birth story part two: in between

Thank you so much for staying with me as I try to process our daughters’ birth story. While the last part was perhaps the most traumatic, I feel that this here is the hardest to write about in all honesty, as it involves some choices we had to make. But that is what I need to do – it won’t help if I process a censored version of what happened. Also, if anyone ever finds themselves in a similar situation, I’d want them to know that they are not alone.

We were directly taken to a delivery room. They took my vitals, tried to put in another IV, decided I was stable, eventually succeeded with the 2nd attempt of the hand IV. My memory isn’t very clear on all the details, and in particular the order of events here. But even then I was aware of the strange limbo I was in: just having given birth to my firstborn, and yet still pregnant with her sister.

H was talking to the doctor about saving little A. He’d been talking about this with the firefighters, the doctor in the ER, anyone. I think it was what kept him going. Unfortunately the doctor – who was very kind and down-to-earth, and very understanding of the fact that this was an awful situation with no good options – didn’t give us much hope. Buying one or two weeks might be possible, she said, but we’d need at least four. She recommended inducing because of the high risk of infection that could endanger A, my uterus (in case they had to do a hysterectomy to save me) or my life. They left to give us time to think.

When my waters broke we were hoping for a miracle, a way to save both our babies. Now, one of them had been stillborn. There had been nothing we could do for her. I think seeing her perfect but tiny body also changed something for me. I understood how hard it would be for doctors to help her. And now there was a cord hanging out of my uterus, a well-lit 6-lane highway for bacteria. Plus, there was a problem of timescales – bacteria grow from a single bug to a full-sized colony overnight, while my tiny baby would need weeks and weeks.

At some point the nurse – a kind and positive woman, and I mean positive in a very supportive and not obnoxious way – came in to check on me, and also asked if we knew their gender. We said the ultrasound tech thought they were both girls. She asked if we had checked. Um, no. She asked if we wanted to see and hold our baby, if we were ready. She did this in an almost excited way – I’d like to think she does it in the same way with a live baby. I said I was as ready as I’d ever be. So she brought over little C, who had been in our room all the time, cleaned her up very gently, checked – obviously a girl – and gave her to me. With the legs stretched out she was longer than my hand, and surprisingly heavy. I held her close to my heart. We were both so incredibly sad.

At one of the check-ups, my temperature had gone up to 99.7F. The pains in my belly were getting stronger – back then I thought they might be indications of infection, but they could also have been early contractions. That same kind of pain intensified later, before “full” labor started. H was getting seriously worried about losing me. With very, very heavy hearts we decided to induce. And I’m not sure we’ll ever fully come to peace with this decision.

I was given a drug to promote dilation and contractions. The doctor said they were hoping I’d deliver “sometime before tomorrow morning” (I was 2cm dilated at that point). They’d increase the dose if things didn’t move far enough. H wanted to go home and pick up some stuff for himself for the night, as well as for me for the way home, as I had arrived wearing only the t-shirt I slept in. They suggested him to go now, nobody knew how fast things would progress (or not). They also suggested me to take a nap, which I thought was highly unlikely. But my wonderful husband had grabbed the stuffed animals I had bought for our babies, so I curled up in bed with C and the toys and held my baby and cried.

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15 thoughts on “birth story part two: in between

  1. I’m so sorry you had to make a decision about whether to induce, but I think you are providing a wonderful and caring service by posting about your experiences here in case, as you say, they may ever be able to help someone facing similar circumstances.

    I’m out here thinking of you and your husband and beautiful daughters.

  2. You probably know all this, but I will say it anyway. You didn’t choose whether your lovely A would die. You only chose a higher probability of you not dying with her, a higher probability of you being able to carry another pregnancy, a higher probability of you being present and conscious at her birth (because that would be harder if you were fighting a serious infection yourself). This is a horrible choice, and it’s awful that you were in a position where it was necessary to make that choice. But the choice you made was the choice you had to make, and I do hope that with time you find your way to being at peace with it. There is nothing else you could’ve done. Thinking of you.

  3. This is so heartbreaking. It is incredibly brave of you to document this for future parents who may be in the same situation. I feel just devastated for your loss. Thinking of you and your husband and your two sweet girls.

  4. Bless you darling. No one should ever have to make that kind of decision and you did. You can’t have regrets or play what ifs. You made the best decision you could in a choice of inevitably bad options :( You are so strong and brave.

  5. I just wanted to comment to echo what JuliaKB said and tell you that no one should ever have to make that kind of call. You are both incredibly strong and brave.

  6. I am so incredibly sorry that you’ve had to go through this and for the loss of your two girls. There are no words for this kind of pain. All I can offer is a big virtual hug and prayers for you and your husband.

  7. it breaks my heart into a thousand pieces to think of you lying on that hospital bed with the stuffed animals and your beautiful, breathless daughter. I just want to reach back into time and across distances and hug you, you incredibly brave woman.

    I realize that it may take a long time to come to terms with the decision to induce, but it was truly, by any measure, the very best decision you could make. Where would you be now without a uterus, or without your life (well, I’m sure you’d trade your uterus for the life of your girls, but that was not an option given to you). Sometimes the decisions we have to make is between shitty and shittier. You made the very best decision given the circumstances. You and your husband did everything you could. This wasn’t your fault.

    sending love and healing thoughts, dear CC

  8. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

    Julia, Aramis, nonsequiturchica: My brain knows. My heart keeps wondering if we did everything we could to save our little girl. (Both placentas showed signs of infection, according to pathology…) Thank you for putting it so plainly, Julia.

  9. We were faced with a similar situation, but not exactly the same. I was 2cm dilated and Oscar’s sac was bulging. We were told the primary concern was infection. After 24-hours, it was reported back that I was infection free, but then we found out that Bella’s placenta was detaching. The doctor thought that I would deliver within days. We were given the choice of what to do…wait or induce. Jon and I decided that if I showed signs of infection we would induce, if something changed-increased bleeding-we would induce. If contractions started again we would induce. If everything was calm, we would hold out for a miracle. The next morning, my contractions came back and we proceeded with the induction. In my head, I know that we wouldn’t have been able to hold out for another 6w1d, especially with Bella’s placenta starting to detach, but my heart still hates that I even had a choice to make.

  10. This story just gets harder with each part… I’m so sorry my friend. So sorry that you had to experience any of this, and so very sorry that you ever had to make decisions like these. I don’t know how you ever come to peace with the decision… but that doesn’t mean it was the wrong one, it just means all of your options sucked. I’m so, so sorry. Praying that you can find your new normal with time and that your hearts will begin to heal. Thinking of you!

  11. This scene will stay with me forever, you and your daughters, one in your arms, one in your womb, with the objects you chose so lovingly… It’s the definition of heartbreaking. I am so, so sorry.

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