I was 35 weeks pregnant when I found out our daughter no longer had a heartbeat. I gave birth to her sleeping 5 days later.
All my husband and I wanted was to be parents. It took a few years to conceive Leia, but once we did it was bliss. There was a lot of heartburn, and morning sickness but I didn’t care. I loved being pregnant. Loved feeling her move inside of me, and kicking.
We threw ourselves into preparing for her arrival, and had her room all ready. My nice pink new suitcase all packed, the new diaper bag all ready to go, the car seat safely installed in the car.
What we couldn’t do was prepare ourselves for her not coming home. For her dying.
Losing Leia was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. I had been writing letters to her for 6 months in utero. I had no idea how I could stop writing to my baby girl, so I never did.
It’s been almost 7 months since we said hello and goodbye to our daughter. I am currently expecting our rainbow baby but we will never get over losing Leia.
“A person’s a person,
no matter how small.”
October is a special month for us here at The Band. Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and other types of baby loss and child loss affect families every day. Too many people suffer silently through the devastating loss. For those going through it, we want you to know, your little ones matter.
October 15th, is Pregnancy, Infant and Child Loss Remembrance Day.
On that day, our Remembrance Wall will go up. We want all our little ones to be remembered. Please send us a comment or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can abide with you and remember your little one(s) as our own. Today, and every day, our hearts ache for those tables forever missing one.
As we go through this month, we want to hear your stories. Stories of miscarriage. Of babies born still, still born. Of baby and child loss. This is your month and there is no story too small.
Our other loss families need to hear your stories.
Please share how your losses have affected you. There is strength in numbers and comfort in knowing you are not alone.
If you’d like to add your baby’s name to our Wall of Remembrance, please fill this out so we can properly remember your lost little one.
“A person’s a person,
no matter how small”
– Dr Seuss
Today, October 15, 2014, we pause to remember the stars of our soul that were extinguished far too early.
To the parents who are missing their babies today and always, The Band sends our love and prayers.
To our babies, the babies who never got to experience the joys of Earth and whose lives were cut very short, we miss you.
We miss you. More than anyone can ever know. We wish we could have one more moment – one single moment – with you, as if we can’t have a lifetime with you.
Today, we honor the short lives of some of the brightest souls, souls that have touched many and have taught us to cherish all of life’s moments.
To our babies who we carry in our hearts, instead of our arms, we will never forget you.
Band Back Together’s Wall of Remembrance:
- Mary Katerina, miscarriage March 13, 2008.
- September 23, 2010, miscarriage.
Amanda and John’s Babies:
- Juliana, July 2008, miscarriage.
- Charlie, November 2009, miscarriage.
- Samantha, March 2010, miscarriage.
- Her 3 Littles, December 23, 2010, missed miscarriage/June 2011, miscarriage/December 6, 2011, Autosomal Recessive Polycysitic Kidney Disease
Another Becky’s Baby:
- Baby Savu, August 2004 missed miscarriage between 3rd and 4th month.
- Baby Garrett, September 13 2012, Miscarriage
Aunt Becky’s Babies:
- February, 2008, Baby 1, miscarriage.
- March, 2008, Baby 2, miscarriage.
Baby Boy, February 15, 2000, miscarriage.
Baby Ian, pregnant October 2011, unpregnant January 2012, ectopic pregnancy.
Baby KJ, July 15, 2008, miscarriage.
Baby Moll, June 13, 2005, miscarriage.
Baby Noah Walter, January 2012, miscarriage.
- Malcolm, January 2008, miscarriage.
- Ophelia, April 2009, miscarriage.
- Caden, miscarriage, May 1989.
- Aubrey, miscarriage, December 1993.
- Kaycie, miscarriage, 6/14/2011.
- Baby Jones #1, February 2007, miscarriage at 12 weeks due to blighted ovum (Empty Gestational Sac).
- Michelle, November 1991, miscarriage
- 2 babies, miscarried in 1994 and 1999.
Elsie’s Ten Possibilities:
- Nine Embies, 2008
- Lola, 2011
- Baby 1, September 2006, miscarriage.
- Baby 2, January 2007, miscarriage.
