Lately our evenings have been spent talking about how different this February was supposed to be. Not in a sad or bitter way, but more in a "Can you believe we could have had a baby by now?" kind of way. Thankfully, it seems that Ryan and I have grown out of the ugly side of grieving. (And by that I mean I'm no longer giving the middle finger to my computer screen whenever someone on facebook or twitter announces a pregnancy or birth.) ((Beyonce got a lot of middle fingers.))
Yesterday was supposed to be my due date. I anticipated having a hard time with it and I didn't want to be alone, so I went to my sister's house and played with her and her boys. I was so thankful for the distraction! Though, I came home last night and felt a little sad that I hadn't done anything to honor the baby that was supposed to be born.
I constantly tell Ryan that one of the hardest things about losing our daughter is that I feel like a mother, yet I don't have much to show for it. It's so difficult to watch other parents enjoy sharing sweet stories and photos of their children--I want to shout, "I'm a parent, too! Even though my baby went to heaven earlier than she should have, it still counts!" Along with this, not many people know what to say when it comes to miscarriage--it's a hard topic to talk about. As a result, very few people know the story of our baby and her birth. Sometimes the feeling of not being able to talk about it is unbearable. So, please. Do you mind if I take a little time to tell you about her? I'll start here:
At our 20 week checkup, the baby measured at 18-19 weeks, and my fluid was low. My doctor didn't seem too concerned, but still had us make an appointment with an ultrasound specialist to check things over. I spent the week worrying, drinking glass after glass of water, and laying on my left side. That Sunday in church I remembered how the previous Sunday's service had been full of tiny bumps and wiggles. I quietly sat with my hand on my belly, waiting for a kick. I didn't feel anything. I think that was when I knew something was wrong.
We went to our next appointment that Tuesday, and the world's most insensitive doctor told us what we had been dreading. She checked the heartbeat, and there on the screen where the usual whomp-whomps had been in other appointments, was a long blank line. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't cry, and I couldn't look at Ryan. I lay on the hospital bed in misery for 20 minutes while that awful, thin-lipped doctor used the ultrasound to check for "deformities." She stared at the screen as though it were a fascinating science experiment, and my baby was so, so still.
Ryan and I checked into the hospital the next day, on October 5th, and I was given medicine to induce labor. I was terrified. I hadn't gotten to the labor and delivery chapters of my baby books yet. I was clueless about breathing and pushing, and I didn't know what to expect when the baby actually came. Thankfully, my nurses were wonderful and explained how a stillbirth delivery typically happens. I spent most of the day and and evening waiting. Finally, around 8pm, the medicine kicked in. After a short, but not so pain-less labor, my baby was born at 9:30pm. The doctor immediately took her to a different part of the room to examine her. As she was working, Ryan asked if the baby was a boy or a girl. Her response was, "It's a girl! Nope, wait, it's a boy!" They took the baby away to do some tests, and we were left alone.
Later on, after the baby had been dressed in a blue onesie and a much-too-large blue hat, Ryan brought her to me to hold. Since she was so small and fragile, they wrapped her in a blanket and put her in a tiny basket. We looked at her small hands and feet, and opened her onesie to catch a glimpse of her bird-like legs. She was beautiful. We knew we had to give her a name, but all the names we had picked seemed too jolly for our little one. We opened our Bible, hoping for a some inspiration. Because the doctor had told us she was a boy, we searched for boy names, and chose Daniel. The name felt so right.
Two weeks later, we were back at the doctor's office to get the results of all the testing. We were told that 50% of stillbirth cases can't be explained, and ours was one of them. As frustrating as that was to hear, we were relieved to know that I am perfectly healthy, and my body is normal. We were given the go-ahead to try for another baby whenever we were ready. My wonderful doctor assured me that the next time around, I would be monitored closely and that he would do all he could to take care of me and my baby. Then he hugged me (as I sat pants-less on the table--oy) and said, "See you soon!" While I never, ever want to be in the antepartum wing of the hospital again, I would love to see my doctors and nurses again. I'm so thankful for the way they cared for me.
We were also told at that appointment that the baby was not a boy, but a girl. My doctor was so apologetic, but Ryan and I laughed it off as human error. It wasn't until a while later, when we returned home, that I realized we had given our daughter a boy's name and dressed her in blue. It broke my heart a little bit. But, after talking about it, we decided to keep the name we had given her. We love what it means.
A few hours after my baby was born, the nurse on duty brought in a few gifts and keepsakes for Ryan and me. Among those things was a photo album filled with some pictures of our daughter, and four little ceramic molds of her hands and feet. I cherish those little gifts we have to remember her by.
Now. I don't quite know how to close this. However, I will tell you that you can bet your bottom dollar we're hoping for another sweet baby as soon as possible. And that I feel better knowing that I shared my baby's little story with whoever pushed through this terribly long blog post. Thank you for reading it.