I Am Myra’s Mother

Told by: Kerry

Our daughter, Myra Kate, was stillborn at 32 weeks, 6 days, on Mother’s Day 2012. I began having problems with high blood pressure at 31 weeks, but it wasn’t until Saturday, May 12, that I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. My first pregnancy was with twin boys, who were also delivered at 32 weeks, 6 days, and I’ve never had problems with blood pressure. I had a 5-hour hospital visit on May 9 before I was admitted on May 11. In addition to checking my blood pressure often, my nurses were performing non-stress tests on Myra. I’ve had gestational diabetes in both pregnancies and am used to these assessments. On Saturday, May 12, my husband mentioned to my doctor that I was short of breath so a C-T scan and chest x-ray were ordered to check for fluid or a blood clot. All was clear. My husband decided to go home Saturday night and come back Sunday morning with our boys. Our home is over 80 miles from the hospital, which makes getting a change of clothes a lot more tricky. That evening at 7:30, a non-stress test was performed. Myra was “perfect.” At 11:15, another nurse came in and explained she was helping my nurse and that it was time for another nst. I showed her where to find Myra, the heartbeat was located, and the belts were fastened. In a few moments, the heartbeat was gone. This wasn’t surprising to me in the least because Myra always moved once the belts were fastened. Finding her heartbeat had always been tricky. They looked for her heartbeat for 2 hours. I was contracting the whole time and felt very uncomfortable. The heartbeat would appear, then disappear. The nurses monitored my heartbeat so they could distinguish mine from Myra’s. They finally satisfied themselves they’d found her and printed out a 20 minute strip of the assessment. I didn’t sleep that night because I was so uncomfortable with contractions. In the morning, I ate my breakfast and felt my face and neck swelling. Disgusted, I figured I was swelling due to increased blood pressure. After I went to the bathroom, I noticed that my entire body was turning red. This was distinctly obvious to me because my husband had been commenting on how pale my color was. I told my nurse these things, and she checked my blood pressure and temperature. Temp was normal and pressure was no worse than usual. At 9:30 we began another nst. The nurse looked for Myra for a few minutes and got another nurse to help. They looked for another few minutes and called ultrasound. The nurses sat silently in my room and watched the ultrasound. When the ultrasound tech was finished, she said, “I’m all done here, and they’re going to talk to you.” I took a tissue from my bedside table as I listened to the three of them whisper for a few seconds at my door. My nurse came back alone and said, “She didn’t find a heartbeat.” My husband was 10 minutes from the hospital with our children when I called him. So I called his parents to come get the boys, and while they waited for their grandparents, one of the nurses would sit with them in the waiting room. My husband was so stunned when he got to the hospital. He came into my room and had a look on his face that begged me for answers, but I didn’t have any. When the doctor arrived, he explained that Myra had died during the 2-hour nst the night before. He said there were indications of a problem at the beginning of the test and that she must have died around 11:30 or 11:45. He also said that he doubted he could have been notified and able to deliver her in time. When I asked about delivering her, he said he could begin an induction and I could deliver her but having never been through a vaginal birth, it would likely be very painful. I was concerned about a uterine rupture since the twins were delivered via c-section so opted for the c-section. Because it had only been 4 hours since I ate breakfast, I would have to be put out and my husband couldn’t be present. His presence didn’t seem nearly as important as it once would have now that Myra was dead, but knowing I’d be in there all alone was terrifying. Even though I’d done it before, I was still terrified. After surgery, we told our boys their baby sister had died. This was easily the worst part of the entire experience. Our boys had been simply ecstatic to have a baby sister and had made plans for the future just like me and my husband had. The looks on their faces are as permanent as the actual incision on my abdomen. They were stunned to the point they were frozen in one place. Their eyes were wide and one began to cry. He later wrote, “I don’t think anything will ever cheer me up.” Our family was with us all of Mother’s Day and into the evening. My husband went home again that evening and I was alone with our baby. I had planned on her rooming in with me and saw no reason she should leave me in death. I held Myra for 24 hours after she died. She weighed 3 pounds 11 ounces. During the night, I became angry. I couldn’t sleep and my anger increased. By the time the doctor came in to do rounds, I lit into him. He stared out the window and I could tell he was fighting tears. Then he explained how sorry he was; he said that he understands how we moms trust him with the lives of our babies and hates to let us down. Once again he said he didn’t think there was anything that could have been done. We had a funeral for Myra Kate. There were as many people at her funeral as there were at our wedding. In some ways, her funeral was like our wedding. Both were held in the same church; we had the same pianist/vocalist for both services; and we were surrounded by our beloved family and closest friends. Many have told us what a beautiful service it was. Myra was laid to rest in a family cemetery, just feet from family members that went on before her. She is three plots down from my Grandmother, who is one of her namesakes. It is quiet and peaceful there. Since Myra died, I’ve experienced a wide range of emotions. Anger has persisted throughout. And though I wouldn’t call it “clinical”, I’ve been depressed. I also think being depressed is understandable. I’ve had an aching chest that I can only attribute to a broken heart, though I’m sure others would say it is due to anxiety. There are times my arms are hurting to hold her and I feel like my chest will explode, aching to have her. I miss her intensely. I look at pictures of myself when I was pregnant and remember how excited I was and how I enjoyed pregnancy. I remember the plans our family had for her. I walk past her room and see her crib and all of the baby girl clothes I had picked out for her. When I’m at church, I remember the days I sat in the sanctuary so thankful for God’s blessing and anticipating the day Myra would be baptized. Everything makes me think of her. And, just like all mommies, I want to talk about her. I want to show pictures of her. But I don’t have many pictures and once I’ve shown them to someone, I have nothing else to share with them because I can’t create new memories or take more pictures of her. I immediately wanted to get pregnant again, but felt my husband would never go for it. Both of my pregnancies have been very atypical and with Myra I could have had a stroke or died. My husband had been anxious for my pregnancy side-effects to be done with and have me healthy so I didn’t expect he would allow another pregnancy. Much to my surprise, he actually brought the subject of another baby up to me. Very soon, in fact. I think it was within an hour or two of Myra’s delivery, if not before. When he brought it up, I thought “Are you KIDDING me??” but was also relieved because I’ve already cleared the initial hurdle! We’ve seen a perinatologist who has asked us to wait 6 months and is running some tests in the meantime. I feel very relieved to know that in my next experience my doctors will be just as cautious and thorough as I will be. The real problem lies with our ability to conceive, which has never been very easy for us. I only hope it isn’t years before we conceive; we waited 2 years before we learned we had been blessed with Myra. Right now I am out weeks post delivery. I welcome anyone that is ahead of me in the grief process or anyone just beginning the grief process to comment to this post. I find great comfort in visiting with people who have “been there” or are “doing that.”

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