Last week I shared our very present grief over our unborn baby who had passed away inside me. Today I need to write about my experience of the baby passing on Tuesday.
I think the story starts on the Tuesday of Holy Week. I had a pregnancy evaluation with my Creighton instructor. I have been charting with her for 7 years, so it feel funny to always call her that. She is an incredible lady, who always answers my questions and phone calls. In fact we might not have even known of this baby if it had not been for her recommending I get on progesterone post peak so a baby would have a chance to implant. Anyway, so when you do a Creighton eval, there are a whole bunch of questions that they ask and you have to give a multiple choice answer. It is for their data or something. One of the questions was, “Was this baby planned?” I have a strong aversion to the word “planned” when it comes to having children. I think it is the root of a lot of problems society has in its view of children. So, I told her so. I said that I didn’t really like that question, but I did not really want to say that the baby was “unplanned”. I talked it out, thinking that the baby had been hoped for and that we had wanted to have another baby and hopefully that cycle. So, sure, our hoped for baby was “planned”. We knew what we were doing when we hoped for another baby.
|An early ultrasound of F.|
Then three days later, we found out that this baby was not growing. This baby was gone. I looked back at the dates, and discovered that the baby probably stopped growing on the feast of St. Gemma Galgani, who is my Confirmation saint. And if you know about the immense amount of suffering she experienced in her life, I realized that praying to her about this baby, was really just asking her to help me suffer gracefully, to offer my sufferings. This quotation of hers helped me through my labor with L, and now with the loss of this baby:
–> “It is true Jesus, if I think of what I have gone through as a child, and now as a grown up girl, I see that I have always had crosses to bear; But oh! how wrong are those who say that suffering is a misfortune!”
Further, we found out about our loss on Good Friday. We prayed the first day of the Divine Mercy Novena on our way to Good Friday liturgy, and my doctor called me just before 3pm to leave a message, just before she went into her liturgy. So, we contemplated Jesus’ death for us, and knew that our suffering at the loss of our baby was for something greater than ourselves.
Friday night we discussed whether or not our baby would have increased intellectual abilities after being separated from his or her tiny body. The body limits the intellect, but if our baby was even in a place of natural happiness, he would be able to know God, and if our baby was attaining the beatific vision, then maybe our baby would know about us and his family on earth. And that was something we could hope for as we entrusted our baby to the mercy of God.
Easter week we waited for the baby to pass, knowing that it might be awhile. I was on extra progesterone until Monday morning, and my levels would have to drop for the baby to come out. We prayed our novena, shared our distress with our friends, and felt the great grace of everyone’s prayers. The wonderful Moms group at St. Agnes offered meals, and we almost refused. I did not think I would need the help of meals, but I am glad we accepted knowing now the exhaustion of passing the baby. I sit here now, so thankful for the dinner a friend is bringing today. I also went to a lovely birthday party with some lady friends, and spent an evening laughing.
Easter Friday, I was really thinking and praying about a name for the baby. It was hard to decide or to even think of options. We have agreed on many names for our hoped for children, but I never considered what to call one who was miscarried. Then I thought about the canonizations to take place on Divine Mercy/Low Sunday. M and I both grew up with Pope Saint John Paul II as the only pope we knew. We were already in college when he passed away, and had loved him dearly during his life. While in Europe for a semester in college we saw his birth place, home parish, and went to the Divine Mercy Shrine in Poland. I realized that we should name the baby John Paul. I suggested it to M and he wanted to think about it.
Divine Mercy Sunday at Mass, I started to have symptoms of the baby passing: cramping and bleeding. We decided that the baby would be called John Paul in honor of the first pope that we knew. It took a few more days for things to progress.
