(go back to 13 weeks)
Told by: Anna
Story of Innocent’s loss at 12 – 13 weeks
(spontaneous miscarriage at 15 weeks after expectant management).
I found out I was pregnant during the second half of January. It chokes me up to remember how happy I was. Innocent was to be our sixth child.
I was more tired and more nauseated with this pregnancy than with any since the first one. Other than that, I had no problems and I wasn’t expecting any. I was planning a home birth with a midwife. This would be my first time as all of the others were born in hospitals, most being less than thrilling experiences. Father and I went to talk to the midwife first before he made up his mind. A few weeks later I scheduled an appointment with her and went for my first visit. I was only 9 weeks at this point so we didn’t try to find a heartbeat. I needed to be seen locally for lab work so I set that
up. Part and parcel with the lab work was a physical exam. By the time I went to this appointment I was 13 ½ weeks.
I had noticed that my fundal height was higher for gestation than with the other children, although not enough to seriously suggest twins. It did cross my mind though. The nurse practitioner noted I was measuring 16 weeks. Then the happy moment of getting to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. Except they couldn’t find it. I wasn’t at all worried because I’ve
had babies “hide” before only to wave at us from the ultrasound later. They scheduled an ultrasound at the hospital for the next afternoon to check for the heartbeat and any reasons for the discrepancy in dates. I was actually happy about this because I was going to get to see my baby sooner than I had expected.
I was hoping to get pictures to take home.
During the ultrasound the tech didn’t talk and I was unable to see the screen. I’m used to the techs doing all of their necessary measuring and such, then turning the monitor around and taking me on a guided tour. I stared at the ceiling while she worked and waited patiently. She had to leave the room at one point. When she came back she scanned for another ten minutes or so then put the scanner back and announced I was all done. I was surprised and asked if she were going to show me anything. She said that when I came in for a problem with the baby, I wasn’t allowed to see the screen.
(Actually, I had peeked while she was out of the room and was able to catch a glimpse of head, torso and the measurement “12 weeks 5 days”.) My heart went cold and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I managed to get out of the hospital and to the car before I fell apart. I called Father and sobbed out what had happened. We knew nothing was necessarily wrong, but I just knew.
I got a call the next day, the feast of St. Innocent, during Liturgy. I listened to the message afterward. It was one of the
nurses asking me to come in at noon to discuss the ultrasound with the doctor. I knew this was it. There was no way this was good news. We dropped the children off with friends and went to the office. We had to wait an hour and a half. When
we went in the exam room, the doctor and two nurses were in there. I clutched my purse in front of me like a shield. The doctor introduced herself, then said,
“I’m sorry – there was no movement.”
I didn’t actually cry at that point I guess because I was in shock – even though I had known this was coming. The doctor
talked about coming back to make arrangements for a D&C. I said I didn’t want one and wanted to pursue medical management. They weren’t happy with this, but I agreed to make an appointment to come in the next Monday. I think they thought I would change my mind by then. We went out to the car and I fell apart again. Father dropped me off at home before picking up the children. I don’t want to detail the next few days. I didn’t eat anything, dropped several pounds, cried a lot.
I saw the doctor on Monday. He started talking about a D&C right away. Again, I said I wanted medical management instead. He too was shocked. He said that at this late date (Innocent measured 12 ½ weeks) that almost never worked and I’d have to have a D&C anyway. He had me make an appointment to come in Thursday for an ultrasound and to discuss it again. We dropped the children off again so Father could come with me this time.
I had had a terrible time Monday because the office was full of BABY things.
We had the ultrasound first. I knew the first one had been correct so I was hoping just to see my baby. I wanted Father to share this with me too. Seeing him was the first bit of happiness I’d had in over a week. The tech was very sweet and printed photos for us. We saw the doctor together. I felt a little stronger with Father with me so I held out on an immediate D&C. We made a date for surgery 10 days hence, just in case nothing had spontaneously happened by then. It would be Holy Tuesday.
I prayed that I would miscarry naturally. I couldn’t bear the thought of my child being torn apart by suction. I asked God
to give me the grace to endure if it came to it. I had had absolutely no signs of miscarriage with the exception of the cessation of all pregnancy symptoms. It was surreal carrying him around knowing he was dead. It didn’t horrify me, but
it was very strange.
Saturday night at about 10:30 I noticed I had started spotting. I was overjoyed, because I knew there was no way I wouldn’t complete the miscarriage before the date set for surgery. Previously I had been to the store for supplies so I started getting things ready. About 12:00 I was lying in bed reading and I felt an odd “popping” sensation. Nothing happened, so I ignored it. A few minutes later I gasped out to Father, “I think my water broke.” Mercifully I had protected the bed because it turned out to be blood, not amniotic fluid.
Father helped me into the bathroom and I settled in the tub. Within a few minutes I delivered Innocent, still in his amniotic sac. I picked him up and looked at him. I couldn’t see through the sac very well so I opened it up and there he was. He was beautiful, tiny and perfect. I shed a few tears, but I was so happy to have delivered him on my own and in one piece that I couldn’t be very upset. It took another hour to an hour and a half to deliver the placenta. After cleaning up I took some pictures of him and got back into bed. I was so grateful that my prayers had been answered that I just lay in bed thinking, “thank you”. My stomach felt so flat, and I felt so suddenly alone.
The next day was Sunday. I stayed home from church. I was hyper-conscious of the container containing Innocent’s body in the refrigerator.
Monday morning I called the doctor’s office and left a message for the nurse. She called back later and obviously hadn’t been given a very clear message. It took several minutes to convince her that I had delivered the baby on my own at home, was fine, and was only calling to let them know and see if they wanted to do a follow-up ultrasound. I went in that
afternoon for an ultrasound and it was confirmed that the uterus was empty. I was also examined by the doctor. He too was amazed I had done everything myself and was fine. I brought the camera with me and showed him Innocent’s pictures. I also showed them to the nurse. She said I had “blessed her day”. I actually felt an odd pride when showing him off, rather like that you get when showing off baby pictures of your living child. They all said they hoped to see me back in in several months under happier circumstances. God willing.
We had the burial on Wednesday morning. I had converted a jewelry box I bought into a casket. On the drive out to the cemetery (a family one in the country), I held him in the box on my lap. I couldn’t quite grasp that I was carrying the body of my child to bury him. I looked out at the countryside and wondered how it could look so beautiful when my baby was dead. The burial service itself was lovely. I was unable to sing anything but a bit of “Memory Eternal” at the end. My throat hurt too much. I left part of my heart in the Mississippi earth that day.
On Pascha we went back out to his grave and planted an Easter lily. I feel better knowing that even after we leave (only God knows how long we’ll be anywhere) there will still be flowers blooming every year by his grave. I’ve had decent days and nightmarish ones. I’m trying to find a new normal and not focus on what won’t be. Since I’m still working through
grief from such a recent event, I hope to be able to update this story in thefuture and share how I’ve done.