Never in a million years would I have thought that I would be admitted to the hospital for a scheduled induction, only to leave with empty arms. Before Adalie was born, I was ignorant to the reality of loss, and especially loss occurring after the first trimester.
I remember very vividly the morning of Thursday, June 29th. It was just before 5:00am, and the first time Ryan and I had seen the hospital parking garage that empty. We walked slowly through the quiet corridors of Andrews Women’s Hospital, until we managed to make it to the front desk. In my mind, the slower we walked, the longer we could delay the inevitable, and therefore hide from the harsh reality we were about to face.
Once we checked in, we were taken straight to our room – room #4. I won’t forget this because I saw the yellow sticky note left in my best friend’s handwriting. It said something along the lines of, “Possible demise coming in. Put in room 4 if possible.” My best friend, Laura, is a Labor and Delivery nurse at the hospital, and while I know I would have been taken great care of regardless, she ensured it.
Walking into the room for the first time was a major reality check. The first thing I noticed was the baby warmer. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it, and I couldn’t hold myself together knowing that our tiny baby would never feel warmth outside of my womb. There was no hiding from the inevitable anymore. We were living it.
After getting “settled in”, the nurse came to ask the standard pre-admission questions, and explain my plan of care. Shortly after, I was given my first dose of medication that would begin the induction process. Ryan and I were counseled multiple times by my doctor and nurses that the process would be slow-going, but once moving, would seem as if everything was happening at once. And, was this process long…
Every 3 hours, I was given another dose of medication. After the second dose, family and dear friends came and went. We were brought food, flowers, cards, and beautiful mementos to remember our baby girl by. One of my favorite items is a gorgeous necklace with a purple butterfly pendant from my mom and sister. A butterfly is the symbol given to girls with Turner Syndrome, and the purple butterfly became a symbolism very dear to me after learning of Adalie’s diagnosis.
Time was literally dragging, and I didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I was afraid for things to progress, mostly because I feared the unknown. How was I supposed to face the birth of our stillborn daughter? Did I know for sure that I wanted to see her and hold her? What was she going to look like? As time went on, 2 doses of medication turned into 3, and 3 into 4.
My labor was not without some complications. Contractions started, but I was not really progressing very quickly, as anticipated. I spiked a temperature of 103°F, likely secondary to the medication, so my plan of care took a slight detour. I was feeling pretty miserable, but my doctor and nurses reassured me that there was no reason to endure the physical pain I was in, unless I wanted to. At that point, I requested an epidural.
More hours went by, friends and family left, and it was time for Ryan and I to try and get some rest. I declined medication that would help me sleep because I feared l could deliver in the middle of the night. I didn’t.
However, I did wake up because my left side was so numb from the epidural that my left leg was hanging off of the side of the bed. I found slight humor in the situation, as I tried to wake Ryan up to help me. I called his cell phone multiple times, yelled his name, and even threw a package of Kleenex his way. No luck. I gave in and called the nurse.
My doctor came to check on me early the next morning, and I had made some progress overnight. My temperature was normal, and we were back on track to resume medication with close monitoring. As the day progressed, I could feel painful contractions on my right side, but still nothing on my left. After multiple unsuccessful attempts to divert the medication to my right side, I had my epidural replaced.
Hallelujah, it worked! All of my pain was relieved. While I was so happy to no longer be in pain, this meant that it was time to face the emotional reality of everything that was about to happen. The previous day, Ryan and I picked a wrap together that Adalie would be put into once she was born. It was given from Angel Gown Program, where women donate their wedding dresses to make pieces like this, for tiny babies of bereaved families.
I spent a lot of that morning and afternoon thinking about how our baby would be snuggled into that gown, and wondered what it would be like to meet her. I knew that today was the day.
Most of the day was uneventful, until everything progressed within the blink of an eye. I called the nurse, and she confirmed that “it was time.” I immediately started crying as I knew I was minutes away from meeting our baby girl.
Adalie Grace Potts was born on June 30, 2017 at 5:24pm. She was tiny, but perfectly made, measuring 7 inches long, and weighing just over half of a pound.
My maternal instincts kicked in, and all of the initial fears I had about meeting her vanished. In fact, all I could think about was, “how am I going to be able to let her go?” Ryan and I allowed our families to meet Adalie, and to hold her. A hospital chaplain also did a naming ceremony in her honor.
When I was discharged the following day, just as I had imagined, leaving her was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I don’t know why this happened, and maybe I never will. I do know that Adalie was not meant to grow up in this world. I questioned, “why us,” a lot, but then I began to question, “why not us?” My heart is broken, and continues to break for anybody else faced with such a tragic situation.
It is so easy to feel alone or even guilty after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. I don’t think there is anything that can be said or done to make the situation better. What can be done is breaking the silence afterward. In my next post, I will talk about my journey so far through the healing process – both physically and emotionally.