1 in 1,000 pregnancies result in a stillborn baby. Prior to 2014, I had little knowledge about stillborn babies. Where do I begin? I was 35 weeks pregnant with my third baby and on the the downhill stretch. My prior two pregnancies were picture perfect, healthy pregnancies that end with induction both times. This particular appointment was just a routine checkup. This particular appointment was a follow up appointment from the week before because my ankles had started swelling. A good friend went with me to the appointment and we were going to do a little shopping afterwards since it was a Friday afternoon. She let me out at the door and was going to sit in the waiting room while I had my quick appointment. The nurse came in to listen to the baby’s heartbeat which is typical for each appointment. I remember how I used to “get excited” when the nurse couldn’t find a heartbeat with my older two babies because that always meant we got an impromptu ultrasound and sneak peak at the baby. After a few unsuccessful tries of finding the heartbeat, the nurse decided to send me for an ultrasound. Little did I know that the rest of this appointment would be anything but exciting.
After the ultrasound tech swiped the doppler across my belly a few times, the look on her face along with her comments of “let me get the doctor” told me something was definitely wrong. After a few minutes, the doctor said “your baby is gone”. What did he mean my baby was gone? If there was a problem, why didn’t my body go into labor? A baby girl at 35 weeks should be able to survive with little to no complications. His words hit me like a freight train. After 2 completely healthy pregnancies, I had no idea of what to do next. He told me I could go home and wait on labor to start, or I could go to the hospital.
There was no way I could go home at this point. I had to start wrapping my head around labor and delivery for a baby that was already gone. Chris always came to big appointments; however, we agreed with each pregnancy there was no need in him coming to the small appointments. This particular day, he was well over 1 hour away when he received my text. I wasn’t at the point I could verbalize what I had just been told so text was the only way I knew to tell him ASAP. They escorted me back to the patient room and asked if anyone was with me. In just a few minutes, I was joined by my friend. After they worked up the admission paperwork, we drove over to the hospital with nothing more than our purses. Luckily by the time they got us into a room, Chris was quick to arrive. I don’t even want to know how fast he must have driven.
I delivered a stillborn baby on Saturday, March 8th, 2014. I had high blood pressure for the first time, post-delivery. We buried our Ella Claire on Monday, March 10th, 2014. The following Wednesday night, I went back to the hospital because my blood pressure would not go down. My kids were already in bed as it was a school night. After a friend encouraged me to call the doctor, I was told to come back to the hospital for readmission. We packed our bags, waited on my mother-in-law to stay with the kids, and off we went. After a 24 hour iv of magnesium and a few days of medicine, fluid, and observation, I was able to come home the following Saturday.
While we will never know the reason that Ella Claire was not able to join in this life, we cling to the promise of forever with her in eternity. Everyone on Earth has a treasure that awaits him in Heaven. This is what keeps us going. Although this is now how we would have scripted our lives to go, I can say this tragic loss strengthened our marriage and opened our eyes to so many ways to show compassion to others.