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.” Dr. Seuss
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.
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.
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.
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.