Scott and I were married in 2010. Combined, we had four children. They are anywhere from 7 years old to 20 years old. But together, we had none. We knew the demands of a new baby, and for Scott, it meant dedicating himself to a total of 38 years of child rearing. Still, we were wanting and ready. We were excited. I remember telling Scott that we were expecting. It was late October and he was in the kitchen... totally unaware that I was in the bathroom with "magic pee". I went into the kitchen where he was, put my arms around his neck and told him what I saw. We kissed, drunk in happiness. He was stunned for a short while afterward, so I waited for his excitement level to meet mine, while I flitted around the house in true "woman with child" style.
It had been the longest 2 weeks in history. We headed to the Dr.'s to confirm so far, so good, and I was 7w2d. WOW! She had already been with us for almost two months. We saw the most adorable blob on the ultrasound monitor and heard the heartbeat which seemed high. I was already getting the feeling it might be a girl. What an awesome moment. What a sweet, sweet thing that little blob was. We went home, with our printed blob photo, a handbook, and a crap load of brochures and advertisements for all the stuff we would eventually need to have. We talked back and forth until we agreed on the day (or night - I'm not telling which!) where our little blob was made. It was a special time and it was just between us for a little while. We liked it that way. We just wanted to quietly bask in the knowledge alone, until we were about to bust at the seams.
We told his parents first. I think his mom was talking to him like they normally do, and going over the task of updating their wills. That's when Scott told her to make sure she plans for 5 grandchildren... not just the four she already knew about. Then I told my mom... and eventually the word got out to siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and best friends. Everyone was genuinely excited for us. I had babysitters lining up by the dozens. Everyone knew how much we loved each other, and how lucky this baby was going to be to have us both for parents.
Every Dr. visit was nothing short of perfect. Every benchmark, screening, measurement, lab, you name it... was right on target. I missed my appointment for the 20week check up due to icy conditions for an entire week. I rescheduled and invited my sisters, mother, and brought my daughter, Cailey who was still 6. Scott couldn't make it since he had just started a new job. It was virtually a party in that Dr.'s office... which you would know what I mean if you've ever seen "the girls" all together! I told Scott I wouldn't find out the sex at the appointment but rather, have the technician conceal the photographic evidence, and I would bring it home and find out with him. It was a girl. OH MY GOSH... it was a girl! YES! There was still more boys than girls in our version of a family, but at least the odds were a little more favorable for some group activities that might include gardens or shopping. Not just that though, it was Scott's dream come true. It was no secret how badly he wanted a princess to spoil, and oh how I was glowing to know I helped make that dream come true. Everyone was happy... and there was no reason to be anything but.
I was feeling great. I was getting bigger, and more tired, and all the normal things that you're supposed to be feeling... well, for the most part. At my 32 week appointment, I was ready for more good news... and I got it... but it never sat right with me. I felt out of sorts with some of the different physical changes I was having. This baby was a wiggler. Every day... all night. Suddenly, it wasn't wiggling, bumping, and kicking like I had gotten used to for the past 10 or more weeks. I told this to my Dr. but he reassured me that it was probably not as roomy in there for Carly like before. We listened to the heartbeat together, which he said sounded fine. I mentally noted it was lower than usual and something in my mommy radar was going off... but I trusted the Dr. over my pregnant emotions and went home with no worries. Ignorance was bliss that day.
My next appointment was in two more weeks, on Monday, May 9. I called the Dr. office to reschedule since my work day was getting overbooked with deadlines that couldn't be overlooked. I rescheduled for later that week. Friday. Friday the 13th. BIG MISTAKE!
Those days between the Monday and Friday were long and difficult. It was hectic with deadlines for reports, and other tasks I promised to do. It was tiring with places my children needed to be, etc. It was a stressful week as verbally abusive clients taxed my patience without mercy. All this at the same time I'm really starting to feel the effects of a pregnancy in it's last stages. I remember going home early one day, and just laying in bed and sleeping for about 15 hours. I wonder if that was the day Carly passed away. The day I just stopped going, going, going because I knew I couldn't go on one more minute without giving myself, and my baby, a much needed break from running around for everyone else but us.
Anyways, it was Friday morning. My son was getting a pair of shoes he really wanted as a reward for extra good behavior at school. I was online trying to find the best deal since these shoes weren't going to be cheap! From my desk at home, I could hear a faint and hardly distinguishable "meow". I told Collin to check the patio for a cat while I continued my on-line quest. He came back and said there's something out there... "either a kitten or a rat". HUH?!? I went out to the patio since I was reasonably certain there would not be a rat. YEP, there was a tiny little gray kitten on my patio, being mothered by my male dog, Maddox. This sweet little kitten was probably about 3 weeks old. It had fluffy fur, and it's ears where still soft round nubs, but that was somewhere under all the dog slobber Maddox had left on it's coat while he tried to comfort it for it's meowing. I got the info I needed from the web, and told Collin it's time to head to school. We grabbed his bookbag and the kitten, and headed out the door. We stopped by the grocery store in hopes that the kitten might eat soft food (and not need to be bottle fed), I dropped Collin off and headed to my Dr.'s appointment to check in on the sweetie in my tummy.
