Thursday, June 02, 2005

All the information you were afraid to ask for...

It has occurred to me that there are people wondering "what happened?" but they are too afraid to ask any questions. So here, to the best of my recollection, is our story of what happened.

We decided last May, after celebrating Sam's second birthday, that we wanted another child. So we started TTC. It took us four months to conceive Baby Alex.

Things were perfect. Little to no morning sickness. No complications. I had had gestational diabetes when pregnant with Sam, but we tested three times for it while I was pregnant with Alex and I tested fine. I was so happy.

On May 1st, I started to feel sick...A sinus infection, I was sure. I went to see the doctor and she confirmed it was pregnancy stuffiness combined with allergies and I should drink fluids and rest. I stayed home from work for three days, but decided to go to work on the fourth day because I wanted to save my sick/vacation time for maternity leave. I felt sick all day at work, but being the responsible mom I am, I knew I had to go to the grocery store after work. By the time I got to the car after shopping, I felt faint. I thought it was just my blood sugar level dropping since I hadn't eaten much lunch from feeling sick. I got home, ate a cookie, drank some juice, and felt better. I remember Alex kicked me several times that day, but I don't remember if he moved at all that evening. I just figured we were having a "slow day" since I hadn't gotten much sleep during my sick days earlier in the week. I slept all night that night...the first full nights sleep I'd gotten in months. I should have known then that something was wrong.

Friday I went to work and I remember commenting to my pregnant coworker that I hadn't felt much movement that day. She laughingly reassured me that it had been a long week and Alex was probably just resting up for an overnight kick-fest. Again, I should have known that something was wrong.

That was Mother's Day weekend, and things were hectic around our house. We had a dog adoption event on Saturday, then shopping with my mom, then dinner at our house. I thought I felt him move Saturday morning and again Sunday afternoon, but I'm now told that it was probably just his lifeless body settling in my uterus. Sunday we had lunch out to celebrate Mother's Day. Sunday evening I finally admitted that something wasn't right. When I thought about it, I realized I had slept Friday and Saturday nights without waking at all. It felt like Alex had dropped onto my cervix and walking was increasingly difficult. I rested, hoping I was just overtired. Late that night I tried the drinking a glass of cold water and laying on your left side...nothing. I admitted to my husband that I was scared...but I already knew. Since it was so late/early, I waited until the morning to call the OB. I went into the office and a doppler confirmed there was no heartbeat.

I was admitted to the hospital Monday morning, May 9th. I'll never forget walking in and the nurse saying, "I'm so sorry." I wanted to die. An ultrasound confirmed what the doctor called, "lack of fetal cardiac activity."

It took three days to induce labor. I had had a difficult recovery from my previous c-section and another c-section would mean I could never have a natural delivery for any subsequent children. I had previously discussed with my doctor that I wanted to avoid a c-section if at all possible. The wonderful doctors were determined to follow my wishes. But after three days of Pitocin-induced labor and a uterine infection that caused all sorts of crazy symptoms, I had my doubts. So I had a talk with Alex in one of my few alone moments in my hospital room...around dinnertime on Wednesday, May 11th. I told him we loved him, but it was time to say goodbye and he had to go to heaven to be with Grandpa C (my father-in-law).

Alex was born a few short hours later, at 11:38pm. He was technically 35 weeks, 5 days. But he weighed 9lbs, 1oz and was 20 inches long. He had obviously been dead for a few days, at least, as his little body had started to fall apart.

At first, neither of us could hold him. We were so exhausted and so overwhelmed that we asked he be taken out of the room. They took him to the nursery and cleaned him up. We sat in our room and sobbed until we fell asleep.

At about 3am, the mortician came into the room to discuss arrangements with us. When I signed the paper authorizing the autopsy, and had to fill in the "relationship to deceased" line with "mother" I knew I had to hold my baby. The nurse brought him back to us and we held him, and rocked him, and told him how much we loved him and how sorry we are. We also saw him again the next morning when the chaplain baptized him for us. But it seems like our time with him went by in the blink of an eye. Luckily, the hospital was on top of things and took three polaroid pictures for us. I didn't think to ask anyone to bring a camera, so those are the only pictures we have of our son.

I checked myself out of the hospital the next day and we went home without our baby. We buried him one week later.

We don't have any test results yet. The doctor who delivered Alex said the placenta and cord looked normal to the naked eye. She also said it was not wrapped around his neck or anything that would immediately indicate a problem. But my regular OB says that obviously there was something irregular going on in there if he was so big already. Even if we give him a pound or more for post-death fluid retention, he was still way too big for his gestational age.

There are so many things I would do differently if given the chance. I have so much guilt over everything. I was so naive that this sort of thing couldn't happen to me. I was so cocky to think this perfect pregnancy would result in a perfect living baby...that I didn't have to worry about a thing. I was so stupid not to insist on more help when I was concerned and had questions. I think about all the what ifs and should have beens...and I cry...a lot.


Julie said...

Oh, Catherine. I know it took courage and tears to write sweet Alex's story. I am so sorry for you; I wish we could just hug and cry together. I don't know when this cloud will lift, but please know there's support and understanding out here. Love you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cathy.

I'm so sorry you have been going through this hell. Please just know that even if we aren't asking questions, we're here if you need us.

Love you,