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Saturday, October 31, 2009


It has been exactly 13 weeks since Gracie left us and her body came into the world in perfect stillness and silence. One quarter of a year. In some ways it seems like just yesterday, and in other ways it seems like it is a lifetime ago. A (real life) friend who suffered a loss at 40 weeks has told me that one of the biggest steps in ‘healing’ is accepting that your baby is dead. I have accepted it. I don’t like it, but I have accepted it. The challenge now is to figure out who I am as a result of the 'event,' and as a result of the 'acceptance'. It is certain that I will never be the person I was destined to be had my first born child lived, but I’m not yet sure who I am or who I will be in a month – or even a year. Stay tuned as this particular story unfolds in the coming months. :-)

As the days keep ticking by, my overall coping fluctuates. People continue to tell us that they are amazed by how strong we are. I am amazed by the number of people who interpret our grief as strength. And in all honesty, find it mildly irritating sometimes. Strength cannot be inferred simply because we don’t walk around weeping and sobbing all day long. Truth be known, I am not that strong. Sure….some days I feel like I’m managing pretty well, but some days I feel like it’s all going to kill me. Between the emotional roller coaster that Gracie’s death and the ‘medical aftermath’ have put us on, and the stress of running a private health care practice, I spend many days feeling like I have lost complete control of my life. Add to that a few other life changes around the same time as Gracie’s death and I get the feeling of being in a constant downward spiral, completely at the mercy of everything and everyone around me 24 hours a day. It’s sometimes difficult to accept that everyone around us seems to move forward in their lives on a daily basis, while we feel like we are continually being knocked back 2 or 3 steps. I struggle to maintain my focus on important tasks, I forget everything that isn’t written down, I lose my notes and lists, I usually opt to not take any paperwork home with me at night because I know that I won’t be able to do it. I get on the computer to do one or two things, and get lost in the sea of baby loss blogs and forums – before I know it, 3 or 4 hours have gone by. (In that sea of baby loss blogs, I have been simply amazed by some of the things other women are doing to help the rest of the ‘loss community’ cope. Some of these women must surely be angels in human form, bringing a bit of light and hope to the darkest corners of the hearts of so many people. I can only hope that I will at some point be able to offer others a fraction of the comfort that some of these women have offered.)

I have always believed that everything happens for a reason, even if the reason is never clear to us. I am a spiritual person, but not an overly religious person - I believe in God and ‘associates’, but feel very strongly that I don’t need to attend church every Sunday to pay appropriate homage. All of that said, I am finding it harder and harder to maintain any kind of faith when so many bad things are happening to the good people of the world. Why does God allow such hurtful things to happen over and over to those who do good? A very wise friend, who passed far too early, lived by the philosophy of Luke 12:48 – ‘For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.’ Until two years ago I thought that it was something pretty good to live by. Now, I just don’t know. I feel like it’s becoming routine for bad things to happen to good people, while the bad people skate right thought life. Day in and day out I deal with people who don’t care about their kids, and when I think about all of the women I have met in the last 13 weeks who would give the world to have their babies back (not to mention the ones who have so much difficulty just getting pregnant), I struggle to see the justice in any of it.

I struggle to see the justice, and most days wonder where the line is between justice and purpose. Sometimes, very deep down, I wonder if Gracie’s purpose in life was to make way for her younger siblings. I spend a lot of time wondering how her life and death will change my future pregnancies and the way I approach those children as they grow. I think about the fact that, whoever our youngest living child turns out to be, they are someone that would probably not have been with us if Gracie had lived. I sometimes worry how Gracie’s life and death will affect her younger siblings. I worry about finding a balance between those children ‘knowing’ their big sister and feeling ‘overshadowed’ by her. I wonder sometimes if another purpose of Gracie’s death was to bring me together with other mothers who need help and support after similar loss. As hard as it is, I want some kind of good to come from this horrible experience. I want to do something that will make a difference to someone else walking this road.  This is one of those things that I would obviously never done if Gracie had lived.