- Baby Girl 1, December 2008, late miscarriage.
- Baby Girl 2, August 17, 2009, born still at 18 weeks.
- March 2005, miscarriage at 13 weeks.
- Biscuit, July 18, 2012, miscarriage.
- Unnamed baby, 6w1d, September 18, 2010, miscarriage.
- Unnamed baby, 6w2d, June 22, 2011, miscarriage.
- Unnamed baby, 5w, August 15, 2011, miscarriage.
- Pregnant in December, 2007. Unpregnant by February, 2008.
- Forget Me Not #1, February 2008, miscarriage.
- Forget Me Not #2, January 2012, miscarriage.
- Baby M, September 10, 2011, miscarriage.
- Stella, February 13, 2011, miscarriage.
- June 8, 2008, early miscarriage.
- November 2007, early miscarriage
- November 2011, early miscarriage
Justine and Boo’s Baby:
Kallay and Ryan’s Baby:
- Baby C lost to a partial miscarriage, May 17, 2010. Baby C is survived by twin sisters, Lily and Molly who were born on December 7, 2010.
- Mari Elizabeth, September 2003, miscarriage
- Noah Douglas, October 2004, miscarriage.
- Twin Angels, July 2006, miscarriages.
- Rebecca, June 3, 1995, miscarriage.
- Baby Sluiter A, April 2007, miscarriage.
- Baby Sluiter B, May 2008, miscarriage.
- Baby 1, September 2009, miscarriage.
- Baby 2, May 2010, miscarriage.
- Lola, October 9, 2012, miscarriage.
Kelly and Brad’s daughter:
- Lily Catherine, February 18, 2010, miscarriage.
- Baby 1, April 2003, miscarriage.
- Baby 2, October 2004, miscarriage.
- Baby 3, February 2006, miscarriage.
Kendra Pocock’s Baby:
- Baby JJ Pocock, July 13 2012, Miscarriage/Ectopic Pregnancy
- Baby, October 1996, miscarriage.
- Baby One, son late term miscarriage at 15 weeks.
- Baby Two, second-trimester miscarriage at 14 weeks.
- Baby Three: miscarriage, 11 weeks.
- Baby Four: miscarriage, 13 weeks
- Baby Five, late miscarriage, 16 weeks.
- Eva, miscarriage
- 7 other babies lost through miscarriage due to luteal phase disorder and clotting disorder.
L. Moses’ Baby:
- Baby Moses, July 17, 2008, ectopic pregnancy
Lara and Brandon’s Son:
Lauren C’s Angels:
- Baby, August 27, 2007, miscarriage.
- Baby Boy, January 13, 2011, miscarriage.
- Baby May 9, 2011, miscarriage.
- Cameron, born and died May 22, 2009 at 10 weeks.
- Jeremiah Oliver and Jillian Olivia, twin babies. Second trimester loss July 9, 2010 and July 14, 2010 respectively.
- July 1994, ectopic pregnancy resulting in emergency surgery.
- Natasha Anastasia, September 7, 2011, miscarriage.
- Baby B #3, September 1, 2011, miscarriage at 5 weeks.
Marlowe Corrine, September 19, 2006, early miscarriage.
- June 11, 2011, miscarriage
- Baby Angel, February 8, 1998, blighted ovum/miscarriage
- Albert Eugene, October 31, 2000, miscarriage
Mindy’s Three Angels:
- Angel One, September 9, 2005, miscarriage.
- Angel Two, July 17, 2007, miscarriage.
- Angel Three, September 25, 2010, miscarriage.
- Peanut, August 7, 2011, miscarriage.
- Baby One, February 2, 2011, miscarriage.
- Hosanna Joy, June 18, 2011, early miscarriage.
- Cody Ryan-Price Grodan, February 14, 2012, miscarriage, 12 weeks.
Nicole and Jake’s baby:
- Baby One, September 19, 2011, miscarriage.
Rachel and Jesse:
- Babies due Aug 2008 and November 2010. Both lost to miscarriage.
- Alivia Mason, March 21, 2012, miscarriage.
- Isaac Ephraim, miscarriage August 2006.
