David’s Birth Story

Told by: Jessica

David’s birth story begins on Thursday May 3rd, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. Alexis had double class week at dance, so the girls and I had been in the city that evening. I did some Walmart shopping while we were out, nothing out of the ordinary. That evening after we got home, I had a terrible lower backache. Usually, with a little rest it would’ve been fine, but nothing was relieving my discomfort. I tried a heating pad, was taking Tylenol and nothing was working. I went to bed with my aching back and hoped to have some relief in the morning.

No change when I woke up Friday morning. The day proceeded as normal, nothing different than any other day, just a horrible backache. Friday evening I noticed a pinkish, light brownness in my discharge. I wasn’t too concerned at first, I knew this was common sometimes.

Saturday morning came and I still had a backache and discoloration in my discharge. Sunday came and it was still the same. I was starting to get concerned. I texted my sister, and asked her opinion. She asked the usual question, any intercourse, that can cause a pink discharge, the answer was no. By Sunday evening, my discharge was heavier and redder, more like the spotting of a period. I made the decision that night before bed that I was going to the doctor first thing Monday morning. I didn’t have an appointment, but I knew I needed some answers.

As I laid in bed that night, I might have slept for an hour or two. My mind was racing and going over the possibilities of what could be happening. “Miscarriage” was flashing in my mind like a bright neon sign. I was 14 weeks and 6 days pregnant so I had hopes that wasn’t the case. I prayed a lot and asked God to give me peace and prepare me for whatever could be happening.

I finally couldn’t sleep anymore, I got up, showered and got myself ready. We were in the city before 8am. I called the OB’s office to see if someone besides my doctor (it was her day off) could see me. Thankfully, a doctor fit me in at 9:15.

The first thing he did after I explained what was happening was an ultrasound. I had never heard a more beautiful sound than when I heard my babies heart beating. I was so relieved, but still concerned about the bleeding. Next, he did a cervical exam, everything
appeared normal, my cervix was thick and closed. He then consulted with another doctor
and they decided to ultrasound my cervix vaginally as well to check for any problems.

My cervix measured normal, my placenta was still attached.
He pressed on my uterus and couldn’t find any opening in the cervix. While he
rambling all this stuff he also said, “It’s still a boy.” I was completely flabbergasted! We didn’t want to know the sex. At first I thought I heard him wrong so I said, “What do you mean it’s still a boy?” He then realized that we didn’t want to know. Once I was over the shock, I had him show me what he saw, I was so floored, we had been hoping for a boy even though we would have been happy with any baby so long as it was healthy. I started crying and then blabbering on about if I would tell my husband or keep it to myself. He and the girls had stayed in the waiting room for this part since it was a vaginal ultrasound,
and we didn’t know how the girls would respond to that.

So, the doctors orders were, pelvic rest, no heavy lifting and no intercourse for two weeks once the bleeding stopped. I went out of there a bundle of emotions. Confused, because I
was so excited we were having a boy, but a little disappointed about finding out before the birth. Concerned that I was still bleeding, but happy to have heard his heartbeat. I barely made it out to the waiting room before I blurted it out that we were having a boy. He was the same way I was, a little upset that we didn’t get that surprise at delivery, but still excited. In hindsight, I’m glad we knew beforehand. It would have been even more painful to be told he was a boy after losing him.

We headed home and I made the calls to work, I was supposed to return from my 5 weeks off on Tuesday. With everything that was going on, I didn’t feel comfortable bouncing around on my fork lift yet. My bosses were understanding, they told me to take as much time as I needed. I pretty much just laid on the couch the rest of Monday.

Tuesday came and I did the same, rested, still spotting. By the time I went to bed Tuesday night, my bleeding had increased in brightness and heaviness. It was starting to feel
like a period. My backache had also not let up at all. I was sitting on a heating pad a lot.

I woke up around 5am Wednesday morning to pee. The pantyliner I was wearing was full and I had leaked through my panties and pajama pants onto the sheet. I went downstairs and cleaned myself up. Every time I stood up I could feel the pantyliner filling and I was passing clots. After changing it two more times I dug out one of the jumbo pads from the hospital that I had leftover from Isabel. I got a bag of ice for my back and was going to
try and go back to sleep. It wasn’t working. I woke my husband up and told him that the bleeding was heavier and I wanted to go to the ER. I wanted him to call his dad and have him come up to stay with the girls. He argued that he didn’t want to bother his dad, people that didn’t have family close would have no choice but to take their kids with them. I pleaded with him again, he didn’t realize how serious it was until I got out of bed and he saw the sheet. He immediately called his dad and we got dressed and headed for the hospital. I texted my sister again so she could pass it along to the doctor that we were going in. I was hoping if my doctor had rounds that morning she could come and check on me.

We arrived at the hospital around 6:20am. It took them a little while to get me into a room. They drew blood and got a urine sample. The nurse came in and talked for awhile and then found his heartbeat with the doppler they listen with. A relief, but I knew something was terribly wrong. The ER doctor came in and we talked some more. She was going to consult with my doctor and see what her next step should be. While we were waiting on her, I became very uncomfortable and was trying to ignore the fact that I was
having contractions. They were pretty intense and coming quickly. My husband pushed
the call button and told the tech we needed to see the doctor right away.

The ER doctor came in and did a cervical exam, I was still extremely uncomfortable. She used the tool first and then her hand. When she removed her hand I felt a rush of fluids come out of me. I looked up and asked want just happened? The look on her face was panic. She immediately put her hand back in and said, “I’m so sorry, but I think the baby is at the opening of your cervix right now.”

At that point I knew there was nothing that could fix this, I was having a miscarriage. I immediately started sobbing and my husband tried to be strong, but soon was crying as hard as I was. We held one another and cried while the ER doc held him inside me. My doctor arrived and took over, we could tell the ER doctor was unsure of what to do. My doctor delivered David at 8:50am Wednesday May 9th, the whole time I was crying and shaking uncontrollably. I kept hearing them say, “We need another chuck pad.” I could feel that I was bleeding heavily. My doctor kept rubbing my knee and telling me how sorry she was. It was such a relief in the midst of all the commotion and grief to have her there. She gave me some medicine to try and get the placenta to deliver, but it wasn’t. My bleeding hadn’t slowed yet, so they took me to surgery for a D&C.

While all this was happening, I did hold my baby boy and look at him. He was perfect in every way possible and very tiny. Two nurses from OB had come down as well, it was obvious the ER staff was in over their head a little. It was good to have all those knowledgable hands taking care of me.

We had made a few calls before all this happened to let family know that we were at the hospital. Ross tried to call my parents and tell them, but had to give the phone to my doctor and she told them for us. They immediately got in their van to come down. My mother in law also left the city and came down to where we were as well.

That, in a not so small nutshell are how the events of my last few days of pregnancy played out. After I got out of surgery and into a room my parents came in and we all grieved together. They brought our son to us and let us spend some time holding him. Many tears were shed by us all. It took us awhile to decide if we were even going to name him. David came to me and his daddy liked it too.