I will always have a hole in my soul and will forever long to see and hold my baby girl again. But all things considered, I would not trade all of this pain for never having ‘experienced’ Gracie. The unconditional love that comes in finding out that you are going to bring a new life into the world cannot be rivaled – and it only grows stronger as that new life grows. It is my hope, that as I evolve into the ‘new’ me, I am able to turn the pain of this experience into the strength to help others. I expect to turn this pain into an even greater appreciation and love for the living people around me, and I expect that it will ensure that I don’t take a single day of the future for granted…

Saturday, October 17, 2009


We had a much anticipated follow-up with our midwife on October 8th. We went over the test results for the clotting disorders that I had been tested for. The good news: everything looks good. The bad news: everything looks good. The result: mixed emotions from hell. I am happy that there is no identifiable medical issue lurking under the surface, yet I had been hoping that the tests would give us some medical reasoning for the substantial degree of placental infarct that had been discovered postpartum – something that could be treated medically during future pregnancies. We discussed the implications of the ‘clean bill of health’ with Sue, and she recommended a preconceptual visit with one of the docs in the practice that handles higher risk cases. We discussed the implications of traveling to Africa to visit my sister before, during or after the next pregnancy – a conversation that seemed pretty ominous to me once we started discussing anti-malarial drugs.

Over the last week, I have had the opportunity to talk to or hear from several ladies who have had similar circumstances of placental infarct and late gestation stillbirth. Long story short, they have all tested negative for the same clotting disorders that I have tested negative for. They have all been referred to Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists. They been told by the MFM specialists that testing for clotting disorders is still in the early stages, and research is ongoing for additional tests and testing methods. They have all had Lovenox and/or baby Aspirin prescribed for subsequent pregnancies despite the absence of positive testing.

This information has created quite a storm within my brain. I firmly believe that pregnancy is typically not a medical event, and I really don’t want to turn my future pregnancies into medical events if it can be avoided. However there is a little voice in the back of my mind that constantly reminds me of something I always tell my patients: ‘If you are at all unsure about what you are getting from the doctor, it is absolutely your right and responsibility to seek out a second opinion. You are your own advocate – if you don’t make it happen for yourself, it will never happen.’ Ultimately, the big question for me is whether we should dig for more answers or just leave it alone. If there are answers out there, I certainly want to find them before we attempt another pregnancy – but I don’t know how much I want to keep digging if there is no legitimate answer to be found, simply because doing so would continue to dump salt in wounds that remain pretty raw. I am completely torn at this point.

I totally trust our midwife’s judgment, and I really have no desire to get my regular prenatal care from anyone other than her and the other midwives in our group unless it is absolutely medically necessary. I know that I need to see one of the docs in the practice at this point, and it is their responsibility to refer us for anything outside of the practice if they feel that it’s appropriate. I am, by nature, leery and skeptical of most physicians, regardless of specialty. So I am, by nature, skeptical of whether the doc would even refer us to the MFM specialist if we requested that referral during the preconceptual visit. If we cannot get the referral from the OB doc, I have an awesome primary care doc that would probably make the referral for us – but this route, theoretically, has other implications that could complicate the situation. Wish that the ‘right’ answer was easier to figure out.


On Saturday, October 10th Jeff and I were joined by our parents for our hospital’s Share and Remembrance walk.  The weather was miserable, but about 100 people turned out to remember all of the little ones gone too soon.  The morning included the walk, a balloon release, a prayer service and lunch.  In addition to our parents, we walked with our friend Debbie and her kids, who were walking in memory of baby Sophie.  Participating in the walk had some obvious emotional implications for our family, however there were some other emotional ties for me.  For over 20 years, my family has attended and participated in a 5K race in memory of my grandmother, after whom our daughter is named.  As most good things do, the race came to an end 2 years ago - but until then it had been held on Saturday morning of Columbus Day weekend.  There is much irony in my family now reserving this morning for ‘Gracie’s Walk’ instead of Grace’s Run......

