A couple of days ago, a funeral procession passed by my car while I was waiting at a stoplight. How quickly my thoughts can go back to those days. The days that we buried our Emily and Michael. February 15, 2013 and February 21, 2014. I remember last year around this same time, the same thing happened. Michael was in my tummy, and I watched as those yellow lights went by and flags were temporarily placed on cars to let others know that a funeral was happening. I remember thinking of Emily’s funeral, and then hoping that it wasn’t going to happen again. That I would lose another baby.
I have never written about those days. February 5th when we found out about Emily, and February 6th when we found out about Michael. It is hard to put such indescribable days into words. Such painful days that you never thought would happen once, but then twice. But I am going to attempt to do that with both this year. So here I go…
I went into my doctor’s appointment on that Tuesday in 2013, exactly two years ago. Alone. My husband was at home with our boys. I went into this appointment impatient. I was about 15 1/2 weeks pregnant with our baby who I was told with “80% certainty” was a girl. My OB-GYN was running behind on her appointments that day, and I sat in this exam room for over 45 minutes. That is not even including time in the “waiting room”. Waiting… I was going over in my head how I was trying to get to Target after this appointment, before my husband had to leave for work. I was getting even more impatient waiting for my doctor. Looking back now, I would have waited forever that day had I been told my baby had a heartbeat. So, I waited. And finally my doctor came in and talked pleasantly, and asked how I was feeling. I said, “Good.” She then got out her Doppler. She checked for our baby’s heartbeat. She kept picking up mine. She did not really looked concerned. I went over in my head about Matthew’s and Ryan’s appointments when they were in my tummy. Was there ever a time this far along we couldn’t get a heartbeat? I didn’t think so. But I remembered that this happened with our first appointment around 10 weeks with this baby. My oldest, Matthew, was with me at this appointment. And we just got sent downstairs, and all was good. Our baby was moving around like crazy, almost dancing. Heartbeat was great. Everything was great. Then at 13 1/2 weeks, just two weeks before this day I saw our baby. She was sucking on her finger, sticking out her tongue. That is the ultrasound picture shown on our website that I got that day. Just looked perfect. Everything looked great.
So, I quieted my worry, and went down to the ultrasound office. I said a quick half of a “Hail Mary” before going in, and I even thought I felt our baby move. Everything is going to be okay. I had to wait a little bit for the doctor’s to come back from lunch, so I grabbed some food myself. A chicken salad croissant sandwich, some soup. I was feeling good. “Anne Morrison,” I hear my name being called. I walked back, and the ultrasound technician led me to a room with another girl being trained that day. I got back into the room, and we did some small talk before I was asked to raise up my shirt a little bit so they could put that gel on my belly. I watched with anticipation. I had told her that I thought I just felt my baby move in the waiting room, and she looked at me with disbelief even before she started looking for my baby. “Really, at 15 1/2 weeks? That would be really early,” she said. I thought inside my head,”Well, it is possible. Anything is.” I just did not know that it was possible for a baby to die at almost 16 weeks for no reason to be found, as I was about to find out. The technician got that wand on my belly, and started moving it around. It was quiet. Still. Nobody was saying much. I watched the screen above me hung up on the wall. I waited. And waited for somebody to say something. Nothing. I looked at our baby not moving. I thought, “Our baby must be asleep.” Something felt different though, as I sat there. The air was still. I was barely taking a breath. And then I looked for the line where a heartbeat would be. Nothing. My heart started to fall apart. It was about to be shattered into a million pieces. I kept waiting for them to say something. (My hands and legs shake, and my eyes fill with tears anytime I think back on this day. It’s as if it were yesterday.) I kept asking, “Is everything ok?” Nothing. More silence. Then she said, “I have to wait for the doctor.” I finally said, “I know what happened. I know what is happening.” I was so tired of them not saying anything. I later learned that they have to wait for the doctor to come in to officially tell you that your baby has died. What torture. For everyone for that matter. I kept saying, “I know what happened. My baby died.” She left the room once, I believe with the trainee in there. The whole time I was crying out to God to help me. I was falling apart inside. I couldn’t believe that this was happening. This was my life. How did this happen? I didn’t understand any of it. The ultrasound tech finally confirmed what I already knew, my baby did not have a heartbeat. When did this happen? They said my baby was measuring 13-14 weeks. I just had seen our baby Emily at 13 1/2 weeks, and she was doing great. That meant, she died shortly after that appointment. Had I known that, I would have watched her on the ultrasound screen longer. Had I known that would be the last time I would see her alive. They asked if I wanted to call someone. I said, “My husband.” He didn’t pick up. I thought in my head, “he must be putting Ryan down for a nap.” I called my mom to tell her the unbearable news. She was there as soon as she could be. At one point, both of the technicians left the room, and I called out down the hallway, “You can’t leave me. You just told me that my baby died.” The world was just spinning for the remainder of the day. The doctor came in, and confirmed everything. I watched our baby “still”. I had no idea what this all meant. What next? Now I was being told that my baby had to come out of me. What do you mean? I was still processing that my baby had died, and now she has to come out? Doesn’t she come out on her due date, July 27th? I said I would just go home and wait for her to come out naturally. They said that wasn’t an option as I was too far along. That I could hemorrhage and bleed to death. Oh my gosh. So they suggested a D&C, not even knowing what that meant. They kept referring to my baby as “tissue”, “fetus” and all of these other insensitive terms. This is a baby. My baby. I asked if I could see my OB-GYN, and talk with her about things. I was still alone.