The girls came up with their grandparents a little later in the day. That was tough to try and explain to them what happened. We spent the rest of the day and evening trying to make the necessary decisions about how to proceed with a funeral and burial and so forth. We did not let the girls see him. For those of you who have seen the pictures, I’m sure you understand. It’s not how it was supposed to be and we didn’t want them to remember him that way.

I had lost a lot of blood, my number was 13 when I checked in and 8 after surgery. 7 is when they would have transfused. I had to stay overnight because of that. My number was back up to 9 1/2 by the next morning and we got to go home.

Both of our parents and my sister indulged my every whim for food and drinks and I had comfort food that night at the hospital.

I received a ton of texts that day from family offering condolences and prayers, it was a small comfort in the midst of the sorrow. I also had an outpouring of love once I shared it on Facebook as well. You will never know how touched I was by all the kind words and prayers offered.

I took full advantage of the pain meds the doctor offered and spent about a week numbing myself before I decided to deal with any physical discomfort I might still have. It wasn’t fair that I had experienced the pain of labor and delivery and had no new baby to show for it.

This is all I can say for now, it’s been a little emotional to relive this while writing it. I do feel that we are healing. We have even decided when we will try for another baby, still quite a ways off though.

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Posted in 14 weeks, 15 weeks | Leave a comment

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.”

Posted in 32 weeks | Leave a comment

What is Election?

As our presedential election nears again, people from both parties believe that God is on their side, that He is intrinsically for Republicans because they are generally pro-life or that God is intrinsically for Democrats because they offer better social programs.

“And then this, while Joshua was there near Jericho: He looked up and saw right in front of him a man standing, holding his drawn sword.  Joshua stepped up to him and said,”Whose side are you on – ours or our enemies’?”

He said, “Neither.  I’m commander of GOD’s army.” – Joshua 5:13-14 MSG

There are people who are so passionately protective of their party that they don’t realize or don’t care to see the room for improvement.  Neither side is inherently superior.  Both have significant room for improvement, regardless of who the person or people are who represent them.

I have my own personal convictions.  I research both parties and I compare them to my values and beliefs.  I vote carefully, consciously, hoping for the better of two evils to win.  I know that even if I vote for my own party, it is not a perfect match.  My party is not intrinsically Holy and God does not represent only one political side.

Whether you are pro-life, or pro-choice, God is not inherently on your side.  Your side still has room for improvement.  God is for His own will, not for the political, social, medical or even religious agendas associated with elective abortion.

Again, I have my own personal convictions.  I was faced with elective abortion when I was young, and because of my decision to keep the pregnancy, I spent time hiding and in a battered women’s shelter.  Those who speak the loudest against elective abortion are often those who have the luxury of not having had to look down that barrel themselves.

Mothers face elective abortion for a variety of reasons.  We Christians would like to think that mothers only face elective abortion out of sexual laziness or moral irresponsibility.  Some mothers face elective abortion because their lives are threatened.  Because domestic violence is involved.  Because of knowing that babies feel pain in utero and the fear that the baby feels pain associated with a fatal diagnosis.  Because of medical coersion.

Mothers who face elective abortion face a variety of emotions.  The strongest voices of pro-choice like to think that the mother is exhibiting her freedoms and that she can *shrug* do what she wishes with her body.  They like to think that mothers facing elective abortion want to move quickly on from the entire situation, and that while maybe, someday, they will look back on their pregnancy and include that child into their family, their overall experience ends when the pregnancy ends.  They like to think that rushing the mother through the process is best.

When a mother faces elective abortion, she is facing the most difficult decision she will ever face for her child.   She may “choose” elective abortion, but it’s rarely because she “wanted” to.  It is highly likely that she was presented with a situation – an overwhelming situation – and was told to make a choice with what she was given.

So, what is she given?

  • Pro-life people tell her she is a murderer if she decides on elective abortion.
  • Pro-choice people tell her that she has the freedom to choose.
  • The doctor will tell her that it is easier to terminate the pregnancy.

The focus is on the death of the baby, not the life.  The mother isn’t told about bonding with the baby in-utero and the importance of this bonding regardless of what she chooses.  The mother isn’t told that what is occuring is birth.  She isn’t told that anticipitory grief can negatively impact her labor.  She isn’t told that she has the right to grieve.  She isn’t told that the doctor may be concerned about his own agenda, that elective abortion is easier for him and more cost effective for him or the insurance company than holding a dying baby in the NICU for weeks.  She isn’t told that she may be billed for the birth, and that the notification she’ll recieve in the mail will have offensive language.  She isn’t told that she may still have breastmilk, that she still has organ donation options, that she will have lochia.  She isn’t told that she can have special permissions regarding a funeral home or cremation.  She isn’t told that the manner in which she births her baby holds significant potential to affect her emotionally and phychologically long after the event is over.  She is made to believe that rushing through this process will make things easier in the end, and that whatever she is told is how it is going to be.  That it’ll be easier when it’s over.

To those who espouse pro-choice rights the loudest, I ask, where are you?  Why is the choice of termination the only choice she knows about?

To those who hold signs at abortion clinics, I ask, where are you?  Do you drop the sign and hug the mother as she leaves, clutching her empty womb?  Do you stand defiantly believing that God is for you because you hold the sign?  Go hold her!

Stillbirthday is a pregnancy loss resource put together after my own personal experience with miscarriage.  I do not promote elective abortion, enable anyone who is faced with elective abortion, and I am careful about the support I provide, because the support that others provide for elective abortion vulnerable mothers is so incomplete.  I do not want this website being misused and I want mothers to make decisions having all of the information available to them.  Because each side believes that they are morally superior, this isn’t happening.

Here are a few things to know when facing elective abortion:

