Friday, October 1, 2010

Mom to Sam, Miscarried at 12.5 weeks on September 7th, 2005
Second Miscarriage at 6 weeks
and Emeric, Lost at 17 weeks on August 9th, 2010

In Memory of Sam
I am writing this because I want to make sure that I have an accurate record of a very significant event that just occurred. My husband and I were thrilled to be expecting our third child. We planned, dreamed, and thought of names.

At ten weeks we went to our midwives to check for fetal heart tones. She listened and listened but nothing yet. We figured it was still too soon. At 11 weeks we went in again. Still no luck. We figured that the baby was just stubborn maybe hiding. At 12 weeks I was getting very nervous when we didn’t hear the babies heart beat. I knew something was wrong. I didn’t want to be a worrywart and I didn’t want to worry my husband so I didn’t talk about it. After all I had had two healthy pregnancies so this would be fine.

The next morning after I peed there was blood when I wiped. I began to cry and the more blood that came the more tears that came. I knew something was wrong! I tried to make myself feel better by saying some women bleed and their babies are ok. I know that this wasn’t the case I could feel that something was wrong. I called my midwife and she scheduled a sonogram for me later on that day. The waiting was excruciating. I took my 3 year old to mom’s day out and my friend came over to watch my 16 month old.

The appointment was at 1:00. Having to wait was so difficult. I just want to know so that I could deal. They had to do a vaginal sono because they couldn’t get anything with the belly sono. I know that at 12 ½ weeks the baby should have been big enough. I could see a blob on the screen and I didn’t see any fetal heart tones. I asked the tech and she said that she wasn’t allowed to tell me. I told her that I wasn’t an idiot and I could tell that there wasn’t a heart beat. I began to cry. She brought me Kleenex and hugged me and said she was sorry. She told me to go meet my midwife at 2:30. I met my husband for tea and we cried and held each other. Then we headed to our midwifes. She explained that the baby had died at 7 weeks but it had taken over 5 weeks to signal to my body that the pregnancy wasn’t going to work. When the placenta went to attach on the wall of the uterus it didn’t take because all of the cells weren’t there to make a complete baby. Regardless of whether it was a baby or not I believe it to be very much a baby. My midwife explained that the birth could be anything from a heavy period to complete labor.

I didn’t really know what to expect. People don’t talk much about miscarriage and when they do it is usually a quick mention of a D& C or them going into the bathroom and having it in the toilet ALONE.

The next morning I was still bleeding heavy but I decided to go ahead and volunteer at my sons pre-school. My legs were feeling a little achy and I was feeling pretty sad. I headed home and put my oldest to bed. I nursed my youngest down and as he nursed I could feel period like cramps starting. I got him to sleep and headed to the bathroom. I had to pee and I just didn’t feel like getting off the toilet. After about ½ hour I had the urge to push and began pushing. I called my husband in because I wanted him to be there. I pushed and pushed and pushed. I was starting to get uncomfortable so I moved a towel onto the floor. Finally I ran a bath for myself and climbed in. I just figured I was supposed to be in the bathroom, on the toilet, by myself.

Once I climbed into the bath I realized this was going to be full labor and I needed to treat it just like my other two births. I had my husband turn on the hypnobirthing tape. This helped relax me but labor slowed every time they talked about “this wondrous event”, “my beautiful baby”, etc.

My 16 month old woke up and we stripped him down and put him in the bath with me. He nursed and really got the surges going. Then he pooped and I had to hop out of the tub, clean it out, drain it, and refill. It was just as well because the water was getting very bloody. My husband was coming in and out of the bathroom to check on me. He was having a very difficult time coping with the reality of it all. Neither of us had expected the miscarriage to be like full labor.

The blood was gushing more and more and the bathroom smelled like blood. My husband just couldn’t take it any more and he needed to take the kids out for a while. I just couldn’t imagine birthing alone so I had him call two of my very close friends. They were both able to come. The first arrived as I was refilling the tub again. I was trying not to have to sit in too much blood.

I was standing up in the tub as I refilled the water and I was nursing my 16 month old. Blood was dripping down my legs and I was in my most vulnerable state. My emotions were raw and someone else was witnessing all of this.

My husband left with the kids and the house was quiet except for the hypnobirthing music playing from the living room. The surges were stronger and stronger and Kristen was sitting by my side, encouraging me, giving me strength. There was a gush of blood and the surges subsided. Adrienne arrived and joined us in the bathroom. We talked and laughed and cried as we waited to see what would happen. I could feel the baby partially out of my vagina but it appeared to be stuck. I called my midwife because I was scared to pull on it for fear that I would tear it and leave some inside of me. She told me that it was safe to reach up and pull as hard as I needed to. I reached up, fished around and pulled. I repeated this several times but it still appeared to be stuck. All the while my friends were there making me raspberry leaf tea and offering encouragement. I kept apologizing. I felt guilty that they had to witness this sad event. I felt week that I couldn’t do this on my own.