So the nurses came down and got me and brought me upstairs. I was brought back into the same room where my doctor could not get a heartbeat with her Doppler. When she finally got a chance to come in, she did say she was sorry. I remember before I went down to the ultrasound room she said that it wasn’t entirely strange we couldn’t get a heartbeat. That once in a blue moon happened for various reasons – the baby’s position, etc. I wanted so badly to be that blue moon, but I wasn’t. I just did not understand all of this. I felt like I was in a bad dream. I kept saying that. “This just feels like a dream.” I finally got a hold of my husband, but I honestly cannot even remember that conversation. I just remember him not sure of what to do with the boys if he were to come up to the hospital where my doctor’s office was. I might mention too, that he had never seen our baby alive. I thought it would be fun to bring our oldest to our first appointment, which I did. So, it was just a given that my husband would wait until our anatomy appointment to go. We never had a complication in the past. And someone had to watch the boys during the daytime hours while I would go to these appointments.
So, once my mom and husband were there, we started to talk about our “options”. I didn’t like any of them. Where was the option of “restart”. Let’s try this again. This isn’t real. Just a really bad joke that isn’t true. There wasn’t that option. We got moved to another room to figure out things. I kept asking my OB-GYN, what would you do? She said, “It’s your decision. You have to do what you feel is right.” I wanted to “miscarry” at home. She again said that was too dangerous, and was not an option. She feared for my health and life, and having a 1 and 3 year old at home with me. She said if I labored and delivered there was not guarantees that I would be able to deliver. That it could be days. And I would have to be given medicine to induce labor since only 16 weeks along. And there would be a chance they would have to do a D&C anyhow to get the baby out. I thought, “Days? Our boys. How would that be for them?” So, thinking about everything, I decided on a D&C. My husband left it up to me. We left the office I believe around 6pm. Maybe a little later. I did not want to leave. I did not want to face that this was reality. I wanted the doctors, these miracle workers to come in and say, “We can make your baby alive again! We have something!” That didn’t happen. I drove my car over to a grocery parking lot and left it there, for I was in no condition to drive home. I just couldn’t believe this was all happening. I felt like such a let down to my husband. That I was not fulfilling my job of bearing more babies.
We got home, and I had to deliver the news to our boys at some point. Matthew kept asking where I was all day? And why were you at the doctor’s office that long? Finally, we had to tell the boys. I cannot even remember how that conversation went. I believe I wrote about it in a previous blog. I just remember that breaking my heart all over again. Their baby sibling died.
I had to wait around for a couple of hours to get a call from my OB-GYN to find out the day I would come in for a D&C. She said the sooner, the better. It was decided, that Friday evening. Before that, I had to come in Thursday after hours to have some medicine inserted. I had no clue what that all entailed getting this medicine. The procedure hurt more than any labor I had gone through, especially knowing it was being done to get my baby that had died out of me. It caused cramping afterwards, and its goal was to dilate. I had three days to prepare for the D&C. I had already set up a time the next day to meet with our priest and pray. I had to set up a time and day to meet with the funeral home and cemetery. They also would tell me, the sooner the better. How quickly my life had changed. And to think I was so worried about getting to Target that day. I now approach waiting for appointments as no big deal. My outlook on things has changed quite a bit. My outlook on life has changed quite a bit.
February 5th is forever ingrained in my heart and mind. The day that changed everything as I knew it to be. I decided last year with the boys that I would surprisingly do something positive on that day. I did not want to choose to sit around in misery. I still reflected on that time though, 1-2pm, when I found out that Emily had died. And got sad. But we baked heart-shaped cookies with Michael in my tummy. I thought, “Emily would not want me to sit around sad all day.” I also thought, that is the day we found out that she did not have a heartbeat. She most likely died a week or so before that, the day and time I do not know. How ironic that we baked heart-shaped cookies the exact same day a year prior we found out her heart was not beating any longer. But I decided on a heart for two reasons, 1) our love for her and 2) it was getting close to Valentine’s Day. We will doing the same thing this year. For our love for Emily. And now Michael. Little did I know last year baking cookies, that the next day I was going to be told that my baby died again.