The Birth Pro

Practical Wisdom for Today's Growing Family

Goodbye Too Soon, Sweet Angel

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goodbyesIt has been less than a week since I’ve learned that our sweet little child will not be joining us Earthside. Last Tuesday we went in, all kinds of excited and hopeful, for our mid-pregnancy ultrasound. I was approaching 22 weeks and it didn’t occur to me that there would be any reason for concern at this stage. We have three boys and were very excited to learn if this new little one was another incredible boy or finally a girl. What we found instead was no heartbeat.

This last week have been empty and full, and I want to tell you my story but also much of the tender mercies that my very kind and aware Father in Heaven has been giving me all along the way. There have also been things that went as I expected and those that I did not expect at all. Perhaps this post that is still so fresh and intense, will help some.

After finding out the news, my tendency is to let things take a more natural course, and avoid artificial intervention unless it is clearly needed. I have tremendous faith in my body and its abilities and I wanted to wait for things to complete on their own. But after taking a day or so to begin to let things sink in and process, and look over the facts, it was clear that this baby had passed a little while ago and labor had not started. I had some odd “pains” very low in my abdomen off and on for the previous month, but not enough to even cause me to think they were contractions. Looking back I think it was my body’s way of attempting to initiate labor but never really “took.” While I am a birth professional, I am new to this city and don’t know very many doctors and am not familiar with the hospitals in the area. I’ve been on more of a “family leave” from attending births and the on-call lifestyle for some time. This was very intimidating to me to not just automatically know who to call and where to go.

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Out in front of the hospital right before checking in for the surgery

So I went to the resources I did have. I got on stillbirthday.com to look around, but this time for me. It was a different experience but I am so grateful for the site and the work that Heidi Faith and many others do on there. It primed my understanding of decisions I would come to make, and also confirmed other bits of information I had only previously suspected. I was still unsure which path to pursue but was open to whatever was best. I had been planning another beautiful home birth for this one and hired the perfect midwife for me. I was so excited. And then so crushed.

The radiology clinic said they would let her know about the results. I figured they would get them to her in a day or two. Within 20 minutes of leaving the clinic, just as we were settling in at home my phone rang and it was my my midwife, Alicia Witt. It meant so much to me that she didn’t hesitate to reach out to me. I lost another baby at 12 and a half weeks, exactly 7 years minus 1 day ago from that day we found out, and the midwife I had at the time responded very differently. The way Alicia handled this situation was actually very healing to me in ways I didn’t expect I still needed.

She had said she would still attend this birth, even at home which touched me deeply. And assured me that she would be there through the process. But the more I looked over things the less a homebirth looked possible. The baby looked to have passed at around 16 weeks and I was already 21 by the time we had the ultrasound…. that was just a really long time without my body naturally taking care of things.

DyAnna Gordon, a dear friend of mine that is a midwife in another state, and was my original birth educator with my first child, had attended a medical induction that week with another mom only about 18 weeks. It was a similar situation and she shared with me vague and respectful details about how honoring and sweet the hospital staff had been. She also asked me if I wanted her to share the “bad stuff” too which I did — I wanted to learn everything I could about what I was potentially about to experience; the good, the bad and the ugly. In talking with her I started to be able to visualize a respectful, compassionate and possible hospital setting to help me through this process. My mind had originally gone to the idea of the hospital being impersonal, sterile and hours of people watching in the ER waiting room. No thank you. I am so grateful I opened my mind up to a new possibility.

I was also able to chat with Elizabeth Petrucelli, a bereavement doula through IM, to try to sort out possibilities and options. These women were so key in my journey in helping to guide me to the best possible scenario for us. Time almost seemed to stand still, holding my chat with Elizabeth while watching the comments populate on a private group that I shared our sad news just the next morning after finding out. I couldn’t sleep and had been up since 3 am and I was so strengthened by the comments, stories and support that was just pouring out. I am a social griever and work through things better and more fully when I feel safe to reach out and receive back love, sympathy and help.

