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A Brave New World – Minus The Brave February 4, 2012

Posted by dreamom in family, Life, 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.



1. Katrina - February 4, 2012

Thank you for posting this. What you are going through is not okay. I know it isn’t easy but you family wants/needs something to rejoice about. Was is too soon to post? Certainly. Could they have been more sensitive? YES! It certainly seems like a slap in the face but I can say with near certainty it wasn’t meant to be. That doesn’t make it right. 😦

I’m holding you and your wee one close to my heart and in my thoughts. I have nothing but love for you all you do, say and be everything YOU need to. Gentle hugs and prayers, sweet friend.

2. Murielle - February 4, 2012

Oh Sarah. I hear your pain in every word of this post, I cried reading it. My heart aches for you. I wish I could do something to lessen your pain. And yes, for other people, the world did not end on that day, and their life goes on, and it makes it seem your ordeal even harder for you.
The only way I can help is to hear your anger, hear your pain, hear your despair, and receive them without judging. You need time and space to heal, go your own rythm, and be gentle with yourself. Love.

3. Amanda - February 4, 2012

Our “finding out” experience is very similar — ultrasound office, sketchy technician, no picture, trip back to see prenatal care giver. The words, “we don’t know what’s happened, your baby has died.” I still hear them, still see myself sitting in the room with two doctors looking at me with sad eyes. Still remember thinking, Mark’s at work an hour away, do I ask him to come home?
I’m glad that you have a supportive friends who you can rely on to give you what you need right now. It sounds like you and Kevin have agreed to a plan and I hope it will bring comfort and healing to you as the coming days unfold.
As for the insensitive people, they will always be there. Whether their comments and actions are well-meaning or completely oblivious, you have every right to react with pain, anger, a maybe even a feeling of betrayal. My stillborn son would be 14 years old this month, and I still feel the sting of words sometimes.
Wishing you and your family much peace.

4. Jim - February 4, 2012

Thank-you for posting this. I’m so sorry to hear about this.

5. Tessa W - February 4, 2012

This broke my heart to read. I can’t even imagine having to go through this. I have friends who have but my loss was much “simpler” (the term used by an ER Dr at the time, not great people skills!). Your baby is so blessed to have you and you are so brave to carry your baby until it’s time.
Your family member’s announcement: insensitive. Absolutely. In the words of my husband, “some people just don’t get it.”
I can tell you that time will not heal this wound. But time does make it easier to cope. I am praying for everything to go smoothly and I know that, just as your baby’s soul was welcomed into loving arm already, his/her body will be welcomed into loving arms soon.
Once again, I’m so sorry for your loss and heartache. Your family is at the forefront of my mind as you go through this. Cast all your anxiety on the Lord and know that He will never give you more than you can handle. (Though sometimes it feels like He thinks a little to highly of us!) He WILL be your strength. That’s a promise.

6. Helen - February 4, 2012

Sarah, I am in tears from reading your blog. I can’t tell you how sorry I am that this has happened to you. I lost a baby when I was only 12 weeks along, and I would burst into tears off and on for days.
After my miscarriage, I found out that so many women I knew had miscarried, but it had never come up in conversation. And they shared the ignorant and hurtful things that well-meaning friends and relations had said to them. No, their lives weren’t too full with the children they had already, to take care of this one. No, it wasn’t a favor of some kind that they wouldn’t have to endure the added stress of loving and raising this baby. No, everything doesn’t happen for a reason. Sometimes life is insane, and we get the totally unexpected. Sometimes our number is up, and through no fault of our own. Tragedy isn’t something God plans, to test the faithful, because there is more than enough tragedy to go around, without his help.

7. Jodine Chase - February 4, 2012

Sarah, how I wish I could hold you and comfort you and shield you from the world still turning while yours has stopped still. You are brave and strong and fierce and your words will help your friends and family understand a just a wee bit more about the unfathomable, death. Oh that we could know in our hearts the right thing to do, the right thing to say. How to feel, how to be. No-one gets dying and death quite right, we fumble with rituals old and new. Especially when death is intertwined with that other main passage of life, birth. Then we all stumble, fall, fail. I am so, so sorry. I wish for you moments of joy, peace and grace as you prepare for the birth and passage of your little one from this world.

8. Lynn H. - February 4, 2012

Just another point of view– your cousin-in-law might not have received your status update. She might not have known what you are going through when she posted her pics. I guess the same cannot be said of people who commented on yours and hers though.
I’m very sorry for your loss.

dreamom - February 4, 2012

That is why I cut the posting relative some slack. Those that responded on my original post, or sent messages privately – there is no excuse. And for those that defend their actions – Lord have mercy on them. They must have a lot of hate in their hearts to knowingly inflict that kind of pain on anyone..

9. ladysown - February 4, 2012

sarah…do know that you are loved and much cared for. You remain in my prayers.

10. Miriam Berlow-Jackson - February 4, 2012

your words are very eloquent and your pain is palpable. i hope you find comfort on your journey from friends and family. take your own time in your own way
much love

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