On Thursday, October 15th we visited Gracie’s grave for our first look at her marker.  We had planned to take a special candle to leave with her for the evening, but we decided against this because of snow and rain.  We took pink and blue balloons – some to release and some to leave – and two small pumpkins for Halloween.  We had a previous obligation for the evening, but we took our candle with us to burn at 7pm as part of the Wave of Light.  I was in awe of how many of our friends and family also burned candles in Gracie’s honor and memory – I can only hope that they will continue to do so each year so we can keep the memory of our little peanut alive.   

A sign or just dumb luck?  When I ordered Gracie's balloons for the cemetery, I was told that with regular helium they would last about 12 hours.  When I told her that they were going to be outside, that time estimate was cut in half (due to cold air, rain and snow).  When my father went to the cemetery on Friday to pick up the wilted and withered balloons, he found them still full of life and flying high.  They flew for over 24 hours above Gracie's stone....

Monday, October 5, 2009

#09 - OCTOBER 1st 2009

It has been 2 months since Gracie came into the world in perfect stillness and silence. Two months. 9 weeks. 61 days. A lifetime. Every day is so different from the day before, yet they are all the same. I think about Gracie as soon as I wake up in the morning, she is my last thought before I go to sleep, and she consumes much of my thought process throughout the time in between.

The second month turned out to be so much harder than the first, especially the last two weeks. I have countless thoughts every day that I would never have had if Gracie had come home with us; sometimes one thought leads to another, which leads to another, which leads to another, and so on – sometimes they are completely random and disconnected, and the only common denominator is that they are all my thoughts. Some of them are completely rational, expected thoughts and feelings; others actually cause me to have feelings of guilt and shame, and make me wonder how anyone (let alone me) could think such horrible and rotten things.
I watch other people going about their normal business; I wish they knew how I was feeling, and I wonder if they have ever been in this place. I find myself staring down other women with pregnant bellies, babies or toddlers. I catch myself feeling envious of them, but them I remind myself that I have no idea what they may have experienced in the past and no idea what they may have gone through to get where they are – perhaps they have been down this same road and are finally getting their rainbow baby. I also remind myself that no one knows what terrible surprises and pain might lie ahead of them, and then pray that they are not chosen to walk the road that we are walking. I sometimes find myself overwhelmed by feelings of envy toward people I know who are still pregnant or have infants. I would never wish this on anyone, and I am so thankful that most of our friends and family have never experienced this, but I sometimes wonder ‘Why us and not someone else?’ And then I return to wondering how anyone could have such an awful thought.

In the past, I have been accused of being an angry person; those who really know me understand that I am not an angry person - just a realist with a relatively strong cynical streak. But since September 14th I have been that angry person. I knew that the anger would come and I was waiting for it…but it still managed to sneak in with no warning…..and it absolutely doesn’t suit me. I can’t stand being angry, especially since I have no legitimate target for the anger. We have been robbed of so much, and I don’t want ever want a day to go by that I don’t think about Gracie, but the unending anger makes me feel like I’m dwelling and wallowing in self-pity. I have been trying really hard to balance the angry thoughts with some positives. I try to remember that someday Jeff and I will be reunited with Gracie, and then we will be complete again. I try to remember that we can use our experience to help others get through similar loss and pain. I try to remember that, although nothing will ever replace what we have lost, happier times in our lives lie ahead.

I continue to encounter people who either don’t know what happened to Gracie, as well as those who have not yet had (or taken) the opportunity to express their condolences. Most of these people want to express their condolences on the spot, and really do mean well, but most of the time I wish they would just say ‘I’m sorry,’ and leave it at that. Anything beyond that just usually sets me off inside. I could elaborate on this, but I won’t.

