3/24/2011 10:14 PM
3.74 ounces (106 grams) 17 cm long
It was a Thursday. I had spent about an hour the day before in my OB’s office finding out that my girls had died and having a drug called Laminaria (painfully) inserted into my cervix in an attempt to soften my cervix in preparation for induction. I returned at 9am on Thursday to get a fresh dose of Laminaria. I was then to return home and go back to the hospital around 6pm to be induced, assuming I didn’t go into labor on my own. I packed a bag that morning before my 9am appointment and kissed my daughter goodbye for several days. I had no intention of returning home only to sit around and think about my dead babies inside of me. My doctor had no problem admitting me right away. This was my show now. I was making all the calls. I can tell you exactly what I wore that day. I’m thinking about tossing the t-shirt since I remember standing at the nurses station in L&D as I watched her write the word “demise” on my paperwork. I remember standing in the bathroom in the hospital room, having already changed into my gown, looking at myself in the mirror and telling my belly goodbye. I remember touching it, feeling how hard it was and imagining just how large it would have been had I been in L&D months later under different circumstances. The check-in process took several hours. They weren’t really ready for me since I wasn’t supposed to show up until later that evening and I of course, hadn’t pre-registered. Our nurse was fantastic. I can’t imagine having gone through this nightmare with anything less than the best nurses and doctors, and we didn’t have to. I had been written orders to get as much pain medication and narcotics that I wanted. Therefore, I was given an IV in preparation for the epidural and was also started on the labor inducing drug, Cytotec. Now, if you and Cytotec have never been properly introduced, it’s a teeny, tiny white pill that packs a mean punch. It’s also inserted into 1 of your 3 orifices. I wasn’t lucky enough to receive the oral dose and well, my cervix was already being “ripened” by the Laminaria, so I’ll let you guess where my Cytotec was placed. I told my nurse several times (the drug is re-administered every hour) I’m glad we got to know each other first. I also apologized profusely for my unshaven, ungroomed state. I hadn’t planned on having any action below my belt the day before and by the time I checked into the hospital the last thing on my mind was whether or not I had time to squeeze in a bikini wax. I checked-in around 10am and delivered Megyn around 10pm. A lot happened in those 12 hours. There was physical pain, there was emotional pain, there was some laughter, there was a lot of talking and there would be thousands of tears.
My body reacted to the Cytotec almost immediately. And when I say immediately, I mean contractions within 5 minutes. Enough to make me sit up in bed and put the nurse on notice for the epidural. I’m no hero and while I’m not afraid of pain, I knew this was one situation I had no intention of going through without the drugs. I didn’t want the narcotics, but I’m all for the epidural. I didn’t want to wait too long since the drugs were working so well. No one could tell me how long the delivery would take. There’s no pushing since the placenta isn’t removed from the uterine wall at all. There’s a serious concern of a placental rupture that could leave me bleeding to death. So the basic idea is to dilate your cervix and start contractions until the uterus expels the fetus on its own. It was during these several hours that the Hubs and I made the decision to get the hell outta’ here for a while. That’s what our trip to Antigua was all about. We talked about a lot. I apologized a lot. We cried together a lot and we both just kind of walked through the whole experience together. There’s no handbook for this kind of thing. You learn as you go. I’ve mentioned how wonderful the nurses were and right before our first nurses shift was over, she turned down the lights in our room and pulled a chair up beside my bed. She gave us the opportunity to ask as many and as graphic questions we could think of. I wanted to know what I would see. As a mother I worried about being disgusted by my own children. I asked if they would have facial features and how big they would be. She told us we could choose to hold them or not. That they would be happy to take photos for us and give us the disc and prints. That we would be allowed to spend as much or as little time with them as we chose. She let us know they could stay in our room and she also provided us with some literature about the whole awful process of losing your children and literature on grief. All that was helpful, but I’ll never forget what she said before she left the room. She told us that as she was driving to work that morning she just knew she was going to have a demise. That she felt it in her heart and that she just didn’t know it would be a couple as sweet as us. She wanted us to know that although she didn’t know us before 10am that morning, she had been praying for us all day. Her name was Vickie and while I may never see her again, but she will always hold a special place in my heart. For being so kind, and so generous with her prayers for a family she didn’t know going through an unimagineable situation.
