On Friday May 18, I went to the doctor to have baby Lillian’s heart beat checked because May 18 was the day Knox would have been due and I was anxious. Kerry took the boys to the park so they wouldn’t have to wait in the waiting room and because it was a beautiful morning. I was hoping that it would be a quick in and out trip, my fears would be relieved and we would go on and enjoy the day as a family. In my gut though, I had a feeling that I was going down a road I had been on before. A road I didn’t want to be on again.
The nurse practitioner saw me and tried to remain upbeat while she searched and searched for a heart beat. I knew that when she didn’t hear them within a few moments that we wouldn’t be hearing it at all. Dr. G took me for a sonogram and we both anxiously watched the screen. We could see our little baby moving, but only with my heart beat. There was no spontaneous movement on her part and her chest was silent. I think we were both heart broken. I am so thankful that he printed some pictures for us. I really feel thankful for the physician that I have, and it’s only the loss of Knox that ever brought me in to him as a patient. I can’t put into words how grateful I am for what and how he spoke to me that afternoon. It wasn’t just that he was sorry, but he too, was deeply grieved for us. I know that he genuinely cared for me and my husband not as patients but as people.
We were given options about when and how to give birth, Kerry and I elected to go in on Saturday for an induction. Dr. G was going to be out of town, which was my only hesitation, but he assured me the doctor who was covering for him was wonderful and would take good care of us. Indeed he did.
On Saturday morning, we took the same walk we took when we were admitted with Knox. The same admission clerk checked me in and I was in the same room where he was born. I held it together fairly well on that walk past the nursery and to the nurse’s station, until I heard a fetal monitor and a mother being coached to push her baby into this world. I wanted to tell her how blessed she was, how much she should hold that child and just cherish the moments she had, instead I cried and quietly told the nurses who I was and why I was there.
The admission process was pretty much the same, vital signs, IV, orientation to the room and plan of care for the day. My nurses were caring and kind, something that was a bit lacking the last time we were there.
My day nurse called the doctor on call for Dr. G and asked him to come in so we could meet him. He was very nice and although he talked quickly was willing to listen to what we were saying and what our experience was. He was a believer and that was important to us. We talked about things we would do in an effort to avoid going to the OR again this time.
And then we waited. I waited for the medicine (cytotec) to work, I waited for the hours to pass, I waited for the inevitable. My mind telling me that it was okay this (the labor) was happening, it needed to happen, but my heart was so resistant. No matter how much I tried to relax and let the contractions come and wash over me, I could feel deep down my body resisting because no matter how much this “needed” to happen, it shouldn’t.
My labor was similar to that with Knox, but my progress seemed slow. Around 4:30pm my water broke and I thought that things would move a little faster now. But instead, they seemed to slow down and even move backwards. The contractions didn’t worsen, the medication didn’t seem to have the same effect and still my body fought. I tried talking to myself, I tried talking to Kerry about it, I tried to emotionally process it all, but there was resistance and it’s still hard for me to pinpoint it. It came from somewhere I couldn’t reach with my mind (I realize this sounds a little new agey, but it’s the only way I can describe it). No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t let myself accept this was happening. My nurses commented that my cervix seemed to be moving up instead of down, that it would come down a bit one time and the next time it would be further up and almost moving backward.
I was discouraged and exhausted by the time my next dose of medication was due at 10pm. The Dr. K had written orders to stop the induction and wait until morning to resume the medication again. I felt defeated, but I didn’t know what else to do. I don’t know what it was about that plan, but it seemed to accelerate my labor. I don’t know if it was the fear that this labor was going to go on forever and that I would be locked in this battle with myself all night or that I just wanted so desperately to be out of this waiting stage, but things started to happen. The nurse brought in some medication to help me sleep, but I had a feeling I shouldn’t take it.
