A tiny life that changed mine:
What is time?
In the grand scheme of life, sometimes, it goes fast, sometimes slow. When you lose a child, or a pregnancy, time sometimes stands still. I know. Almost 4 years ago, we found out there was a good chance our unborn child would not live. We were in for our 19 week ultrasound. After years of infertility, we were so excited, as was our 6 ½ year old Megan. She wanted a sister, and I have to be honest, I wanted another girl. Byron wanted a boy, of course, but all we really wanted was a healthy baby. God had another plan. We had one of the last appointments of the day. I was very well accquainted with the ultrasound room at my doctor’s office. Nothing romantic in the way we got pregnant! The ultrasound tech looked and look. Of course the usual ”I think it is a girl (YAY!) but I am not 100% sure.” Then silence. More quiet. And more measuring. And quiet. Then ”I will go get the doctor. Be right back”. That is never good. The doctor came in. More quiet. Argh. I was so not feeling the way I was supposed to. I was supposed to be laughing and joking, and HAPPY it was a girl! I was nervous, scared and freaking out inside. My mom was there. It was Friday, Sept.7, 2007. I will never forget that day, and I hate it now always. The doctor mentioned that the baby’s legs and arms were not quite up to the 19 week mark. About 1.5 weeks off. I did not think too much of it. Ultrasounds are not 100% right. She wanted me to see a perinatologist. She called the one in Topeka. He was booked for 4 weeks. I can wait, no big deal. She said “NO. You need to get in right away.” I freaked. This must be serious. She called KU Med. They could not fit me in for a week. She called St. Luke’s. They had an appointment Monday September 10. Right away. Byron got the day off from work. I had the day off. We headed for Kansas City. We saw Dr.Gibbs that day, and a wonderful genetic counselor named Susan. We heard the usual ”termination is an option”- I think they almost have to tell everyone that. Being Catholic, there was no way that would ever be an option for us. I am grateful now that we ended up at the hospital we did. We knew from the start that we could never choose termination, and blessedly, they never mentioned it again. I have heard stories about doctor’s who ridicule women for NOT choosing abortions in cases like this. I cannot imagine being bullied by someone who is suposed to protect life to the best of their abilities. 🙁 We were blessed with caring and compassionate doctor’s and nurses. They were respectful and helpful. We will always remember and appreciate that. He looked and looked too. She was measuring about 2 weeks behind in the arms and legs, and was having problems measuring right on in the head and the chest too. Her head was measuring about 2 weeks ahead. He could not know what was wrong by the ultrasound alone, so he asked if we wanted an amnio. I was terrified. I had heard bad things about those, but I am Type A personality, and I could not take the unknowing, so we agreed.
It was horribly painful, and not a good experience at all. I found out while he was doing it that I did not have enough amniotic fluid, and that is why it hurt so badly. He had to use a lot of force to get enough fluid out. I could not stop shaking, and that was bad to. It lasted about 4 minutes. By then end, even my macho husband was crying, and so was one of the nurses. I calmed down, and we went home. I had wonderful church friends who were praying and one made us dinner that night, even though I could not eat. We had to wait almost a month to get the results back (they were thinking Trisomy 13-18), because they had to ”regrow” the cells a few times, due to the lack of extra fluid. We went back on October 15. We saw Dr Gray this time. He was awesome to. I could not be a doctor, and have to talk to patients about things like this. He was caring yet professional. It made it a little bit easier. Mallory Grace (the name we had picked out) was still fighting! She had not gotten any smaller or bigger, and he was optimistic that she had stayed the same. He thought that might be a good sign. We had gotten the anmio back, and it was inconclusive. It was not any Trisomy, and the types of dwarfism they test for all came back negative too. He was hoping it was a form of dwarfism that was not fatal. I could live with that. I would love any type of child. A disability meant nothing to us. We left that day in a little better of a mood. I still was not feeling her move, but since she was on the smaller side, that was normal, the doctor said. We made an appointment for the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (November 27) and went on our way, planning for the holidays. I was hoping that all of our prayers were paying off. We enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving with my family, and I went shopping the day after as usual. We went in Tuesday. Megan and my sister came with us. I was trying to be positive for Megan. We went in. Megan and Emily stayed outside. He hooked everything up and started. He turned away. (Dr.Gray) Oh no. Not good. He turned around. He knew I wanted an honest answer. No sugarcoating. He had tears in his eyes. I started to freak out. Byron started crying. Dr. Gray said, ”She is in congestive heart failure. There is water on her brain, and her kidneys are not working. It is only a matter of time now.” I only had the tiniest bit of fluid left. After pleading with him that he had made a mistake, I knew in my heart he was right. He hugged me for a while, and tried to comfort me. I composed myself, and asked what we would do next. He said we just had to wait it out.
