Friday, June 4, 2010

Abbey's story

Abigail Ruth
7 pounds, 10 ounces
20 inches

June 4, 2006

After being in labor for more than 24 hours, I am told that I am fully dilated and that it is time to push. I am sure that most women are encouraged along with statements such as, "It's almost time to meet your new baby," but in my situation no such statements are made. We all know what the end result is going to be.

I push like I am supposed to. I am following the nurse's orders and trying to be a good patient. A good mother. An hour goes by. And then another. And then another. I soon tire. I am emotionally and physically drained at this point. I fall asleep in between contractions and the nurse has to keep waking me up.

My original birth plan, which was thrown out the window upon my arrival at the Labor and Delivery unit of the hospital, included giving natural childbirth a try. Rich and I attended a birthing class at the hospital a few months ago. The nurse teaching the class had distributed a sheet of paper comparing natural childbirth to marathon running and being a runner, I wanted to give it a try. I thought I could do it. Plus, the thought of having someone stick a needle in my spine was a bit frightening.

But here I am with an epidural because everyone is trying to make it easy for me. No one even bothered to ask me what I wanted to do. I was told that there is only one anesthesiologist on call in the unit and I need to give advanced warning when I begin to feel that the epidural is losing its power. I don't.

My body and my mind are numb and I want to feel something so I allow the epidural to slowly wear off. I don't want to say anything to the nurse. I want to feel the pain of the contractions. That pain isn't nearly as bad as the hole in my heart. The nurse finally figures out that I need more medication and I give in as she pages the anesthesiologist.

After four hours of pushing, the doctor tells me that he doesn't know why the baby isn't coming out. I want to scream, "IT'S BECAUSE THE BABY IS DEAD. IT'S NOT A SECRET. WE ALL KNOW IT. IF THAT'S THE REASON, PLEASE JUST SAY IT." But I am so tired that I can barely keep my eyes open. I just want to curl up in a ball and sleep. I want to awaken to find that this had just been a horrible nightmare.

But I go on because there is a tiny little part of me that believes that the doctors are wrong. That doctor who had been on call when we arrived the day before hadn't seemed so sure. She was using one of those portable ultrasound machines and she had even asked the resident if he agreed. Why ask the resident if you know for sure? Why? Why do that in front of the patient?

I am also fully aware that the heart rate monitor intended for the baby has not been in use since I was ushered into the room. What if they are wrong and my baby is born alive? I imagine the scene of shock and surprise, the calling for a doctor and nurses to tend to the baby. I want it to be over so I agree to allow the doctor to use forceps.

My baby's birth is marked with silence. There is no cheering. No tears of joy. No celebratory cutting of the cord. The baby, my baby, isn't born alive. The doctors were correct. I have questions. "Did I have a girl or a boy?" Our wonderful, kind nurse leans past me to look. I have trouble controlling myself when she tells me that I had a baby girl. The beautiful baby girl of my dreams. I am too numb to do anything but sob silent tears.

I want answers. "Was the cord wrapped around her neck?"

No. It wasn't.

I will soon learn that sometimes there are no answers.

Today...

I do not write this for sympathy. Or to make anyone feel bad. Or for attention. I want to be a voice for my daughter, my baby, and for all of the other missing babies out there. My daughter will never be able to tell her story so I will tell it for her. I want everyone to know that this happens. That sometimes full term, completely healthy babies die for no known reason.

Think of 100 women you know or know of. Come on, they don't have to be your best friends. You can surely come up with 100 women. Family, friends, acquaintances, classmates, professors, teachers, neighbors, co-workers. Chances are that at least one of these women will give birth to a stillborn baby.

That's one baby. A baby is different from a percent. Think about that the next time you hear someone say, "There's only a 1% chance of something going wrong after you reach the second trimester." That's one baby.

27 comments:

Sara B said...

I can't even imagine. I know you said you don't want sympathy, but I can't read that without telling you how sorry I am for the loss of your baby girl and what you went through.

anotherfineproductfrom said...

I'm so sorry. I wish I could have hugged all of you just at that moment, and now, though I'd hate to make it harder.

As my pregnancy progresses I think more and more of your little Abbey. I'm scared. Her story, your story, is just so hard to digest.

Sending warm your way - and hers too.

apaprikao said...

Our angels have the same birthday, same day and year! That's amazing to me. I know how you feel though. I too don't write about my Quinne for any other reason than to share her with the world. I want her to be remembered and loved forever just like any of my children.

I'm so very sorry for your loss. I can relate. It's not an easy day and I hope you're able to find some peace today.

Happy Birthday Abbey! You are very loved and so very missed.

I wrote a blog about my angel as well, feel free to stop by and read her story.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry. I can't imagine the pain you and your husband have gone through. I haven't lost a child, but 3 people very close to me have (my mom, aunt and SIL). Your family is in my thoughts and prayers on your angel's birthday.

Ami said...

Sarah, I'm so glad you wrote about Abbey. Having been following your blog for so long, I've often wondered more about Abbey. And I think you're such a strong mama to write about her. I would do the same. I would never want her to be forgotten. So I feel even better now that when I go to your blog for my nightly fix, I can not only see those 3 adorable faces, but now I can also smile for the one who isn't with us. I'm sure she was just as beautiful...thanks for sharing her story...

