I knew something was wrong for a little while. I was feeling TOO good. Almost like I wasn't pregnant, although my pants were getting tighter and my back was CERTAINLY feeling the pregnancy.
It was Sunday after church. Todd and I were prepping a turkey to put in the oven, as we were having friends over that evening for dinner. I went to set the timer on the oven.
As I was walking over to the couch, I felt a RUSH. It was like my heart rate shot up suddenly, I felt a hot, redness overcome me. I didn't know what to do. I felt cramping in my abdomen, so I ran to the bathroom. That part felt too familiar.
I sat down to try and use the bathroom and there was nothing. I noticed several waves of pain in my abdomen and back. They came and went every four minutes or so: I was in labor at 15 weeks. I stood up to try and deal with the waves of pain and there was a gush. I sat down and SCREAMED for Todd. One of those screams where you know something is wrong.
When he made it upstairs, he knew. He knew it wasn't good. I told him I was bleeding and feeling labor pains. He helped me get dressed and go downstairs. He called friends of ours to come and watch the kids so we could go to the hospital. We were off as soon as they were in the door. The sad part is, is Austin (10) knew something was wrong. He was trying to tell the other kids that it was "too soon".
Todd pulled us into the emergency area and the nurses came with a wheelchair. "What's the emergency". It hurt so bad to say I'm in labor at 15 weeks. I was wheeled to the intake desk; blood pressure, temp, personal information, heart rate, etc. I was asked how far along I was again. A nurse asked if they should take me upstairs to OB, and was told not to because I was only 15 weeks along. Which, translated, means there's nothing they can do.
Friends had met us at the hospital and I was surprised to see them there. I had no idea. It felt like I was there alone. I don't know how to explain it. IV was started, blood was drawn, and an order for an ultrasound was given.
It was super quiet in the room as the ultrasound was being done. I saw every one's eyes glued to the screen. No one said a thing, except for the apologies from the techs about how hard they had to push on my abdomen. It felt like forever that they were looking at our baby. I just wanted SOME sort of answer. The last ultrasound we had, baby was EASILY seen, moving and wiggly with a GREAT heartbeat. After a look over with the two techs and the doctor, they finally said they were "sorry". Our remaining twin had died.
I remember crying inconsolably. I remember forgetting to breathe.
The doctor lets us know our options. We could have a D and E or use cytotec to dilate and give birth to our baby. We chose the latter. We had seen our baby on ultrasound. We had seen a gorgeous heartbeat, a face, hands, feet, fingers and toes. We couldn't do the D and E.
The nurse in the ER shared with us that she had lost a pregnancy 33 years ago. She said she still has a hard time every August, even though it's been SO LONG. As she was saying this, you saw the tears well in her eyes. She gave me a great big hug, said she'd be praying for us, and off we went upstairs.
Our first nurse at the family birthing center was super sweet. She was quiet and spoke tenderly. She let us know that she would be doing things in baby steps with us throughout our 'journey'. We were told by the OB that the cytotec could take a few hours up to as long as a few days.
I prayed that God would make it quick and as painless as possible. However, knowing my previous experience with cytotec, I knew it would hurt. And it did. It hurt a lot. It was a constant contraction with NO breaks. I tried to breathe, but I had no comfort. See, with my other labors, I knew my pain would prove fruitful. I knew I was bringing forth life from my body. The only thing I would be birthing this time is our dead baby.
I opted for IV narcotics. The nurse explained she could give me a dose every hour. So I happily accepted. I was able to relax and get a little rest, but it was short rest. It wore off within 30-35 minutes and I was feeling pain again. I then asked for an epidural, as I did NOT want to feel any further pain.
Several times I had to head to the bathroom to go pee. I had passed clots each time and each time I worried it was baby. We had no idea how large baby was going to be.
The nurse was kind enough to offer another dose of the fentanyl before the anesthesiologist arrived. I prayed that God would keep the pain away long enough to get the epidural in. I prayed that God would make this a quick ordeal, and it was. The fentanyl did it's job long enough.
Shortly after the epidural was placed, the nurse tried to get me comfy on my side to allow the epidural to work evenly. I had felt another clot pass, but this time, it WAS baby. I laid on my back and let the nurse examine what was passed. She had to call the OB. I was staring at Todd looking for a reaction. I didn't get one. He looked....blank.