  • fatal diagnosis is not intrinsically painful to the baby.
  • your previous health rarely has an impact on the sustainability of a baby with a fatal diagnosis or his endangerment to you.
  • you need to get a second opinion from a different doctor, in a different hospital.
  • the diagnosis may be wrong, or the prognosis may not be as horrendous as it was first explained or as you first heard.
  • you are allowed and should bond with your baby while pregnant.   This is not to trick you.  It is because, whether you choose elective abortion or not, you are going to give birth in some way to your baby.  Bonding with your baby will help facilitate the hormonal and emotional readiness of birth.
  • you need to take your time.  This is not to trick you into waiting so long that elective abortion is illegal.  It’s so that you can process what is happening and bond with your baby.
  • bonding with your baby offers you health benefits.
  • you are allowed to speak your baby’s name, plan their birth, and plan their farewell.  Most of the doulas here at stillbirthday will not walk the path of planning with you.  Those who don’t, will respectfully refer you to others or decline.  Those who do, will do so within our Principles of Service, will do so comprehensively, and understand that their role is not to enable your elective abortion decision and will honestly prepare you for the difficulties you will face.
  • there are special options – important options – you have when the birth and death happen spontaneously that you don’t have when the birth and/or death are artificially orchestrated.  These include important phychological, emotional and physical aspects.  Our Stillbirthday Bereavement Doulas can walk that path alongside you.
  • whatever the reason for your facing elective abortion, there really are other options – often several.
  • you may resent your decision being called “elective” and you may resent the birth of your baby being called “abortion”.  You may have to decide how you will refer to the birth and death of your baby, and that decision too may be a difficult, frustrating one.
  • you will feel alone.  All loss moms do, each for unique reasons.  Homebirth moms feel alone.  Miscarriage moms feel alone.  You too, will feel trapped and silenced.  You are not alone.
  • you are allowed to grieve.
  • you are allowed to call yourself a mother.
  • if you are facing elective abortion in the fear that your child will suffer and are facing your options selflessly, you are a good mother.
  • God loves your baby.  Your baby is not an accident, a fluke, or a mistake, regardless of what diagnosis he has or what circumstances surround his life.  Your baby has a purpose, however brief his life is and however different his physical form is.  The Bible tells us this, and stillbirthday reinforces this message.
  • God loves you.  God will love you walking into the abortion clinic.  He will weep for the life ended.  God will love you leaving the clinic (or other birth place).  He will wait for you to seek Him, and when you do, He will answer you.
  • Those who condemn you will need to seek God’s forgiveness for the way they’ve stopped you from seeing Him.  You will need to seek God’s forgiveness for the way you ended your baby’s life, regardless of the reasons.  This is difficult because you’ve made a decision with what you were given.  Nevertheless, your baby’s life is simply intrinsically valuable and your communication with God will need to recognize that.  Those who truly repent will truly receive forgiveness.  This is not a loophole, a way out, a way to make the decision of elective abortion easier.  Asking God’s forgiveness with a contrite heart is not easy.  But if you are seeking God’s forgiveness, stillbirthday can come alongside you.

If you are pro-life, and you meet a mother who is facing elective abortion, you can tell her that your convictions are different.  I do.  You can tell her that you are uncomfortable supporting her decision and that you can’t walk her journey with her.  I do.  You can tell her that there are alternatives and you can show her what those are.  I do.  You can tell her ways in which her decision will have additional ramifications.  I do.

But it is not your place to condemn her.

It is highly likely the mother made her decision with what she believes is the best of intentions for her child.  It is also highly likely that the mother will vacillate, will agonize, will second guess, will wonder and wish things were different – long after the birth and death of her baby.  For the mother, she knows she will face those who believe she is murdering her child, even if she believes she is offering a peaceful resolution for what is inevitable.  She mentally prepares herself for the condemnation – selflessly taking on this suffering so that her child doesn’t have to take on the prolonged suffering she believes him to have by carrying him to term.  Read again: the mother legitimately has love in her heart.

Condemning the mother is not reflective of God’s love.  It does not encourage her to want to seek Him.  In fact, it draws her away, and at the most difficult and painful time in her life.

God is not inherently for pro-life people simply because they want mothers to carry to term, particularly when they do so with unloving and unforgiving natures.  Nor is God inherently for pro-choice people simply because they have compassion and empathy for the mother or for the baby they believe is suffering, particularly when they do so without reverence to the inherent value of all human life.  God is for His own will, and that is that we each glorify Him.  And frankly we all have room for improvement.

all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. -Romans 3:23

Here are some words from the heart of a stillbirthday mother, who made the decision of elective abortion.  She is soon to join our team as a stillbirthday mentor, helping mothers after they’ve endured loss through elective abortion:

Pregnancy is an event in life that thrills and scares moms and dads-to-be to the very core, especially first time parents. But what happens when that very event that thrilled and brings so many hopes, dreams, and plans for the future, gets ripped from your hands as to say… “Nevermind”?

This is exactly what happened to my family and I.

Finding out that I was unexpectedly 8 weeks pregnant in December of 2011 with our second child was scary, but caused so much excitement. My husband and I were getting more excited every day, we started telling our almost 2 year old that she would be a big sister, and our extended family outpoured with love and congratulations for our growing family. Everything was going smoothly, at least as smoothly had pregnancy symptoms and morning sickness would allow. Only had one scare, in which I went to the bathroom and when I wiped, there was blood on the toilet paper, none in the toilet, but I had never bled with my daughter. After talking to the doctor and convincing my husband that I did not need to go to the ER, I took it easy for a week and I never had any more issues. Each appointment we got more and more excited, talking about names for boys and girls, how our daughter would act towards a new baby, future sports teams, sleeping arrangements, vacations, and how everything would change with two blessings in our life.

March 15th, 2012- the day of our anatomy ultrasound. We were so excited to see our growing baby, and maybe even find out the gender! It’s a day so many parents get to find out whether they will have an “Adam” or an “Abby.” I laid on the table while my husband sat next to me with our daughter on his lap so they could see the ultrasound screen. In the next hour, our lives totally changed. Watching the ultrasound technician take measurements, laugh with us at my husband’s comments that our future child will play hockey and rugby, pointing out all the parts to our precious little one, we were accepting to open our hearts up to love more than one child, and we never knew it was possible. As you know, ultrasound techs are not allowed to give any diagnosis’s to patients, the doctors must do it, but ours gave no indication anything was wrong. After she left the room, the doctor came in. My husband and I were laughing and talking. All that stopped abruptly when the doctor confided that our child would not make it to her due date, and if she did, she would be lucky to even live more than a few hours after birth. She had a severe and fatal form of Semi lobar Holoprosencephaly with a cleft palate and lip with the possibility of Trisomy 13.

Although he gave his condolences and explained what everything meant and what the diagnosis meant for our future, he gave us the decision, one that no parent ever fathoms that they would have to make: carry to term and have our child die during the birthing process or shortly after, or induce now and our child would most likely not suffer. My doctor told us, in a way, we had to choose how to end our child’s life, whether it is now or in 4 months when she would be full term.

A decision NO ONE is ever prepared to make. So how does someone make a decision without totally falling apart and feel as though their heart is being ripped or shattered into tiny pieces? Others either don’t want to talk about it or will tell you what you “should do” or what they “would do.” As a parent who had to make that decision, all I really needed was not advice or what “the right thing” to do was, but just sincere condolences or respect for the decision that my husband and I made. We didn’t need approval or even support for what we chose to do; we just need others to be respectful and not berate us. Saying goodbye to our daughter was hard enough, we didn’t need anyone telling us that we were horrible people or that we made the wrong decision.

Making the decision to medically intervene and disrupt a pregnancy has NEVER been a topic in my family, no one has had to make that decision. I didn’t want anyone’s opinions because I did not want to feel worse than I did. What if they did not agree with what we were doing? How could I disappoint my family? Looking back now, I know I could have called my parents, my brothers, my friends, and they would have supported and given me words of encouragement and love for the decision I had to make. But I didn’t realize in my heart that they will love me through everything. Anyone who is faced with this decision does not want to hear that what they are doing is wrong. So like me, they don’t say anything until AFTER they have made the decision.