SCREEEECH! This is where I started crying and haven't stopped since.
I hopped on the scale and got my first sense that something wasn't right. I hadn't gained any weight. I had lost 2 pounds. The nurse asked if I was eating and drinking plenty of fluids. I was... and it was the truth. She said maybe the hotter weather is a factor and that made me feel at ease for a second. I got to the exam room and sat waiting for only a minute. The Dr. came in and then I go blank for a little here. I don't remember the chit-chat exactly but I again noted the decreased movement. He said something like, "let's just check you out then". He got the doppler and started hunting. He hunted for a while making excuses on what could be the reason he couldn't find the heartbeat. I might have been holding my breath about now. He gave up after I have no idea how long. We moved to the room next door where the ultrasound machine was. I knew this wasn't a good thing... but nobody said it was bad yet so I was keeping my cool. I didn't want to show that I was freaking out on the inside for fear that everything really was fine, and I would have looked like a fool later. Panicking wouldn't do any good anyways. I wanted Scott there. I didn't want to be alone and so scared. I told myself that I would make Scott come to the rest of my appointments from here on out in case something scared me like this again. It didn't dawn on me that there might not be any more appointments.
The Dr. started the ultrasound with a new set of apologies for why there wasn't reassuring information yet. He tried his best but I could tell he was fearing the worst just like I was as he said, "he didn't know how to use the machine very well".... and "hadn't pushed the right button". I watched for a few minutes, or seconds, I don't know how long. I saw him pass over where her heart was, once or twice... and while he didn't pause there long... I could already see it wasn't moving like I had seen before. Then I stared at the ceiling. I was just breathing to keep from crying and trying to keep my mind blank. Nothing good could come into my thoughts, but I wouldn't let bad thoughts in either. Finally, after what felt like 10 minutes, I finally stopped him and said, "It's not good, is it?". The charade ended and he said no. He can't find a heartbeat and is afraid she was dead. He gave me a great hug and I felt it was sincere although I didn't know him very well. He was going to be the Dr. to deliver Carly, but I hadn't always seen the same Dr. at my visits and this Dr., I had only seen once before. He walked me to a regular office where I could sit alone with my thoughts for a few minutes. I thought about the tiny kitten in my car also depending on me to keep it alive and I didn't know what to do with myself. I went out to the car to check on it, and to call Scott to let him know something is very wrong and to come meet me.
With paperwork, more hugs, and a few bits of advise from nurses, I left for the hospital. The first order of business was to do another ultrasound to confirm the Dr.'s findings. Inside, I knew it was over, but since they wanted to double check, I figured there must still be some hope. I kept that hope on the inside, but was already accepting the circumstances with the facts, as I saw them. On my way to the hospital, my sister called to say hey. I was crying and told her I was on the way to the hospital and needed someone to come get this cat. She was on her way to meet me. I called Scott again, except I didn't have anything to say. I just wanted this moment to end and maybe he could do that. It was his baby as much as mine and maybe he knew what to do better than I did. I know how silly that sounds but I was desperate to "fix" this situation and he's a good "fixer" whenever I need him to be.
I drove in the slow lane all the way to the hospital. I had enough sense to set my navi before I left the Dr.'s even though I knew exactly where I was going. I didn't want to go. I knew what I was going towards. I knew the end result and had only 10 miles to come to grips with it enough to face it. I drove with one hand on my belly, as if to hold Carly because I was afraid it would be last time I could even get close. I was hating myself for this failure, bargaining with God, begging Carly to not let it be too late, and missing my husband. I was alone. I was afraid. I was going 45 mph on 285.
How had I not factored this possibility into my plans? I was prepared to deal with abnormalities if they happened. Or a chronic illness, or a disability of some type. I thought I had prepared myself for all negative outcomes, but not this one. I NEVER thought that if anything bad happened, it would end or begin without Carly in our arms.
I got to the hospital, and saw my sister standing in a rock star parking spot to hold it for me. I showed her the kitten but kind of avoided talking about what was happening and why I was there. I checked in at the desk and sat for a few minutes talking about stupid things like the weather. At this point, I wanted so desperately to believe there is still hope. Hope that she is not already passed away. I know everything is not ok... but maybe, since I'm here, there will be just enough time to save her. A nurse came to get me, and I texted Scott which room I was in so he could meet me. I got to my room and slowly, but surely, the reality was starting to sink in and I wanted to run. I wanted to run away when nobody was looking. I remember looking in the mirror in the bathroom while I was changing clothes, and asking myself if I could logistically manage to sneak out without getting caught. I didn't have my purse or car keys with me so I decided to be sensible and stay. My other sister and mother arrived shortly after I had changed into my hospital gown.
