I'm not sure where to start with this or how to even write it, but I'm ready to share it. So may God give me the words and I'll just start from the beginning.
On Monday afternoon I had a regular prenatal Doctor's Appointment. I wasn't that excited, I was looking forward to Friday we had our 20 week ultrasound and would get to find out if we were having a boy or a girl! But my doctor was unable to find Baby Toodle's heartbeat. He spent a good 15-20 minutes, long enough for me to share most the girl's birth history with his intern when he finally said he gave up. He was positive he heard movements just couldn't narrow in on the heartbeat and since I have an ultrasound Friday he could send me for one now, but would hate for them to accidentally tell me something I was planning on hearing Friday with Jim. I agreed to wait until Friday and we finished up my appointment. My nurse had to grab me a wrist brace because the carpal tunnel in my left wrist was acting up. While she was gone I emailed Jim to tell him we couldn't find the heartbeat, but whatever no big deal. Clicked "send" and burst into tears. The nurse came back in and asked and I said "I don't know, we couldn't find a heartbeat and I said I would wait until Friday, but I don't know anymore." She she told me she was going to talk to my Doctor and she would be right back. He came back in with her and reassured me we would go ahead with an ultrasound, he still had no concerns, I measured 27 weeks, he heard movement, everything looked great, but I was the most important part and if I wasn't comfortable he didn't want me going home worried. So I headed over to ultrasound where before she even had a chance to say anything I knew something was wrong, The girls were always moving around, hitting, kicking, rolling, and there was nothing. Then the next words out of her mouth were "I'm having troubles finding the heartbeat, I'm going to call your doctor." And I knew... I burst into tears, I had the girls with me this whole time and they just kept asking "mommy what's wrong" "mommy why are you crying" and I just couldn't tell them anything. How do you tell your 4 year old daughters their baby Toodles didn't have a heartbeat and died in their mommy's tummy? Finally that was exactly what I told them, their baby had died in my tummy and there was no more baby Toodles. Then my nurse came back to bring me back to clinic and I just dissolved on her. (I'm pretty sure it is a prerequisite to be a good hugger to become a nurse, keep this in mind if that's the degree you're working on.) As she was walking us back, both girls lost it and burst into uncontrollable sobs. Try and comfort 2 4 year olds that have no idea what's really going on while you're trying to relearn how to breathe yourself. Again, thank you to our nurse that found some fruit snacks for the girls and a box of kleenex for me! My doctor came back in with tears in his eyes and pretty much in shock himself, he kept saying "I swear I heard movement, I really didn't have any reason to suspect there was a concern, I'm so sorry. I'm just so so sorry." That moment and many others in the last couple days solidified his place as my doctor. (I had actually switched to him right before this pregnancy while I was trying to balance my blood pressure with medicine safe during pregnancy.) Then he started laying out the plan. The baby looked like it had passed about 4 weeks ago and my body was not delivering it naturally. At this point we needed to consider inducing labor or start risking infections and other problems. He told me I could come back anytime between that night and the next 1 to 2 maybe even 3 days to deliver but that it needed to be done with week. I told him I would be back that night but I had to find someplace for my children and get things in order and I'd be back.
So I left the hospital in complete shock. I didn't know who to call, what to do. The nurse had already had me call Jim so I needed to call him back to meet me at home not at the clinic. Then I called my friend Jessie. There was nobody else I knew that could care for my kids in this moment better than she could. Went home, packed their stuff and dropped them off. Went home, packed our stuff and headed to the hospital. Got halfway there when I realized I told them I would be back around 7 and I was actually going to be there at like 530 so we decided to grab dinner. Ate at our old family stomping ground, Frontier where we had one of our old waitresses that reminded us what we normally order because we hadn't been there in so long and we were half out of our minds with grief. Checked into the hospital where all I said was I think my nurse called for me earlier and she said, oh, you must be Heather. Then when she finished another nurse walked by and said "just really wanted to give you my condolences at this time." All I could think was "SERIOUSLY?! DOES EVERYONE KNOW?!" Got to my room and they explained everything and what was going on and I started to panic. My worst fear in the whole situation was that I was going to accidentally abort a perfectly healthy baby for no good reason. So I asked for another ultrasound and the same lady from 6 hours earlier came back in for me to reassure me baby was gone. In the meantime my doctor had come in to to talk to us. We started talking about genetic testing and what to do with the remains. I wanted to hit him over the head with a frying pan at this point. The last thing at that moment I wanted to think about was if I wanted to do a mass burial, send the baby to a funeral home or bring it home with myself, to what? Bury it in the garden with the family goldfish someday? No offense to anyone that has had to made that choice and chose that one, we all grieve and deal differently, but I have never been so mortified as the thought of bringing home my dead baby. Thank God Jim agreed and we decided on the mass burial. The nurse thought it was really well done and tasteful and she has never heard a complaint yet. Perfect, because I was also a little freaked out about having a funeral for a 16 week baby that only I even partially "knew" or had any physical connection with. As for the genetic testing, we were all ready to go ahead with that because there is nothing worse than the unknowns. If there was something genetically wrong with this baby that should prevent us from even trying, we should know about that. But then my doctor mentioned sometimes it's like opening Pandora's box and you get much more than your bargained for. Next thing you know, you, your husband and 2 kids are getting medications for something you never even knew existed. It was when he mentioned it could tell us something about our girls we wouldn't necessarily know otherwise I knew we had to. We all agreed knowledge is power.
