On February 8th my first son would be 14 years old if he was alive. The pregnancy came as a surprise and we were ecstatic. We found creative ways to tell our friends and family. My pregnancy was glorious. I know that sounds hard to believe but it really was. I didn't have morning sickness. I didn't even get swelling in my feet. I didn't have much pain as my body ballooned and blossomed. I had some fatigue, but it wasn't unbearable. As far as pregnancies go that one was my easiest.
Things had been progressing normally. He was moving regularly. His heartbeat was on target. He was growing appropriately. We were preparing for his arrival. We discussed our dreams for him. My family and friends hosted my baby shower two days before things went wrong. The baby shower was in my hometown of Wetumpka and I'd stayed in town after it was over. I was spending a lot of time at my parent's home because my mom was sick. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had begun chemotherapy treatments. I was taking care of her.
It was Monday evening and my husband called when he was leaving work. As was his custom he asked me about our son and how he was doing. He told me to put the phone on my nearly 37-week pregnant belly so he could talk to him. It occurred to me that he wasn't moving as much as he normally did. He tended to respond to his dad's voice but he didn't that time. I began prodding and poking my stomach to get him to stir. He did nothing. I tried jumping up and down. Nothing. I tried lying on my belly, which I couldn't quite do but you get the point. There was coke in the refrigerator. I drank some thinking surely the sugar and caffeine would wake him up. Still nothing.
The entire time, my husband was still on the phone. We hung up briefly for me to call my OB (Obstetrician) in Birmingham, roughly 1 hour and a half away. It so happened that she was on call that night so I spoke to her directly. She told me that sometimes babies enter a deep sleep around this stage of pregnancy and can be difficult to arouse. This was encouraging news but still concerning. After I told her about all my antics she told me to go get checked out at a nearby hospital. By now the nervousness set in.
As my husband headed in my direction, I called my aunt. I purposefully didn't tell mom because as I mentioned, she was already not feeling well. I didn't want her to worry and the last place she needed to be with a compromised immune system was the hospital. So, she and dad were left out of the loop for the time being. My incredible, take control aunt came to the house immediately. She spoke encouraging words, prayed and called my uncle who personally knew the OB who I fondly call “the family OB”. This OB has a practice in Montgomery and takes care of many of the women in my family who live in the area.
When we got to the hospital, we went in through the emergency room. I mumbled to the lady at the desk that I couldn't feel my baby move. She looked at me like I was being dramatic but didn't make a critical statement. She directed me out of the ER and up to the obstetrics department. Upon arriving there, a nurse tried to find the baby's heart beat with a doppler. A doppler is a type of ultrasound device that can detect fetal heart beats. Dopplers also have other uses not relevant to this post. When there was no heart beat found she went and got a different doppler device. After that one didn't reveal a heartbeat either she assured me that sometimes the dopplers can miss it depending on the baby's position. I tried to stay calm though I wasn't comforted by her words. My prior doppler experiences with this pregnancy detected the heartbeat almost immediately.
Next, a technician came in to perform an ultrasound. By this time my husband had made it, in addition to other family members. The ultrasound seemed to go on forever. I could tell the technician was feeling uncomfortable. She was very short on words and struggled to make eye contact with me. She finished up the study and left out of the room. The "family OB" came in, examined me, did another ultrasound, and then told us what no one had yet said out loud. My baby had died inside of me.
Before I even had time to let that sink in, he went on to tell me that I would have to deliver the baby. I remember asking him what he meant by "deliver" and he explained that I would be induced blah, blah, blah. I asked him for a C-section. How could he expect me to deliver my dead baby! How could I go through induction, labor and delivery only to leave with empty arms! He told me I'd be given something to help soften my cervix. My mind was a bunch of jumbled thoughts and my heart was breaking in a billion little pieces. Yet, I was trying to remain optimistic and was reminded of the miracles Jesus had performed in the Bible. I hoped and prayed that this was all a horrible nightmare and I'd wake up and it not be real.
I was moved to another room, now that I wasn't going back home. My family was praying. I was in shock. Stunned with disbelief. I recall the nurse offering me something for my nerves but at the time I didn't believe my baby was truly gone. So I didn't want to take any medications that could impact that possibility. I lie in the bed feeling like the world was caving in around me and prayed and cried.
You’ll continue this story in the next post, Stillbirth is Still Birth Part Two.
Happy 14th heavenly birthday dear son.