I was pregnant with our third child, our first daughter (who we ended up naming Maya) from July 2013 with an expected due date of April 19th, 2014. On Monday March 17th, 2014, I thought maybe I was feeling less movement. My husband Chris and I both tried to feel and count kicks on Monday evening, and we both thought we felt several distinct movements. On Tuesday morning, early, at 5 am, I felt a big kick. All day Tuesday I kept wondering whether I was feeling her move. At small group on Tuesday evening, I mentioned my concerns as a prayer request. On Wednesday morning, I called the midwife office to ask if I could come in to get checked. They gave me an appointment for 11:30 am with the nurse practitioner. When I went to the midwife’s office, they did the normal stuff first (urine, blood pressure, weight), then they told me they would do a 20 minute non-stress test. I was supposed to sit in the recliner with the belt checking the baby’s heartbeat. The first nurse tried to find the heartbeat, and couldn’t locate it. She kept asking me where the heartbeat had been found at the previous appointment (several days before). I tried to point to the general location. The nurse asked a second nurse to help her. She tried, and also could not find it. They gave me some juice and chocolates to wake up the baby and get her moving. The nurse practitioner tried next, also unsuccessfully. I was definitely getting concerned after the second nurse couldn’t find it, and I texted Chris. He had a very busy day at work, and didn’t quite understand what I was saying (I was already having a distinct feeling that the baby had died). I texted a friend so that she could pick Jonas up from school. The nurse practitioner said: ”It’s your lucky day – the ultrasound lady is here today. She’ll check.” I did not feel like it was my lucky day. The ultrasound tech started checking. The screen was sideways, but I could pretty much see that there was no activity visible. She kept scanning and scanning, but nothing. Eventually, she turned toward the nurse practitioner and shook her head no. I had already gotten the message that the baby was no longer alive, no heartbeat. I was numb. The doctor came in and told me that these things sometimes happen. He asked me a couple of questions, whether I had had a rash, or any other signs of infection. I said no. He told me that I can go to the hospital anytime to have labor induced. It would take 24-48 hours from the time I took the induction medication. They offered to drive me home. I said I could drive myself home. I texted Chris at some point in the ultrasound room telling him what happened. He said he would meet me at home.
I was still kind of numb on the way home. I called my brother, and texted a friend to line up care for Linus and Jonas for the afternoon and the next couple of days. My brother said they would be at our house as soon as possible. My friend ended up picking Linus up from the school bus, then my brother and sister in law picked Linus and Jonas up from her house, and took them to our house.
When I got home, I was starting to shake and cry. It became real what had happened. Our daughter had died at 35 weeks gestation. Perfectly healthy pregnancy up to that point. I wanted to go to the hospital as soon as possible, so we left the house around 2:30 pm.
When we got to North Fulton hospital, it seemed like they weren’t ready for us yet. They checked us in and got us settled in a room. The nurse was very nice from the first moment she came into our room. She gave us a hug and was very personable and approachable. I got changed, and into the bed. At some point, they took a ton of blood, 12 vials or so. At some point Kim, our midwife, came and checked me and said that I was 1 cm dilated. They gave me the induction medication around 5 pm. Since the doctor had said that it might take 24-48 hours, I didn’t expect it to take effect quickly, but I was starting to shake and feel pain pretty quickly. I couldn’t control the shaking, it kept coming and going. I asked for pain medication. I wasn’t feeling contractions, just a persistent pain on the left side. I got an IV with the narcotic medication, which helped almost immediately. The shaking continued, but the pain got less. My brother came around 6 or 7 pm and brought us some food (I think). We were talking, just waiting, with the shaking continuing. I was starting to feel more pain and pressure around 7:50 pm, and asked my brother to leave. Things progressed quickly after that. I was feeling increased pressure and pain. We called for the nurse and midwife. They came in, and Maya was ready to be born. I was feeling pretty intense pain at this point and the urge to push. I asked to get out of bed to push in a standing position (I did the same with Jonas). Eventually my midwife realized that Maya was breech, coming out feet first. She asked me to get back into bed in a pushing position that would open my pelvis more. Maya was born at 8:02 pm on March 19th, 2014, at 35 weeks and 5 days gestation, about 8 hours after we found out that her heart was not beating anymore.
I will never forget the time I had with her, holding her, looking at her; in complete disbelief that she wasn’t crying, she was gone, not with us anymore. She was perfect. Tiny, perfect, wonderfully made, created and touched by God. She was complete. She looked like she was sleeping. Our midwife told us right away that Maya’s death was caused by a cord accident. The nurse bathed Maya, and we dressed her in an outfit knitted and donated by a local volunteer organization. Our midwife had knitted a hat for her during labor, so we put it on Maya with the donated gown. I had called a friend at some point and told her what happened. She came after Maya was born and helped us get her dressed, and she also took photos for us. It was amazingly beautiful and amazingly sad to hold Maya. There are no words to describe holding your baby in your arms in this situation. It’s so hard to think about what happened, whether she suffered, whether she was in pain, when exactly she died. Chris and I shared in our pain and grief during that early stage, the first few days. Sometimes we cried together, and sometimes one of us cried, while the other was able to console by listening and hugging. We eventually said goodbye to Maya and gave her to the nurse. One of the worst things a mother will ever have to do, to give over, to relinquish, the body of her child.
Despite the circumstances that brought us to the hospital, the nurses and midwife at the hospital were excellent. They treated us with utter respect and compassion. One of the nurses told me that her sister had lost a baby and our midwife had lost her 9 year old son last year.
We left the hospital the following day around 11 am. We didn’t want to go home yet. We decided to go to Ikea to look at some furniture we had been meaning to buy. I think we were trying to avoid reality.
After the Ikea trip, we finally went home to see Linus and Jonas, and my brother and sister in law. It was very hard walking into the house. The kids didn’t know yet what had happened. Linus immediately asked why my tummy was flat. I changed the subject, and he got distracted with something else. We talked with my brother and sister in law, but then asked them to leave. After they left, we were going to tell Linus and Jonas what had happened. Jonas started having a meltdown, so Chris took him upstairs and told him separately. I told Linus downstairs that Maya had died, and she would not come home. I was crying, so Linus started crying too. He tried to console me by saying: “Mommy, don’t be sad. We can have another baby.” A few days later, Jonas asked when the baby will come home. I told him that she would not come home. He started crying inconsolably. That was the first time that he understood what had happened, and the permanence of death.
At the 6 week follow up appointment, our midwife told us that the blood work did not show any indication of problems. The cause of death was the cord accident that she observed during the birth.