I just got back from my MFM appointment. I was able to see Little Beta moving around, heart beating and waving his/her arms. Blood pressure was good, my IPS numbers are great, baby is healthy as am I. Another ultrasound in two weeks and we go forward from there.
We live in a small town, around 30 000 people. We decided to go to our local hospital as the pain suddenly increased and we live a mere few blocks away. When presenting in the emergency room we were told to go to Labor and Delivery. I was wheeled to L&D. I changed and was hooked up to monitors, at that time they said the baby’s heart beat was strong and that the OB would be in shortly to see us. I was left in excruciating pain ripping through my shoulder blades and ribs with my husband in the L&D room for approximately 20 mins while we could hear the nurses discussing why we had been sent up from emergency downstairs. They then came in to inform us that the OB was refusing to see us, that this was not something they could help us with, and they were sending us back to Emergency. Now our fear turned to anger. How could he not come and see us?
Upon arriving back in the emergency department we met with our dear midwife. She checked the baby and we were told everything was fine. My parents arrived and suddenly we felt more supported and ready to fight whatever this was. The ER doctor, to whom this day his face is written in my mind, began testing. Pulmonary embolism? X Rays came back clear, blood work came back clear. After an hour of lying in pain, trying every test he could come up with, he ordered one last test. I could tell he was becoming exasperated with each time he walked into our room with no answers. The blood work came back, HELLP syndrome. He said that my platelets were dangerously low (I do not know all the numbers, my husband does) my liver enzymes were climbing and they believed that my liver was the source of the pain. They had to immediately get me to the nearest city, approximately 30 mins away, where they could safely deliver a 34 week old baby and “save your life.” This was the first time we heard this expression, it was 10pm on February 7th 2011 and I would fight for my life would continue for the next 10 days.
I was taken by Ambulance to the nearest city with a specialized delivery and neonatal department. At this time I was given some morphine, which did nothing to dent the pain. My husband was taken to do paperwork and they set me up in my room. The MFM specialist came in and said that they were going to do an ultrasound to check on baby, they would then access my care plan from then. With my husband next to me and my mother coming down the hall the tech put the ultrasound wand to my belly.
The room fell quiet.
The ultrasound technician left to get the doctor. I looked at my husband and held my breath.
The MFM specialist came back into the room. He did not make eye contact with us and silently stood looking at the images for some time. He then said “your child has expired.”
I looked at my husband, our eyes filled with horror, my mother’s face in the doorway stricken with fear and pain. I said to Matt “Oh God, we killed our baby.”
Now that I am off of work, I actually have the will to lift my arms. That means Matt is a lucky guy who gets home cooked meals and a non comatose wife at the end of the day. With all the stress of the pregnancy, leaving work and family obligations I felt we both needed a change of pace.
A homemade dinner followed by a date night out. Nothing fancy, a movie and trashy sweets for the preggie lady who can never consume too much sugar. Matt was all impressed because he managed to get the movie tickets for 0.87 cents. Half way through “The Avengers” he leans over “Yah, they paid $19.00 dollars to get in here…we didn’t even pay a dollar!” Pretty proud of himself.
Leaves more room in the budget for candy and popcorn, so I am fine with that.
I am glad we were able to enjoy an evening like this together. Sometimes, no matter what the circumstances grief does not grant you the luxury of a moment. Sometimes grief crashes through and demands all attention. Tonight, we got 2 hours in a movie theater, hand in hand. I will take that.
It is the little things that keep a pregnant Mama after loss together.
A long drive in sunny weather.
The fact that a stranger helped load the trunk of my car at the local warehouse store after seeing me struggle with my enthusiastically large purchases.
Little Beta (what we call baby) moving around.
A kind email from a friend.
A text from my sister.
A nap mid afternoon.
I find myself focusing on the little things lately. Maybe because the big things are impossible to fathom. Impossible to control. So huge I do not dare turn my eye to them for fear I fall so down the rabbit hole I never recover. The little things seem easier, but yet the little things can be the scariest. Miss a little thing and your entire world can crumble.
I used to be an optimist before Ava died. I lost that with her. Like the ability to hope and a cup size. Maybe the little things are showing that my optimism is growing back. Or maybe, it is just the little things that keep me sane right now.