I wonder every day what the last two months would have been like with Gracie. I wonder when we would really be celebrating the one or two month marks and how much she would have weighed by the time she was ready to make her grand appearance. I wonder if she felt any pain before she died. I wonder what she would have looked like with her eyes open. I think about all of the proactive things that we did during pregnancy and wonder if it really had any influence or affect on her well-being….and I sometimes wonder if anything that we did sped up or delayed the inevitable. Although the last 61 days have been some of the hardest days of my life, I have no regrets about our time with Gracie. Given the choice to do it again with the same outcome or to not do it at all, I would, unquestionably, do it again. Among so many other things, she has shown us the purest meaning of true and unconditional love, and I would not trade that for anything.


SEPTEMBER 29, 2009

I thought that I had successfully gotten through the acute grief phase. Oh, how wrong I was. Yesterday was, by far, the worst day that I have had outside of week following Gracie’s death. While traveling to my first school stop of the day, I fell apart in the car – with no obvious trigger. I never made it to the school, but instead sat in the Wegman’s parking lot and cried for an hour. I pulled myself together and saw one high school student, and then threw in the towel for the day. Every word that I uttered made me cry, as did the unspoken words. The rest of the day just wasn’t going to happen.

I returned to the solace of the recliner, and at some point started putting together a slide show of Gracie’s pictures. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, or why I had made it. Eventually, I decided to put some October 15th information with it and make it into a full-fledged You Tube video. It was absolute torture, but it helped tremendously at the same time. I can’t explain it any more than that. Today was a better day.


The day after Gracie’s funeral, we went to upstate New York for even more decompression time.  We spent a few days more or less by ourselves, with the exception of a few visits with friends who live in the nearby and a day trip to Niagara Falls.  The trip helped, but coming home felt like falling flat on my face.  We came home to more flowers, more cards, more March of Dimes donation certificates and 90% of Gracie’s things still in the living room.  Over the course of the next week, I worked on taking all of the baby clothes, with the exception of the N-3 month stuff in the dresser, to the attic.  Also carried to the attic were the pack & plays, stroller and car seat, swings, bouncy seat, high chair and toys – all still in their boxes.  Baby food that I had jumped the gun in purchasing went to our little friend Finn.  Gracie’s temporary 1st floor nursery remains intact, and will likely stay this way until we have another baby or the 2nd floor of the house is finished (I am taking bets on which happens first!)

After the dust settled from the first week, we realized that we still needed to pick a headstone for our little girl.  Again, we had no idea where to start.  We made a list of memorial distributors from the yellow pages.  It was a surprisingly ‘easy’ task, as we found something that we ‘liked’ and was suited for our little peanut at the first place we went to.  A photo will likely follow at some point once the stone has reached Gracie’s resting place. 

My sister left American soil, exactly two weeks after Gracie’s funeral, headed to Namibia (Africa) for a 27 month assignment with the Peace Corps.  This is something that I will likely touch on in later posts, but suffice it to say that her departure dumped lots of salt in my already raw and gaping wounds. 

We both returned to work a few weeks later.  It was rough.  We had spent the previous weeks basically avoiding people and unwanted conversation, and now there was no more hiding or avoiding.  Most of my patients were aware that we had lost Gracie, so I primarily encountered the ‘What happened?’ and ‘Why?’ questions.  Once school started, things were different.  Many people knew what had happened, but many others did not.  I eventually lost count of the people who noted that I was obviously no longer pregnant and asked how the baby was.  Jeff encountered a lot of this as well.  Eventually you just press play and allow them to listen to the pre-recorded information and it phases you a little less each time. 

We had a follow-up with our midwife on August 20th.  Essentially, the labs that were drawn before I left the hospital all came back unremarkable with regard to finding a cause for Gracie’s demise.  We were surprised to learn, however, that my placenta was found to be 25-30% infarcted.  Generally speaking, anything over 5% is abnormal.  I left the appointment with another lab slip for more blood work, which will determine whether or not I have an underlying clotting disorder.  I will have these tests drawn during the week of September 14th and then follow-up with Susan again on October 8th.  Until then, we wait.  

