Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleeep

Two years ago, my family suffered a deep loss. On December 28, 2005 my then 15 year old sister was 38 weeks pregnant with her first child, Izaiah. We all had a wonderful Christmas together. I still cherish the photos I have of my then 11 month old daughter sitting on L's very pregnant belly.

The morning of the 28th my mother called to ask me if I could take L to the doctor because she said she hadn't felt Izaiah move in about a day. No one thought it was a big deal... at 38 weeks there's just not a whole lot of room for the baby to move. I left my daughter at home with my husband's mother and took my sister to the doctor.

We had to wait a long time in the waiting room and L began to complain about the wait. I leaned over and said to her, "Well this is good. If they thought something was really wrong with Izaiah they would have taken you back by now". Every time I think of what I said, it makes me ill. Of course I couldn't have known what was about to happen, but I just can't get over it.

So we get back into the exam room and the doctor comes in and does an internal exam. Everything looks good. He pulls out this little rinky-dink ultrasound machine and takes a quick look. Then he sends us across the hall to the "real" ultrasound machine. The technician puts the wand on L's belly and looks at Izaiah. I noticed right away that there wasn't any movement, but I thought maybe she had frozen the frame for a measurement or something. Then she lays the want down, turns the machine off and tells us the doctor will be right in and leaves the room.

That's when I knew that Izaiah was gone. I got up and stood by L and took her hand. I didn't tell her what I knew, and instead we just chatted for awhile about who she thought he would look like and how big we thought he might be. To this day I still wonder if I should have been the one to tell L that Izaiah's little soul had passed. It seemed so utterly cruel to stand there, holding her hand and listening as she made plans for his life, when in my mind I was wondering how to help her grieve his death.

Then the doctor comes into the room and tells us what I already knew. Izaiah was gone. L cradled her belly in her arms and cried, "but we were so close!!" I have many bones to pick with this particular OB (and I'm glad he's no longer practicing), but at that moment I couldn't imagine being in his shoes and having to tell a 15 year old girl that her baby, due in just 2 weeks, had died.

Mercifully, he allowed us to go out the back exit, so L wouldn't have to walk past all those round bellies still glowing with live babies. This didn't save L from the pitying stares of the office staff and nurses who were clearly thinking, "Well, it's for the best. She was too young to have a baby anyway."

On the drive home, L and I discussed what she would like to do. She could go home and wait for labor to begin on its own (while monitoring for signs of infection) or she could go to the hospital and have her labor induced. She decided on induction. We didn't know how long Izaiah had been gone and she wanted him to look as much like "himself" as possible when he was born, and (understandably) she just wanted to get the inevitable over with.

It was a tough labor. She was in immense pain and it was terrible to watch a young mother suffer so much for a baby who had already passed. I couldn't imagine carrying something dead in my body, but as we would learn later that evening, L didn't consider Izaiah to be dead. She held hope in her heart that he was alive. She refused an epidural until the pain was so bad she didn't have it in her to say no. When I think about it now, I'm sure she relished the physical pain as the only way to dull her emotional pain. At just 4cm, she began to have contractions one right on top of another, and had to cope for about an hour of that before she was able to get an epidural.

Izaiah was born at 10:27 p.m. (the same time my daughter was). She actually had a cord prolapse, but it wasn't such an emergency since there wasn't a live baby. The doctor placed Izaiah's precious, lifeless body on L's chest, she cradled him close to her chest, leaned her head back and wailed. I've never heard a sound like that and I imagine it's the sound only a grieving mother can make for her lost child. I pray that a similar sound never moves past my lips, but if I could have reversed her situation with mine I would have.

He was 8lbs. Even though she suffered HG like I did, even though she was just 15 (14 when she conceived)... she took good care of him and he was a big, healthy looking boy. She was gracious enough to allow each of her sisters to hold her son. He was so soft and limp. And handsome.

The photographer from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep took so many beautiful pictures for L. She was a blessing to our family.

