I had a little bleeding early on. Nothing to worry about they said. Just old blood, maybe from implantation.
Then at 17 weeks and 4 days it came back. The old blood. I called the doctor and made an appointment for later that day. I had a lot of pressure. Still I kept my Monday routine of bringing my 18 month old son Bobby to his playgroup and even made our way over to Carter's to get him some fall clothes. My husband picked us up later on and took us to the doctor.
I waited impatiently for a while before finally being seen. It was a busy afternoon and I should just be thankful they squeezed me in at all. The doctor said everything looked okay but was now going to squeeze me in for an ultrasound just to be sure. Good, I felt myself release the breath I had been holding all day. During the ultrasound my confidence began to build. The baby looked great. My cervix seemed to check out. I waited again for the doctor. He said he felt like something wasn't quite right. Would I mind going on over to Labor & Delivery just to make sure I wasn't having any contractions. Having contractions? Was he serious? Ok. We packed back into the car and headed over to the hospital.
I ended up staying in the hospital for 2 days. I was having contractions and now I was starting to feel them. I got to see Hannah many times during my stay. She was such an active little girl. Hearing her strong heartbeat and watching her move around gave me the only hope I had those days. When I went home Wednesday night the red blood started. It wasn't old anymore. This was what they told you you had to worry about. At the doctor on Thursday my cervix had drastically shortened. It had gone from 3.5 centimeters to 1.7 centimeters in a matter of days. Not good for someone who is 18 weeks pregnant. If you make it to your appointment Monday, maybe there will be something we can do. Those words echoed in my mind all weekend long as I lay in bed.
I did make it to that appointment Monday with the specialist. I got to spend some quality time with Hannah as they did her Level 2 Ultrasound and we found out she was definately a girl. She was spinning and twirling all around like a little ballerina. My cervix was even measuring the same. Just as I let out that breath that maybe we would get through this on bedrest....the internal exam showed I was about 1 centimeter dialated. My heart sunk. Stay in bed and keep your fingers crossed. What great medical advice. That was at around 10 am on Monday, September 21, 2009.
The contractions started really hurting around 3 that afternoon. It'll be okay, I kept telling myself. My husband was out on some errands with my son. Maybe if I roll over I will be more comfortable. I called my husband. I think I need to go to the hospital. I can't stand the pain much longer. I called my mom. Dont worry, I'll call you when I know something. I got up to go to the bathroom at around 3:30. Still hurting. Walked back over to my bed and sat down on the edge. And that's when I heard it, a gentle popping sound. It was followed by a gush of water. I collapsed to the floor and just sobbed with everything in me. This would be the end. I called Bobby back. He was stuck at the drawbridge. He started sobbing too. I called my mom back. Can you meet us at the hospital and get Bobby? My water broke. I made my way back to the bathroom, covered in water and blood. I changed my pants and began downstairs to wait for Bobby, leaving the pool of blood in the middle of the bathroom floor.
I can't take it any more. I am in hard labor, bleeding heavily and sitting in rush hour traffic on Route 9. It will be at least another 30-40 minutes before we get to the hospital. Little Bobby is screaming in the back seat. He is scared and so am I. I feel the baby coming out. I am in so much pain. My husband calls 911. An ambulance comes. They take me to the closest hospital.
The Emergency Room doctor greeted us with a warm why did you come here? Don't you know we don't have an OB department? I am in pain. I am losing my child. My life is shaken at it's very core and I just want someone to help me. I've been calling out to God for a week to please save this child. He said no. Accepting this is proving to be a very hard thing to do.
So I am in the Emergency Room of a hospital without a department for Labor and Delivery, no Maternity Ward, no Obstetrician and no heart. They put me into a storage room. The wall to my left was lined with an array of crutches in every size imaginable. The wall to my right held what looked like a giant medical vending machine full of splints and Ace Bandages and things of that nature. Had I sprained my ankle or jammed my finger I would have been in the right place. We want to transfer you. It is going to take a while. Again, why did you come here? Let's take a look. You are fully dialated. The baby is already on her way out. We will transfer you after delivery. He leaves the room. We ask the nurse what will happen with Hannah. She doesn't know. Doesn't know? She will find out. She will go to pathology. We want her body. I will put a note on her. Put a note on her? She leaves too. Leaving my husband and I and the unfriendly girl who quietly sat there taking my blood pressure every fifteen minutes. And leaving Hannah.
I will never know the exact moment her tiny heart stopped beating. I will never know when the peaceful smile heaven sent began to grace her beautiful face. I do know how very much I love her. I do know I will love and miss her as long as I live.
A new woman came in to relieve the unfriendly quiet girl. She shared her own stories of heartache for her lost grandchildren. She reassuringly offered her faith and belief that they were with God. I didn't want Hannah to be with God yet. I wanted her with me. I still want her with me. The doctor came back in the see if we were progressing. We were. The shifts were changing. It was twenty after seven in the evening. Another doctor would be in shortly.
