I wrote this post a couple weeks ago after a good friend of mine posted a pregnancy update of her own. It made me think that I wanted to somehow document the way I’m feeling right now, even though my situation is not typical and not happy all the time.
I’ve been hesitant to post about my pregnancy on my blog. I would have loved to start with a fun 12 week update, announcing that we are happily expecting a tiny bundle of joy, and continue on in that fashion until I eventually go into labor and it’s the best day of my life…
But the truth is, when I found out I was pregnant, I wasn’t expecting a baby. I was expecting another loss. I didn’t want to tell anyone. I didn’t want anyone to get their hopes up. I didn’t want anyone to have expectations that everything would turn out perfect. Despite my own logic and everyone in my life telling me I haven’t, losing Alice makes me feel like I let everyone down. I didn’t want to do that again. I didn’t want to feel like I failed again.
Today, at 31 weeks pregnant, I still feel that way, though admittedly somewhat less as we get closer to my due date. I know the chances of this baby being born alive are good, and logically everything is fine, but it’s hard to tell yourself that when you’ve already been through a full term loss. Because for 8.5 months my pregnancy with my daughter was perfect. She was healthy. I was healthy. Everything was completely normal and no one had any reason to expect she wouldn’t be born alive. But she wasn’t. For some unknown reason her heart stopped beating and my completely normal, uncomplicated pregnancy turned into what now shows up on my medical charts: IUFD. Intrauterine Fetal Demise. Unknown cause.
Despite not feeling normal about anything related to this pregnancy, I can fill you in on a few of the normal things I’m experiencing:
– I’m craving fruit – watermelon, grapefruit, bananas, kiwi, and berries too.
– I’m feeling ok but I’m always sore from round ligament pain and some back pain as I get bigger.
– I have frequent headaches. I get winded easily and have trouble taking deep breaths.
– This little munchkin is pretty active and favors my right side. He responds to his Daddy’s voice and if you poke at him when he’s kicking he’ll kick back.
– I still have insomnia and I don’t get enough good sleep. This is common for me but is made worse by not being able to get comfortable at night.
– I’m starting to think that I should maybe look through some infant care books to feel a little more prepared.
I’m a fan of real, raw writing and believe that blogs are a good way to process things. But I also don’t mean to be negative, especially when we are absolutely in love with this little guy and can’t wait to meet him. Reality though, which I also believe is good to represent on blogs, is sometimes difficult… and this is our reality. We are 5 weeks away from meeting our son and our daughter was stillborn at full term nearly a year ago. It’s a reality I still have trouble believing is my own some days.
For the last few years, instead of making resolutions that are long forgotten by March, I have chosen a word to focus on for the year. Just one word that helps to set the tone for the year ahead, to help you through the year ahead, and to help you in ways you didn’t even foresee.
Past words have included aware, balance, moment, embrace, and nurture. Some have served me quite well, and others turned out to not work the way I would have liked. They always start out with the best of intentions though, and they always serve a purpose in one way or another.
The word I have chosen for this year is journey. I wanted to choose a word that was both forward-thinking and respectful of the past as well. So much of my life right now is defined by what happened in 2013, but that’s not all of who I am, and so much more lies ahead. Just as my life so far has been made up of a lot of good things and some bad, so will my future. My journey will continue like that for the rest of my life and I will try to embrace it. I will reflect on what I have been through, and survived, as well as look forward to good things ahead. My journey is so uniquely mine and I’d like to really try to appreciate it this year.
To read part 1 of Alice’s story, click here.
Around noon I was started on induction medication. A few hours later I was 3cm dilated and ready for an IV. The nurse was able to draw blood off the IV tube to use for my blood tests (a truly awesome thing since I have a needle phobia.) Since there was no concern for the health of my baby, I was able to be given anxiety medication. This was a small bit of good news on a day filled with bad.
Due to this anxiety medication (it was good stuff guys) I don’t remember all of the next couple days, and I remember things out of order. Not being able to remember the waiting and the devastation I felt that day is a small mercy. I got through everything as it happened and I didn’t have the mental capacity to be anxious or worried about what was coming next.
My amazing friend Mary joined us at the hospital that afternoon and provided a lot of distraction for us both (and snacks too!) She was absolutely heartbroken for us and after Jason called her to let her know that Alice had passed away, she came over right away. She is the type of person that can’t just sit and do nothing, when she could be doing something to help, and I’m so so glad she was there for us.
After my IV was in I was able to get medication through it instead of having to take it orally. I also only needed to drink because my mouth was dry, as the IV was keeping me hydrated (that was really nice after having to drink water like a fish my entire pregnancy.) Soon, my contractions were painful enough that I thought it was time to ask for an epidural. This was part of my birth plan all along, it just depended on when I asked for it.
