A Brave New World – Minus The Brave February 4, 2012Posted by dreamom in family, Life, Pregnancy Loss.
Tags: pregnancy loss
On Thursday I woke up with the same excitement and promise I had with all my other previous ultrasounds during the gestation of my four healthy children. As I went through my morning I was nervously watching the clock to make sure I wasn’t late. I had a bite to eat, and SHOOT! Time was getting away from me! I grabbed my keys and purse and ran out the door. A short fifteen minutes later I was tucking a towel into the top of my pants, and having gel spread on my slightly swollen pregnant belly. There was nervous excitement as I chatted lightly with the tech doing the ultrasound. I thought it odd that she was so sober, but thought maybe she is having a bad day. She left to check the images, and as I laid – cold gel drying to a sticky film as I wait 10, 15, 20, 25 minutes. She finally comes back in the room. She needs a few more pictures, she says. Beep, scroll scroll scroll – beep. Right when I think that this is the part she turns the screen to me to show me pictures of my tiny bundle of joy she whips the towel off – starts wiping at the drying gel and says “I hate to so say this, but there is a problem, and you have to swing by the midwives office. They are expecting you.” I get up and I am confused. What problem? Can’t she show me ONE picture? I am gathering my things to leave and she says “I am really, really sorry.” On my way to the van I call Kevin and say I will be a bit late – I don’t know what is up, but the midwives need to see me. What’s wrong? I don’t know I say. Hopefully nothing.
I set off on the drive after shakily dialling a friends number. I am confused and afraid to hope, and ashamed to assume, and she is angry that I am left to wonder and not know. The rest is a blur. I am ushered into a room as soon as I arrive. People are averting their eyes. I am seated in one of the rooms and I hear “I am really, really sorry to have to tell you this, but it is clear in the ultrasound that your baby has died.” I am looking into her eyes and my head is fuzzy. I hear the words, but they aren’t making sense. I am just staring back. She says in the most kind voice I have ever heard “Sarah. Do you understand? Are you okay?” I nod. “What does that mean?” I ask. She pulls out the ultrasound report and shows me the words. “There is a single fetus. No fetal movement is present. There is no cardiac activity. The anatomic structures are poorly visualized, consistent with fetal demise.” She says “This means that the baby has died. We don’t know when, but we know there was a heartbeat at your last appointment – so since then.” I am numb. I am frozen. I am trying to make the words mean something they don’t. I say “What happens now?” I have options. I can wait and birth the baby naturally at home. I can induce labour and birth in the hospital. I can have a D&E and have it be done quick. Interventions carry risk. The D&E would involve them dismembering the baby to get it out. Oh the choices!
I was planning to birth this baby at home from the get go. Do I deserve any less because my baby has died? Does my baby deserve less because they were not made to be in the world? No. I need to birth at home. I spend almost two hours talking and crying, and talking and crying, and realizing that the ‘feeling’ I kept having that something wasn’t right – that kept being refuted by fundal heights and heartbeats WAS right. I shook it off. But it was right. This was wrong. But this isn’t wrong. I know that. If my suspicion of an issue was found to be true I would have not done anything differently. I would have given this baby a home in my womb for as long as it needed it. For as long as God intended. There is ONE thing I would have done different. I would not have complained about nausea, or loose joints, or indigestion, or any of that. I would would have cherished the moments more if I knew those were the only moments I was going to have.
As we talk the midwife makes calls to the OB to ask the questions I have, she works to track down a friend who works in a neighbouring clinic. She hugs me. She says she is sorry. She says that this might be hard, and painful, and I can do this at my pace and do what I need.
Suddenly instead of using my body to nurture and protect my little one I am to start using it to protect me. The conflict between what the day was supposed to be like vs what it turned into hasn’t sunk in.
The midwife says to call them anytime. She says to let them know as soon as the labour starts because it will likely be quick. She explains the pain is different than labour with a live birth and that I am likely going to need Tylenol and Advil to cope with it. She says that I will come see them again, but that they will make sure it is a time when I can have privacy (AKA not run into ladies with babies and bellies with live babies in them).
As I leave the office she hugs me again, and offers condolences, and the whole time she looks me in the eyes. I leave. I call Kevin – I can’t go home. The kids are getting supper and heading for bed – this is not the time to tell them this. I decide to visit a friend who has lost babies before. I drive. For much of the evening I drive – I visit three different friends and talk to several others. I pull into the driveway late. I go and sit at the computer. I tell a close knit group of friends all the details I have. I make this dreadful post on Facebook. “I went to my 18-20 week ultrasound expecting to post the picture of our baby. I came home with a document that says “There is a single fetus. No fetal movement is present. There is no cardiac activity. The anatomic structures are poorly visualized, consistent with fetal demise.” I now find myself waiting for the “expulsion of the products of conception”. I was 21 weeks.”
