Mom to Gracie Snow-Schoepflin, Born still on Thursday, July 19th, 2001
Joseph Daniel Schoepflin, Born still on Monday, August 5th, 2002
I am the mother of two beautiful stillborn babies, My daughter Gracie and my son Joseph. This is our story.
I found out that I was pregnant for the first time at 19 yrs old. . I had a great guy and I was halfway through college. Life was good. Not exactly my ideal plan, but it was God had in store for me. My was uneventful. I had the usual , although I seemed to have it morning, noon and night, I got crazy cravings, and gained 12 pounds. I can remember the day we found out we were having a little girl. We beamed with elation, and probabley wiped out the hospital's entire stock of "its a girl" balloons. We took them to our moms at work, they were so great. (As parents I am sure that they wished we were older, and established, not sophomores in college working full time jobs. But we had been together since freshman year in high school and meant the world to each other. This baby was in our future plans, she was just arriving earlier than scheduled.)
Our daughter was going to be named but to us she was "Gracie". My with my daughter Gracie was amazingly normal & sadly at 29 weeks gestation, I no longer felt her moving. I had remembered reading that drinking juice and relaxing on your left side may help you to notice the baby kicking. It wasn't working too well, I called the advise nurse and she advised me to pay attention to the babies movement and if nothing changed to come into the hospital. Still nothing so off we went. I called Phillip at work to meet me at the hospital. He was walking through the door when my heart got broken. Gracie was gone, and we didn't know why. The nurses were unable to detect her heartbeat and had to call a doctor had to confirm it by ultrasound, as the warm ultrasound gel was applied to my stomach I could see the tears roll down Phillip's face, I could feel the warmth of my own tears on my cheek. The doctor moved the doppler across my stomach, I could see Gracie in perfect form, I knew once they got close to her face that she was gone, and as sad as we were, I thought she looked peaceful. The doctor determined that our precious little girl was a "still born". No explanations, no kind words, just sadness and the feeling of failure. Our daughter was gone & there wasn't anything we could do. We were left to call family members and prepare for her birth. Before I could do any of that, I was to be moved to an isolation room. This is a birthing room, just farther away from the other birthing mothers and the newborn nursery. To me it was a prison.
What I cannot understand is that I wanted our daughter Gracie, more than I wanted anything. And yet we lost her as a stillborn at 29 weeks. Maggie Grace Schoepflin "Gracie" quietly made her way into this world on Thursday, July 19th, 2001 at 7:29AM. Topping the scales at a massive 1 pound 10.4 oz and 13 1/4 inches long. She was so beautiful. Light brown hair w/ strawberry blonde wisps, peaches and cream complexion. She had little tiny wrinkles, she reminded me of an old lady. I remember wishing I could breathe into her and she would be with me again. I was terrified that she didn't know how much we loved her. And still we had to plan a funeral. Gracie was laid to rest on August 8th, 2001. She was placed next to my brother's dad. Phillip and I had written her each a letter and wrapped her urn with a blanket. We each put a picture inside her box, and a teddy bear with a flash lite, so she was never in the dark. At her funeral I played our son, "While you loved me" by Rascal Flatts. I played this song everyday of my pregnancy.
After Grace died, I yearned for the knowledge to know why, always coming up empty. I didn't know how to grieve, I felt ashamed, and empty, I felt betrayed. I didn't even know what Stillbirth was, I never thought it could happen to me. I was naive to think that things this tragic only happened to people who didn't take care of themselves, who lead bad lives. I was so wrong.
Life changed after losing her, the world all the sudden didn't seem so bright. My sister had delivered a healthy baby boy just days before Gracie died & I didn't understand how it was fair. Why our daughter? Phillip & I clung to each other after that, however, we grieved silently and separately, no wanting to show our own sadness in fear the other would be crushed.
Time had passed, We got engaged and started to plan our wedding. Everything was going great, the church was reserved, the perfect flowers picked out, invitations getting ready to be printed, rings chosen and the perfect dress hanging in the closest of my mother in laws home, we were just at a point where we were able to talk about Gracie with out tears rushing to our eyes when we found out I was pregnant again. We were so terrified.
