Monday, January 10, 2011

Mom to Baby lost at 15 weeks
 November 2010
Elkview, West Virginia

 After having a completely normal pregnancy in 2007, I gave birth to a beautiful healthy 7lb. 11oz baby boy that my husband and I named, Landon. He was the light of our lives. My husband Josh and I had gotten married in 2002 while we were still in high school. We loved our married life but had originally planned on waiting a while til we had children. All of that changed when we found out we were pregnant a few months before our 4th wedding anniversary.

Fast forward 3 years later and we have an amazing little preschooler who has been asking for a brother or sister for about a year. We had decided to wait until Landon was 5 to have another child, but like our first pregnancy, we were surprised to find out that we were expecting at the end of August 2010. After the initial shock wore off, we were thrilled to tell our families. We bought Landon a “Big Brother” T-shirt and took a picture of him and texted it to my parents. My inlaws had asked if they could come see Landon that evening because it had been his first day of Preschool so they wanted to celebrate with him. We quickly got him changed into his t-shirt and BOTH sets of grandparents were so excited! Landon quickly “named” the baby in my belly, “Baby Pickle” He was so excited to be a big brother. Every night when we said our bed time prayers, he would ask God to help Baby Pickle grow.

Even though we had told our parents, I asked them not to tell anyone. Normally I'm a “shout it from the roof top” kind of girl when it comes to something great, but for some odd reason, I didn't want anyone else to know. I explained to both of our parents that I would hate for something to happen and after telling the rest of our family, all our friends, our church family, etc, that it would make it a lot harder to handle. It struck me as odd that I felt this way because we were not like this when I was pregnant with our son. However, I assumed it was because I was 19 when I was pregnant with our son, so I just figured that I was older and more mature and I knew the risks now. Needless to say both our parents over the next couple week began driving us crazy to tell people, so we said, OK, but let us announce it first. So we called the great grandparents, some aunts and uncles and then officially announced it on our facebook pages. We were so happy to tell everyone that we were going to have another baby. Now, our parents could finally tell all the people in their circles that they were going to have another grandbaby!

I began feeling occasionally nauseous at about 6-7 weeks. Nothing bad but just queasy. Also, I had a little bit of pink spotting right after I had been with my husband. However, I read that it is very normal to have this after intercourse during the first trimester. It stopped by the next day and never happened again. At about 8 weeks, I started having major hunger pains. It seemed like I was eating so much to either try to calm the queaziness or because I would out of nowhere become painfully hungry. And even though I had none of that with our son, I had researched these symptoms and all were normal. At my 10 week check up, after not detecting a heartbeat with the Doppler, we got to see our little baby on the Ultra sound machine and heat it's heart beating fast! It was in the 190's! We had taken our son with us to see our baby and he LOVED it. He was thrilled to see his baby brother or sister in mommy's tummy. At around 12 weeks, I had received an email from my local coordinator of “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep” It's a non profit organization of volunteer photographers that photographs babies that are still born or that have some sort of illness that will likely cause death soon after they're born. They contacted me asking if I would be willing to be part of their organization. During the consideration, I checked out their website and saw all the beautiful photographs. Being pregnant, It really got to me and of course, I cried while watching the slide shows. I'm a photographer. I photograph births as well as newborns, families, children, etc. I run my business from home so I can be with my little boy, so that's why they had contacted me. I was very impressed to find that they liked my work enough to ask me to be part of their program! But I remember seeing this baby that was born at about 15-16 weeks. So tiny and so fragile looking. It broke my heart. I knew that I could not be part of the organization while I was pregnant. Partly for me and partly because I cannot imagine losing my little one to begin with but then, having a pregnant photographer coming in to photograph me. But I told myself that I would consider it after I gave birth. I talked to my husband about it and we both agreed that I would not do it right now, but of course it kind sparked curiosity about, “What would I do?” if that happened to me. Would I want a photographer there or is that just weird? My husband thought it was just plain weird, but it stayed on my mind.