Anyone can tell you that the decision is yours, no one can make you choose do to something you don’t want to do. But what I realized is that moms and dads who are faced with a decision like this is that they don’t need to hear that we have a right to do what we want and choose whatever path we want; we know that already. We need and want to hear that even though we have a right to choose what we want, we are still allowed hurt because what we need and choose to do is a life changing decision that we never ever wanted to make. The most common response I got to the news was “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to say” and that sufficed because in all honestly, I didn’t know what to say either. I was numb, hurt, scared, heartbroken. I felt I failed as a mother and as a wife. No one will know exactly how to help you, so they will ask how they can help, is there anything they can do for you or bring you. My opinion: tell them what they can do, whether it be to bring you a meal so you don’t have to cook, to leave you alone because you don’t want to be around people, or to just hold you while you cry. Tell them. If they really are supportive and want to help you, they will do exactly what you ask of them because they love you and want to alleviate your pain. There is no right or wrong way to grieve or for someone to tell you that they can’t or don’t know how to help you. But what means the most is that you grieve in your own way and allow yourself to grieve because you lost a child, you deserve to hurt too. And for others to understand that just because you chose the path you did, you still hurt as those who didn’t choose to lose a child, that it just happened to them.

With choosing to say goodbye to Makayla, I felt so alone and scared to even share my story. Alone because I didn’t know anyone who had lost a child so far in pregnancy, and scared because I didn’t want other loss moms to shun me because we chose to end our pregnancy. My loss was so different than other mom’s losses. I made the conscious decision to end my pregnancy at 20 weeks when others did not make the choice, but it just happened to them. My original thoughts when looking for grief support was “Am I going to offend a mother who had a stillbirth or miscarriage? Are they going to tell me I am heartless before I even give my reason for losing my child” I was terrified. The last thing I needed was other women telling me how horrible I should feel.

But no other loss moms even came close to any of those thoughts. There was an overflowing amount of love and support, condolences and prayers to my family and I. If anyone did give me a negative comment, as much as it stung and I wanted to yell at them “YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT I FEEL AND CAN NOT TELL ME I SHOULD NOT HURT,” I learned to ignore. Not everyone is going to agree with the decision of abortion, and not everyone is going to keep the respect they had for you because they do not agree with your decision. Unfortunately, you cannot please everyone and make everyone happy with your decisions.

We induced the next day and our sweet angel Makayla Rose was born sleeping at 20 weeks on March 17th, 2012, she didn’t struggle for breath and she passed away some point before birth. Weighing 9 ounces and 9 inches long, she was our Irish angel. Our families called out of work if they could and came to the hospital to be there for us, to support us, even though most of them do not get along. Loss can bring families together, but they can also tear them apart. We got lucky as to have such love and support for the decision we chose.

With all that love and support, with so many people’s kind words and embraces, why did I still feel so alone?

We chose, with heavy hearts, to make a heartbreaking decision. We made the decision on our own; we didn’t discuss it with anyone besides our doctor since it was OUR choice to make. People, and it doesn’t matter if they know you or not, like to give advice or opinions on what THEY would do. But you can’t take it to heart, because the decision that is right for them, might not be right for you. Our choice to say goodbye to Makayla when we did, didn’t make us receive all positive and loving feedback, although I have not been given a lot of hateful comments or advice, I did receive one. “You should be thankful that God gave you such a blessing and you took away that life. How could any human being murder a precious baby?” My response to that person was, “How could any human being be so judgmental of a decision that they do not know the details of?” and I walked away with tears in my eyes. I was just called a murderer of my own child. Little did that lady know, I battled that thought with myself already, and I was just starting to come to terms with the decision I made.

Negative comments and advice will be made, as you cannot force people to see things from your point of view and you cannot put your heart into them so they can feel how that decision makes you feel.

Abortion. Medical termination. Electing guilt. Prenatal interruption. Late term abortion by medical intervention. All of these are words to describe what some moms and dads choose to do. Most will see it as “killing your child” or showing that you “made a mistake.”

The fact of the matter is, you are suffering a loss. Not all women choose this route because, “oops, I got pregnant by accident, I don’t want this child.” Some have to consciously make the heartbreaking choice, to say goodbye to a child they wanted so badly.

Is saying goodbye in utero the same as saying goodbye to someone who has already lived? Absolutely not. But it doesn’t mean it hurts any less.

A lot of people tiptoe around those who have lost a child, even to one in which they made the decision to say goodbye to. But a lot of people will tell you what a bad decision you made, how horrible of a person you are. And if you already have a child, or are still young, you may get the comments “At least you have one living child” or “You still have time to have another.” But like other grief stricken parents, many of us want others to acknowledge that we had a child who we had to say goodbye to, say our child’s name, don’t act like they didn’t exist. Because, to us, they were and very much still are a part of our lives.