We found out were were expecting Ava in July 2010. We were overjoyed. We were innocent parents-to-be. Sweetly planning, reading and absorbing everything we could to prepare for our beloved baby. We researched every imaginable instance; from breastfeeding issues to diaper rash. We did not know to look for HELLP, to prepare for stillbirth or for the fight for my life.
|Christmas Eve 2010. Approximately 29 weeks along
|Christmas Eve 2010, Matt and I. I am giggling…
The pregnancy was relatively uneventful. We did not know her gender, but we knew her through her through. She hated chicken, loved quiet time at the end of the day when she would kick and bounce around. She loved her Daddy so much. Every time he would place his hand on my stomach she would lean right into him. She would stop kicking at the sound of his voice, she was his from the start. I cannot say I felt well at all, but I was a first time Mom, I read all the books; they said fatigue was normal,I was fatigued. They said morning sickness can last all pregnancy, so my complete lack of appetite and general malaise seemed rather normal. My fabulous midwife was not alarmed, I was not alarmed. Sure I had my great days, bad days and everything in between. My blood pressure was normal, numbers were perfect, all in all sweet baby and I were well.
The second happiest day of our lives was her shower. We worked for months to get the house perfect for 35 of our closest friends and family to celebrate our soon to be arrival. I woke up that Saturday morning, caterer on the way, 34 weeks pregnant with pain under my right rib cage. It was dull and came and went. She was head down and feet up in my ribs, and along with the advice of all the ladies at the shower I thought my ribs hurt because of her position. The shower was sheer joy and the last time I remember feeling happiness like that.
On the Monday following the shower, February 7th 2011 I went to work for my last scheduled week. The rib pain had moved to between my shoulders. I called my doctor and midwife; both of whom advised it was muscular; take a Tylenol and if it did not go away to present in hospital. I continued to work, with my heat pack. All of the sudden at 3:30 pm I had a funny feeling wash over me. Something felt wrong. I tingled from the tip of my head to my toes: something felt off. I excused myself from work and went home. I called my husband and my Mom on the way, we met at the house and called my midwife whom we consulted with by phone. By 6:30pm we headed to our local hospital, the pain was increasing and completely out of control. My shoulder blades were throbbing and I could only take shallow breaths, lying down was the only tolerable position. We had no idea what was happening and were terrified.
Part two to come.
This little face is Charlie. Or Beags, the Beag, Sir Charles, Beagle Butt… he is my companion. Today he is pretty confused as to why I did not go into work. He is very attached to his people, and is not a fan of both my husband and I being away from the house for 8 hour stretches. Charlie will be very happy when he figures out I am not going back. Charlie was my consummate companion when Ava died. He received many tearful hugs and just sitting with him for long stretches was important to my sanity. I required a great deal of physical recovery as well, and he was very patient and good through it all.
Today, he just stares at me, as if trying to figure out a quadradic equation. “It is Monday, the other guy is at work, she is not sick, but yet I get cuddles and snacks with her.”
He is cute but not the brightest of dogs.
He is my friend.
Today is my first day at home. I have been taken off of work; due to my growing baby bump and an attempt to minimize stress.
As if it is possible to minimize stress when you have one baby in your belly and one in Heaven. When you almost died in the last pregnancy. When you walk around holding your breath, afraid to dream and void of hope.
I have always wanted to start a blog. I have avoided it for privacy reasons. My line of work is rather public and I tend to be rather private with certain people in my life. Grief has taught me the hurtful things people say when you let them in; when they are crass, rude and unthoughtful. Then I starting signing on to all of the wonderful baby loss blogs out there. Finding these blogs was a lifeline in the beginning. I still check them daily and have found so much connection in our stories. It hasn’t felt right not to give it back… not to share as well. Maybe someone else can learn from my story. Maybe a moment of sheer agony can be lifted as I have been by the brave Baby Loss Mama’s before me. A want a connection with the other Mama’s out there whom I have gotten to know since February 2011, and whom have no idea how grateful I am for them.
So here is my start. Here is where I begin. In time I will write, what I am sure will be the first of many drafts of Ava’s story. I will take along whomever wants to join me on our journey through our rainbow pregnancy and beyond.
But first, another cup of tea for this first morning off.