Time was our enemy stretched out before us. We were left alone with our minds for the next three hours, save the occassional nurse shuffling in and out without apology to grab a supply. We asked for the doctor. What were we supposed to do? Try to push if you feel a contraction. The doctor will be in shortly. But I couldn't feel the contactions anymore. They had given me so much morphine. I am still bleeding heavily. I looked up at my husband. They want us to deliver on our own? I tried pushing a few times. Nothing happened.
At around 10:30 the doctor finally came in. The next eleven minutes were a blur. The exam, the pushing, the reality of what was happening echoing in my mind the entire time. It hurt. It hurt all over, inside and out. We sobbed for our daughter. The grief was overwhelming. It still is now. Hannah came into this world silently. It was 10:41 pm on September 21, 2009.
I want to hold her. Are you sure? Yes. I want to hold my daughter. Hannah Katherine. She was beautiful. All of her tiny parts were perfect, right down to her ten little fingers and ten little toes. She was so delicate. I was overwhelmed with love and grief all at the same time. We cried so hard for our little angel. Why our daughter? Why us? Just a little bit longer and she could have survived. All of the why's and what if's that plague me now began at that very moment. My life changed forever at that very moment. Bobby was shaking so hard he had to give her back to me. We said goodbye to our daughter. Rest in peace sweet girl. The unfriendly quiet girl returned. They placed our daughter's body inside a plastic tub right in front of us. I couldn't imagine there being a heart inside any one of these people. A few minutes after she left another woman popped in to see "where it was". My baby, I said. The door closed. Well it closed three quarters of the way onto the plastic garbage can they had propping it open.
Most hospitals will put a hat and blanket on your stillborn child and allow you to spend some time with them. They even take professional pictures and console you in your grief. I felt robbed of all that. Hannah was robbed of all that. She was robbed of so much. They could have at least given her some dignity and respect.
The doctor said my OB had ordered a couple of medications and said if the placenta and any other pregnancy tissue had been delivered it would then be okay to go home. The IV started up and we waited again.
We got home around 6 am Tuesday morning. We layed down until around 9:30. Who could sleep? I cleaned the blood off the bathroom floor. My husband called the funeral parlor. The hospital called. We need to do a fetal death certificate. You can pick her up on Thursday. We went over to the funeral home. My parents brought Bobby home later that afternoon. We tried to function. It was hard. I was still bleeding heavily. There were clots and leftover placenta. This doesn't seem right. I am still in pain.
I had a doctor's appointment on Wednesday. Looks okay, but come back tomorrow for an ultrasound. Being in that office was torture. Seeing all the pregnant women. Knowing I was not. Now I had to have an ultrasound and see nothing but an empty uterus.
I had the ultrasound on Thursday. Not good. Your uterus is infected. The hospital left placenta there. It should have been cleared. Go over to the hospital (the one I wished I would have made it to) as soon as possible. We need to do an emergency D&C. I had that done at 8 pm on Thursday night.
We tried calling the funeral home several times on Thursday. No one is calling us back. On Friday they call. The hospital couldn't find Hannah. He didn't want to call until he had it all figured out. Thank you God. They found her. Can you take a couple pictures for us? Sure. Being the father of two angels himself, he totally understood. Carmen had been a blessing in all of this.
I have four photos of Hannah. They are not clear but they are all I have. Every day is a struggle. It hasn't gotten any easier. They say it does. What do they know? Has it happened to them? Three weeks ago I was pregnant. Now I am empty. My heart is empty. I cry everyday. I feel hopeless. I know God has handed me this for a reason. I know some greater good will be served. I know my beautiful Hannah is happily playing in heaven. I know life goes on and I know this story is not yet finished. But it doesn't make it hurt any less. It doesn't help me sleep at night. It doesn't help me live without my daughter.
I wear her remains in a heart around my neck. I have her picture in a heart frame. I framed her last sonogram and hung it under Bobby's picture in the family room. She is still my daughter. I light a pink candle on the mantel for her every night. Nothing eases this pain. My father had brought a little butterfly lamp over the day after Hannah passed. I put a lightbulb in it, plugged it in and haven't turned it off since. It shines for her.
Turns out the old blood was from a placental abruption. Fact is I could have carried her full term on bed rest. The "end game" as the doctor called it was the infection that had gotten into the placenta and the cord. He couldn't answer me as to what could have caused this. My own goggling produced too many internal exams. Could it have been different? I don't know. Hannah was healthy. She was perfect.
So I will try to go on. I know no one knows what to say. I know no one understands. Maybe someone will now. Maybe you will honor Hannah with me.