Posted in all, Electing Guilt | 7 Comments

He Spoke to Our Hearts

Told by: Tara

To tell the birth story of Jared, I really have to start much earlier. I have always known that I would not have children…not because I didn’t want to, but because I have PCOS which causes infertility or at the least, makes conception very, very rare. I knew that I could get pregnant, since as a teenager I had an early miscarriage. Because those who suffer with PCOS have very sporadic periods, I can’t say exactly how far along I was, but by inspecting the baby, I would say I was between four and six weeks pregnant. A couple years later, as a young married woman, I had another early miscarriage, again, about the same time frame. Another three years later, and I had an anembryonic pregnancy, which lasted about 3-4 months. Again, it’s hard to say exactly, without knowing exactly when one’s period is going to happen, and then even when it does, being fertile doesn’t mean “14 days later”. That being said, I knew it was possible to become pregnant, but the likelihood was less than a 1% chance for me and my circumstances. My husband and I resolved ourselves to knowing we’d be one of the childless couples who long to have children. My husband and I were married for eight years when I settled into the fact that we weren’t going to have children (that is better read, I gave up on God, thinking that it was not something that He meant for us). So I gave up and resigned myself to this knowledge. I truly began to think of it as a good thing…it was so convenient for us to simply “pick-up-and-go” whenever we wished. Moving was easy. Camping was easy. We weren’t like others our age (and younger) who had multiple children, who had to arrange for babysitters and schooling and bigger cars, etc, etc. It was just us. No kids, no pets. Easy. Simple. From the beginning of 2011, I became sick. Not with any illness I could put my finger on, just “under the weather”. Nauseated and tired all the time. This is not normal for me. I don’t get sick. I can go years without getting any sort of cold or flu. We celebrated our 13th anniversary in January. My husband booked a hotel and flights to southern Nevada. I was sick the entire time. Not very romantic. I slept most of the time. And when I wasn’t sleeping, I was just not feeling well. In late February, when I still wasn’t feeling any better, he suggested that maybe I was pregnant. Yeah, right. He knew better. We can’t get pregnant, remember? But to ease his mind, I went to the grocery store and got a test. The next morning, March first, I got up at 4 am to test (that was my normal wake-up time). I swear that was the longest 3 minutes of my life! The stick didn’t lie: two lines. I went into the bedroom and woke my husband up. “Well, that thing in the bathroom says we’re pregnant.” That woke him right up. After an initial day of absolute shock, he became the happiest man I have ever seen, he literally had a spring in his step and a permanent grin on his face. He told everyone at work. We both worked at the same company, so suddenly I had all these people coming up to me to congratulate me. It was overwhelming at first, but I got into the groove of things. This time, we knew within a week or so of when I got pregnant, since I had been charting my periods since 2003. We knew my last period was the last day of November, so we probably got pregnant the middle of December. One of the women at work was also pregnant and we joked that we were within days of one another and wondered who would have their child first. My husband and I tend to be pretty natural-minded people. I did not go to a doctor. I was going to have this baby at home. No ultrasounds. No doctors. Nothing unnatural, after all, God designed a woman’s body to birth. I did everything right. I read many, many books and blogs. I talked in great length with a friend of mine who shares much of the same mindset as we do. She had one of her children, unassisted and at home. Just her. I wanted that kind of empowering birth. I may have done everything physically right, but emotionally, I wasn’t excited about having a child at my age. Remember I said that I got used to it just being me and my husband? I liked our lifestyle. I wasn’t resentful; I just wasn’t on cloud nine like my husband. It was what it was. I was pregnant and our lives were about to change big time. Near the middle of April, I was starting to get into it, though. That was when I came to realize that while waiting for God to bless us with a child for so long, I had truly just given up on Him and built a wall around my heart to protect me from the constant ache of wanting children. To protect my arms from the constant ache of wanting to hold my children. It was with this realization that I came to completely fall in love with the baby growing inside me. To see the miracle of what he was (for I knew he was a boy). I enjoyed my husband’s change in attitude. Normally he’s upbeat and cheerful, but now it was like joy on steroids! It was contagious to everyone around us. So I fell in love with our baby. I began to see myself as a mother, not just a wife. I reinvented myself, so to speak. I looked forward to a beautiful natural birth and raising our child. I hoped that this baby would open my womb, in a manner, to make way for many more children. People were always asking if we had picked out names yet. No, we hadn’t. We had months to go, after all. No rush. Yet strangely, on the 19th of April, I was sitting around, not really doing or thinking anything in particular and the name “Jared James” randomly came to my mind. Yes, I thought. That is what I will call this baby. I didn’t tell my husband, but kept it to myself. I began praying for our baby by that name. On the 21st of April, I was sitting on the toilet. I thought that I needed a bowel movement, but nothing was really happening. I pushed a few times, since I had been a little constipated for the last week or so. While I was sitting there I felt something pushing into my vagina. It was not a bowel movement, but I needed to go. I freaked. Something wasn’t right. Put my finger inside and felt something thin and rubbery pushing down. I pushed back with my finger while doing the strongest Kegel I’ve ever done. Whatever it was pushed back up. There was some bright red blood after that, but not a lot. Now, what I thought had happened, I had heard before that some pregnant women, if they are constipated might push too hard and their bowel can push through into the vagina, since the skin separating the vagina and colon is super thin. I read that those women who experience it are able to push the colon back on the right side of the wall, by doing just exactly what I did. So, I was a little freaked out by that and refused to go to the bathroom again until it was an absolute “emergency”. I ate a bunch of fiber foods. My husband was worried, but we both thought that it was the same thing. That was pretty late at night (for us – like 6pm), so we went to bed shortly after that. The next morning, I went to work, but I wasn’t feeling very good. My guts were uncomfortable. I thought it was because I had to poo so bad but was holding it. I had eaten nothing but fibery stuff for breakfast. I did actually end up going to the bathroom at work and it was a normal (albeit, soft) stool. But I thought maybe I kinda overdid the fiber and gave myself a gut-ache. To be safe, I decided that if I still felt bad on Monday (since the 22nd was a Friday) then I would go to a doctor. While I was sitting at my desk, I was really uncomfortable. I couldn’t sit upright. I had to lean way back in my chair, which made typing difficult. I stuck it out until about 9 or 10 am then I told my manager that I was going home. I told my husband and he asked his manager if he could go home too. She said yes. We came home and I laid back in my recliner for the rest of the day, since that was the most comfortable position. When I would get up to go to the bathroom, there was always blood, but not a lot. I was feeling really “crampy” like when I have diarrhea. If I knew better, I would have realized that the “cramps” were coming in intervals. They were not strong, but they were painful. My lower back was hurting too. I stuck it out all day long. My husband was concerned, but we really did not think that anything crazy was happening. We just thought that the blood was a reaction from my colon being pushed into my vagina like that. When we went to bed, I lay down and that made me more uncomfortable. I felt like I had to go to the bathroom even more. I went in and sat down and that thing pushed down again. This time, I was not able to push it back. I became pretty scared because I thought that my colon was just going to fall out of me or something. I told my husband we needed to go to the hospital. Fortunately, we live 7 blocks from the hospital, so we drove right over there. I was crying and in pain. I was trying to hold what I thought was my guts inside my body. I was so scared. We went into the ER. When the ladies at the front desk asked if I was pregnant, I said yes. When they asked how far along, I said I didn’t know but probably 18-20 weeks. They put me in a wheelchair and literally ran me up to the maternity. I kept thinking, why am I being taken to the maternity ward? There’s nothing wrong with my baby, but my guts are falling out of me! The cramps were coming so strong and I was crying out every time one hit, which was very frequent. I’d say they were less than a minute apart. They took me into a room and asked me to get on the bed; all I wanted was for my pants to come off because they felt like they were impeding me. The doctor came in less than a minute later. The first thing I remember him saying was “we’ve got a baby coming out”. At that point, I think I went into shock. It was way too early. My baby could NOT be coming yet! I’ve never seen a nurse put an IV in so quickly before. I was crying and just looking into my husband’s eyes. I felt like I let him down. Like I’d failed him. He held onto my hand and just looked back into my eyes, glancing down between my legs every minute or so. With his other hand he stroked my hair. I remember crying and saying over and over “not again” remembering the previous miscarriages and the anembryonic one in particular. The doctor asked me what I meant by “not again” and had I had other babies. I said not like this, not like this. The doctor told me to give a little push and then a minute or so later to give a big push. The baby was born feet-first and in the sack, so the last big push was for his head. The doctor examined the baby for a minute or so, and told us that there was nothing they could do, it was too soon. The baby was alive, with a beating heart, so they cut his cord and handed him to me. I remember begging the doctor, if there was anything they could do for him. In that moment, as I looked into his beautiful face, I realized that I would do anything for this baby, my son. They let me hold him. One of the nurses checked his heartbeat every five or ten minutes. Somewhere in there, they told me to push really hard, to get the placenta out. They pushed on my stomach really hard, but it didn’t all come out. The doctor tried to manually remove the last bits that wouldn’t come out, but he couldn’t. My son lived for 33 minutes after I gave birth to him. He did not fight. He looked so peaceful and beautiful. He weighed 9.8 ounces and was 9.75 inches long. He looked perfect to us. At one point one of the nurses asked me if he had a name, I looked at my husband and then back to her and said through tears, I had thought to call him Jared. After a minute, my husband said that he wanted to call him Jared James…the very name that I had thought of just 3 days earlier. The doctor and nurses left us for a while, I think they gave me something to help expel the last of the placenta. I’m not really sure because I was in shock and everything is pretty hazy. I just remember staring at my little boy and then at his daddy and then back again. And crying and crying. After some time, the doctor came in and said that we needed to get that placenta out because I was bleeding way too much. He tried to remove it manually again, because I had expressed that I do not agree with surgery for my own body. He was able to touch the placenta but could not grab it to remove it. He pleaded that I let him do a D&C to remove it. My husband told me that I needed to agree. He didn’t want to lose me too. So I signed the paperwork and they took me to the OR. When I woke up, I was in the birthing room again. The nurses had taken Jared away to make hand and feet prints on his live birth certificate. They also made little foam imprints in the shape of hearts. One for his hands. One for his feet. They put a little tiny knit hat on his head and wrapped him in a warm blanket. They brought him back to us and said we could stay as long as we wanted. Jared’s daddy laid out on long chair thing and tried to sleep and I lay with our son and got some sleep on and off. When I wasn’t sleeping, I was looking at Jared, crying, always crying. Sometimes his daddy would hold him and he was crying so hard. When the nurse had first handed Jared to me, and I looked at his face for the first time, I felt something burst in my heart. It was love. It was a love that I didn’t even know existed. It was the love of one’s child. When he died, I felt that love in my heart as if it were attached to a string and that string was going further and further away from me. I didn’t know such love was possible. And as I was giving birth, and I was looking into my husband’s eyes, saying I’m sorry, I fell in love with my husband all over again. A deeper love than I had ever had for him before. He tells me that it was the same for him. That he fell deeper into love with me too that night. So while we lost our son that night, meeting and saying goodbye in just a few short hours, we also gained something as well. We gained love in ways we never knew was possible. When it was finally time to walk out of that room, it was the hardest thing I think I’ve ever done. We wanted to take him with us, but since he was born live, the law says we can’t. It was so hard to walk out of that room. A photographer had come and had taken pictures of Jared, for free. She was so gentle and loving as she moved him. She showed so much respect. The nurses were also so kind. They cried with us and told us what a beautiful son we had. That he was the smallest, most perfect baby they’d ever seen. They might say that to everyone, but it meant a lot at the time. Since the hospital is a religious hospital, the staff generally are religious themselves, and it really showed. Our two nurses wrote us a card and told us that they would be praying for us. The doctor is Catholic and he said that he also would pray for us. Even the anesthesiologist was kind and gentle. You could see in each one of their eyes that they had empathy for us. It was healing in a way, since neither my husband nor I have trusted the medical field because of previous horrible experiences. Jared’s incredibly short life has taught us so much. Since then, we’ve found out that I have an incompetent cervix, which is why we lost him. We also learned that I have a blood-clotting disorder. We have learned to love deeper than ever before. People we never knew cared have reached out to us. Some that we thought were friends have abandoned us. We have an empathy and sympathy for other parents who have lost children. We have learned to lean on others more. We have learned how to grieve in a healthy way. And a greater trust has been placed in our God.