- Isaiah Jeremiah, miscarriage January 2007.
- Ella Alicea, ectopic pregnancy June 2009.
- September 2006, miscarriage.
- April 12, 2002, miscarriage.
- September 3, 2008, miscarriage.
- Baby #3, June 2000, miscarriage from a blighted ovum.
- Athena Rose Moore, Girl Twin B
- October 1990, miscarriage.
Three Angels: September, 2002, July 17, September 25. Miscarriages.
- 2008, Little Soul 1, 2008, ectopic pregnancy.
- 2009, Little Soul 2, 2009, ectopic pregnancy.
- Sean Michael, April 14, 1987, miscarriage.
- Nolan “Shepherd,” stillborn at 17 weeks on September 15, 2009.
- Madeleine Rose, stillborn July 7, 2009 due to incompetent cervix and uterine infection.
- Orion, stillborn May 8, 2004
- Benjamin, September 4, 2012, stillbirth.
- Bella Rose, stillborn on September 9, 2009.
- Emerson Allen Behrends, July 10, 2001, stillborn.
- Jonathan Edward, June 4, 1992, stillborn.
Debbie And Jeff’s Daughter:
- Chloe Eva, September 12, 2008, stillbirth.
Heather and David’s Daughter:
- Clara Edith, July 1, 2012, Stillbirth at 42 weeks, 3 days due to meconium aspiration and uterine infection.
Jill and Mark’s Baby:
- Haven, November 26, 2003, stillborn at 38 weeks gestation
- Ruth, January 3, 2013, stillbirth
- Cullen Liam, born still September 11, 2010.
Lilla and Gareth’s daughter:
- Pippa, born still on February 13, 2011 from listeria infection.
Louise and Joseph’s Baby:
- Alice Mathelin, born still on February 25, 2011, at 36 weeks and 5 days from Abruptio Placentae
Martha’s Twin Boys:
- Owen died March 8, 2008 because his cord wasn’t properly attached to the placenta.
- Joshua died one month later, April 6, 2008 because he couldn’t live without his brother. Both were born still on April 8, 2008.
- Summer Lily, born still March 30, 2011.
- Jordan Ala, stillborn on November 13, 2006.
- Nicholas Aaron and Nathan Alexander, June 9, 2000, stillbirth
- Audrey Elizabeth, August 7, 1998, born still.
Selah Mae: born January 22, 2002, stillborn.
- Carter Austin Ross, March 18, 2006, stillbirth due to an umbilical cord anomaly.
- Isabella-Rose Elizabeth, October 12, 2009, stillbirth.
Amy and James’s Babies:
- Jacob Bennett born and died on July 11, 2007 due to premature rupture of membranes (PROM).
- Samantha Lauren born August 16, 2011 at 23.5 weeks passed away September 17th due to extreme prematurity and fungal meningitis.
Baby Helen: Born July, 1993. Passed from prematurity.
- Christopher Robin Cote: Born September 25, 2009. Stillborn due to premature rupture of membranes and incompetent cervix.
- Jellybean, born at 5:20 April 15th, 2009; and passed just four short hours later in her arms.
Heather and Aaron’s Son:
- Aodin R. Hurd, October 7, 2007, born still due to premature rupture of the membranes.
- Baby S, March 2008, Miscarriage
- Evie, December 14, 2009, Triplet Prematurity
- Jack, December 22, 2009, Triplet Stillbirth due to Prematurity
- Will, January 13, 2010, Triplet Prematurity
- Baby M, May 2010, Miscarriage
Kristin’s Baby (Mama KK):
- Ariel Grace, born on July 28, 2009 at 18 weeks 5 days. Lived 5 minutes.
- Ayla and Juliet, October 20, 2009 at 20 weeks.
- Bayli and Thomas on June 8, 2011 at 21 weeks 2 days.
Matthew Chase Sims: April 25th, 2006 due to prematurity.
- Born at 21 weeks in June 2011 due to a bacterial infection, lived for 30 minutes.
- Samuel, August 8, 2001, prematurity.
- Coleman Parker Garibay, September 14, 2005, lost at 6 months gestation and passed from prematurity.