By time my doctor left and we could get the process started it was already 11pm. I got 3 tablets shoved up by my cervix, made some jokes with my nurse and laid there while the cramping began. When I told my nurse around midnight I was starting to have some cramps she started me on some drugs, morphine and an anti anxiety drug that I don't even remember and I don't remember most the next day. I remember kinda waking up mid morning sometime thinking hey, my nurse didn't wake me up every 4 hours to shove more tablets up by my cervix and then realized I was so out of it she probably did and I had NO clue. Oops, good stuff. Around 2-3pm the cramps got worse and they wouldn't give me anymore drugs. So I was rocking in pain and told my nurse if I can't have more drugs I want a hot bath. She was like "actually, we could probably do that, let me go call the doctor," and I was like "no, either you get me drugs or you get me a bath NOW!" So after she called the dr... haha figures... I got to crawl into a hot bath. I just sat there and felt the pain melt away. Jim kept asking if I wanted to lay down and I kept saying no, I was ok just sitting. Finally I went to slide back in the tub to lay down and out came the baby. Jim ran around looking for a nurse button or a nurse cord to pull and I just started sobbing. My nurse and Dr came in and my Dr told the nurse "gold star to whoever's idea was the bath" and my nurse mumbled "it was her idea, give her the gold star." The placenta was a little more difficult to deliver and called for some yoga-ish type moves I will call bathtub-blooming-flower. My Dr had already cut the cord and had the baby resting on my chest while all that was going on so it probably didn't help I wasn't paying any attention to what was going on down there. Found out later there are all sorts of complications I need to be watching for in case I didn't pass all the placenta, but we'll worry about that later.
So baby Toodles is officially named Toodles. It's in my medical chart and everything! The baby was too early to determine a sex, and we all tried looking. It weighted 4.3 ounces. The baby actually spent the night in the room with us, most of it in the little baby bed thing, but with us. We each took some time to hold it and take pictures and the nurse brought in a bottle of Holy Water and let Jim and I do a private little Baptism of sorts. We said some prayers and Jim spread some water on it and we were able to keep the leftover water. The nurse sat with us and cried with us the whole time. She gave me a hug and asked for my address because when she went through it herself she had found a really great book and she would love to mail it to us. Baby Toodle's official means of death was strangulation from the umbilical cord. It was wrapped around it's neck and body at least 3 or 4 times, it doesn't change we lost our baby, but we're grateful we have answers and don't have to live with quite so many what if's. There is no way to guarantee anything and my Dr said there aren't really any studies on it, but we both agreed my hives were probably associated with the baby dying and my body trying to acknowledge something was wrong. The timing was just all to coincidental and when looking the other way, was there a chance the steroids caused the death? Steroids are more commonly used to prolong a baby or mother's life so that didn't make sense. I was too exhausted to do anything after all the drugs and delivery and emotions of the day so we decided to just crash in the hospital another night and spend the time with the baby while we could.