I never sleep that night. My puffy salt stung eyes are sore and I would love to close them. Instead I am glued to the computer. Talking to friends, researching different aspects of miscarriages and still births. Since my baby was alive on week 20, it is a still birth. What does that mean? I research and read and cry and pray and read the photocopied report again and again to make sure I am not dreaming – all the while hoping I am.
With the sunrise comes the job of telling the kids. The baby we were discussing the gender of the other night at dinner – it is dead. We are waiting for Mommy to birth it. No – it won’t be alive. No – it won’t get better. Yes – it is with God. Yes – God will look after the baby. No – I don’t know when it will happen. There are tears and sadness. One goes to school in the face of his grief. He knows he can come home if he wants. One can’t stop crying, and finally says she is sad about the baby AND a dead mouse she found near the barn. I hold her while her sobs shake her little body. I fight the tears so that I can comfort her – if they spill over I won’t be able to help her. She finally goes to start her day feeling much more sober than when she awoke. The other two neither know or care what happened. I break. I sob. I stop because no one can cry all day. I fight the tears. I have a rest – after a night full awake I sleep for an hour or so. I wake up to dreams of pain and anguish and a friend preparing our lunch and dinner, and the house ticking along. I sob. The world forgot to grieve with me. I check Facebook and amidst everyone else’s lives continuing on, I take solace in the messages of sorrow in response to my post of early that morning.
I get a message to get a blood test. The OB wants it to track different levels. I go to the hospital. After repeating why I am there 5 times I have lost my patience. I have been waiting in the ER waiting room and I can’t sit, can’t stand I have to move but there is no room. I finally convince them to do the blood draw so that I can go for a walk while the Dr finishes in the OR.
Again “Why are you here?”, “Why are they ordering this?” over and over again. I don’t know. I was told to go, so I went. (Famous mistake, I know…) The fiasco goes on and on, and ends with me sitting in front of the hospital, on the phone to the midwife, sobbing so hard she can barely understand my “I want to go home!” She tells me to leave and says she will call and let them know I left. By the time I get home I have cried oceans of fiery hot tears that sear their way down my face. I have eaten nothing – I can’t. I have done a lot of thinking. I talk to Kevin who agrees. We have a plan. We know how we want to remember the baby, what to do with the body and what to name our angel baby.
I get home and it cuts like a knife to see other people’s lives carry on without having to plan for the birth of their dead child. People post funny pictures and my heart cringes at the thought of laughing. There are projects to work on, but I can’t imagine anything else to think about than my baby – how long was it dead before someone else had to tell me it was gone? How did I not miss it? How could my child’s life END and I not know? I shake it off and read through messages of condolences, and stories of people’s own losses. I am comforted knowing that others know the pain I feel.
I talk to a friend in the funeral business and arrange for his family to handle the body of my angel. The one I carry lifeless inside me. His words and his wife’s tears quell the pain for a moment. I know that I am cared about, and I know that they will care about the little scrap of a person I am going to entrust to them. I don’t know what the body will look like. I don’t know how developed it was, or if it was properly developed, or if it will start to break down in my womb and arrive lifeless this side of earth in pieces from it’s wait.
I have to keep moving, talking to people, and finding the little fragments of comfort and peace where I can. I go to Facebook. I look to my friends who are asking questions and telling me that they don’t know what to say. I am comforted because I mattered enough to risk talking to me. I accept the hugs and prayers, all the while offering up my own.
Suddenly, as hot tears trace now familiar paths down my face I feel the blood drain from my body and pool in my feet. I feel woozy, and start to shake. Sobs shake out of my body. A gut wrenching pain rips through my core, and I feel cold all over. There in front of me is the still image of someone’s ultrasound picture. The still body “No fetal movement is present.”, the still heart “There is no cardiac activity.” It is the pregnancy announcement of a family member. “It official!!” it screams, and it echos through my womb that is carrying my dead child. I see family members who claimed sorrow on my post not 12 hours ago, rejoicing with exclamation marks that pierce my skin and twist in my flesh. It feels like betrayal. How could it not. There is no evidence that these people notified this family member that she had missed something tragic, and that maybe keeping it subtle or delaying AT LEAST until my dead child is in my arms and not my womb would be a good idea. No one messaged me to warn me. The people that claimed to care showed no sign of it. Reading the likes and the comments was one stab wound after another, and another, and another. The comfort the words held hours earlier were ripped from me and the gaping wound was open more than it had ever been.
Here it is hours later and I am still reeling, still sobbing, still trying to make sense of how so many people thought it was okay, and would be, and should be. I haven’t even lost my baby yet. That image is very much what you would see during an active ultrasound of my baby. Still. Motionless. Lifeless. I feel like Hannah who was taunted by Peninnah for her ability to bear a child. In a couple weeks as she takes joy in the baby moving and growing in her womb, I will be getting the ashes of mine from the funeral home. “Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat.” I was, and am, and can’t. Or sleep. I wait. I wait to give birth to death.