- Reya, September 18 2011, Prematurity due to extreme Pre-eclempsia
S & T’s Son:
- William, November 2, 2013, 24 weeks, 3 days, prematurity
- Erik Richard, July 29, 1981, prematurity.
Aaron and Kristine’s Son:
- Luke Ervin Seitz, born July 21, 2011 with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, and passed on June 28, 2011.
- Mateo, Anthony, and Ian born on May 6, 2008 at 23 weeks and 3 days.
- Mateo was born still.
- Anthony passed away from Transposition of the Great Vessels.
- Ian passed away after a short stay in the NICU.
- Nathaniel James, August 24, 2001 – August 29, 2001, Citrullinemia
- David Henry, May 11, 2010 – January 24, 2011, Citrullinemia, passed away after becoming sick post liver transplant
Baby Khalil, born August 14, 2009, stillborn, born still from birth defects.
- Ethan Connor Brockwell, May 3, 2006 – August 17, 2006. Born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.
Christopher: November 4, 1979, due to pulmonary atresia, a congenital heart defect.
- Aidan, born with brain malformation on December 16, 2008 and passed on December 19, 2008.
Cora Mae McCormick:
- November 30, 2009 to December 6, 2009 from a congenital heart defect.
- Shane Michael, born October 10, 1971 and died October 11, 1971 from heart complications before his mother could wake from anesthesia. She never saw or held him.
- Brianna Elizabeth, born January 29, 1998 and died March 7, 1998 from a heart defect.
- Seth Douglas Bonnett, Our Little “Tough guy”, March 27, 2008 – October 12, 2008. Died from Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.
- Austin Skylar Gregory, born July 3, 2005 and gained his wings August 29, 2005 from Multiple Complex Congenital Heart Defects.
- Corbin Walker, born February 20, 2011 and died May 17, 2011 from heart defects brought on by Williams Syndrome.
- Chloe Walker, born November 29, 2000 and died June 4, 2001 from multiple congenital heart defects and heterotaxy.
- Starbaby, born still February 2008 due to Trisomy 18.
- Matthew Connor – February 26, 2005, born at 26 weeks, passed from Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC).
- Reed Allyvion Miners, passed away July 5th 2003 at one hour old from Primary Myocardial Disease, a congenital heart defect.
- Nathaniel, born August 24, 2001 and died August 29, 2001 from an undiagnosed metabolic disorder.
- David, born May 11, 2010 and Died January 24, 2011 from a myriad of complications resulting from a liver transplant.
- Leia Sky Williams, born October 6, 2011, passed away from Group Beta Strep.
Baby Kash Michael:
- Born June 3, 2011 and died September 28, 2011.
Carey’s Triplet Sons:
- Rudyard, Desmond, and Oscar, June 4th, 2011, born at 22 weeks due to of E. coli infection.
- Nicholas and Zachary, October 27th, 2004.
Heather and Joe’s Twins:
- Jonathan Michael and Samuel Joseph, identical twins born alive and died on May 6, 2004 from extreme prematurity and twin-to-twin transfusion.
- Charlie: Born May 21, 2003 and died June 14, 2003 from late-onset Group B Strep.
- Will, born (today) October 15, 2002 and died on September 16, 2003 from complications of late-onset Group B Strep.
- Malakai Zachary born still March 10, 2007 due to Anencephaly.
- Five more angels, July, 2007 – May, 2010. Miscarriages.
- Catherine Grace, born August 10, 2012, passed August 12, 2012, due to prematurity brought on by HELLP syndrome.
- Kaitlyn Grace, born sleeping at 38 weeks on Saturday, May 13th, 1995. Died from a true knot in her umbilical cord.
Matt and Lauren’s Baby:
- Isla, born 14 weeks premature on August 23, 2011 and died on October 10, 2011.
- Mina Kathryn, born February 18, 2009, died February 24, 2009, due to complications with her PICC line.
- Baby R, May 24, 1998, Medicine Administration by RN who didn’t know or ask.
- Matthew Conner Webb, born January 11, 2005 and died February 26, 2005. He was born at 26 weeks and faced many obstacles in his short life.