The nurse that was with me when I delivered both girls was Sam. Actually, the only other person in the room when I delivered Megyn was Hubs, but Sam showed up shortly afterwards. The other thing that happens during a stillbirth labor is the decision about what to do with the babies once they are born. Laws vary by state but since the girls were born before 20 weeks, we had no legal obligation to bury them. The Chaplain and her staff are responsible for taking care of these kinds of details and we were continuously visited by numerous members of the staff. It got to be annoying. And very frustrating. They all had good intentions but I think each of them was waiting for one or both of us to break down so they could use whatever they learned in their grief counseling class at Chaplain College. We needed their information and we needed their help with what to do with their remains, but we didn’t want their counseling. Here were our options: 1) Deliver the girls, send them to pathology for testing and have them disposed of as medical waste. 2) Deliver the girls, send them to pathology for testing, have them cremated (for free) at a local funeral home and the funeral home would then store the remains until the hospital opened its Memorial Garden where their ashes would then be spread. 3) Deliver the girls, send them to pathology for testing, have them cremated (for free) and then pick them up from the funeral home to keep at home, bury, whatever we choose. Needless to say, we chose option 3. I’m not sending my children to the dumpster in a Bio-Hazard bag. And I wasn’t about to leave them on a dark shelf in a creepy funeral home for who knows how long until their ashes could be spread in some random garden. We chose a lovely heart-shaped urn that fits in the palm of my hand and they are lovingly kept on top of my chest of drawers in my bedroom. I touch them every now and then, tell them I miss them and kiss them occasionally. When I’m having an especially rough time, I pick them up and hold them close to my heart. The paperwork we had to sign to give the funeral home rights to cremate them is actually the only printed document that bears their full names. They were never alive outside the womb, so there were no birth or death certificates. And we asked over and over and over again to be absolutely positive they would be remain together. Their remains are together inside the plastic bag that is placed inside the urn…there’s no separation at all.
I didn’t experience pain with my first childbirth. I was heavily drugged and terrified at that point of the pain so I opted for the epidural as soon as they started the Pitocin drip. The twins were a different experience. The epidural didn’t take particularly well on my right side. I could feel a decent amount of pressure and there was a sharp, stabbing pain down the front, right-hand side of my pubic bone. I didn’t complain much about the lack of epidural on my right side. I wanted to feel the pain. I needed to feel the pain. I needed to do my part as their mother and I was glad to be given the opportunity to labor and deliver them. I was laying on my right side breathing through the stabbing pain when my water broke. There was a pop, then a warm gush. No sooner had a I told the Hubs “my water just broke” Megyn was born. “She’s out”, I said. Almost sadly. It was real now. There was no going back. I felt her slide right out. And there she lay on the hospital bed, tucked behind me and in the crook of my knees. I was covered and I stayed that way until Sam came into the room. She moved the blanket back to confirm that I had, indeed, just had a baby and then called for help. Hubs started to stand up to take a peek and I stopped him. Told him to sit down. Not quite sure what I was thinking at the time, but I was concerned for him. I wasn’t sure if he would lose it at the sight of her or if I was worried he would be disgusted by her. I still don’t know.
“Awww, she’s so cute!” announced Sam.
“Her name is Megyn.” I said.
“Hi Megyn!” Sam responded.
They picked her up, cut her umbilical cord and proceeded to treat her like any other baby. Sam introduced her as Megyn as other nurses entered the room. I think it was about this time Hubs stood up to go see her while they were cleaning her up. I remember hearing him cry as he snapped pictures of her. It was about the time I saw Sam walking across the room with Megyn in a blanket that I had the strangest sensation in the world. There was JOY. And even a little happiness. I had just given birth. I was a mother. And I was about to see and hold my baby for the first time. She laid Megyn in my hands and I got to look down upon one of the most precious sights I will ever see. You’re not supposed to know what babies look like at 19 weeks, but I do. I know just how perfectly formed they are. That they have 10 fingers and 10 toes. They have noses (teeny little nostrils), and ears, and lips, and eyes (Megyn’s were closed) and even a tiny bit of hair. I know that my girls would have looked like their daddy. They had his eyebrows and the bridge of his nose. I know they would have been tall and long-limbed. I told her over and over again how beautiful she was. How precious she was and how much we loved her and wanted her. I told her that I was so very glad to have been able to meet her and hold her even for just a few moments. I told her about her house, about her dogs and about her big sister. I told her about her grandparents and her aunts. I told her that we were waiting to meet her twin sister. I told her just how very sorry I was that all this had happened and that I was so sad that her life ended before it had begun. I held her, I rocked her. I watched as her daddy held her and talked to her. I uncovered her to look at her, touched her tiny feet and hands and covered her up again in case she was cold. I touched her head and I kissed her. And I loved her immensely. And I immediately missed her. And I immediately missed everything that would have been her life. We couldn’t know it at the time, but it would be several hours later that her sister would arrive. In the early hours of the next day, actually. We had a lot of time with Megyn. She stayed in our room, she was measured and weighed and placed in the plastic bassinet right next to my bed. I could look at her, talk to her and hold her anytime I wanted. It was a few of the most precious hours of my life that I never wish to forget. One of the things that stings the most about Megyn is that her daddy picked her name and she bears the same middle name as me. She was her daddy’s girl from the very beginning and it still breaks my heart that we lost a child that he named. And so there we stayed, a new family on the brink of being separated forever, staring a life we never imagined or wanted in the face, stuck in a place between euphoria and grief while we awaited the arrival of our Baby B…