Tara’s artwork, entitled Grief, can be found at stillbirthday’s Beyond Words section.

A photo of Jared is held with babies who reached 20 gestational weeks.  You can click the link to see these photos.

Posted in 20 weeks, Infertility / Recurrent Loss, Live Miscarriage | 2 Comments

Improvements

As we near stillbirthday’s first year in August, some improvements are being made.

By the end of the summer, expect stillbirthday to have a fresh, more inviting look.  We are anticipating things being even easier to find, more visually welcoming, and we are planning on having a forum right here, so that moms can help each other locate the resources here as you need them – things like birth plans and specific information.  We are also anticipating being able to have the trainings right here at the site.  If we can arrange it, I’d also like to have a real-time chat box for new visitors.  You are not alone, and I want you to know that you aren’t.

Additionally, the Love Cupboard coordinators will be able to have a group to share ideas and learn how to sew various helpful items.  We also have an amazing group of individuals who have established themselves as leaders through stillbirthday who will be better recognized for their volunteerism and endless compassion.

How You Can Help

I have been very reserved about photos in the past, as they can be upsetting for parents who are not ready to see them.  However, with the new look of stillbirthday, I also plan on including more photos – babies of all gestational ages, farewell celebrations, memorial photos, tattoos, and paintings or other artwork will also be included (we do have a small section of artwork right now but I’d like to expand on that).   These photos will be held in special places at the site, just as they are now.  Parents will only see them if they choose to, and the same contribution policy that protects your photos, just as your stories, from hurtful comments will still apply. If you have photos you’d like to allow stillbirthday to hold of your baby, you can email them directly to Heidi Faith at kcchristiandoula (at) yahoo (dot) com.

If you have suggestions of things you’d like to see here, please leave a comment and tell me about it.

With this new look, we want to ensure that more loss moms find exactly what they need, when they need it.  If you want to be a part of this, you can help financially.  We have stillbirthday cakes you can purchase, or you can just contribute money of any amount, knowing that it is going toward improving stillbirthday (in addition to domain and site improvements, business card orders are distributed around the world, we plan on hosting conferences and more!).  Just visit the PayPal page, enter in any amount you’d like to contribute, and know that you are helping families during the time of their losses get the information they need and the compassion they deserve.

Posted in all | 1 Comment

He Would be Sixteen

Told by: Caroline

My son, Hale, was born on November 7, 1996. He weighed 2 1/4 lbs. We were in a rural hospital and he didn’t survive. He lived for one hour and died in my arms. I was diagnosed with an incompetent cervix. He was perfect and gorgeous. I think of him every day. It is 15 and a half years later now.

Posted in All Newborns / Diagnosis | Leave a comment

A Letter From Heaven

Review and Giveaway!

“A Letter From Heaven” is a children’s book, written by Steve Butler, who is a chaplain at Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, an Associate Chaplain through the Association of Professional Chaplains, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, as well as a stillbirthday mentor – but most importantly, Steve is Jamie and Alexandra’s grandfather.

“A Letter From Heaven” tells the story of a little boy named Jamie, who learns that his older sister, Alexandra, died on the day she was born.

In this precious, bittersweet tale, Jamie inquires about the ceramic jar that sits beautifully adorned with flowers around it, on a high shelf in their living room.  When Jamie is ready to learn about his sister, his mother pulls a letter from behind the jar; a letter on pink stationary and addressed from Alexandra to Jamie, as if it was written by Alexandra herself.

The book brings us through this letter from an older sibling, in Heaven, to her younger brother, still here on earth.  It brings us through the simple understanding that both siblings share the same family.  It answers some of the most complex questions about death and Heaven in a gentle way that even young children can understand.  Alexandra tells Jamie all about the day she was born, what she “remembers”, that she died, and that the most important part of her is in Heaven, and that she is “not small or weak or fragile” where she is.

In this letter, Alexandra assures Jamie that she is not jealous when he was born, and that she loves him very much – she is his big sister, no matter what.

Additionally, there are ideas that families can draw from in this book, as ways to help children understand about their siblings in Heaven, including planting special flowers and praying as a family.

Steve has shared this beautiful book with me, so that I can pass it along to you!

Share with us, how you have explained your miscarried or stillborn baby(ies) to your living children, or to your living nieces or nephews, or how you supported your adult children as they explained their loss to your surviving grandchildren.  Has the time come that it has been appropriate to do so?  How did you share about their sibling?  If you haven’t yet shared with your other children, in what ways do you imagine you might?