Finally I reached up one last time, puncturing the bag of waters, blood gushed and my baby and the placenta were expelled. I retrieved the baby and the placenta and my friends helped me put it into a Ziploc. We looked at the placenta and it was the size of a quarter and perfect! We could see my side and the baby’s side. Then Adrienne took the bag, swaddled it, kissed it and put it in the refrigerator. This is truly the way my baby deserved to be treated. At that moment I was so grateful to my friends for the support that they had given me during this tough time. I was no longer embarrassed, just grateful. Four hours after the labor had started I was done. Kristen had to leave but Adrienne helped me into bed, fed me and loved me.

I am so grateful that I was able to have this experience. It was so sad but yet so beautiful. The female body is so amazing. It knows exactly what to do. I was able to be present and aware as I miscarried my baby. I can’t imagine having to have been alone or of having to have been in the hospital making this a medical procedure.

I made phone calls, sent e-mails, and grieved. We had told many people and will do so again because we were surrounded by love and support from all the people that knew.

The next morning I slept in, exhausted from the loss of blood. Amazed by the bright red blood every time I went to the bathroom. I hadn’t seen blood in so long that it was very frightening. We baptized the baby and buried the baby under the cherry tree in our backyard where we had the placentas of our two older children. I had several friends stop by to bring me flowers, check on me, and help me prepare for my trip. My midwife stopped by and brought flowers (we saved one for Sam’s memo box), she held me while I cried, and talked with me for about and hour. Her support was wonderful. We were very sad but we did not feel alone!

I was exhausted but we had a family trip planned to Hawaii the next day (2 days after the miscarriage). I couldn’t pack a thing because I was so exhausted and was so worried about the flight. I was bleeding pretty heavy and was very worn out. The trip there was difficult but well worth it.

While on my trip I took some time to write down the experience of my miscarriage. When I finished I went to the bathroom and passed another large clot or something. It was the size and shape of my pointer finger. I called my husband in and we said a prayer and then flushed it down the toilet. I had buried everything that I thought was the baby. The bleeding slowed way down and with in 2 days I had stopped bleeding (one week from the birth).

Two nights later my husband and I decided to name the baby. We don’t know the sex so we decided on Sam. Either Samuel or Samantha but we would just call it Sam. It gave me great comfort in having a name for my wonderful baby.

We have created a box of things that help us think of Sam. In it we included video of our midwife appointments, a rose from my midwife, my pregnancy test, this story, and the washcloth that Sam was swaddled in. These help me to grieve and know that I will always remember and miss my precious baby.
In Memory of Emeric
My little man that left too soon

The pain is so intense the fear is so strong my love for you is great but I know I must go on.  

On mother's day my period did not come I knew that I must be expecting again. I took a pregnancy test and it confirmed that I was indeed pregnant. Mixed emotions flooded me as this pregnancy was not planned and our finances were not in order. My husbands fear was great exhaustion and financial fears had overcome him.

As the days went on and my belly began to swell I began to feel excited about the new life growing within me. I still had fears but I knew God would take care of us. We met our midwife at 12 1/2 wks for the first appointment. We were using a new midwife this time as our usual one was going to be out of the country in January. She checked for the heartbeat and it showed up loud and clear. The thumping of horses hoofs filled the room. I had forgotten that was one of the most wonderful sounds in the world.

With a strong heartbeat behind me I finally dug out my maternity clothes that I had really been needing for over a week. My belly continued to grow and continued to feel excited about the little one that would soon be with us. I knew it was a little boy that was growing inside of me once again and I was looking forward to the little bubbles and kicks that I would soon feel.

I was exposed to fifths disease in my 8th week of pregnancy and contracted it in week 10. We had blood work drawn that all came back positive on week 16. Nothing could be done before week 16 anyways and it seemed that all was going well at the time so we weren't that concerned. my Dr. suggested that I have an ultrasound done as soon as possible to monitor blood flow in the baby and make sure that it wasn't anemic and that all was going well.

On Friday August 6th we dropped the 3 little ones at moms day out and headed to New Mexico Sonographics with our oldest for our Ultrasound. I had trouble sleeping the night before as I was a bit worried although I thought unnecessarily. We were called into the room and I climbed up onto the table a bit excited to see my little one swimming around on the screen. What happened next will be forever etched into my mind. My beautiful baby appeared on the screen but there was no movement and no beating heart. My heart sank and every fear that I had overcame me. We had our son leave the room and I just cried and cried. I couldn't believe at almost 17 wks this was happening to me. My baby was measuring about 13 wks and looked just beautiful. They paged my Dr. and he called immediately. We discussed all of our options but I knew that I wanted to do everything possible to keep my little one intact and to bring him into the world in the most respectful way. My Dr. agreed to have my midwife induce me at home with misoprostol and to monitor me during the labor and birth.

My husband, my son, and I went directly to the church and spoke with the priest. He gave us a blessing for our family and our baby. He also suggested a Catholic burial at the Gates of Heaven Cemetery. After we met my husband headed to the cemetery to make the arrangements. I headed home and the rest of the day is pretty much a blur.