Getting the epidural was something I was nervous about all along, and it wasn’t any fun. I don’t remember having any contractions while having it put in, but I was crying and shaking a lot. The anesthesiologist wasn’t the most patient guy ever (the only not awesome experience we had with the staff the whole time) and I remember just wishing that it was over before it started. He didn’t like my crying either because it made me shake… I understand how that would make his job more difficult but I couldn’t help it!
After flight delays and traveling all day, Jason’s parents arrived at the hospital. They joined Mary and our friend Kelly in the waiting room. I don’t remember when they got there, or much about the night at all, but they were there and I know it was especially good for Jason to be able to hug them during such a difficult time. (Remember, I had anxiety meds, so I was basically doing fiiiiine.)
Perhaps before the epidural I was given pitocin through my IV as well. I was progressing ok and soon felt that I could sleep. We told Mary and Kelly to go home since the staff didn’t think I would be giving birth anytime soon. I wanted my friends to be able to sleep a bit. Waiting around is exhausting on top of all the emotions we were all going through. Jason and I both laid down and slept for about an hour and a half. At some point I remember feeling incredibly cold. Jason said that was a scary time for him because I wouldn’t stop shaking. The nurse piled blankets on top of me and I just kept shaking. She said it was common with IV fluids and that it sometimes caused a drop in body temperature.
Since I had an epidural and couldn’t walk I needed to have a catheter. I soon woke up feeling a lot of pressure and I told the nurse that my catheter hurt. She said to turn onto my side to see if it relieved some of the discomfort. I turned and still felt the pressure. She took it out and that didn’t help either. She told me that it shouldn’t be hurting any more and checked me to be sure. She then said that I was fully dilated and that on my next contraction I should push. Jason was awake and texted our families to tell them that I was starting to push. This was at 3:55am.
The nurse had me laying on my side and Jason holding my right leg up. She showed him how to hold it and then said she had to go get some things and that she would be right back. Very shortly after she left I pushed one more time and felt the baby crowning and her head come out. Jason told me “her head is out!” I wanted to respond and say “I know! I can feel it!” but another contraction came almost right away and I pushed her the rest of the way out. The nurse came in just then and Jason let go of me and the nurse cleaned her up and swaddled her. My baby girl was born and the only people in the room were Jason and I. (Since then we’ve thought that perhaps we should get a discount for having done the hardest part on our own! ;)) Alice Christine Piette was born at 4:01am on April 10, 2013. (I pushed for only 6 minutes… how’s that for efficient?!)
Jason came around the bed and hugged me. We had all day to prepare ourselves for the worst. We knew that our little girl would not be alive when she was born and so we were able to be very proud in that moment. We got through labor. We did it. Together we made a baby and brought her into the world.
The doctor then came in and Jason joked with her by asking her “where were you?!” She missed the main event! :) The nurse handed me Alice and I was able to hold and see my sweet baby girl for the first time. She had soft, dark hair and Jason thinks she had my nose. She was absolutely beautiful and looked very peaceful, just like she was sleeping. Jason and I held her and spent time with her while the doctor checked me out and finished the delivery process. I delivered the placenta (there were no knots or clots found in the cord, and nothing abnormal about the placenta) and got stitched and cleaned up. Jason’s parents and Mary then came in and were able to hold Alice as well.
We were able to stay at the hospital with her for as long as we wanted. We took pictures, and had a photographer come in and take photos as well (she was a volunteer through an amazing organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, who organizes volunteer photographers to take photos of your stillborn baby.) I thought that seeing Alice and holding her would be the hardest thing I would ever do, but Jason and I both would never trade that time we had with her for the world. We were able to see and hold her and say goodbye. It was also extremely difficult, but it was incredibly important to us as well. We now have photos and memories of her, and that is so so special to us.
We were discharged from the hospital around noon. I remember watching the nurse take my little girl out of the room and remembering thinking that that would be the last time I would ever see her, and that I was the most exhausted I have ever felt in my life. We went home then, with an empty car seat in the car and pain in our hearts.
“Has she been kicking today?” Jason asked as he did nearly every day since I started to feel her kick.
I thought about it and responded, “she hasn’t been too active, but she was kicking this morning a bit. No worries.”
Later that night I was soaking in the tub when I realized that I actually hadn’t felt her kick in a while. She typically moved around a bunch when I was relaxing, and the tub was one of my favorite places to relax while I was pregnant. After drying off and getting into bed she still hadn’t moved. It was late and I was getting nervous but told myself that I needed to sleep and that I was likely over-reacting.
When Jason’s alarm went off early the next morning I told him not to freak out, but that I was worried that I hadn’t felt her kick all night. He got me a glass of orange juice and I laid back down and waited for her to get a bit of a sugar rush and start kicking. But nothing happened.