September 21st we attended a support group meeting.  There was a couple there who lost their daughter at 35 weeks, and it was really good to talk with them.  I felt pretty good after leaving the group meeting, but then crashed pretty hard when we got home.  They say that the higher you go, the harder you fall.  Truer words were never spoken.  We plan to attend the support meetings for a while - I think that they will help us both.   

In one of my previous posts I referenced that I had slept all night the night Gracie died, with one exception.  I have not yet gone back to touch on that exception, so I will do so now.  At 0130 that night, I sat straight up out of a sound sleep due to what I believed was more gall bladder pain.  As quickly as that pain set it, it was gone - literally less than 1 minute.  I was grateful at the time that it was not going to keep me up for hours, as it had in preceding nights, and I went back to sleep very quickly.  I am now convinced that that is the moment Gracie died.  Strange as it may sound, for me there is now no other plausible explanation. 

Go here to read the prevailing theory about Gracie's cause of death.  It's in the third paragraph)

Sunday, October 4, 2009


The days between our visit with the funeral director and the committal service are kind of a blur to me. I know that we did a lot of crying and said over and over that we didn’t want Wednesday to come. We made a lot of phone calls and sent a lot of emails. Gracie was born in the early morning hours on Saturday, and the sympathy cards started flooding the mailbox on Monday morning. Flowers started arriving shortly thereafter. Wednesday morning arrived so quickly, and the drive to Eagles Mere was the longest drive ever. The day was beautiful, with a clear blue sky and warm sunshine. We went to my father’s for about 45 minutes before going to the cemetery – a pretty lousy avoidance tactic. While we waited and stalled, we sent my father and aunt to the cemetery with our camera and floral arrangements that were delivered our house. Just like the photos after she was born, we knew that we would be sorry in the long run if we did not have a photographic reminder of her last day with us. We waited until the last possible minute to go to the cemetery, and I was stunned by the number of people waiting for us when we got there. There were 35-40 people there, and another 20-25 arrived shortly after we did…60 people in all. All for our little peanut.

Before the service started, we visited briefly with everyone and exchanged many hugs. After much delay, Jeff and I took our seats in front of Gracie’s little casket, and the services began. I have been told that Becky’s words were soothing and moving; I heard her voice, but I did not hear or absorb one word that she said. My brain was busy processing the preceding 5 days and trying to figure out how in the world we went from ‘4 weeks to go’ to buying an infant. After the service, we visited with a few people who had arrived after we took our seats, and of course shared more hugs. Our friend Debbie and her daughter Rylie brought balloons to release for the babies. This was such a simple, but meaningful gesture, and it did so much to bring me up on such a sad day. They also brought a rose that we left with Gracie for a little bit, but ultimately brought home to dry and keep with her other mementos. After everyone cleared out of the cemetery, my father, Jeff’s father and a family friend stayed behind to finish the burial process. My father had dug Gracie’s grave by hand, and insisted that this was all part of his healing process. I found out on the way home that afternoon that he had taken his shirt off and laid it across her casket before any dirt was filled in.

We had planned ahead of time to invite those who attended back to my father’s house for lunch. Before diving into another round of hugs and condolences we went for a drive around the lake to decompress. The day was so beautiful and the lake was so peaceful and calm that it was hard to return to reality. But, to reality we returned. The afternoon was better than the morning – food (even though we weren’t terribly hungry), friends, family and love. We were so thankful for the support of all who joined us to say goodbye to Gracie, especially those who traveled several hours from other states. We could not have done it without you. We love you all.

After leaving my father’s we returned to the cemetery for a little more decompression. We stopped to visit Jeff’s grandmother, who was unable to attend the service and then headed home. God’s comic relief for the day was providing us with a flat tire on the way home. 

Go here to read about the days and weeks after Gracie's funeral.