The OB had to cut what little of a cord there was. She said it was rather stringy. And, while I would have been 16 weeks pregnant the following day, baby had only made it to 12.5-13 weeks. We could not tell the sex of the baby, as it didn't live long enough.
Because we couldn't tell the sex, we were told to just pick what was in our hearts. THAT was painful. Everyone in the family was hoping for a girl, and I FELT like we were having a girl, so that's what we went with.
Our daughter was placed on a handmade kimono meant for preemies and early stillbirths. She was placed face down so I wasn't able to see her face. I suppose that was for the best, as what was placed on the blanket, on my lap, didn't look like a baby. Because she had been gone for several weeks, her body had started to decompose. I could make out the bones in the back of the skull, her ribs, stringy arms and legs, and a little bum. In total, she only measured 4-1/2 inches and weighed.9lbs.
Todd and I both took turns holding out baby. It was a difficult sight to see and it was difficult to say "we're done" and have her taken away. After that, there was nothing left. Not twins. Not a single baby. Just emptiness.
Her name was Chelsea Marie. I fell in love with the name Chelsea, as it means safe harbor. I felt that after her twin had passed, we were safe. That she was safe in me.
My placenta wasn't coming out like it should have. The OB didn't want to pull on the cord, since it was so thin. They placed another cytotec near my cervix and waited for it to come out on it's own, and it did. However, after an ultrasound, it was determined that I needed to have a D and C because it didn't ALL come out. If left inside, the remaining tissue could create a nasty infection in my uterus.
Thankfully, I had an epidural. For that reason I did NOT need to be put under general anesthesia for the surgery. They upped the amount of medicine going through the catheter and gave me a different narcotic through the IV. I don't remember much of what happened. I remember hearing clanking of different instruments and I remember bright lights. I DON'T remember people or anyone talking to me.
My legs and feet were numb for the next 8 hours. I was barely able to move in my bed. I couldn't sleep and I couldn't calm down.
A while after my surgery, the nurse brought in a box. In this box was the only tangible items that we'll ever have to remember our baby; a small blanket, footprints, a stuffed lamb, the kimono that baby was laid upon, and a few other small items.
I wasn't prepared for the wave of emotions these items would cause. Not for me OR for Todd. It was SO HARD to hear him cry. More than cry: sob. I not only lost a part of me, but he lost a part of him, too.
The next few hours were quiet, intermixed with minutes of crying. What else were we to do? Our children at home were being well taken care of by our friends, so we focused on us. We cried, we ate, we answered phone calls and texts. We did not sleep.
The nurses let us know we could stay another day if we wanted. It's normal for women to stay for two days after birth. Staying meant delaying reality. Staying meant a sort of safety. For that reason, we chose to head home Monday evening after our kids were in bed.
Heading out the door, I came to the realization that most women who would leave the family birthing center, left with a baby in their arms. I left with a box. My uterus was empty and so were my arms. It was hard. So. Very. Hard.
When we got home, I headed for the shower. It was nice to get washed off and feel somewhat normal and at be at home. Todd did the same shortly thereafter. It was nice to be alone.
We felt it was rather odd that we had a name for our little girl that we had just birthed but not for her twin. It would be weird to say "Chelsea and her twin". So, we decided to name twin B Carter Edwin. It was a name that Todd loved. So it fit. Chelsea and Carter.
Tomorrow it will be one week since we lost Chelsea. It has been 5 weeks since Carter's passing. Each day we cry a little less. The sting of emptiness remains and, from what I understand, could stay with us for quite some time. My womb is empty. Our arms are empty. I'm recovering from a birth but we have no baby to hold. I am in physical pain with little comfort to be had.
We have been blessed beyond belief by friends by their time, their kind words, the flowers, the hugs, the meals, everything. I don't think we could make it through without them.
I see the OB on the 12th for a followup. I had blood drawn to possibly get answers on WHY I lost my babies. We may never have an answer, but we wanted to try. I had low progesterone and was on suppositories for 10 weeks. I also may have lost a triplet at 4 weeks. Because I'm RH-, that baby's blood could have mixed with mine causing my body to react poorly to the remaining babies. Or, it could be a fluke. Only God knows.
We desperately want to have a baby to hold and snuggle. God willing, we will be able to conceive again soon. Until then, we pray and wait. We get comfort from the little things in our box.