Share your experiences or your ideas!  One random person will be selected to receive an autographed copy of “A Letter From Heaven”!  The winner will be announced here on August 1.

This giveaway is now closed.

The winner is Amanda H.  Amanda, please email me at kcchristiandoula (at) yahoo.com to give me your mailing address.

Posted in all | 12 Comments

Rainbows in the Marketplace

Many pregnancy loss families consider a subsequent pregnancy, one following a loss, to be called a “rainbow” pregnancy.

But loss families are the only ones.

Oreo is the latest company to use the rainbow in their corporate support of homosexuality and gay rights issues.

If you are a homosexual parent who’s experienced pregnancy loss and then a subsequent “rainbow” pregnancy, how do you feel about rainbows being depicted for homosexuality and/or for pregnancy loss?  Do you align with one use over the other?

For heterosexual parents, is the use of the rainbow for purposes other than subsequent pregnancies, additionally hurtful, or isn’t it?

In general, how do you feel about the rainbow and its many uses?

(I wrote about my opinion in “She’s not my rainbow.”)

Posted in Outside Insight / P.R. | Leave a comment

Unsubscribe Baby Mail

After a pregnancy loss or infant death, it can be very frustrating to continue to receive promotional coupons and information for baby related items through your mail, or to receive baby or pregnancy related emails in your inbox, or to have milestone updates that you won’t reach with this pregnancy posted onto your social media.

How do you undo these things?

Direct Marketing Association is a mail preference service that helps you get the mail you want, and stop getting the mail you don’t.   Here is their contact information:

  • Direct Marketing Association, Inc. 1615 L Street Washington, DC 20036
  • 212-768-7277, ext. 1888

I have called them several times, and have sent them several emails using their contact form.  I finally reached them, by asking for an operator.

Then, I registered, so that I could view the full listing of associated businesses.  They are in four categories:

  • catalogs
  • magazine offers
  • other mail offers
  • credit offers (separate website)

I found nothing helpful under “other mail” which was where I went first.  Then I went through the catalog and magazine listings.  I found “American Baby”, “Birthday Keepsakes”, “Children’s Wear Digest”, “Early Childhood Manufacturer’s Direct”, and “Family Circle”.  These are the only companies listed with Direct Marketing Association (DMA).  Other businesses, formula manufacturers, diaper companies, and cord blood banking companies are not currently listed.

If you would like to unsubscribe from any of those that are listed, you can register your account with DMA here.

When you register at websites or when you list for freebies, you are considered to be a customer, and they will send you any coupons or promotions they want.  That means, going back to each website and unregistering (some moms wondered if somehow midwives or doctors sell personal information to product manufacturers.  Through HIPAA, they can’t do this).

So, ultimately, this leaves loss moms with three options:

  1. Continue to get the mail for the baby we are no longer pregnant with.  Some moms have the dads check the mail.  Some moms rip and tear apart the coupons and ads as a time to release anger and frustration at not being pregnant anymore.  Alternatively, some moms save some of the advertisements as something else that belongs to the baby.
  2. Contact DMA, but this is largely ineffective.
  3. Keep documentation of each baby registration, so that they can go back to each website to unsubscribe.  For subsequent pregnancies, some mothers only register for sites with the quickest and simplest unsubscribing processes.
  4. If you are in Europe, your Baby Mailing Preference Service can be helpful.

What do you do when you receive baby mail? 

Posted in Outside Insight / P.R. | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Shoulda Woulda Coulda

Told by: Heather

“I should’ve rested more.” I could’ve eaten better.” ” Would this have happened if I wasn’t trying to do so much?”

Do these questions do any good? No. I preach this stuff to my clients, but I am not immune to its powerful grip. As mothers, I think we tend to shoulda, woulda, coulda ourselves more than we should. Oops, there I go again. We shouldn’t do that.

I debated about whether I would write this story or not because doing so turns a private matter into a very public one. I decided to write it though because I though maybe, just maybe, someone out in cyberland might benefit from my experience.

This is a sad story with a very sad ending, so if you have a hard time with sad stories, you may want to close it now. Otherwise, grab a tissue. I may need a whole box to write it.

At the beginning of 2012, my husband and I decided we were ready to expand our family. Our wonderful son will be three in September and we figured it was a good time. We also knew it might take a few months before I would get pregnant. But lo and behold, we found out I was pregnant in February. I was very excited, and upon calculating the due date, I realized that my son will be just past three when the baby is born. Perfect!

From the beginning, I had spotting and had a general uneasiness about this pregnancy. I did research and talked to people and realized that spotting is pretty common in early pregnancy. Still, I felt strange and decided to only tell family and close friends until I was further along. At 9 weeks, I went for my first appointment with the midwife. Everything seemed fine, and we even heard the heartbeat! This eased my mind a bit, but I still felt like I didn’t want to tell the world yet. “After the first trimester, when the risk goes down, I’ll feel better telling people,” I thought to myself. I went for my next appointment at 13 weeks, and we heard the heartbeat again. Everything seemed fine. But I was still having spotting occasionally, and it worried me.

Now, I’m a believer in the power of the universe and how what we focus on creates our reality, so I really tried to shake this uneasy feeling I had because I didn’t want to bring on anything bad. But I couldn’t shake it.

At 15 weeks, I had some spotting that was a bit heavier than usual, so I called the birth center to see what they thought I should do. They told me to go get an ultrasound just to make sure everything looks okay. I went the same day. Even after seeing the baby on the screen, I had a hard time bonding with this little one. A couple days later, I called the birth center to get the results from the report, and they said everything looked fine and to try not to worry. They don’t like to do more invasive tests for minor spotting because it can actually cause more harm.

This helped slightly, but still felt like I didn’t want to tell a lot of people. I had another ultrasound scheduled at almost 19 weeks, and I would feel more comfortable after I see the baby again.

Here’s where the story gets ugly. On May 27, 5 days before my scheduled ultrasound, around 5:30 in the morning, I woke up needing to go to the bathroom. I actually had to go a couple hours before, but I was laying with my son because he and I have been sick, and by the time he fell back asleep, so had I. He’s only nursing a couple times a day, and had been night weaned for a few weeks by this point. But when he’s sick, and wakes up in the middle of the night, there’s only one thing he wants: momma milk. It’s so comforting for him and helps him sleep between the hacking coughs, so I caved.  How could I deny him the one thing that makes him feel better and helps him sleep? So around 5:30, I got up and went to the bathroom, then went to the kitchen for a little snack and some water. I debated whether I should just get up instead of going back to bed, but decided I was still tired, and I would try to sleep a bit more. I went back and laid down with my son.

I tried to go back to sleep, but felt some irritation in my lower abdomen. It sort of felt like I had waited to long to go to the bathroom. It wasn’t painful, just a bit irritating. I thought, “let me go to the bathroom again and see if I have to pee again.” Damn pregnancy hormones can have you in the bathroom every 10 minutes. I went and when I wiped, saw more blood than I liked. Then I felt a gush and without any effort, the baby was born right then and there. At 18 weeks gestation. I started screaming, because well, I could’t help it. My husband came running, banging his toe hard on the door on his way. When he saw what had happened, his face turned to shock and horror, and he came in to try to calm me down so I wouldn’t wake my son. I couldn’t stop screaming. I had him get the phone for me so I could call the birth center. I knew there was no point calling 911 because at 18 weeks, the baby is not viable.

