On November 1, 2012 Ish and I found out we were expecting another child. Because we had lost our last child, Sam, to a miscarriage, our great excitement for this pregnancy was clouded by great trepidation.
On December 28th at 12 weeks 3 days pregnant, I had my 2nd prenatal appointment. I was a bundle of nerves and excitement and the appointment was going swimmingly until the end when it came time to listen to the baby’s heartbeat with the Doppler. Sarah Grace, the midwife I was seeing that morning, got out the Doppler and started to feel around for the heartbeat and wasn’t finding anything. She then went to get a higher frequency Doppler and still no luck. At this point I was getting nervous, but she sent me to empty my bladder thinking this might make the baby easier to find. When she still wasn’t finding a heartbeat she called in Kathleen, another on of the Birth Center midwives, to see if she could find it. Both were reassuring that it might not be anything to worry about, but I was becoming a wreck. At this point Sarah Grace called Ish back to explain what was going on and that I needed to go over to the hospital for an ultrasound.
As we walked to the hospital I was nervous but holding out hope that things would be just fine. After the rigmarole of needing to register with the hospital and trying to keep the kids calm in the waiting room, it was my turn. The ultrasound tech very quickly introduced herself and then let me know that because of hospital policy she would not be able to give me any of the information gleaned from the scan. I then had the shortest ultrasound of my life. It couldn’t have lasted more than 2 minutes. In my heart I knew that this wasn’t good news, but I still prayed that it’d all be okay. After waiting for the doctor to read the ultrasound, I was told that I should go back to The Birth Center to get the results. My heart sank a little further but still I held out hope.
Upon arriving back at The Birth Center, Sarah Grace had me go back to the exam room while Ish stayed with the kids. Looking back, I wish she had called both of us back because it was then that she let me know that our dear sweet baby had died in utero. The pain and horror of hearing that I had lost yet another baby was almost too much to bear. I began to cry. To wail. To keen. After a few moments I asked Sarah Grace to go get Ish. After she broke the news to him, Ish and I just held each other and cried. Sarah Grace explained to us what our next steps were. She told me I had the option of waiting to miscarry naturally at home (within medically safe time limits) or I could consult with an OB and have a D&C performed. She made it very clear that no immediate decision was necessary and that we should wait until the initial shock had worn off. Once we had that basic information, Ish and I were given time alone to cry and then pull ourselves together a bit before heading home.
The next few days were a blur as Ish and I started to adjust to the fact that the baby I was carrying inside me had died. Although my gut reaction was to have a D&C to get it all over with as quickly as possible, a few days of contemplation made it clear that it would be best for me to wait and miscarry naturally at home. As I waited to actually miscarry, Ish and I talked and grieved with both family and friends. I spent time reading about miscarriage, talking with the midwives and my doula in an attempt to prepare for what was coming. We had a good friend offer to research what our options were as Catholics for burying and commemorating our baby. The information he provided us with combined with information provided in the book After Miscarriage: A Catholic Woman's Companion to Healing and Hope by Karen Edmisten affirmed our decision for me to miscarry at home.
When I woke up on January 7th, 2013, I had started to bleed and have what felt like early labor contractions. I knew that this would be the beginning of my miscarriage. Ish called his mother and we made plans with her to pick up the kids. After we had our plans set, Ish left for work. I would call him if and when things got more intense. Soon after Ish left for work, his mother arrived to take the kids and she surprised me by bringing me soup and other food to keep me going through out the day.
As the day progressed, my contractions got closer together, but things weren’t particularly intense. On the way home from work, Ish picked the kids up from his mother’s home. Ish and I kept our evening routine as normal as possible. Dinner, play, and bedtime seemed so mundane yet comforting as we waited for things to really get going. After the kids went to bed, we decided that I should try to head to bed and get as much sleep as I could. It turns out as much sleep as I could meant no sleep at all. I tossed and turned for about 30 minutes. All the while, my contractions got longer, stronger, and closer together. At about 9:45PM, Ish joined me as I began to fully enter into active labor. He coached me, kept me hydrated, and provided me with massage and counter-pressure. Around 10:55PM something happened that is very rare in 1st trimester miscarriages—my water broke. I sent Ish for towels and after we had me dried off a bit we made our way upstairs to the bathroom. As soon as I sat on the toilet, our baby began to crown. Ish grabbed the kerchief we had set aside for this moment. With a barely noticeable push, our precious baby was in our hands.
What took place in this moment is something I can truly call the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed. At 11PM on January 7th 2013, Oliver Innocent came into the world without breath or heartbeat. Our baby boy had arrived perfectly intact with barely a drop of blood on him. We could count his fingers and toes. We could tell that, had he lived, he would have had the nose that is characteristic of Ish’s family. I am so thankful for the time in which we were able to see, love, and hold him. The days that have followed have been difficult, but the outpouring of love we have received from friends and family has been nothing short of amazing.
“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I go back there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD!”