We gave up our civic duty this year because by time things settled down, we had half an hour to get packed up and back to Big Lake and it was just one of those things not worth it in the moment. Bash us if you choose, I started posting this on Facebook and realized I was using this loss out of political anger on Facebook and I will not use this baby and this loss for that. I will use it to spread awareness, to spread hope, to bridge gaps, etc, but I will not use it to spread hate and anger, so anyone that caught it before I took it down I apologize. In the meantime we are grieving and trying to continue parenting and protecting our children the best we can. With that said, I love hugs, but if you try to hug me I'm going to cry, not that I don't want or need that right now, but I ask that you respect my girls and try not to do it right in front of them. They are having a hard time seeing mom and dad so sad as is and they don't need to see it more than they already do. Will I talk about it with you? Sure, but most of it is right here so don't feel like I'm on auto pilot or just repeating myself, I'm pretty good at writing my feelings so this is my outlet for that. And maybe something does come up I didn't think of tonight and that's great too. What do we need right now? Prayers. Anything else is just a bonus, but we truly need prayers. My specific request and maybe Jim will speak to his on his own time, but mine is that I have seen so many people go through this and come out the other side bitter and angry. I don't want that. I have so many friends with fresh babies and babies coming soon and there is nothing in the world that makes me happier for them. My loss shouldn't change their joy and I just hope my thoughts and actions continue that way. I still want to hear about your pregnancy pains and joys and I still want to hear how fat you feel and how your labor lasted 2.5 minutes! (just wishful thinking for all my preggo mamas reading this, I still have love for your and high hopes for your deliveries!) And I want to hear about your baby that sleeps through the night at 2 months and how breastfeeding is easy as cake, or how your baby just won't latch and you've moved on to Target brand because it has the same nutrients and let's be real, it's the cheapest. And I want to hold your babies and give them back when they start to cry, not because I can't handle a crying baby (i can handle 2 at once as a matter of fact) but because it will always be my favorite part about it not being mine! I don't have to do crying! A) it wants your boob anyways or B) nobody fixes things better than mommies and that's how it always should be. So please continue to talk to me, and tell me about your pregnancies and your babies! I want to hear! I might cry and I'm so sorry if I do, but don't think it's because you said the wrong thing or you shouldn't tell me, it's because I love you and your baby so much that it reminds me of the baby I loved so much too. Or sometimes it reminds me of the girls, or sometimes it's just a sad story and my heart breaks for my friend. But my biggest wish and prayer request right now is that this doesn't shut people down from me, it opens them up. I want to hear your stories of loss too, I want to cry together, I want to eat chocolate, ice cream and pizza and just cry. I want to know I'm not alone. I want to know someone walked before me and when someone walks after me I want to be able to offer them the same chocolate, ice cream and pizza and just cry with them too. Or maybe not, I want to just be able to offer them something. To everyone else... I want to live. I want to enjoy life where we're at. I hate snow, but now know I have snow loving friends... I want to see it through your eyes. I want to experience what makes you love it... and then I want you to take my kids while I crawl in a hot bath with a good book and box of chocolate! But really... don't worry about saying the wrong thing, or not saying anything or making a joke too soon, or whatever... don't let my loss ruin our friendship also. I need you, wherever you are at, whatever your role in my life, I may need a little time, but don't give up on me. If I say no this week, don't assume I will say no next week. I may say no the next 6 months, who knows, but someday I'm going to say yes, and we are all going to know why I made you keep asking all that time. So my other prayer request is not to give up on me. To my family... don't hover. I'm sorry, and you know who you are. I don't need your hovering over me being sure I'm not doing something stupid, (my Dr and I agreed to start back up the Prozac and I'm continuing my ProBio5 which I attribute to my happiness off my Prozac) You don't need to come over every 5 minutes, you don't need to take my kids, you don't need to cancel vacations. We will be ok. We have a great support system which does include you, but you are allowed to continue with your lives as well right now. At the same time, while I deal with my grief, I will not be catering to yours over this situation. Thank your for being sad we lost our baby, but it was OUR baby and OUR loss and OUR grief comes first. So we ask for prayers for our family. Our girls are hurting too. And they don't understand why. They have amazing teachers at school that sent them home with books that I'm not ready to read to them and coloring books and crayons and they are helping the girls tremendously. They are both sick and they both just want dad. They don't understand that mom is so sad so for some reason dad is the comforter right now, they just know they need to go to him. They don't understand why 2 of their cubbies teachers were hugging mom and making her cry when they just wanted their hug and kiss goodbye. They don't even understand that the baby that was in mom's tummy is gone. So I ask for prayers for my children, for their own healing and understanding. And Jim... he is my rock and my everything. Monday night we talked and I told him I wanted to just do this alone, get it over with and go back to life. Then I realized I couldn't do this without him, this will not separate us, this will bring us together. Tragedy always does that... it brings together or tears apart. Jim has spent the night by my side in the hospital too many nights to count between this week and bedrest with the girls and has held my hand and brought me medicine and glasses of water and even just hugs and kisses when I needed them and I cannot do life without him. I know we are both grieving differently right now, but I ask for prayers that we get brought together through it all and not torn apart.
And that is where I leave your for now. It's almost 1 in the morning and I can't even see enough to proofread this before I publish it. So here's where we're at right now, raw and real.
As always,God Bless
Heather, Jim, Anabell, Isabell and our angel baby Toodles