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22 Weeks Pregnant

I felt prompted to reach out to a birth doula I hardly knew except through Facebook for a referral to a hospital and maybe even perhaps an MD that could help with a medical induction. What I received was perfection in the form of a doctor. This doula had texted an OB she knew well and within hours we had things set up for the next day. I was on the phone with Dr. Sally Wareing that afternoon talking about details and realizing that a medical induction was likely not the best course. This was one of the many tender mercies. If you’re going to have to go through something like this, having compassionate and like-minded people around you makes all the difference.

As we consulted it was looking like a scheduled D&E was the best course of action. I could hardly believe I was looking at scheduled surgery but at the same time felt a great deal of peace about it. Dr. Wareing was so present, even on the phone, and so full of compassion and respect. My head and my heart were reeling with everything and her calm demeanor was just right.

So we prepped and arranged everything — the kids went up to my brother’s house for what I was hoping was just that day, and I fasted for the obligatory 8 hours prior to surgery. All without a single contraction, cramp or spot of blood.

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Dr. Sally Wareing and I right before surgery

This amazing doula, Dianne Hamre, met us at the hospital even even shot some pictures of us to have something to remember it all by. These pictures are very bittersweet to me and I’m thankful I have them. We understood that the baby would not be in any condition for us to see him or her due to how long it had been as well as the type of surgery I needed. That has been very hard but I’m also glad I knew ahead of time. My wonderful midwife, Alicia Witt, was helping another mom out of town and getting to see her after I was home and settled was so sweet and helped to complete part of the cycle for me. I am glad it worked out that way.

The staff at the hospital were all wonderful. Prep for surgery went smooth and once they put the drugs into my IV I slipped off. It felt like to me I closed my eyes in one part of the room and woke up just looking at another wall. I had no memory of the surgery I just felt very, very weak. Apparently surgery lasted a good hour longer than expected and my poor husband was a near-wreck (for him) in the waiting room. I’m so thankful that he had our doula there to chat with him and keep his mind occupied. He is not a worrying kind of man, and keeps his emotions close, but I could tell he was very concerned. I’ve never seen him like that before with me.

It was very hard for me to open my eyes and felt like as I blinked 5 and 10 minutes would skip by on the clock I was really in and out. I remember they were trying to get me up to sit in a chair as they urged me to go home, and I was just thinking I felt so pushed, and rushed. I fainted there for a moment and then what felt like only moments later I was being put into a wheelchair where I remember feeling even more dizzy and faint. My body all of the sudden felt very strange and it was alarming. I remember saying, “Something isn’t right! I don’t feel well. I’m going to pass out!!”

I woke up laying down flat, with hard and cold against the skin on my back, but it was in a good way. I was on the floor and it felt nice. Solid and sturdy. They told me I had passed out again and even seized that time. My husband and the nurse had caught me as I fell. They had to hunt down a stretcher board and my husband along with 3 other men lifted me up to another bed. They told me I had lost a lot of blood, 2000 CCs which is about 40% of your entire blood volume, and with my passing out and seizing I would not be going home. That worried energy I picked up coming off of my husband had at least doubled, maybe tripled. You wouldn’t know it to look at his face though. But I knew. I wanted to hold him and tell him I was alright but I couldn’t. Not just from my lack of ability to move much, but because I knew I WASN’T alright.

Our hospital room was very small and he had a recliner to sleep in and never once even suggested he leave me there to go home to bed for a better night’s rest. He slept awful and I slept worse, totalling maybe 4 hours between 2 chunks of sleep. But between the IV fluids and the helpful staff it was what we needed.

We were finally released to go home in the early afternoon and I was brought right to bed and there I stayed. Getting up to go to the bathroom was the only thing that was necessary or possible for me to leave and it was arduous every time. I needed my husband just to help me walk between the bed and the bathroom.

They said it will take a month before I am fully restored from the blood loss. The surgery is normally just 2-3 days of recovery and you are, physically speaking at least, back to normal. I feel like losing all of that blood is completely overshadowing everything and even delaying a bit of my emotional healing process, and especially for my husband. He’s had to be so present for me, that he can’t “fall apart” himself and really let go and let himself FEEL it all.