I got up to go to the bathroom one last time before we settled for night and there was a little more bleeding. I mentioned to the nurse that this is kind of what happened before Knox was born, but my cervix was the same and nothing “seemed” to be changing. She had another nurse come in and check the bleeding, but since it wasn’t significant, we decided to keep an eye on things. I don’t know if they called Dr. K to let him know about the change. I told my night nurse I was going to eat a little pudding and then take the medicine and go to bed. I could only eat about 2 bites and lost my appetite. I shifted my weight in bed and our daughter was born. Just Kerry and I were in the room, it was surprising to me and I was a little shaken up, I wasn’t prepared for it to happen that way. Lillian Faith was born at 10:40pm, she weighed 2.5 oz and 4 1/2 inches long.
I called my nurse, who handled things very well although I was her first “demise” patient (I found that out later). There was another nurse who stepped in for a few minutes, but left pretty quickly afterward. I heard her say “I have to step out”, but I could tell she was bothered by what she was seeing and what was going on. I found out later she was about 8 weeks pregnant and it was understandably emotionally difficult for her to be there. We were able to hold Lily and take pictures. I didn’t get to hold her or sit up as much as I did after Knox was born because I was bleeding a little more, but I’m thankful for the time I did get to spend with her.
One thing that was so striking to us was how much smaller she was. Knox died at 15 weeks, Lily died at 14 weeks. But she looked so much smaller. Her fingers and toes were delicately formed. We could see the tiny ribs, her nose, her little calf muscles that were perfectly formed. It is astounding the perfection of such a tiny body, the creation and handiwork of a great and mighty God. As grieved as we were, and are, we couldn’t help but be in awe of the creation we were holding in our hands.
Dr. K came in and we tried to get the placenta to come. It was painful and it didn’t work. Around midnight my bleeding had increased enough to be concerning and the doctor felt it would be best to go to the OR to avoid a repeat of my stay with Knox (ie blood transfusion, very low blood counts etc). I was disappointed, we only had an hour and a half with our daughter. It felt like minutes and it was hard for me to leave knowing that I wouldn’t be holding her again. Kerry prayed with me before I left. I have been thankful many times over for his spiritual leadership and sheparding during this time.
Dr. K stood with me and talked with me before I went into the OR, after they gave me preop meds I don’t remember much about the actual procedure. They hadn’t given those to be before Knox, so I remember everything until I went under with him. My doctor tells me that there was quite a bit of bleeding we hadn’t seen, so much that even the everyone was a bit surprised my vital signs had remained so stable, but the procedure itself went well. I didn’t lose as much blood as last time and I didn’t need a blood transfusion.
I got back to my room around 2:30 in the morning and we didn’t get much sleep that night. Hospitals aren’t known to be places of rest, there were lab draws, medications, blood pressures and IVs to change. Morning came and I was so thankful to eat breakfast!
I was incredibly sore and very tired on Sunday. Because of the things we had done to try to get the placenta to be born and some complications with bleeding afterward and the subsequent interventions to stop the bleeding, my abdomen was very tender to the touch. I hadn’t taken pain medications after Knox was born, but felt I needed them this time. My doctor didn’t want me to go home because there was some packing to prevent bleeding and he wanted it to stay in for 18 -24 hours. He consented though, if my labs remained normal(ish) and I wasn’t symptomatic (dizzy when getting up) that I could go home around supper time.
We had the same day shift nurse on Sunday as we had the day before and she asked if she could see pictures of Lily and sat with us for a little while in the afternoon. I appreciated my nursing care this stay as it was very different from last time.
Physically I’m doing okay. I’m not as tired or weak as I was after Knox was born. I’m sleeping better, which I’m thankful for. Emotionally the grief is different this time, I’m not totally sure why. I still feel numb and it’s difficult for me to formulate completely coherent thoughts, but I don’t quite feel the same hole in my gut as I did last time. I’m working on trying to put just why into words still, but I do think it has something to do with the lack of shock this time. The grief, though, is still very real.
Kerry and I have talked a lot about trusting that God is still good and that all things He does work together for the good of those who love Him. Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Sometimes we have to know things even if we don’t totally feel them. It’s hard for me to see that good can come from losing a second child in 6 months. It’s hard for me to understand, but I know that God is faithful and I know that He has a purpose for bringing us down this road again.
Psalm 139: 13-16
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.