#05 - THE END

Pushing with the epidural was interesting – lots of women do it every day, but i didn't like it at all. Most of the time I couldn’t really tell if I was pushing or not. Jeff and my sister stayed by my side for every minute. I pushed for about an hour and 15 minutes, and Gracie was born at 2:29 a.m. Even though I knew that it wasn’t going to happen, I wanted so badly to hear someone say that she was breathing. As soon as she was delivered, I started to sob. Our pregnancy was over. There was no baby left in my belly. There was no baby to take home. This was not how it was supposed to be.

Gracie was taken to the warming table and cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket. She weighed 4 pounds, 3 ounces and was 17 inches long. After I delivered the placenta, she was brought over to us. There are no other words to describe her other than beautiful and peaceful. She had my nose and her daddy's little chin dimple. My sister went to the waiting room to sit with our parents while Jeff and I spent some time alone with Gracie. Our parents came in around 03:00 to meet and hold her. After they left, Jeff and I had more time alone with her. We cried, took some pictures, cried some more and just looked at her. One of the nurses came in to bathe her. During this time she was also baptized and footprints were done. I had mentioned to Jeff earlier that I wanted to also get handprints; we both forgot to ask about handprints, and I am so disappointed about this. Around 05:30 Jeff and Gracie went to the nursery for Gracie’s ‘professional’ nursery photo. He said that the nurses worked so hard to get the best picture that they could get for us; I think they did a really good job. While he was gone, Susan came in to talk to me; I can still see our conversation in my mind, but I have no idea what we talked about. After the nursery photo session, we spent another hour with Gracie. She was starting to get cold and show some discoloration, so we decided that it was time to send her to the morgue. I had a really hard time with this and sobbed harder and more uncontrollably than I had in preceding 18 hours. Sending our baby away was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. After the nurses took her, someone else came in and did some paperwork with us and got us ready to move out of the L&D wing to a regular room in The Family Place.

We moved out to the other wing around 07:30. Our room was as far from the families with live babies as they could put us. They brought in a cot for Jeff; I think this was his favorite part of our stay. The cot mattress was in a loud plastic protective cover and the whole thing sagged terribly in the middle. He looked and sounded like he was sleeping in a bird nest lined with dried leaves. The cot definitely provided a little bit of much needed comic relief and gave us a few much needed laughs. We were so exhausted that we slept for a few hours and woke up just before his brother, sister-in-law and nephews arrived to visit. They wanted to meet Gracie, so we had her brought up from the morgue. Having her brought back to us was almost as hard as sending her away a few hours earlier. I wasn’t able to bring myself to hold her, because I was so afraid of sending her away again. Just seeing her was hard enough, I didn’t want to go through what I had felt the first time. I sometimes struggle with this, and wish that I had decided differently about holding her one last time.

After our visitors left, Susan came in to tell me that since my blood pressure had returned to normal with one dose of medication (it was pretty elevated during the laboring process), I was welcome to go home that afternoon or I could stay overnight if I wanted. There was no need for me to stay there, so I jumped at the chance to go home. I figured that if we were going to get any rest at all, it would be better done at home. It was a few more hours until we left; my sister had left her laptop for us to use, so we took some time and sent emails to a few people and found that we already had a slew of condolence messages on Facebook. We got home around 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 1st – just about 30 hours after we had left for the OB office.

I don’t remember much about the rest of Saturday, other than the fact that I slept surprisingly well overnight. When we got up on Sunday morning, we didn’t really know what to do. We had an appointment at the funeral home in the afternoon, but we didn’t know what we were supposed to do in the meantime. After I got a shower, we decided to go to the grocery store and get some cabbage, since I would need the leaves in the following days. We then made our way to the funeral home. We were dreading the visit to the funeral home, but it was surprisingly much easier than we had anticipated. We worked with the owner, and he was quite accommodating. We had already decided that Gracie would be laid to rest next to my grandmother (whom she was named after) in Eagles Mere, but we hadn’t made any other decisions. We got the rest of the details sorted out and decided that Gracie’s committal service would be on Wednesday, August 5th. We had less than 72 hours to prepare ourselves emotionally to bury our daughter.