Great. We were on “deathwatch “ now.
I would go to my OB’s office for “heartbeat checks”. I went in Wednesday the 28th. All good. I set up an appointment for the next Wednesday, December 5th, 2007. We got there. We talked to her for a bit. She got the dopplar out, and could not find the heartbeat. We had an ultrasound, and she was gone. I knew it in my heart before we even went there. I knew in my heart she passed on Monday, but could not have admitted it before now. Call it mother’s intuition or whatever. I had been helping at Megan’s school Monday at lunchtime. I was talking to Byron on the phone at about 12:15 PM. I felt sick, and had to go outside. I almost threw up, and then got really cold, and I started shaking.
I know that is when she passed. I felt worse the next day. I went in to the hospital on Thursday, December 6, 2007 at 8 in the morning. I had never had a chance to meet the nurses for the meeting about our condition. We were supposed to meet them after my OB’s appointment on Wednesday. Not to be. I was lucky. They had just finished a new wing in the hospital. I was the only one on the wing. I did not have to hear or see happy people with their newborns. I was quietly glad for that. I was blessed to have with me a dear friend who had lost 3 babies before me. She was with me the whole time. It helped so much for me to have someone there who knew what I was going through. My mom and Byron were also there.
I was induced at about 10. I had been induced with Megan, so I was not anticipating any issues with that. I went from feeling so sad, to laughing to being mad. I guess that is normal. The nurses were awesome. They understood me, and let me yell, and be mad and laugh if I needed to. I could tell something was happening about 7. They got Byron. I could not take it anymore. The mental pain was SO much worse than the physical. I don’t have epidurals due to a huge fear of LONG needles (silly, I know) so I was on a morphine drip, but I think my adrenaline was overpowering it, because I felt EVERY pain. She was tiny. They had measured her (I was 32 weeks gestation, and she was measuring about 22.5). I had to get up, even though it was almost time. I was almost out of my body, looking down. I cannot explain it, but it is a feeling I never want to feel again. I ended up in the bathroom. She was born after about a few good pushes. The nurse caught her. I fell down, almost in shock. She was oddly beautiful. She had a very large head, due to the water on the brain. She was born at 7:54 PM on Thursday December 6, 2007. She was 3 ¾ inches long and weighed 1 pound 13 ounces. Her head measured 12 inches. She was perfect to me. We held her for a long time. My brother was there and could not hold her. He was crying, too. This perfect angel touched so many. I slept for a while. The next day, Now I Lay Me Down to sleep took pictures of our family of four. I left the hospital later that day. We held a graveside service a week later. I almost had a nervous breakdown.
No parent should have to bury their child. It is not natural.
We had to. It was a beautiful service. All of my family, and Byron’s mom and dad, and my church friends were there. It was very cold but sunny. There was snow on the ground. My step dad made a white coffin. It was so tiny. We said goodbye that day, but she lives in my mind and heart every day. I will never forget her. We never did find out what she had. I guess I was the one person in a million that this happens to. We went on the have a healthy baby girl November 28, 2008 named Noelle Grace Robyn. She was perfect too. I still, 2 years later, have angry outbursts at God. I need to remember that He also suffered the loss of a child. He knows how I am feeling, and I think He would be okay with my periodic angry tantrums. I know she is an angel for Him in heaven, and in my heart, I personally think that she ended up being Noelle’s guardian angel. She is always around me, and I will love her forever. I like to think her life made me a better person, able to help those I know who might have to go through this. It will soon be four years, and it is still fresh in my mind. I know with God, I will be fine.
Mallory, may God keep you until we meet again, because I know we will. We all love you , angel in Heaven,and miss you always.
Although I miss her more and more every day, I am glad that I chose the path I did. I am glad I had the courage to do it. I am glad I had a support system who shared my belief and did not pressure me to doanything different than I did. This is my story, in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, and to show respect for life.
**written by Amy F.**