on the outside!
I woke early, excited and nervous, and called in several times on the 27th, waiting for our bed. Finally, at 1 p.m., they told me to come in (a far cry from the 6 am time they had told me). We lived about 45 minutes from the hospital, so we got there at 2:15 p.m.
What unfolded next is really a blur to me now. Two nurses were with us trying to hook me up to monitors, but they couldn’t track Sophie’s heartbeat down. They left and came back with a doctor and a portable ultrasound machine so they could find out where she was hiding. They left and came back with another doctor. They all left and came back with my midwife. The second doctor, he was the same guy that saw me in L&D on the 1st. When I saw him practically swallowing his adam’s apple, I knew something was very wrong. My midwife placed her hand on my knee and maybe said something like, “I am sorry, Debbie. There is no heartbeat.”
My husband was over by the windows, completely oblivious to what was going on. He had no idea his daughter was dead. I think I was in shock because I don’t think I cried. I think I just kept saying, “oh my God. Oh my God.” Over and over.
I don’t know when she died. She was alive at 11:15 on December 26th and dead by 2:15 on December 27th. I am almost convinced that if I had gotten in at 6 a.m., we might have had a much different outcome.
From the point she told us our little girl was dead, I felt like we were an afterthought. The nurses dropped the monitors, as if we were no longer important, and everyone left.
My induction was started at 5:30 or 6 p.m. They first had to wrap my arms in hot towels because they couldn’t find a vein. I remember at one point looking down and seeing blood... I thought, “Is this normal?” I didn’t remember that with Rylie…
My labor was very easy, certainly her gift to me. No more than 4 hours from start to finish, and she was born in two easy pushes.
Sophie was born at 9:49 p.m. on Wednesday, December 27th, into a quiet delivery room. The only sound heard was me, choking back the sobs that were trying to escape. My daughter was gently laid on my empty stomach, the place she was seemingly safe just 24 hours before. She was beyond perfect. Bright red curly hair, fair skin. Perfect lips. Tiny for a full term baby at just 5 lbs 1 oz (even though my other midwife was certain she was 7.15 and she always guessed within 3 ounces…), but she appeared quite lanky at 19” long.
I am filled with regrets. Why didn’t I spend more time with her? Why did I think pictures of my baby were morbid? Why didn’t I dress her in her coming home outfit? Why, why, why? All I can say is that we make decisions based on what we think is best at the time. When I made all of those choices, I thought they were the right ones. I wish someone had been there to tell me otherwise...
My husband asked for an autopsy, which determined she was perfect. Her cause of death is listed as calcification of the placenta (with 40% of it being covered in calcifications—certainly not bad enough to be the sole reason), as a result of Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (un-monitored), that caused intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). Basically, my baby was lacking nutrition… My midwife theorized that she may have rolled onto her cord, compressing that last little bit of nourishment that had kept her going. They further theorized that she essentially stopped growing at 36 weeks.
My heart was broken on December 27th, 2006. That’s the day my second-born, my middle child was born into the arms of angels. She was perfect, sent here to spend 40 weeks with me, and letting me love her forever.
It has been almost 4 years, and writing this story out makes me feel like it is a fresh wound. I sound bitter, and I am. I had a strong history of blood pressure issues during pregnancy. Yet, nothing was done during my pregnancy with Sophie, despite the warning signs... and I still struggle with that. So much.
The broken heart never heals. It just learns how to keep beating.
You can contact Debbie at firstname.lastname@example.org