I was calmly explaining to my family that nobody knew what happened... especially me. There were some tears, but I can only remember getting choked up. Maybe I cried a little but I don't remember. I still couldn't believe what I was doing there. It wasn't real until I saw Scott walk in the room. It was eerily calm. Nobody was in any hurries. Not me, not the nurses. It was already over and everybody knew it... it was just a formality that we were waiting for another ultrasound. A formality that soon came and left without any excitement. I didn't look when they did the last one. I should have, but I couldn't.
Scott was with me now, and I had a new sense of bravery. But before I could go any further in this process, we needed a minute alone. He sat next to me, with his arms around me, on the hospital bed and we were quiet. There were no words. No words to say how sad we were. No words to say how scared we were at what might be happening next. No words to rationalize this situation. I was ashamed that I couldn't care for this baby like I was supposed to, and I felt like I should be apologizing to him.
Nurses started coming and going again. They were trying to prepare me for cesarean delivery. They kept advising me of the next step and finally, so that I could prepare myself, I asked if it was just like if I was having the baby like normal... except I don't go home with a baby. Yes, that is exactly what is happening. I remember a nurse asking if we had named her yet. She was he first person to treat us like Carly was really a person, and that she still deserved the identity that we had already given her in our minds. I couldn't say her name. I tried, but I couldn't speak it yet. It was too hard to introduce someone to my dead baby. Plus, I thought that if hey knew her name, it would make it easier for them to take her away. I don't know why I thought that.
Fast forward. We were in the operating room and we were going to see the Carly we've been waiting for. It was the worst experience I've ever had delivering any of my three kids. This time seemed to be literally digging in my body, not just a simple extraction. I was in so much pain, even through the epidural. I started throwing up because the pain was making me sick. It wasn' sharp stabbing pain but the feeling of someone inside your guts forcing their way around and behind your organs. I wanted to keep staring into Scott's eyes but I ended up staring at the ceiling for a lot of it, and trying to concentrate on my breathing. Once Carly was out, the nurse came and got Scott. I didn't know what to think. They didn't say why and I was afraid that maybe I was in some sort of danger too. When he came back, his face was so serious and even void of emotion. You know, the way you look when you are beyond your breaking point and your mind is just starting to shut down. He told me he saw Carly and that they were going to clean her up so we could visit with her later.
Fast forward again. We are in my room where I would stay until we went home. The nurses kept asking me over and over if I was sure I wanted to see her. They explained that she had been dead for a day, or maybe two, and so she didn't look normal. I finally told them I don't care what she looks like, I need to hold her. I need some time to say hello... and a little more time to also say goodbye. They brought her to us, and for the time that she was in the room, I was calm. Maybe I didn't appear calm, but I felt that way. The events of the day leading up to this, faded to a blur. I set aside my anguish and focused on the moments I had her to hold. Aside from the obvious signs that she was, and had been, dead already, she was perfect. All fingers and toes. Hair. 5 pounds. This is when I started asking why. I told her I love her. I cried to her. I cried for her. I cried because of her. I still do. I watched Scott hold her and I watched his heart break.
No, no autopsy for us please. It won't bring her back and we're not trying again. She is, and always will be, our last baby. Made with love, and given to God.
I don't know the exact date or time that Carly went to Heaven but I think every mom who experiences this loss has a never ending search in their mind the relives every day of the pregnancy looking for the signs she might have missed. Me... I wish I had done two things different.
- I wish I was more insistent with my Dr.'s office. I complained a million times to my mom that I felt I was being "herded" through my pregnancy, along with hundreds of other expectant moms. I knew darn well that I had high risk issues, and I knew I was not being cared for the same as I had been in my previous two pregnancies. I tried to convey this at every interaction with my Dr.'s office, but not in a forceful, take charge kind of way. I wasn't asking for special privileges, and I certainly was not complaining, but when I mentioned things I noticed to nurses and Dr.'s, I felt as if they were just giving me lip service so I would be quiet until the next appointment. Unfortunately, one of those things I mentioned, was that I noticed the baby was not moving quite as much. They did a doppler and heard the heartbeat, which I remember noting was lower than usual, and said everything was fine. Well, my baby didn't make it to the next appointment. I should have asked for another kind of verification. I should of spoke up that I didn't feel it was "fine". I should have scheduled my next appointment for sooner. I shoulda, coulda, woulda... and wonder if that would have made the difference between a tiny little cutie laying in my arms instead of writing in a blog to her.
- I wish I had done kick-counts. I wish I was told to do kick-counts. I REALLY wish someone had impressed on me how instrumental this could have been in saving my baby. I think OB offices should make it a routine issue during third trimester check-ups to get the kick-count information from the mother. Why do they not do that? Aren't they supposed to be the experts in guiding you through your pregnancy? When I told them the movement was lower than usual, and that there "aren't as many kicks and more just rolling around", at my 32 week appointment, why in the world did they not take me more seriously? I don't blame them... but I see where I trusted them too much and they weren't deserving of that level of trust.