I process things very quickly and intensely and move on quickly. Not without genuine feeling and emotion but just faster than some others do. I’ve been letting the emotions and feelings of this all just wash right over me, passing right through me and flowing in and through my heart and my head. I don’t feel “stuck” in any way, and mostly it’s just SAD. I’m sad that I won’t get to meet this little person in a handful more months. I’m sad that I didn’t know that there was a baby that had passed inside of me for so long. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know, too. I feel like less of a mother somehow, which I know is a lie, but I feel it. And I allow that feeling to talk to me as long as is necessary and then I let it go. I cry when I need to cry and I smile when I want to smile.

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I have found great strength and joy in “receiving all things with thankfulness” as one of my favorite verses says. Not just the stuff that’s good and easy and your “blessings” but everything. And realizing that EVERYTHING is meant to work towards our very best good. We truly can have joy in the hard times and can have peace when everything is telling us otherwise.

I also know with everything inside of me that my Father in Heaven has been mindful of every part of this experience and has sent angels, seen and unseen to be with me. I walked into that hospital far more strong and at peace than I should have been, and I know I was escorted in by angels, more than I could count. I am very loved, I am very treasured, by the God of the entire Universe and He has been taking care of me. I will praise him in this storm, for He is the God that giveth and the God that taketh away. And I will only ever be able to praise Him for His goodness. I know not everyone who reads this will understand but for me it is real, and even a tangible help that I have been given.

GodisneverblindI also know that I will not only get to see this little one but I will get to have him or her as a part of my family and get to know them. I believe they are very close and will be throughout our lives. I believe this baby was sent to us, at this time, to help us through this life. Like a guardian angel that is very specifically and especially tied to us.

Christ has told us “Peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) And sometimes that peace comes through those who have been sent to help us along our way.

I heard this song for the first time yesterday and felt it was just for me. The lyrics echo, nearly word for word, just how I feel and want to feel through this whole experience. I have found that I am finally to a place where I am willing and even happy to go through whatever the Lord would have for me, and try to take it on without resistance. I have come to know that He is perfect, and Good and always, always has the very best in mind for me, here and now as well as in the long-term. I hope this video will bring you a measure of the courage, peace and joy that I did for me:

GoodbyeAngelUPDATE at 3 weeks after our loss: We found out through testing that this sweet baby was a boy and have named him Jacob. We grieve that we didn’t get to know him in this life but know we will at some point in the continuum of life. Thank you so much to everyone for your prayers, thoughts, concern and stories. Prayers are powerful. They have been felt and they are very real. We are so humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude for the support that we have had during this time. 

27 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your story, Naomi. One thing that I loved reading is how your doula was there with your husband, giving comfort to him while waiting for news about you. <3

    • Thank you for your comment. I am so thankful that he was taken care of, even though he’s not the kind of man that usually needs a great deal of outside support. Doulas can be so helpful for a million reasons, and as I’ve learned, often unanticipated! 🙂

  2. Totally love you and your sweet family. Praying for your continued solace and peace. Your baby is so close to you. Always remember that. Love, Tammy

  3. Beautiful story. Well written and inspiring. So grateful the Lord was nearby to help you through this when we couldn’t be.

    • Thank YOU Mom!! <3 You taught me so much of this so I could be ready and prepared for something like this. I am so grateful for the home you gave us and the way you and Dad taught us!! <3 <3

  4. Such a sweet story, and a beautiful memory and tribute to your pregnancy. <3 I'm praying for you, for peace and healing, and restoration. You are such an inspiration and help to so many.

  5. Thanks for sharing. So sorry for your loss!

  6. I am so sad for your loss. Thank you for your candid experience. I am better able to help those who have also lost their unborn children. You are amazing. Much love to you and yours.

  7. I love the photos! It’s a beautiful tribute and I’m blessed to have been a small part of this journey with you.

  8. I saw your post on the PAIL group. Thank you for writing your story, I have been strengthened and uplifted through yours words. I have had a really hard week….. I am three months short of the two year mark from losing my sweet baby girl and I am missing her so much.
    You are so strong and amazing. Thank you for sharing !!