I called the birth center and left a message with the overnight service. A few minutes later, the midwife called me back  and talked me though it. She asked me a few questions, then asked for my address. She told me to wrap the baby in a towel and put on a pad and go lay in bed with a towel under me. She was coming over.

By this point, my son was awake and my husband couldn’t get him back to sleep. Like I said, when he’s sick, nothing will do except momma’s milk. I called the midwife back to ask her if I could nurse him. She said that was perfect. That would help control the bleeding. She was afraid I would hemorrhage, and was bringing pitocin with her just in case. I laid down with him and tried to get him back to sleep. But I was shaking so hard from the adrenaline, he thought it was funny. He’s 2-he has no idea what just happened.

A little while later, the midwife arrived and came into the room with us to check my blood pressure and pulse. With that and my breathing seeming fine, she went to check the baby. It’s a girl.

With my son not seeming like he’s going to go back to sleep, I got up to go to the other room to be with the baby. The midwife and I talked about the baby and the placenta and she showed me an abnormal looking spot on the placenta. She didn’t diagnose it, just pointed it out. My husband kept our son busy so he wouldn’t come in. The midwife still wanted to check my bleeding, so she did so at that time. It’s not too bad. Luckily, we didn’t need the pitocin. She said she didn’t think I needed to go to the hospital, and honestly, it would probably make the situation more traumatic. I agreed.

I’m still in shock and disbelief at this point. Knowing my husband would think I’ve totally lost my marbles, I asked the midwife if she thought we should take some pictures. I just felt like this is the only chance I would get and I may want them later. She asked if we had a camera. I told her we did, but my husband would probably think I’m crazy if I suggested it. So she brought it up to him. He wasn’t crazy about the idea so she said she could take them with her phone, then send them to me later if I wanted them. I agreed that would be best. I’m not going to share those pictures with you here because they are very hard to look at, but I can tell you, she is perfect with her tiny little arms and legs, developing eyelids, and too-big-for-her-body head (like all babies).

Then the midwife started asking what we wanted to do now. I have no idea what the options are. She explained that as hard as it is, we have to make a decision of what to do with the baby today. She explained that basically we have three options: 1) call a funeral home and have her cremated and get the ashes. 2) Find a little box and bury her, perhaps at a family member’s house (we live in an apartment) and maybe plant a little tree over her; or 3) discard her. OMG! Option 2 seemed like the best option to me. I told her, again, my husband will think I’m crazy if I suggest this. I love that she was willing to do the dirty work. Again, he didn’t like the idea and said it seemed so harsh, to which her respond was “harsher than just discarding her.” He agreed and went to call his parents to see if we could use their yard. They consented and so we began getting ready. The midwife said that she would take the baby if we wanted her to and bring her to his parents’ house whenever we wanted. She even said she would take care of getting the box and we could go get the tree. This is on a Sunday at 7:30 in the morning. I’m so grateful I decided to go with a midwife this time.

We got up, got dressed, and my husband made breakfast. I called my mother to tell her and of course, she was devastated. Sorry mom, I love you. We ate and got in the car. I called my brother to tell him and invite him to join us for the ceremony if he wanted. We started driving to look for a tree, when my husband suggested we pick up his mom to go with us. I agreed since I really know nothing about gardening and it is her house where we would be planting it. We picked her up on the way and went. The first place we went to didn’t have anything we liked. So we went to another store. There we found a little bougainvillea tree with pretty pink flowers.

We paid and went back to the house. My brother met us there and we all went to the back yard to start digging the hole. A little while later, the midwife came with the baby wrapped in the baby blanket I gave her in a pretty pink box. She sealed it since she thought it was best we already said goodbye. It’s a good thing she did because I totally would have opened the box to say goodbye again.

By this time, it’s way past nap time for my son, but he is surprisingly well-behaved for such a tired boy. I thanked the midwife for everything she had done and she left. We all headed for the back yard. It started drizzling. Luckily, they had brought out a big umbrella to give us some privacy from the neighbors. It rained just long enough for us to finish our ceremony, plant the tree and get back in the house. I wonder if she was saying goodbye to us, too.

Should I have denied my son the extra milk he wanted while sick? I have learned that nipple stimulation can cause uterine contractions. Did I cause this to happen by allowing him nurse? I was just thinking that I was being a good mother by supporting and giving him the comfort he needed at the time.

Honestly, I don’t know. As I said, I had a general uneasiness about this pregnancy the whole time. For all I know, this could have happened regardless of what I did or didn’t do. Thousands of women, a few of whom I know personally, successfully breastfed their toddlers while pregnant and have perfectly healthy babies. In addition, all the research shows that the receptors that are affected by oxytocin (the hormone released during nursing) increase in abundance toward the end of the gestation. So my feeling is that it didn’t really play much of a role. I kind of had a strange feeling when I looked in the mirror the day  before, but didn’t really think much of it until after it happened.

Could that have been my body telling me that there was something wrong with my baby? Possibly. We’ll never know.

Since this happened, I have been talking to friends, reading, and researching A LOT. And I think I may have an answer for what happened to my baby girl. I believe there was an undetected subchorionic hematoma on the placenta (remember the funny spot the midwife pointed out) that caused the placenta to separate from the uterine wall and cause the miscarriage. We’ll never know for sure, but having a pretty good idea of what happened gives me some sort of closure. It also, of course, fills me with guilt because when they are detected, bed rest is usually prescribed. If only I had rested more?

The point of this story is that we all tend to shoulda, woulda, coulda ourselves and it really doesn’t help.

This is, by far, the hardest thing I have ever experienced in my entire life. My eyes were swollen beyond belief for the first week. It’s hard to do anything with my son without thinking about how my baby girl will never get to do that with us. I can’t think about anything else sometimes.

If you were moved by this story, please tell me about it in the comments. It’s always nice to know other people find my writing useful or interesting. (I’ll never know if you’re lying- (: ). If you want to you shoulda me or tell me I’m a freak for continuing to nurse a 2 1/2 year-old, save it. I can shoulda myself quite enough, thank you, and I firmly believe in child-led weaning. Any negative or “you should’ve” comments will simply be deleted. I don’t need them right now and I won’t tolerate them. [site creator’s note: neither will I, and all stillbirthday stories are protected by our submission guidelines]

To all the wonderful mommas who have gone through this, I am terribly sorry for your loss. I think only someone who has been through it can truly understand. I always felt badly before for anyone who had experienced such a loss, but it always came from an “I can’t imagine” standpoint.

To my beautiful daughter: I love you. I miss you. Hadley Angelina, you will be in my heart forever and will always be a part of our family. Your big brother loves you and thanks you for the yummy milk you left behind for him. He was happily surprised when it came back from its long hiatus. Please look over him to make sure he doesn’t get into too much trouble, okay?

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