Warning: Things are a little birth storyish from here on…blood and things…
We finally made it to a morning Mass on Tuesday for the Feast of St. Catherine of Sienna. We had been finding it difficult to get up early enough to go at 7:30am. I had stronger cramping during Mass and was pretty exhausted. M went to campus, and I tried to do housework. The girls were playing nicely, so I decided to not worry about home school. I cleaned the bathroom walls. I know, kind of a weird chore. I really wanted to deep clean; maybe it was some weird hormonal nesting thing. I finished cleaning the walls and realized that something was passing. I ran to the downstairs bathroom (to be away from the kids) and realized it was happening. It was physically easiest delivery experience of my life, but emotionally the hardest. I needed M home. He was not teaching his class yet, so I called him, told him I was pretty sure I had passed the baby and the placenta, started to cry, and asked him to come home. Then I found the baby, cleaned up, and tried to go back up to the girls.
F was screaming for me, so I gave her food I knew she would eat, safe in her high chair. I gave the big girls play dough, which always keeps them happy, and then realized there was more coming. The bleeding was not slowing, but rapidly increasing. I watched the clock for M to come home. I realized I probably would need to go to the hospital if things did not slow. I tried to go into denial, not wanting to make a big deal, but ended up calling my doctor. I told them how much I was bleeding and they were like, “Go to the ER, NOW!”
M arranged childcare at a nearby friends house. I called my sister who had gone through the whole bleeding way to much during miscarriage scenario to mentally prepare myself for the ER experience. (I am mostly melancholic; mental preparation is everything.) I tried to figure out what would hold all the blood on the way to the hospital, and went with a size 5 baby diaper.
We dropped off the kids, and our friends looked really worried. We had never gone to that hospital from this part of town, so we had a little trouble finding the right exit, but we got there. After signing in and talking to the triage nurse, we were sent to the waiting room. I wondered if they minded blood getting on their chairs, unsure of how long the diaper would hold up. We sat chatting for a few minutes, thankful that we had had a week and a half to emotionally accept the loss of our baby, and I suddenly felt light headed and nauseated. I told M and he ran to tell the desk. They brought out a wheelchair and told me it would be 10-15 minutes before my room would be ready. All I could think about was how awful I felt, how I really did not want to vomit, and did not think I could possibly last 10-15 minutes. Then I was dreaming. I did not feel sick at all. M saw me pass out and panicked, but the nurse was walking up behind me as it happened. The nurse convinced M that he needed to pull it together. M later told me that he thought that I might have died there sitting in the chair; the way my eyes rolled back into my head and I limped over really frightened him. I do not recollect it at all, but M was holding my face when I woke up. Upon waking up, I felt so much better than I had before passing out. The recollection of where I was and what was going on hit me pretty quickly as the nurse told me that I had passed out and to rest my head in his hand. I followed his instructions.
They wheeled me in a hurry to a room as I became more conscious. They told us that the best way to get to a room quickly is to pass out. I guess we got ahead of the sweet looking old couple who was sitting in the waiting room. So, I ended up in a hospital gown, on an IV, with a doctor giving me an exam. M was still really worried. They decided to call my doctor, to see what they would recommend. We had brought the iPad and M posted a status asking for prayers, which a friend said this about: “M[…] scared me with his cryptic FB post! I’ve been praying for you throughout the day.”
The OB on staff at our awesome, Catholic clinic, showed up pretty quickly. He said we could wait to see if the bleeding slowed or go ahead and do a surgical D&C. I asked to wait, and M agreed. So, they gave me something to help the uterus clamp down, and M went home to give the kids a nap.
I am a huge fan of emergency prayers from friends and family, and love that social networking is a way to pass on the need for prayer. I continued to check Facebook, called my mom and sister, and dozed for two hours. While dozing I tried to pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet for healing. The bleeding slowed, and by the time M came back, they said I could go home. I was so relieved, and so thankful for the prayers.
We got home, and I felt like I do after delivering a baby. I was exhausted and cramping, but had no baby to hold. I did have a very clingly toddler, who decided nursing was just what she needed. They had told me to take it easy and rest for a few days. I am still feeling the wear of losing the blood. It is pretty incredible to me that while I was only 8 weeks along, the passing of the the baby and the recovery feels so similar to a full term labor. Thank you for all of your prayers for my health and for little John Paul.
We are going to bury him in a local cemetery sometime in the next couple of weeks, and I am sure I will need to write about it again then.