Birth story

Around 10pm on 2/14/15 - Valentine's Day - my contractions started.  You were coming!   They were mild and irregular for about 4 hours, until 2am.  This is when they think you died.  We measured them - they were spaced out and they did not feel intense.  We did not know – we were so excited.  I was able to fall asleep for a little bit. 

The next morning, on 2/15/15 around 9:30am, I got up and went to the bathroom, and my mucus plug came out.  It was undeniably a “bloody show” as they say.  You were coming!  I knew it would be very, very soon!  We proceeded throughout the day excited, nervous, and cautious.  That evening, around 9pm, we were watching TV – our favorite show “The Good Wife” – and my contractions started again.

They were still mild and irregular, but I began to feel them in my back.  We proceeded with our evening and eventually went to bed.  Around 12am I couldn’t sleep and my contractions started to get a little more intense.  I called the doctor and she said wait until they are consistently around 5 minutes apart.  From 12am-2am I measured them, and they were very irregular, just like with R.  I measured them at 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 8 minutes, 11 minutes, 3 minutes, 8 minutes, 11 minutes, 4 minutes, etc.  In the blink of an eye they got more intense and were 3.5 minutes apart.  Oh boy!  You were coming!  We were so excited!  We did not know. 

Josh called his dad and said, “This is the call.  Come over, we are going to the hospital.”  His dad slept here and watched R the following day.  On 2/16/15 at 2:46am, I texted my sister “Going to the hospital.”  We did not know.  At 6:42am she responded, “Can’t wait [smiley face].”  She did not know.  It was one of the coldest nights of the year, in the negative degrees.  I had a contraction on my way out to the car and had to stop.  In the car, I had several contractions.  They were intense.  I wanted an epidural and a healthy baby.  We did not know.  I told Josh on the way to the hospital that I hadn’t felt the baby move much since the contractions started.  He said everything was fine.  We didn’t know.  I was induced last time, and didn’t know what was supposed to happen during a natural labor. 

The next 38 minutes were the most chaotic and confusing of my life.  Josh dropped me off at the hospital door.  After a contraction passed in the car, I knew I had a few minutes of reprieve.   He parked the car and I went in, told the front guard I was in labor.  I was having a baby!  I didn’t know.  He signaled me to the maternity ward guard.  As I approached him, I held my belly and told him I was having a baby.  I didn’t know.  He was shook from his bleary-eyed night-owl shift and sounded an alarm that I was coming and opened the doors.

I entered the triage office and leaned on the counter.  I said, “I’m Jessica and I want an epidural.”  Right after, I collapsed onto the counter with another contraction.  It was Rosie – she was our night nurse with R.  It felt so natural.  I knew the nurse, I knew this place, it would all be ok now.  I didn’t know.  Rosie had me change into the gown and checked me.  I was 8cm.  You were coming!  It would only be a couple hours until we met you!  We were having another baby!

She set off an alarm, to let the delivery nurses know we were coming, and that the baby was coming quick.  She didn’t know if there would be time for an epidural.  We’ll get through this either way, she said.  At 3am, we get to the delivery room and the chaos ensues.  It was the same room – 1152.  The same room that brought birth to my first child would bring death to my second.  I am in heavy labor with deep contractions.  There are nurses on each arm trying to start an IV.  They can’t.  They say I’m too clamped up.  Meanwhile, I have nurses trying to locate the heartbeat with the monitors.  They can’t.  We didn’t know.  Alarms go off.  Call the house doctor in here.  Call the head nurse.  We can’t find the heartbeat.  We can’t get an IV.  Go get the Doppler.  More and more people enter the room.  I think there are 2 nurses with needles on each arm, a nurse with the heartbeat monitor, one with the Doppler.  Contraction.  Roll on your side.  Poke, poke, poke, panic, panic, panic.  Contraction.  I ask, What is going on?  We can’t find the heartbeat, they say.  We are calling the house doctor.  Another alarm goes off for him.  Contraction.  Why can’t you get an IV, I ask.  We don’t know – you are too clamped up.  Contraction.  They give me oxygen. 

The house doctor arrives, Dr. B.  He has glasses, salt and pepper hair, and seems nice.  He will make everything ok.  He’s going to screw a monitor onto the baby’s head, the nurses say.  What??  The confusion.  The chaos.  I scream, no!  Don’t hurt my baby!  They say, we have to, we can’t find the heartbeat.  She doesn’t HAVE a heartbeat.  We have to.  He breaks my water and I later find out it was brown.  It was not right.  Josh can tell by the look on Dr. B’s face.  It has to be ok.  He asks, how serious is this?  Very serious, he says.  Contraction.  I have to give a push for him to screw in the monitor.  Can someone tell me what’s going on? I yell.  We can’t find the heartbeat a nurse yells back.  He needs to find the heartbeat someone else says. 