On Saturday I tried to just act as if it was a normal day. We went to the ribbon cutting at the boys school and then to the Isotopes game. It was a great game and I enjoyed it the best that I could but I was so numb. The emotional pain of walking around with a dead baby inside of me was almost unbearable. On Sunday I sent out an e-mail asking for help and am so glad that I did as the help that I have received has gotten me through this difficult time. My friend came over and helped me do laundry and pick up my home so that it was ready for the birth on Monday.

Monday morning 8/9/10 I woke up in fear. I didn't want to give up my little one just yet but was scared of what would happen if I held onto him. I got the kids ready to go to various places and then my midwife arrived at about 9am. She inserted the misoprostol and I sent her away so that I could take a nap. I woke up 3 hrs later and nothing at all had happened. At 1:45 I finally started to have light cramping. By 2:30 the cramping had significantly increased but still wasn't very bad. My husband came home at 2:45 and took a shower. I went into the bathroom just as he was getting out of the shower and sat on the toilet. Just as I did the baby came out of me and dropped right into my hand.

I looked down and saw the most beautiful thing. I believe that we are created in God's image and this was proof of that. His skin was so soft, his fingers and toes were absolutely perfect with little nails on them. His hands and feet were too tiny to describe. His mouth was slightly open as if trying to say something to me. He was born with his left arm up beside his head in the exact same position that my oldest was when he was born. His umbilical cord was attached to the placenta that was still inside of me. He had the tiniest little penis that showed that I was right about the fact that I had another little boy growing inside of me.

I handed him to my husband and we realized that he was too soft to be handled so we got a piece of cardboard and covered it in a baby blanket. My husband and I took turns holding him and spending time saying hello and goodbye. We carefully placed him in one of my husbands cigar boxes to keep him safe. We had called our midwife right as he arrived and she showed up about 5 min. later, giving us plenty of time with him but around just in case we needed her. She started giving me herbs right away to help deliver the placenta. The placenta came within an hour and a half of his birth and only needed a little help getting out. It was a perfect healthy 17 week placenta.

The kids showed up while I was delivering the placenta and spent some time looking at their brother and asking questions. They were extremely saddened by the loss of him but were glad that they got to meet him. My midwife made a placenta smoothie for me to help the uterus contract and to help keep me from getting postpartum depression. I was so grateful that what had helped keep my baby strong could now give me strength.

I crawled into bed to recover as I felt lightheaded and exhausted as I always do after giving birth. I held the box tightly in my arms staring at my perfect little baby whose spirit had already gone to heaven. It was in that moment that I wanted my mother more than I have ever wanted her since her death. I know deep in my heart that she is in heaven caring for and spending time with my little man. We named him Emeric Dodson-Sands after Saint Emeric.

I don't remember much of Tuesday, just taking quick peeks at him throughout the day. Wednesday is also a blur until the burial which happened at 3pm. Nina and Reese arrived that afternoon and spent some time with us before we went to pick up the little ones from Moms Day out.(They are kind of my surrogate children as I have been their nanny for 11 yrs). We also picked up flowers and balloons on the way. The balloons were blue and white with a few blue balloons with little footprints and teddy bears on them. My brother met us at the cemetery with the 2 older boys whom he had picked up from school. Everything was all set up for us. Deacon Ken came and gave a beautiful service. We played 2 very wonderful songs and cried and spent as much time with our baby as we could.  Each person held a balloon and said something to Emeric or about Emeric and then released it into the sky. My husband held the box with our son in it until it was time to put him in the ground.

They rolled up the cover that was over the hole in the ground and I was shocked. The hole seemed way too big for my baby. We didn't want to let go of him but we knew that we had to. My oldest was crying so hard he asked if he could please place his little brother in the hole. The cemetery workers lowered him into the ground and he placed his brother in the bottom of the giant hole with flowers on top of his cigar box casket. Then he decided that Emeric must have a toy and rushed to the car to find something. Luckily I was able to find a happy meal toy which he carefully set at the bottom of the hole next to his brother.

We watched as the hole was completely filled and compacted. I sat in pain knowing that I could never hold my perfect son again. We left and went to Whole Foods for dessert. There are times that call for spending tons of money on dessert before dinner and this was definitely one of those times. Then we headed home to grieve.

Thursday morning I woke up with an empty feeling in my gut and knew that this journey had only begun. I felt so much pain from the loss of my son while also feeling so much love and protection from my God. My friend came from Amarillo to help me during this hard time and brought the baby blanket that she had made for Emeric. (She has made a beautiful blanket for each one of my children.) People have appeared from nowhere to bring us meals, help with the kids, help with housecleaning and laundry, and to offer emotional and financial support. I feel so blessed and so empty all at the same time.

I trudged through the weekend in one blur and here I stand on Monday 8/16/10 exactly one week from the birth of my son. I know I will be protected through this journey but am scared that the pain will be too much to bare. I ordered a bracelet today to help me remember my son and always keep him close to my heart. I also made memory bracelets for each one of my children to wear. I am slowly moving forward and trying to heal.

Emeric you are a blessing to our family and to our lives. You were only here for a brief time but you have left a permanent imprint on our hearts.
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