We found out about our son by accident, we decided that after losing Gracie maybe it would be easier to not find out the sex of the baby. We were also very afraid of getting too close to get hurt again. We had told our doctor that we didn't want to know, but his nurse did not relay the message and at our next prenatal appointment the radiologist announced "wow, he sure is all boy, isn't he!" Our baby was proudly showing off his parts to the camera. Phillip started beaming, it was apparent at that exact moment that we could not avoid falling madly in love with this new baby.
After much debate, our son's name was going to be Joseph Daniel.This time with our son We walked on egg shells. We saw specialists, geneticists, perinatologists, all who assured us that Gracie's death was a "fluke" as they put it. We were given statistics and told that we would have our baby in just a few short months. Tests after tests were run and although it was hard to get attached emotionally I was overjoyed when I surpassed my 29th week. At 36 weeks I started having contractions, I was told that they were braxton hicks & to monitor them, if they changed in any way to come in. When we arrived at the hospital, an elderly couple was leaving and stopped us to congratulate us. That was the first time I really felt okay, that this baby was going to be alright. We registered and were told that I was in fact in labor, I had no idea what to expect, the last time I did this my labor was induced.
The nurses started to hook me up to all of the monitors as Phillip was getting my address book out to start making phone calls. The nurse stopped what she was doing and went over and pushed for assistance. I asked was everything OK, and she said she just needed a doctors assistance. I felt panic creep over me, and worry on Phillips face. The doctor came in and talked to the nurse, leaving both Phillip and I to fear the unknown. Once they were done talking, the Doctor came over and explained that the nurse was having a difficult time finding Joey's heartbeat. That sometimes babys would not cooperate, so they would use an ultrasound for assistance. I knew all too well what the ultrasound machine could show.
I could feel myself sinking into the examining table. I prayed for strength to not hear those words, but I knew before they got the ultrasound machine what was coming. This time I couldn't watch. I looked towards the window at Phillip, and as if in a dream everything fell silent. I watched in horror as Phillip slid down the length of the wall. Into the fetal position on the floor his massive body crumpled in grief. Never did we imagine that our lives would once again rewind that night. I was in labor, Our son Joseph was gone. Not again, This couldn't be happening again, I was not here to be told my son died, I was here to deliver my healthy, beautiful baby - alive. The images of the perfect labor and delivery, holding that innocent Gerber baby came screeching to a halt. Why? How? We did everything right, we did everything they asked, instructed. NO, this wasn't fair. How can this be ? Please, please, I'm begging, make this not true. No response, No answers. He was gone, My baby was dead. How could I do this again? How could they expect me to go through this again, I am not this person, I am not strong. I am heartbroken. And now I would have to deliver him. I was once again placed in an isolation room. This room, my prison had become my hell. I was unable to speak when I had to make those dreadful calls. First to Phillip's parents, then my own.
After a relatively easy labor, I delivered our son Joseph Daniel Schoepflin, Monday, August 5th, 2002 at 5:54AM. I had given birth to our son in the same room I had with Gracie just a short 1 year & 17 days before. Joseph looked just like his father. Blonde hair, hazel eyes, rosy creeks. He weighed 3 pounds 8 ounces, and was 17 inches long. He was perfect. Joseph had my lips and eyelashes, he even had his daddy's birth mark. He looked as if he were sleeping. I didn't want to let him go. I knew what was coming next and it was far to much to bear. Who is ever ready to plan a funeral, especially one of a precious baby? I know I wasn't ready. I know I would never be ready.
Life once again didn't make sense. We were once again lost among the shuffle of grief. I've been told that God only gives you what you can handle, but I can not handle this. I want my babies back. I am not this strong. I pray everyday that it ended with me, maybe that is how I have survived so long. I pray that no one else will ever have to go through this pain. I have since come to terms with my children's passing. Some days are easier than others and I am finally coming to a point where it doesn't burn as much when the wind blows. But one thing I do know is, I am forever grateful for those two amazingly precious beings who will always hold my soul. I may never know why God wanted my babies, but I was so blessed to be their mom.
Twice Blessed by Angels, and One Miracle.
You can contact Victoria at Victoria.Tapia@yahoo.com