Monday, February 7, 2011

The Story of Lil' Bean

Happy Monday!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.  We at the Smith house sure had a busy weekend.  First off, we traded in Owen's H3 for a more environmentally-friendly Honda Accord on Saturday.  Our car payment is about the same per month, our insurance is dropping by $10 per month, and we will be saving loads on gas.  It just seemed like the right decision to make.  The Accord has room for another car seat (since we hope we'll be needing one by the end of the year) and will hold all of us comfortably even for a road trip.  We watched the Super Bowl last night - Go Packers, by the way :)  We had dinner with our friends the Kempers on Saturday night, which was lots of fun.  But one of the highlights of my weekend was attending The Gathering To Remember Luncheon hosted by CrossHeart Ministries on Saturday.  It was nice to see my fellow BLMs (Baby Loss Mommies), talk with them and get to know them more, and have a good lunch.  We were also treated to a slide show with the names of our sweet angel babies as well as a keepsake to take home.  The guest speaker was unable to make it to Memphis because of weather so the founder of CrossHeart, Robin Cross, talked with us a bit about how CrossHeart Ministries came to be - the story of her sweet son John David, who was born premature and lived for 10 hours before he passed away.  I've read her story several times but it always touches me to hear it come directly from her.  She encouraged us to tell the story of our angel babies, so I thought...what a good topic for Monday's blog. 

So here is the story of our first angel baby, Lil' Bean.  I submitted this story to Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope back in September and was so happy to see it published on their website.  I am bringing it to my blog today in a more lengthened form (click here to see the original posting).  DISCLAIMER - this post contains many of the unpleasant details of my miscarriage that might be considered TMI to some readers.

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Owen and I found out we were pregnant with our second child on July 24, 2010. We had only recently decided to make Samantha a big sister; I was ecstatic that we were able to get pregnant so soon. I had no complications whatsoever in my first pregnancy so of course we assumed we would be in for this same this time around. If only we knew then that it would be anything BUT.

It was late on August 7th when I was preparing to go to bed and noticed I was bleeding. Very lightly, but still, bleeding. I went and told Owen and we decided given the late hour, I would call the on call doctor in the morning if I was still bleeding. When I woke up the next morning the bleeding had gotten heavier, so I spoke with the on call doctor who advised me to rest and see him the next morning.  Monday, August 9th we went into the doctor. The bleeding had increased again but still not very heavy. The doctor ordered an ultrasound and I was thrilled to see my Lil' Bean, heartbeat and all. I immediately felt so silly for being so worried that something was going wrong. He put me on pelvic rest and told me to come back in a week, and to call if anything changed.

That night I noticed the bleeding was starting to get heavier, I was experiencing some cramping as well now. But all along I stayed calm because I had seen my baby and knew everything was ok. I decided to try to go to work the next day, but when I woke up the bleeding had gotten MUCH heavier. I still decided to go on to work and dropped Samantha off at daycare. We had just started to tell people about the baby a few days earlier, so I allowed Sam to wear her new t-shirt we had bought for her, it has a picture of a monkey and reads "This Little Monkey is going to be a Big Sister!" She was so excited about it. I just said a quick prayer that the t-shirt wasn't lying.

Every trip to the bathroom that morning worried me more and more; the bleeding was getting heavier and heavier and I had started to notice clots. I immediately put a call back into my doctor. The nurse called me back within 30 minutes and asked me how quickly I could get to their office...I called my husband and had him meet me there. I was a wreck. All my co-workers stared at me wondering why I was crying so uncontrollably (at this point most of them did not know I was pregnant, but my boss did and was so incredibly understanding).

At the doctor he did a pelvic exam and I'll never forget what came out of his mouth: "There's a LOT of blood here." I could not stop crying. He said my cervix was slightly opened and he wanted another ultrasound; this time I had to be sent to the hospital. After getting there and going through all the paperwork I finally got my ultrasound and was relieved to see my lil' bean again, and heard a heartbeat.