  9. I am so sorry for your loss, and thank you so much for sharing your story as it is helping me to heal as well. I just found out last Tuesday at a regular trip to our midwife, that our little one had passed as well. It was my 13 week visit, and we had done an ultrasound at our first visit (to rule out feeling it might be twins) and saw a healthy squirmy baby with a heartrate of 146, and baby measuring at 10W5D when i was 10W2D. Well last Tuessday my midwife was unable to find a hearbeat with the doppler so we decided to do an ultrasound, i wasn’t even worried….until we saw the baby, lying in my belly lifeless with no heartbeat. He measured at 11W2D, so he had passed exactly 2 weeks earlier. Having had my last 2 children at home, i wanted to deliver this one at home as well, but my body was showin NO signs of miscarriage. It was very emotionally trying to carry around a dead baby and i felt i couldn’t start emotionally healing until i miscarried. Since i did not have an OB i called my PCP to see if they would give me some Cytotec, but they told me i needed to go to the ER, i did not want a D&C. I went to the ER and the ER Dr told me she couldn’t give me Cytotec either, i was mortified, but after confirming fetal demise via trans vaginal ultrasound, and the ultrasound tech confirming my gut feeling that we were expeciting a little boy (FINALLY, after having 4 gilrs, we were so thrilled to finally be having a boy) the ER dr decided to consult with the on call OB and opted to go ahead and give me a script for Cytotec. I got home about 9:30pm Saturday night, the 23rd of August, and inserted 4 cytotec right away around my cervix. Within half an hour i began cramping and went ahead and took a couple of the Norco i was also prescribed, more for the mental side effect of the narcotic than for the pain, and at about 1:50am on Sunday August 24, i woke up with some cramping and felt a little pop, then a bigger pop and felt my water break, i had already put on a pad in preparation for some bleeding, but at this point i still had none, only clear waters so i stood in the bathroom with my pants half down and gave the slightest little push when my little Samuel just kind of fell out, he was so tiny and i was so frightened, but i had my oldest daughter and my husband by my side. I was able to hold him, we measured him and weighed him, and took photos of him, so tiny and perfect. I was amazed that he was still so perfect after being dead for almost 3 weeks. My eldest daughter had made a little coffin out of a tea box, and she sewed a little pillow for him to lie on, since it was the middle of the night we placed him in there and put him in the fridge. The next morning All of my children wanted to see thier little borther that God had bigger plans for, and after we all said out goodbyes we buttied him under a new hibiscus that i had purchased in a LARGE pot in out living room, we are very much looking forward to seeing it bloom! I’m not sure if we will have another child, we will leave that up to God. I pray that you are finding more and more peace and comfort in your life as each day passes, and i pray the same for myself as well.

    • Oh my goodness what a beautiful and heartbreaking story Jayme!! But thank you so so much for sharing it here. <3 I am so glad you got to go through that whole process and I can completely relate to how I couldn't even begin to start healing from the loss until I was actually not pregnant anymore. I found out on a Tuesday and had to wait till Friday evening for that and I believe completely that God comforted my heart and kept me from feeling an overwhelming sadness and distress at still being pregnant with the baby having already passed.

      Thank you and may angels attend you and your beautiful family to give you comfort and insight into your experience for how it can be for your best good.

  10. My heart aches for you. We lost a baby early on and then possibly a twin of my son. You sharing your story encourages others. Sending prayers and a hug.

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  17. I was messaged and given your blog about your story. I don’t know if you have seen or heard of my blog, but I think it fits perfectly for what you’ve gone through. I too went through a difficult loss, and I was led to share this message to the world through a song. I would love for you to take a minute and go to my blog and listen to this song, if you have a little time, take a moment and read my story and the making of the song. I think it will resonate with you. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s healing for you and to others that read your beautiful words. God bless you! Emily
    http://songangelsremembered.blogspot.com

    • Thank you so much for your comment! Someone messaged me the link yesterday and I heard your song for the first time. Thank you so much for doing that!! What a beautiful, peace-giving work of art.

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