- Ziggy Ann born sleeping on January 21, 2009.
- Frank born sleeping May 21, 2010.
- Liberty Ann born March 30, 2011 and died on April 19, 2011.
Ally’s Son: Collin
- Collin: born on August 9th, 2008. He passed away 30 minutes later from cardiac arrest after an emergency c-section due to a placental abruption.
- Nicholas, born December 14, 2005, died April 19, 2006 from SIDS.
- Max Corrigan, born November 14, 1987 and relinquished to adoption on November 18, 1987.
- Bryce Philip born May 26, 2009 and died September 1, 2009 due to SIDS
- Ashton Karol, stillborn on February 24, 2010 at 17 weeks.
- Addison Leah, June 13, 2008, accidental death.
Jessica and Mark’s Daughter:
- Hadley Jane, born October 9, 2001 and died October 11, 2007.
- Jake, born August 14, 2005 died August 27, 2005 due to prematurity and hydrops.
- Sawyer, born November 17, 2009 died December 26, 2009. His cause of death has not been determined because he is part of a study at the Mayo clinic for heart arrhythmias – SIUDS (unexplained sudden infant death)
- Cullen, September 11, 2010, stillbirth.
- Brian Vitale, accidental death, September 4, 2007 – June 3, 2010. We miss him more and more each day.
- Patrick, born April 10, 1977, Adoption
- Sophia Lu Boudreau, born December 21, 2006 and died October 9, 2007 from SIDS.
Rebecca and TJ’s son:
- Rafe Theobald Calvert, born on October 11th, 2009 at 26 weeks. Spent 3 months in the NICU and underwent an intestinal obstruction repair. He was released on January 11th, 2010 and we brought him home for 6 weeks. He passed away at 4 and a half months old from SIDS on February 25th, 2010.
The Stamm’s Daughter:
- Adrienne Mae, May 7, 2006, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- Nathan Michael King, died from SIDS November 2008.
- Kendra, April 23, 2005 to March 24, 2006. Died from Jacobsen Syndrome.
Chance, July 25, 2014, homicide
Read about how to help a friend through miscarriage.
Read about what to say to someone who has lost a child.
I’m not a sentimental mom – I don’t save everything my kids own to cherish forever. Sure, some things are special, but others I’ve never felt attached to.
My first son’s crib? Take that away. Don’t need it. It served as a toddler bed from the time he was 18 months until he got a big boy bed at age … I don’t know. When he had his little brother had to share a room because I was pregnant with my fourth son.
See? Not sentimental.
My third son was kicked out of his crib and moved into the bedroom with the first to give his crib to the fourth. My oldest got a real bed and we said goodbye to his toddler bed.
Life changes man, life changes.
My fourth was the second baby to use this crib – a gift from my mom for our second son.
Our second son that never came home. Well, I guess he did.
Our second son was a full-term stillbirth. The crib was his. A crib he never got to use; not for even a minute. Unless you count me leaning on it while I was heavily pregnant.
This was a fancy $500 crib that we didn’t even put together until I was 38 weeks pregnant because we were lazy and busy with our oldest son, Jules, who was seventeen months. For a while I blamed Joel’s death on this; obviously I didn’t prove that I wanted him because it took us so long to paint and fix up his room. Logically he died because we didn’t put his crib together.
That, The Band, is just one of the many insane things you think when your baby dies and you’re trying to figure out why. Because babies don’t just die. There has to be a reason, even if it’s silly and pathetic.
After we found out that Joel was dead, one of the worst moments was coming home and going to take a bath. I was surrounded by baby stuff. My husband went to that bedroom and shut that door. We had to block that out. That was the only way. That door was both literally and figuratively shut. His urn was placed in there after his service. His funeral flowers, too.
Over the next year, the room had magic and hope again when Blair came into this world, our rainbow baby that survived. It was a little hard turning Joel’s room into Blair’s, but we did it. Joel came into our bedroom. His crib was still his crib though, even though it was in Blair’s room and being used by Blair.
By the time Blair was ready for a big boy bed, I’d gotten pregnant with our fourth son, Reid. Now it was Reid’s turn to use the crib. Blair moved into Jules room and Blair’s room turned into Reid’s room which still housed Joel’s crib.