To read about Gracie's funeral, click here.  


We sat in the waiting area outside The Family Place for about 30 minutes. We cried some more while we sat in that waiting room. We called our fathers to share the news, and made a few other necessary phone calls. When we finally went in around 1:00, it took everything I had to walk through the doors, because doing so took us one step closer to the end. I was quickly shuffled to the scale (I had lost another pound since the week before) and then shuffled into room #3, where we had been for both of our previous visits to L&D. I was somewhat disappointed to be in this room, as it has no windows, but found out later that they use it for ‘loss’ deliveries in an attempt to provide a calm environment without a lot unnecessary stimulation or distraction. While we were waiting for our midwife to come in, the nursing staff tried to start my I.V. but my veins uncharacteristically uncooperative. Someone from the I.V. team came in and had just as much trouble. It was almost 3:00 before I had a good I.V. established; between that process and having labs drawn, I had been stuck 7 times. :-( I made contact with a friend of ours who had experienced a stillbirth almost 3 years ago. Talking to her early in the very early hours of this process was one of the best things I could have done, and I will be eternally grateful for the continued support that she has offered us from the very beginning.

Susan came in around 2:00 to check my cervix – 2 cm dilated and about 70% effaced. She asked what our thoughts were for induction. Our original plan had been a natural, unmedicated birthing process, but the fact that we were no longer dealing with a live birth changed things substantially. Jeff and I had discussed induction options before she came in, and we had pretty much decided on Pitocin and an epidural if I wanted it for pain. She agreed that, given the current circumstances, this was probably the best option. The Pitocin was started around 3:00p.m. and increased every 30 to 60 minutes. The next several hours were pretty surreal. We had switched into ‘business’ mode and there was very little crying. We discussed Gracie’s long term arrangements and realized that we were clueless about what we needed to do and that we were not financially prepared to bury anyone. About half an hour later our nurse brought us a packet of information about dealing with grief and baby death, as well as some information for two area funeral homes that offer low-cost or no-cost stillborn and infant services, and told us that they could take care of whatever phone calls were necessary to get things started. Shortly after this I got pretty antsy for about an hour. I’m guessing that this was the fast-forward version of my pusty-putsy phase since I got up and started tidying my belongings.

My sister arrived from Baltimore around 5:00. When I had called her earlier, I was doing so to fill her in; I hadn’t really expected her to make the trip to the hospital for a stillbirth, but I am so glad she did. It provided an inexplicable sense of relief. We continued to increase the Pitocin over the next several hours, and overall things were pretty uneventful. The Pitocin was definitely working; my contractions were getting steadily stronger, but they weren’t terribly uncomfortable. I had more pain from the gall bladder than I did from the contractions. Some time between 8:30 and 9:00 Susan came back in to check my cervix – about 5 cm. dilated. I asked about pain relief for the gall bladder pain. She offered up some morphine, and I happily accepted. Life was good for about an hour after I got the morphine, then things started to pick up again. My contractions were much stronger than they had been pre-Morphine – lasting 2-4 minutes, with generally only 10-20 seconds between the end of one and the beginning of the next. I spent about an hour laboring in the bathtub, during which time I got a second dose of morphine and the Pitocin was turned off, as the constant and stabbing nature of the contractions was becoming overwhelming and exhausting. Around 1130 p.m. I got an epidural (somewhere between 8 and 9 cm.). The next hour was pretty uneventful, and then I started to feel quite a bit of pelvic pressure. Susan checked me around 1:00 a.m. and told me that it was time to push. Susan left to get some supplies, and Jeff went out to call our parents. The pushing process stared around 1:15 a.m.

Click here to read about the moment that we met our daughter, as well as the hours that followed.