On Wednesday night I received my first round of Cervidil, which feels terrible being inserted! After 12 hours, it had softened and lowered my cerivx, but not enough, so I received a 2nd round of the medication. The 2nd round started falling out, but we realized it too late, so it didn’t get a chance to do its job. However, it did soften me a little more.
Thursday night around midnight I began receiving Pitocin. I began contracting very mildly, but slept through most of the night. By Friday morning the contractions were becoming more regular and more intense by the hour. However, cervix checks revealed I was not dilating much at all. By the afternoon the contractions were so bad I was crying and really wanting an epidural. My contractions were registering very big and very close together on the monitors. However, after 6 hours of really hard labor and contractions (about 10 hours of steady contractions overall) I was still only dilated a little over 1 cm. This was around 4 p.m. My doctor decided I had been through enough and to go ahead and allow me to get the epidural. He was thinking I was probably going to need a c-section by this point, and since I’d need an epidural for that anyway, he let me get it. The original plan had been to wait until I was at least 2-3 cm.
The epidural began working very quickly, and I went to sleep for a few hours. When I woke up around 9:30, they decided to check my cervix. To our surprise, I was dilatead to a 6! After that, things began moving very fast. The NICU team (about 6 or 7 people) began setting up. I also had an OB, a resident OB, 2 nurses, and then my regular OB showed up (things were moving so fast he couldn’t get there in time to do the actual delivery). Within about 15 minutes of my cervix showing at a 6, I was about ready to start pushing my baby out. The whole pushing process took another 20 minutes or so, and the NICU team quickly took over the baby while I was delivering the placenta and being cleaned and checked for tears. I only tore a tiny bit – I didn’t even need stitches for it. This may sound strange, but there was something exciting about pushing her out. I even enjoyed it, knowing that every push was that much sooner I could lay eyes on our baby.
In the meantime, we found out our baby was a girl, and we told them her was Madelyn Rebecca. The NICU doctor inserted a breathing tube in her throat and tried very hard to get her stabilized. She came out looking blue in her face, and her heart rate was very low. They got color into her face, but never could get her heart rate above the 20s, and it needed to be over 100. Finally, the NICU doctor told us they had done all they could, and were going to remove the tubes and allow us to spend some time with her alone. They handed her to me, and she tried very hard to look at me, but was only able to open her eyes very briefly. She was so beautiful and perfect. I had been warned there could be deformities if there were a chromosomal defect or from being without fluid so long, but she looked amazing. She was bigger than we expected, and really not as small for a 34 weeker as we originally thought from the ultrasounds. She weighed 3 pounds 4 ounces and was 15 inches long, which the nurses said was pretty good considering full-term newborns are 18-21 inches on average. Her little hands and feet were also very long. You could see both Nathan and me in her precious little face. She had a good amount of blonde hair all over her head, which really surprised me – it seems not many babies are born with a head full of blonde hair! She had fingernails and little blonde eyebrows. Everything about her was beautiful and perfect.
Nathan and I spent time with just the 3 of us. I think she died sometime while in either mine or Nathan’s arms, but I’m not sure the exact time. After we had spent some time with her, the NICU doctor came and got our authorization to do testing. We are allowing them to do an autopsy as well as a chromosomal assessment. We feel like we need to know what went wrong, and how this will affect any future pregnancies. I hate to think of our baby girl being cut up, but we need to know. If it is something genetic or likely to happen again…well, I just don’t want to have this happen over and over. However, even though it happened this time, I don’t regret I got pregnant. I would never regret our sweet baby girl, though her life was much too short.
The hospital had some outfits they keep for situations like ours, and dressed Madelyn in a white satin gown, which they gave us to keep. They also gave her a few little toys, blankets, and an outfit to bury her in. They took her footprints and gave them to us. I assume we’ll be getting her birth certificate in the mail when it is ready.
After signing some paperwork, a photographer from an organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came in and took some pictures of Nathan, Madelyn, and me. I will share some of them when I have them. I want everyone to see how beautiful she was. Then both of our parents and siblings came in, each held the baby, and the photographer came back in and took a few more pictures.
Finally, our families left, and we spent a little more time with our daughter. We said goodbye again the next morning before leaving the hospital. It felt weird leaving the hospital after all this time. Although I was very glad to be going home, it was so hard to leave without her.
Once the autopsy has been done (hopefully on Monday) the baby will be picked up from the hospital by the funeral home. We plan to have a graveside memorial service for her sometime this week. This week, instead of shopping for a car seat and stroller, we will be shopping for a casket and headstone for our little girl. It seems so unfair.
Back when we were making the decision about hospitalization, one thing that caused us to consider NOT being admitted was that we knew this could happen. However, I’m so glad I went to the hospital, because we have memories of her we wouldn’t otherwise have. I saw her on an ultrasound every week, and she always did something to make us smile. We saw her blinking, sucking her fingers and toes, and she also kicked the ultrasound techs a few times when they pushed down too hard on my belly. We also got to listen to our baby’s heartbeat almost all day everyday. We are devastated we’ll never get the chance to see her grow up. But we do take some comfort in knowing she is in heaven, and will never have to experience pain or suffering or unhappiness that life on this earth too often brings. We know God will take very good care of her. I can’t wait until we see her again.
Although it feels so wrong to say good-bye to a baby, and I still don’t understand why, I do know her too-short life had a purpose. For one thing, she taught us the meaning of love at first sight. We loved her in the womb, but laying eyes on her for the first time and holding her tiny body in our arms was one of those crucial moments that are life-altering. We miss her so much already.