In the days following there were many (well-meaning) people who tried to tell L that it was "for the best." But she was still a mother who lost her child and I know that given the choice she'd rather be a struggling teen mother than a mother of a stillborn baby.

We don't know why Izaiah died. L declined an autopsy. It's just as well though. Would knowing why he died bring him back?

And then, just 8 weeks later... my son was conceived. Though L never said anything to me about it, sometimes I sensed that she felt the Lord had taken her son away from her and given him to me. I felt that way sometimes, too.

If you have a strong heart, you can scroll to the bottom of this post to see pictures of L and Izaiah.

L and my daughter, just two days before Izaiah died

This photo needs no words


Kelly said...

Oh my... I am so sorry for your family's loss.

YukionnaKoi said...

I found you through Jill.

First, I am so sorry for your family's loss. I couldn't even begin to know how she feels.

I'm still crying. Thank you for the link to the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep place. That site also made me bawl.

However, I am looking into helping them. Being a photographer for them, though I have no real background, just my own personal pictures.

Again, I am sorry for the loss of her baby.

I am a Monkey's Momma said...

My heart just aches when I read this...I am so sorry that this has happened to your family.

Blessings to you.

AtYourCervix said...

I'm so sorry this happened to your sister. How truly, incredibly heartbreaking.

Agatha said...

Izaiah was very beautiful, looking at the picture. I'm so sorry that this happened to your sister, to Izaiah & to your family.

I'm very glad that there are women like your sister who are brave enough to share stories like this, so that people like me can learn. So that people can appreciate that once upon a time, Izaiah was here to. & he was alive.

Tasha said...

Hello...I found you thru Dr. Amy's blog...but don't dismiss me...I am a homebirther! I read there because I learn there, but not how Amy

I am so deeply sorry about this, even though it was 2 years ago. I took a second before I scrolled to see the photos and then I sobbed and sobbed and toughed your sister and sent my love to her.

We lost a babe to miscarriage this summer, and while that babe never moved for me to feel it, I can say that I know the pain. My heart burns for her. thank you for sharing this story. Home or hospital lead, babies are lost from time to time. I don't know how anyone can indict any woman for any birthing choice she makes...

love to your sister and your family.

Mel said...

Oh my God... I'm so deeply sorry for this awful loss. This tragedy will always be with your beautiful sister... I grieve with her, you and your whole family. I'm so so sorry for this. How simply terrible, yet I hope she takes some comfort from the gift of your son. I wish her every hope for the future and send her much love.

chumama said...

"...people who tried to tell L that it was "for the best." "

A dead baby is NEVER for the best. I am so sorry your sister had to experience this, and I hope she gets many opportunities to be a mother.

Anonymous said...

Wow...what a story...and the pics broke my heart!! Stillirth has been my #1 fear ever since my 1st cesarean. I was so naive with my 1st pregnancy. I didnt fear anything, not even a cesarean. None of that would happen to me, so I thought. I was blessed with a live baby, but had a cesarean, and was depressed by what had happened. With baby #2, I spent my entire pregnancy convincing myself that my daughter was going to die, whether by a unknown stillbirth or a uterine rupture. ANOTHER csection later, and this pregnancy I still have my scares, but not as bad as with my 2nd. I just wish I could fast forward it all to the birth of baby #3 and just have this baby in my arms already!

Anonymous said...

I'm so sad for her lost. I myself had a stillbirth at 24 weeks. I was going in for my monthly when my OB couldn't detect my daughter's heartbeat. I went in for an ultrasound and when the doctor turned on the sound waves, there was no heartbeat. My tears were already streaming down my face then. I have carried her for 24 weeks only in lost hope. But I have been blessed with a beautiful healthy daughter a year later so I am very grateful. I sometimes think she was my first daughter that left me because their appearance are very similar. Tell her to never lose faith in herself. What happened was not her fault and she couldn't have avoid it.