We had been sooo looking forward to Thanksgiving, because we knew that by then, we could know what the sex of our baby was. I had decided that at our 15 week checkup that I would beg my doctor for another US to TRY to see what our baby was. I'm a couponer and a black friday shopper so I was hoping to know whether to shop for pink or Blue on black friday! So we went in on November 9 for our 15 week check up. It seemd like the dr was taking forever before he finally got in our room. When he did he was his very personable self and wanted to see how baby was doing. He measured my tummy and I measured 15 weeks. I smiled thinking about how I was going to try to to talk him into an ultra sound. Then he gets out the doppler. After searching for a few mins, he could not find Baby Pickles heart beat. It immediately terrified me. I looked right at my husband and told him I was scared. My Dr. reassured me that this happened very often. BUT all I could think of was that with my pregnancy with Landon, the doppler picked it up EVERY SINGLE TIME. I measured right on. I felt great. My breasts were sore and tender and I'd still been very hungry and had not had one reason to worry, but I was terrified.

My dr said, “Well, I bet you wanted an ultra sound today, anyways, didn't you?” This made my a little happy. He was right. I SO BADLY wanted the Ultra sound and wanted to know what we were having. We go into the Ultra sound room and the tech rubs the jelly on my belly and immediately see our baby. It's so big now, compared to the ultra sound at 10 weeks! The head is large and w could actually see the fingers. The sight was amazing. But immediately, I realize there are no flutters where my baby's heart is. It was instant pain in my heart. I looked at the tech and said, “I'm not seeing the baby's heart beat.” and as I looked at my husband, she responded, “Honey, I'm not seeing it either”. Tears came instantly. My husband and I both began to pray. To beg God to start our baby's heart again, to please let her have made a mistake. She took some measurements and went to get the dr. My body began to shake and the tears just wouldn't stop coming. My husband was still holding onto a little bit of hope and telling me that maybe there was something in the way. Maybe she just messed up. Somehow, it felt like I instantly realized why I had been so afraid in the beginning, why I was contacted through NILMDTS, why I clicked on the picture of the 15 wk baby. And I told my husband that the baby was gone and they were just trying to figure out a way to tell us. The dr came in and said, “I'm so sorry.” My husband and I lost it. Not tears of sadness. Tears of pure heart break. My heart literally hurt. It felt like it was ripping apart. In the 9 years my husband and I had been together, I have never seen him cry like that. Even my tech began to cry. She felt so bad for us. I was 15 wks exactly and the baby measured 14 weeks and a couple days.

Immediately we had to make a decision. Induce labor and give birth. Go home and wait til I eventually went into labor naturally, or schedule a D and C. I started thinking back to the picture I had seen just a few weeks earlier. Now I had to make that decision or what to so and decided that there was no way I could go through labor and deliver a baby that size. I would have to see it. I would have to hold it and I knew it would give my nightmares to see my baby like that. I knew that it was going to be hard enough to heal emotionally without seeing our baby's body. My husband and I both felt this way, however, I hated the idea of having a D and C. It felt wrong. It felt morbid. I knew that I had not done anything to cause my baby to die. But that's what they do when someone has an abortion, to get the baby's body out. It just felt so wrong. In this decision, no decision is the good one, but out of the three most horrible options, we had to pick the best one for us. We scheduled a D and C for that Friday November 12, 2010.

We had to hurry and leave because we had to go pick up our son from preschool. We only had about 15 mins to take in the fact that our baby was no longer living and that I would have to have a D and C and leave to get our son. The son who was so excited to be a big brother. The one who had nick named out baby. Oh my, how would we explain this to him. To our families, to our friends? It was so much to bare. WE picked landon up from preschool and as we got out of the car to get him, I broke down and began to cry. One of his teachers looked at me and said, “are you ok?“ but the look in her eyes told me, she already knew. We got Landon home and told him that mommy and daddy went to the dr today and found out that our baby pickle had stopped growing and since it was no longer growing, jesus took baby pickle to heaven. He cried. And it broke our hearts a little bit more. It was heartbreaking to have to explain to our 3.5 year old son that our baby had passed away and now was in heaven. We told him that in God's time we were sure he'd give us another baby in mommy's tummy and that one day he would get to be a big brother.

The three days seemed to last forever. I was still having a very hard time excepting that the D and C was ok for me to do. I KNEW without a doubt it was the best choice for us, but had a hard time getting past the idea of what would actually happen during the procedure. My preacher came to our house at 11:30pm the night before the procedure and it really helped a lot. I prayed that night for God to give me strength to get through this and give my peace at mind when I woke up from surgery. HE DID JUST THAT.