Anonymous said...

I've been sitting here trying to put into words the thoughts of my heart that aches for you. I just read the comment left by Ami and she said it much better than I could have...my feelings & thoughts exactly!

I love reading about your 3 adorable little girls, but I always think of Abbey as I read.

Please know your readers are entering into your grief again today with you.

Mommy, Esq. said...

Oh, Sarah. This must have been tough to write. My sister and I were just discussing how hard it must be to lose a baby - especially so far along into the pregnancy. I am so happy that you have your sweet girls to keep you company when you think of Abbey.

Sara said...

Thank you for sharing Abbey's story with us. I am so sorry you had to go through that. Many hugs and kind thoughts to you today.

Anonymous said...

I can imagine how hard it is for you. My mother gave birth to an angel baby too. I know it was hard for her, just as it was hard for me. I often think what it would be like to have my baby sister with me, the one I had wanted since I was little. How every day I would teach her new things, we would share secrets, and how I would let her borrow my clothes when she was older. My mom told me “don't think of it as losing a sister, but gaining an angel.” My sissy, Charlotte Eloise, would have turned four last Christmas.

Indigo Bleu Photography said...

Sarah, no sympathy here just compassion! My heart aches for anyone that has gone through something this tragic.

I think it is wonderful you share Abbey with the world.

Cindy said...

Sarah, thank you for sharing Abbey's story with the world. My heart is with you and your family on your angel baby's birthday.

Meg said...

Sarah, Thank you for sharing Abbey's story. Nothing I say can truly comfort you but know there are people thinking of you & your family today and wishing her story was different. I'm so sorry for what you've been through.

Amy said...

Sarah, I am sorry for the loss of Abbey. I had the same thoughts as I gave birth to my girls - that the doctor had been wrong, that Caitlin's heart had just stopped momentarily when she passed over it with the ultrasound machine, that Caitlin would be born alive. I was admitted the day before I gave birth for observation, and all night long I thought that if I moved the monitors hooked to my other girls, I could find the heartbeat the doctor had missed.

And then in the delivery room, when it was time for Caitlin to be born, my doctor stepped aside to allow her assistant to deliver, and as I held my husband's hand and cried, nobody pressured me to push either.

In a sad way I am glad that you shared that part of Abbey's story, because it makes me feel so not alone in all the thoughts that swirled through my head then.

Esther and Brian said...

I cannot imagine what you went through and I am truly very sorry. Thank you for telling us Abbey's story..thank you.

Anonymous said...

You have told Abbey's story with such beauty and emotion - thank you.

Sadly I know 2 women in real life who have given birth to still babies - right at their due dates... and far too many that I have met online. It's such a horrible thing you had to go through- but thank you for helping us to know you and Abbey better.

Heather said...

Thank you for sharing Abbey's story with us. My heart is with you and your family today.

Jamie said...

Thank you, Sarah for telling Abbey's story. I will be thinking of that sweet little girl and praying for you all today. What a powerful post.

Happy Birthday Little Angel

TanyaMom23 said...

Thank you for sharing Abbey's story Sarah, I am inspired by your strength.

Happy Birthday to your beautiful Angel baby.

Wendy said...

((hugs)) so many of these for you.

Hope's Mama said...

Sarah it gives me the shudders to hear about all the similarities in our stories. It is just such a nightmare. One I still wish I could wake up from. And I know you do, too.
I often say to people, when speaking Hope's story, if you don't know anyone who has lost a baby - now you know me. 1 in 100 is big. It is huge. In this day of blogging and social networking, we all easily know 100 women of childbearing age and it is so sad to think of all those babies lost.
They are so much more than statistics.
Happy birthday, Abbey. You are loved and missed the world over.
xo

Sara said...

Thank you for sharing Abbey's story. It is one of those that, even though I know how it will go, I keep wishing it was different. My thoughts are with you and your sweet angel girl today.

His Mom said...

Here is the video of us laying a flower for Abbey (you can't hear it, but Claudia is saying Abbey as I lay the flower down. She talked about "Abbey's flower" a lot that weekend)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mteX4DJSfFQ

Laurie said...

My heart weeps for you on this day. I spent my first pregnancy terrified of a stillbirth due to a complication. They said there was a fifty/fifty chance and ended up delivering him early, but alive. I praise God for him every day. But we lost our second baby at 14 weeks. In medical terms a miscarriage, not a still birth, but I held her tiny body in my hand, and she was my baby girl, and I mourn for my angel baby too.

Jayme said...

Happy Birthday, Abbey. I am glad you've shared her story with us.

Marcia (123 blog) said...

I thought of your story the entire weekend, Sarah.

A friend of a friend recently lost one of her twins at birth and I've been battling with the whole "but there was no reason" thing.

Thank you for saying that sometimes this happens to perfectly healthy babies too.

And thinking of you...

Stacy said...

Thank you for sharing Abbey's story. My heart breaks for you because I know all too well the pain of losing a daughter. The anniversaries don't get any easier ... just different. I had a different experience, but can relate to so much of what you said.

I wish you and your family the best and I've been thinking of your little Abbey.

(((HUGS)))

Stephanie said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. My Aurora was born still, and we don't know why.