I don’t know why it was Joel’s crib but it was. It’s that one item allowed me to have a piece of him and to share a piece of him with his younger brothers. Even though he never used it, he passed that down to them.
A couple years later, Reid is becoming a big boy. He needs a toddler bed. Thankfully the $500 crib converts into a bed but the problem with that is that it’ll no longer be Joel’s crib. It becomes Reid’s bed. And even though it’s been five years of grief and trying to find ways to let go … I can’t let go of Joel’s crib. If I convert it, Joel’s crib is gone.
Then what do I have left?
I’ll make another painful decision and piece by piece, we will take Joel’s crib apart. Tears will flow, like everything else that normally involves him. We will load it up and store it at my parents, who understand. When I asked if we could store a crib there, they asked why I was saving a crib. When they asked who’s crib it was, I replied, “Joel’s.”
Without hesitation, my parents said, “Sure, we can find a safe place for that.” I’ll buy a toddler bed for Reid and, in a couple years, I’ll buy him a real bed instead of converting Joel’s crib for him.
Sometimes I wonder how this story will play out when I’m old and dying.
Will I find peace?
Will I continue to run his story through my head over and over, asking why?
Will my chest still hurt?
Will my eyes still pour tears?
Will the events run on a loop through my head like a bad movie?
Will my last thoughts be, “what could I have done differently?”
I won’t know until I get there. But I do know that some memories aren’t painful. Knowing that my rainbow babies – my pregnancies after we lost Joel – used Joel’s crib doesn’t make me sad.
I know I’ll always love that crib.
Her daughters were stillborn, but born still.
This is her story:
here comes another one
i know. i can feel it.
oh this is a big one
yes. i feel it.
my father sat in the corner, still and quiet until he saw the line on the screen start moving up, showing my contractions not only for me to feel but for the room to see. he announced each one to us five. it was all he could do. the best way he knew how to handle it, and that’s the only reason that it didn’t drive me crazy.
each clench was readying my body for something i was willing every shred of my being against. what we all were wishing against. we watched as the line went up…and down…sometimes higher…then lower…
i was in denial i guess, or shock. whichever. i wasn’t reeling in pain or wracked by sorrow. i was focused. i sat and felt my belly pinch and waited for the announcement.
another one is coming
T had panic attacks. my mother called all the nurses and doctors she had on speed-dial. my sister stared. my brother called and cried. my nana called and cried.
my father and i watched the screen.
the screen that showed my babies’ heart rates, as perfect as they were. the screen that showed my contractions; big, small and in between, ex-fucking-actly 4 goddamn months too soon.
until she came in. she said it was time to unhook the monitors, said it wasn’t necessary anymore. and in a moment, dad and i were back again to the quiet, still place. T tried to control his rage, my sister still stared. my mom talked and nursed and fixed my blankets and monitored my pain.
i felt my girls kick and bubble and turn. how could i tell them it was their last day, their last hurrah? why did i have to let them go so easily? you would think the one thing in the world you would be able to, absolutely need to do is fight for your children’s’ lives, right? i should have been able to motherfucking fight.
it was quiet. too quiet. i longed for my monitor back, and i asked the nurse for it every time she came back in the room. suggested it as a solution to whatever random issue she happened to be concerned with at the time.
maybe we should put the monitors back on?
and the same answer came every time; somber, no. she heard the undercurrent in my voice, growing more desperate with each request. no. she didn’t explain. she just said no.
now i know why.
even now i’d give anything to be back in that room. (a room that i can hardly imagine continues to exist, holding happy families and living babies)
back in those moments when i had them, even under those horrifying circumstances. i’d give it all up to be there holding them inside, watching the screen with my father. looking from right to left and seeing people who loved me and my daughters. we had waited for them so long and we didn’t even get to fucking fight to keep them. they just slipped away.
but what i wouldn’t give to be back there.
back when they weren’t safe for long, but held for now.
Even now, nine years after the fact, I struggle about where to post this. I’ve been told so many times that I had a miscarriage, that Maggie wasn’t even a viable baby.
