I don't often caution people against reading my posts because that seems counter productive, but I urge pregnant women or people who don't want to read about labor and delivery and baby loss during pregnancy to stop reading here.
However, if you're dealing with the loss of a baby during pregnancy, I'm sharing this for you as well as for my own healing. I pray you find peace and comfort during this hard time.
Last Friday, the morning after we found out our sweet baby stopped growing at our monthly check up at my midwife's office and the shock sort of wore off a bit, I began the process of saying goodbye to our baby and letting go.
Almost immediately, I began cramping intermittently and lightly spotting, but it wasn't until five days later and many repetitions to just let go that I delivered our tiny, precious little one into my hands after an hour of moderate-intensity labor-like cramps and contractions.
The birth of our 10 week and 5 day old baby at 12 weeks of pregnancy was quite a bit like labor and delivery had been with my two boys but with less intensity pain-wise. It was nothing like the two early first trimester losses at 5 and 7 weeks; those were like heavy periods.
I really wanted to labor and birth our baby at home for a few reasons even though I knew the baby would not be born alive.
First, I wanted to give my body an opportunity to let go instead of just having the baby and placenta removed by the d and c procedure that's pretty common during miscarriage. It was really important for me to not send my body into shock. I wanted my body to realize we needed to let go both emotionally and physically.
Second, I really wanted to deliver my baby. I spent nearly 11 weeks growing this baby and loving this baby and I carried this baby for 12 weeks and a few days. I needed to honor this baby's time with us and with me in particular by birthing him or her. And I needed to say goodbye.
We were granted all of that in that in unlikely grace.
My labor began around 3:45 and peaked at 4:50 p.m. when the baby was born into my hands. For baby only spanning the length of my pinky finger, I was surprised at how large the sac was -- about the size of a large grapefruit.
The baby itself was perfect and tiny. Little toes and tiny fingers were formed and baby looked small and delicate, just how I'd imagined.
About ten minutes after I birthed the baby, I began delivering pieces of placenta every ten minutes. After about an hour of delivering placenta pieces and passing blood clots, we noticed that the bleeding increased from a dripping faucet to a leaking faucet. At that point, when my midwife could not assess the blood loss via phone, we left our two boys with my mom and headed for the emergency room.
After being assessed at the ER and continuing to bleed, I was hooked up to a fluid IV and transported to a full-service ER where the on-call OB-GYN met us, listened to our story, checked me out and found that the bleeding hadn't stopped because my uterus was still retaining pieces of the placenta. My sweet in-laws met us there and began asking friends and family for prayer as my husband put out a plea on Facebook and via text message.
The OB explained that some women are able to complete a miscarriage without a d and c, but sometimes the body has a hard time expelling everything because mechanisms that are in place after a full-term birth are not necessarily activated during a miscarriage -- nursing for instance is one way the uterus is stimulated and activated to help expel the placenta; I obviously had no nursling. She also explained a few other reasons, but I was spacey and loopy from blood loss so I don't remember enough to explain well.
I'm thankful for medicine and doctors and surgery especially when it's needed, and though I didn't want to have a d and c, I listened to what my body was saying and knew it would help. I was tired and growing weaker.
I explained my concerns to the OB, and she was an amazing listener. I shared with her that we weren't sure if wanted to have another baby in the future, so we were concerned with my uterus' health and I shared that I was nervous about anesthesia.
So she went above and beyond to make sure I really needed the procedure. She actually scheduled an ultrasound so she could confirm pieces were still stuck inside the uterus before we went to the operating room.
And because there were rather large pieces still stuck in combination with the heavy bleeding, we agreed that a specific kind of d and c would be fitting in this situation; I then went straight to the OR for an ultra-sound guided d and c using suction and no scraping. A normal d and c, she'd explained, is often completed by feeling around inside the uterus and gently scraping pieces away from the uterus.
For experiencing something so sad and unpleasant as the loss of a baby during pregnancy, I felt God sent us a huge gift in having her be the on-call doctor. Her extra care and commitment to detail as well as her compassion were extremely helpful and healing.
Another amazing gift of mercy was when John's parents' friend from their neighborhood found out I was going in for an emergency d and c, she offered to come to the hospital and be with me during the procedure; she's a OR nurse at the hospital I'd been taken to, and though she'd never met me she offered to come be the hands and feet of Christ to me during a really stressful time.
Our friends and family have also been extraordinarily helpful and supportive, covering us with prayer from the very first night we found our baby had passed away to meeting our needs tangibly when all we could do was cry and process. The intercessions from the hearts of our friends and family were heard, and God showed us His love and His mercy and grace through the sending of the right people during our time of loss and suffering.
Though last night was a really difficult night for my whole family, I'm not sure I would have done much differently in hindsight. It was really healing for me to have the moments with my baby and to have delivered that baby I loved and grew and carried for nearly an entire first trimester.
I needed that closure.
I also overwhelmingly felt the strong urge to name this baby, and we've picked out names for our little one; we'll share with family and friends after we find out our baby's gender; my midwife picked up the baby this morning so we could run some tests to determine anything possible. At first, I was sort of sad that we wouldn't bury the baby, but I know our baby's soul is already with our Maker. Likely we'll plant a tree or bush in baby's memory once spring arrives -- beauty springing forth out of the soil and ashes.