We both decided it was best to call my doctor. While waiting to hear back we got in the car and drove to the hospital. The doctor called us on the way there and told us to meet her at labor and delivery and that I could get checked out.
Fast forward about an hour… I’m laying in triage and Jason is holding my hand. The doctor has the ultrasound hooked up and I can see our sweet baby girl on the monitor. She sweeps the wand back and forth, and back and forth. I hold my breath. I know something is wrong. She was always so active. She kept me awake at night kicking and rolling and punching me from within.
“What I’m doing is looking for the heartbeat…” the doctor says.
“And it’s not there,” I respond.
“No, it isn’t.”
At exactly 38 weeks pregnant we have just learned that our baby has died. I cry because I know it’s what I should do, but I still don’t fully believe what’s just happened. Her life is over before it ever began. One of my first thoughts was that this is the hardest thing we will ever have to go through in our lives, and that nothing will ever be the same.
I turned to Jason as the nurse wiped off my big belly and he hugged me and we cried. I remember saying “our little girl” and it prompted more tears. I wanted a little girl so badly and the day we found out we both cried happy tears. Everything was so perfect. Until this day.
After crying for a bit we both turn to the doctor.
“This sucks,” I tell her.
“It does. It really really does,” she responds.
“What do we do now? What are the next steps?” I ask. I already want this day to be over. This is easily the worst day of my life.
After feeling absolutely shocked that my perfect pregnancy, my perfect baby girl, were both gone, I was then thrown into one of the next stages of grief almost immediately: anger. I still needed to deliver my baby girl. She still needed to be born, even though she would not be breathing. It all seemed very cruel, that I still needed to go through this painful process, and in the end my baby would still be dead. We cried some more, we asked about options, we asked what the doctor thought could have gone wrong, and we prepared ourselves for the next steps of this painful process.
I asked the doctor if this was anything I did. I was responsible for caring for my little girl, I was her life support, and now her life was over. She assured me there was nothing that could have been done. Although extremely unlikely at full term, these things happen and the majority of people never find out what caused it. It could have been a chromosomal defect (which I tested negative for earlier in my pregnancy) or a knot or clot in the umbilical cord, or an infection, or a number of other reasons. Since then we have received many (many!) different test results from both me and my baby girl, none showing any abnormal results. We are still waiting for autopsy results.
Next, we needed to call our families. We were given time in triage to make calls while the nurses got our room ready. I called my Mom and told her the worst news I could have delivered. We cried together and talked about what we would need to do next. Jason called his family and they decided they would come visit right away. Jason made a few more calls to let our friends in Minnesota know, and my best friend in Philadelphia. Many more tears were shed every time we had to say the words “we lost the baby.”
Read Alice’s Birth Story.
Testing out blogging from my phone…
Here is a bunch of text. And some more. Add a little more. And a dash of salt. Maybe a little more salt because I really tend to like salt. That’s probably not good for me but it’s delicious and you only live once, right? Is this enough text yet? Surely we can add a little more. And a little bit more. But you know, I don’t really care for pepper.
How about a photo?
There’s my pup, Everett. He was begging here, which he does fairly often.
Ok, bye! :)
Once again I am linking up with Gussy for her Inspiration Workshop. Check out all the inspiration on her blog where many other awesome bloggers link their posts as well. This week’s prompt is “Organization.” My craft room is the focus of this post. Even though my entire home is basically an opportunity for better organization (no, really) my craft room is the home of the most “stuff” and certainly a place that could use a little more organization.
Jason and I are a little obsessed with Lacrosse. Not playing it (oh man, that would be comical) but watching it. Last year we went to a bunch of games Minnesota Swarm, and this year we’re season ticket holders. That means all the home games, all season, we’ll be there. We are even taking a group of 13 people to the game this Sunday to celebrate Jason’s Birthday! Continue reading
I recently found out about an online craft night. What?!? Are you thinking, “that’s the coolest thing ever!” That was my reaction too! You should join me…. all you have to do is grab some (very basic) materials and join in the online chat while we all make a sweet project. Continue reading
Once again I am linking up with Gussy for her Inspiration Workshop. Check out all the inspiration on her blog where many other awesome bloggers link their posts as well. This week’s prompt is “Bedroom.” I’ve actually been collecting inspiration for our Master Bedroom lately. It’s typically the last place to get attention whenever we move to a new place since no one usually sees it. That doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be pretty though. :)
Have you ever completed, or even just attempted, a 365 photo project? The idea is that you take one photo a day, all year, for one year. Some people take a photo of their child every day, or themselves, or they focus on one even more specific theme for the entire year. I don’t use a theme, but I do use just one method to capture every photo: my iPhone. Continue reading