Our preacher went to the hospital the next day with us. He prayed with us and gave us comfort. He stayed with my husband while I was in surgery. It really helped him a lot because he was so worried about me. I woke up as they were wheeling me out of the OR. The nurse was nice. She wheeled me right into recovery where they were playing KLOVE on the radio. I don't remember what song was playing, but I remember singing to it and it giving me so much peace. I was sad. Sad for my loss. Sad for my husbands and son's loss. A little disappointed, feeling like I somehow didn't do my “job”. It was my responsibility to carry this baby and give it everything it needed for 9 months. And I failed. But mostly, I felt a sense of relief, (It was agonizing carrying the baby inside me for three days, knowing that it was no longer alive. But now, I'm thankful for those three days. It really helped me cope ) I felt stronger and I felt peace with my decision to have the D and C instead of giving birth. I knew my child was in heaven. What my dr had taken from my tummy was just the shell of my baby. My baby was alive and well. My baby was with jesus. So it really didn't matter how the procedure was done.

Now, almost two months later. I feel the same about everything. Peace with our decision to have the D and C, strength, sadness for the baby I'll never know but always love and I guess I'll always feel a little failure. Even though I know I took care of myself and did everything that I could to make our baby healthy, I think there will always be a little feeling of failure. But my faith in God has not failed. My God is an awesome God and I put all my hope and faith in him. With the little testing they do to the baby's body, they found no reason for my second trimester loss. They also did not do any gender testing, so our baby will always be known as “Baby Pickle”, instead of he or she and I am ok with that. Our dr has given us the green light to start trying again, my husband and I both feel ready and confident. But only confident in God's plan. That what ever happens will happen and if we lose another child, God will get us through it but praying that God's will is for us to have one more healthy pregnancy that gives us one more healthy baby. So, here's to a hopeful 2011 for our family and all of you that are hoping and praying for another one of your own. Knowing that having another baby will not take away the hurt of the one you lost but knowing that feeling that void in your heart will help you to mend.

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Anonymous said...

Heather, your story is beautiful and touching. Thanks so much for sharing. May God continue to bless you and your family.

Amanda E said...

I am so very proud of you!! Your story will touch many hearts & they will also know that they are not alone!! Your sadness is my sadness baby girl & your happiness is my happiness!! God knows that you are an AMAZING mother & that he can trust you with any of his beautiful angels!! When he knows that the time is right you will be holding another precious gift from him in your arms!! We'll all rejoice that day!!! Hugs & prayers!!

April Dawn said...

Oh Heather, I cried because I too understand your loss. I lost 3 in a row before I had my first child! I always think of them and think what if? Its not as hard on me now because I have two children who are in their teens now, but sometimes I can't help but to think what would they have looked like..But I tell you this...I tell myself every day if those 3 would have been born I wouldn't have the 2 wonderful children I have now. I pray you have another chance. HUGS

Heather Smith said...

Thank you all so much for your thoughfulness. I'm so glad that so many others have been sharing their stories with me; it's been a tremendous help! I'm so sorry for all your losses. You have no idea what it's like until you've been there, but there's this type of sisterhood among us all who've experienced a loss of multiple losses.

April - I've heard so many others say the same thing! I hope that I have another chance so I can feel that way too.

We are all blessed and must be thankful for each day and what we do have and not be angry over what we do not have or do not have control over. God bless you all and thank you!!

Anonymous said...

What an amazing witness you are. Those with faith have such an understanding- a peace that somehow surpasses all human understanding.
I pray that your next pregnancy results in a beautiful healthy baby for your family to love.
Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

My daughter was 3 years old when we got pregnant again I was soo excited and told everyone right away well 3 day after we found out I started bleeding and went to the hospital and was told I was having a miscarriage. It broke my heart and I took it very hard. Even though I wasnt far along I felt that was my child no matter what I still think about it all the time. Some people were very rude about it like it didnt matter cause it wasnt formed but it was and forever will be my child. I think God is the only thing that can help a person through hard times like that. On a happier note one year and 1 day later we welcomed our beautiful healthy baby girl into our family. Praying that in time you will be able to expand your family

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