She was my baby. She was my daughter. I held her in my arms, and I gave her a name.
I have a daughter.
Some people I know are surprised to hear this, since I only talk about my sons, Big and Little G. I don’t talk a lot about the fact that there were pregnancies #4 and 5.
I’m going to pull a lot of this from a story I posted at the Preeclampsia Foundation back in 2002. The women in the forums there saved my sanity, and I love them for it.
About 17 weeks into my second pregnancy (my first ended with a miscarriage at 14 weeks), I experienced a day where I threw up all day long. I hadn’t had morning sickness at all, so I was a little concerned, but Car (my husband) and I assumed I had a 24-hour bug. The next day I didn’t throw up, but I simply didn’t feel well. I had a general feeling of unwellness from then on, but nothing specific.
At about 17.5 weeks, the pain started. At first I assumed the pain, which was located just below my sternum, was heartburn. I’d never had heartburn, but I couldn’t imagine what else the stabbing pain could be, and everyone knows that pregnant women get terrible heartburn. The pain got progressively worse until I could no longer work. I asked a few people if this was really what heartburn was like, and they assured me that pregnancy heartburn could be really bad. I took the maximum amount of antacids allowed, but nothing helped.
I had my usual appointment with my perinatologist on a Wednesday, and I mentioned the pain. He suggested Pepcid AC. My urine showed only a trace of protein, so there was no cause for concern, despite the fact that I had to have a friend drive me to my appointment because the pain was so intense.
That evening, as I curled up in a ball on the couch and sobbed, Car decided I needed to go to the emergency room. I refused, positive the ER personnel would laugh at the pregnant woman who couldn’t handle simple heartburn. We finally struck a compromise–I would page my local OB and if she thought I needed to go to the ER, I would. When my doctor returned the page, I was crying too hard to speak with her, so my husband filled her in. She also thought it was most likely heartburn, but said if the pain was bad enough that I couldn’t talk on the phone, the ER wouldn’t be a bad idea.
The first thing the doctor at the ER did was give me something he called a “GI Cocktail.” It’s a lovely little drink that numbs your entire digestive tract down to your stomach, and will apparently subdue even the worst heartburn. It made my tongue and throat numb, but did nothing for the pain. The doctor said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but it’s not heartburn.” They gave me a shot of Demerol for the pain and ran several tests (blood work, ultrasound, CT scan). After about 4 hours in the ER, all they could come up with was, “We can’t find anything wrong except for some elevated liver enzymes. We think it’s probably your gallbladder. Call your doctor in the morning.” They discharged me and sent me home.
The next day I called my doctor and told her I had elevated liver enzymes and the ER doctor thought I had something wrong with my gallbladder. My wonderful doctor, whom I credit with saving my life, said, “That doesn’t sound right. Let me makes some calls and call you back.” Within 30 minutes, she called me back and told me to go to the hospital for further testing.
From that point on, things become a blur. I was admitted to the hospital on Thursday and put on a morphine drip for pain. My liver enzymes skyrocketed, my platelets dropped. We were told that the best-case scenario was hepatitis. My red blood cells started to self-destruct and my kidneys began to shut down. My brother flew out from Minnesota in case he had to say goodbye. Every possible liver disease was tested for and ruled out between Thursday and Saturday, when the doctors finally settled on the final diagnosis–HELLP Syndrome. They told us that to save my life we would need to terminate the pregnancy. I begged them to prolong the pregnancy long enough to save my child. The doctor told me, “I don’t think you understand. It’s not an either/or situation. If we don’t end the pregnancy, both you AND your baby will die.”
I was 19 weeks pregnant.
On Saturday night a doctor started the process of manual dilation (which is every bit as painful as it sounds), and on Sunday I delivered a perfectly formed little girl, Margaret Marie. Maggie weighed 3.88 ounces and never took a breath on this earth. I held her in my arms, counted her fingers and toes, and decided she looked like my husband, who was weeping by my side.
About six months after Maggie was born, we decided to try again. I miscarried at six weeks. I told myself , “At least it happened early,” but I was still devastated.
Three months after that, I had my first drink.