My husband sees the monitor - double zero’s.  He says, doctor – the baby’s gone?  The doctor says, Your baby has died and has no heartbeat.  What?  How could this be?  You need to push now, he says.  We need to get this baby out as soon as possible, he says.  I say, My baby is dead?  My baby is gone?  I couldn’t believe it.  This couldn’t be.  I didn’t feel the urge to push.  They said I had reached 10cm and I needed to push.  We had to get the baby out as soon as possible.  Contraction.  The doctor yelled at me to push.  I screamed and cried, and begged them to knock me out and give me a c-section.  I begged them.  How could I push out my dead baby?  But maybe she wasn’t dead.  Maybe this was all a big mistake.  He said he couldn’t put me through a c-section if the baby was dead.  He couldn’t do that to me. 

I beg for my OB.  They say she’s coming, but she won’t be here in time.  We have to get the baby out.  You want me to push out my dead baby?  With my contractions I start pushing.  My husband breaks down and screams, The baby’s gone?  Yes.  He starts crying and weeping.  I can’t push our baby out without him.  I tell him to be strong.  I need you to be strong right now, I say.  Maybe it’s a mistake.  I push again.  He starts weeping.  Be strong, I say.  I need you to be strong. 

The physical pain was less this time, than with R.  I don’t know if it’s because the emotional pain was so deep that it stunned my physical pain.  The doctor gave me an episiotomy.  He said, We are making more room for the baby.  I tell him I had a vacuum assist with my last.  He said he thinks I can do it.  I can push her out this time.  I can feel her coming.  How much longer, I scream.  A couple more pushes, he says.  I can feel her crown.  And then she comes.


We weep and howl and scream.

Silence.  Our baby was not crying.   

The pediatric doctors bring the baby to the care unit and try to recover her.  I cannot see but Josh says they are doing CPR.   Is it a girl or boy?  A girl.  Quinn Amelia, we instantly knew.  We cry and howl.  It seems like forever I am lying there watching them crowded around Quinn, like I am floating above the room watching the nightmare unfold.  Finally my OB comes in to deliver the placenta and give me stitches.  The doctors are still working on Quinn.  After about 30 minutes, we ask them to stop.  They did everything.  She was gone.

Quinn’s skin began to peel on her face, chest, and legs.  Because of this, they estimate she died 24-48 hours before she was born.  That night we so passionately celebrated her arrival was the night she died.  We didn’t know. 

It took 38 minutes for my world to shatter.  3am: arrive at hospital to 3:38am: the time of her birth and death.  From the hopes and dreams of a second baby to the nadir of darkness and despair.  I didn’t know I could feel this pain and this hurt.  Just as I didn’t know true love until my first child, I didn’t know true sorrow until my second.

They wrapped her up and I held her.  I was in shock.  My eyes played tricks on me.  I saw her nose wiggle and eyes flutter.  I saw it.  I kissed her and touched my nose to hers.  I touched her angel soft skin and felt her lips.  I opened her eyelid to see her dark blue eyes.  I held her tiny little fingers waiting for her to squeeze back.  This couldn’t be.

She was beautiful.  Perfect.  Peaceful.  She was my little baby.  My tears fell all over her face and body.  This couldn’t be.  Then Josh held her and his tears covered her.  We gave her to the nurses, one of them was named Tina, who gave her a bath, put clothes on her, and did her footprints and hand prints.  This was supposed to be a happy time – our baby’s first bath and footprints.  The despair. 

A special bereavement nurse was called in for us, Barbara.  She cried with me.  She let me howl.  She said, We don’t know why this happens.  Josh had to fill out death certificate paperwork.  I asked for the birth certificate paperwork.  Barbara said there was none; she would not get a birth certificate.  I howled.  This couldn’t be. 

She asked if we wanted a prayer.  I said, Yes, of course, anything, absolutely anything for her.  When Quinn came back for the prayer, I was able to be really present with her.  I felt her weight in my arms in a way I didn’t feel the first time.  I kissed her, I nuzzled her, I rocked her, I sang, “Hush little baby” to her.  Her skin was getting cold and her color was getting blue.  She was gone.  It was true.  It couldn’t be.  We had to say goodbye.  They wheeled her away.  The sight of the nurse placing a blanket on top of her cradle, covering her whole head and body….then wheeling her away.  Forever.  It couldn’t be. 

And then we waited.  What are we waiting for, I said, after a couple hours.  We are waiting to go home, Josh said.  Without a baby.  We came to the hospital 3 people, and we were leaving 2 people.  It wasn’t right.  It couldn’t be.  Just after 5pm on 2/16/15, I was wheeled out to the car by Barbara - just me.  Void and robbed of a baby that was supposed to be on top of me.  We pass the other delivery rooms with haunting labor screams and baby first breaths and cries.  This couldn’t be. 

We didn’t know.  

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