While we may have a pretty typical suburban life, our story is not the typical stillbirth story. Thank you for reading it.
DH and I met the first month of university and have been a couple ever since. We've been together for 13 years and married for 8. Somehow we are both big geeks and jocks so we can watch sci-fi and football at the same time and be perfectly happy.
In the summer of 2007, our daughter, D was born. She is adorable and far too smart and somewhat spoiled as she is the only (living) grandchild in both our families and the only great-grandchild in 3 of our parents families. Having her got me in touch with my inner-hippy and I cloth-diapered her and became a baby-wearing addict. She is the only reason for me to get out of bed these days and I can't imagine where we would be without her.
Just before D hit 1 ½, we decided it was time for another baby. Well I decided and DH didn't object too much. It took until D turned 2 for us to get pregnant, but once I was knocked up everything was fine. I was semi-miserable for the 1st trimester and more than semi-miserable for the 3rd trimester, but it was just discomfort and exhaustion from growing a big baby and chasing a toddler around. We didn't know the baby's gender as DH wanted to be surprised. I was trying a for a VBAC delivery and working to convince this baby to not be posterior like its big sister. We knew that the baby was going to be big (D was 9 lb 4 oz) and that the docs wouldn't induce me unless my cervix was “favorable”. I was doing massage therapy and acupuncture in order to try to go into labor or at least start dilating before my scheduled c-section on April 14th.
I was thrilled when my water broke while I was making supper on Good Friday, April 2. (not a whole lot good about it looking back). I called my doula and started making arrangements for someone to watch D for the next few days. (Our parents all live at least 9 hours away and some friends were away for the Easter holiday.) We thought it could take a while to go into labor so I had no plans to rush to the hospital. We ate supper and I sent DH to the grocery store to get some goodies because I knew I wouldn't be eating once we went to the hospital. I ended up going into labor pretty quickly and by 8 pm we were on the way to the hospital with me yelling in the back seat.
We got to the hospital and I was 5 cm dilated. I am not really sure about the time line after that what with being in labor and all that, but I think I started pushing before 11 pm. I begged for drugs a few times but made it to fully dilated with just gas and the shower. Everything was fine with my vitals and the baby's heartbeat the entire time. I ended up doing most of the pushing sitting on the toilet (I know, very glamorous, but when you're in pain you do what you gotta do). After 2 hours of nearly constant contractions and pushing, there was very little progress and the decision to do a c-section was made. I felt better about this c-section than the last one as at least I had gotten to really try to deliver naturally.
I got wheeled into an operating room and shortly after got my spinal. Once that kicked in, I was on cloud nine. No more pain and about to meet my baby. I was making jokes with the nurses and the baby was moving around enough that they could see my belly move from across the room. I do remember thinking “what's taking so long to get started” but there was no big rush as I was now feeling fine and the baby hadn't shown any signs of distress. The surgery was completely normal and before too long the anesthetist told DH to stand up and see the baby. It was a boy and we just looked at each other in awe, we had a son, Reid. They took him over to the warming station to check him out but instead of a cry, we heard someone yelling “I can't get a heartbeat”. I was confused at first, I thought this guy was just useless, my baby has a perfect heartbeat, why couldn't he find it? Then it started to sink in and I started to panic and beg for my baby to just be okay. Of course he wasn't.
The whole time I was strapped to the table while they were working on Reid was awful, I was trapped and helpless and started shivering uncontrollably. After 24 minutes, they declared Reid dead and we could finally see him. DH held him and we both just looked at Reid and cried. By the time they finished my surgery, the doctors and nurses were crying too. I spent the whole time in recovery holding Reid and stroking his hands. He had red eyelashes which nearly killed me because DH is a red-head and I have always wanted to have a red-headed baby. Our doula took a few pictures but I had no idea about NILMDTS and what they could do so we said no to calling a photographer. I really regret that now. DH couldn't bring himself to hold Reid again and so I don't have any pictures of DH with his son either. We were just in so much shock that it never occurred to us to bring in his clothes and dress him and take more pictures.
The next 2 and half days were spent in a fog of painkillers and crying. There were no answers as to why Reid died, nothing was visibly wrong with him or the placenta. I got visits everyday from both the GP who was with me during labor and the OB who did the surgery. They were both clearly devastated by our loss. Our GP made 2 trips to the hospital so see us even though she was not working the rest of the weekend. My parents arrived late Saturday and came to see me. The three of us went to see Reid but he was already cold and turning blue and I couldn't pick him up again. I was discharged Monday morning and finally went home to see D and start life without our son.
I still feel as if the whole thing is a horrible, horrible nightmare. For the last month, anytime I look at myself in the mirror I think “how can this be my life” and and start to cry yet again. I grew a huge healthy baby, so how the hell can he be dead? I look at D's baby doll and think that they save babies this size (it's 12” tall) so why didn't they save my baby? Now that I'm healing and my belly has shrunk, it's starting to feel like the last year didn't happen. Sometimes I wish I could just forget it all and feel better, but then I would lose a whole year of D's life and a whole year with DH and after losing Reid, I can't afford to lose anything else.