I figured something else might be going on but at least the baby was ok. The ultrasound tech came back after showing my films to the radiologist and told me my doctor was on the phone and wanted to speak with me. His words were: "Kristen, I'm really sorry and hate to do this over the phone, but you're going to miscarry. The baby has no heartbeat." WHAT? No heartbeat?? But I just heard it 10 minutes ago....how could this be happening????? He told me to come to his office in the morning and they would set me up for a d&c the next day. When Owen and I got back to the car I broke down crying in his arms and didn't stop for most of the night.

I felt numb. I had heard my baby's heartbeat; what happened? Late that night as I was preparing to go to bed I experienced a lot of cramping and lower back pain, then felt something, so I rushed to the bathroom and found I had just passed what I thought was my baby.  I was scared, confused, and didn't understand what was going on.  Why was this happening? I had heard the heartbeat just hours earlier and now I had my baby in my hands...
 
The next morning we dropped Samantha off at daycare and headed to the doctor's office.  I had followed their instructions from the day before:  nothing to eat or drink after midnight.  No make-up or contact lenses.  Dress in comfortable clothing...yada yada yada.  We met with the doctor first and he asked how I was feeling; I told him that the cramping had subsided some as was the bleeding, and that I thought I might have passed my baby the night before.  He told me that that was quite possible but that they would still do the d&c to make sure all the tissue was gone so I would not develop an infection.  We were sent home to wait until time to report to East Memphis Surgery Center.
 
The wait was agony.  When we got home, I immediately went back to the trash can and found the tissue that I had put the baby in and pulled it out.  I just couldn't bear the thought of my baby being in the trash can.  My sister came over to check on me and she helped me put the baby in a plastic bag to keep; Owen decided at that point that that he wanted to make a box for us to put the baby in, and I really liked that idea.
 
We had to be at the surgery center at 1pm.  I got there and was taken back almost immediately to be prepped for surgery.  They ask you your history, get your blood pressure, temperature, and weight.  You put on the surgical gown, hat, and no-slip socks and then they take you to pre-op where they start your IVs.  The anesthesiologist came by to talk to me and asked me some more questions.  My doctor came in, in his scrubs, and told me we'd be going back shortly and that it would be a very quick procedure.  I was still very nervous about being put under general anesthesia so I was glad they let Owen back in pre-op with me.  A few minutes later, however, an administrative nurse came over to ask where I had had my ultrasound the day before because they had to have a copy of the report before they could proceed (East Memphis Surgery Center is affiliated with Baptist Hospitals Memphis and they will not perform a d&c unless you've had an ultrasound to confirm a miscarriage - aka, an ultrasound that showed no fetal heartbeat at a certain age of gestation).  My doctor had not even received the official report so his office did not fax that over, so the surgery center contacted the hospital to get the ultrasound report.  I heard some bustling going about and a few minutes later my doctor returned to tell me that the procedure had to be postponed, as the official report from the ultrasound read that a faint heartbeat was detected. 
 
WHAT???????
 
My IVs were removed, I was given back my clothes, and instructed to go home.  My doctor told me to make an appointment at his office first thing Friday morning and they would repeat the ultrasound.  WHY did I have to wait until Friday???  I don't guess I will ever fully know.  But we left the surgery center that afternoon thinking that there might be some small chance that the plastic bag at our house did NOT contain our sweet lil' bean.
 
Owen went to work on Thursday so I was stuck at home.  By myself.  ALL DAY.  I cannot even begin to tell you the emotions I went through that day.  I'd go from feeling down in the depths of despair to being certain my baby was still clinging to life inside me.  It was an absolutely horrible day.  We had neighbors bring food and my bestie Lori brought me a whole box of GiGi's cupcakes.  I spent a lot of the day reading on miscarriage websites and forums about other moms' experiences.  I would say I probably went back to that plastic bag at least every other hour, looking at it and trying to decide if this really was my baby or not.
 
Friday morning we returned to the doctor and found ourselves yet again back in the ultrasound suite.  This time, the ultrasound tech just lowered her head and said, "I'm really sorry, but the baby is not here."  She asked me if I wanted to see, but I told her no; all I would have seen was a black screen anyways, and at that point I knew that our baby was at our house.  Surprisingly, I didn't shed that many tears as we went back downstairs to reschedule the d&c.  I guess I felt comfort in knowing that my body took care of my baby in the natural way that it was meant to.

I finally had my d&c a few hours later. My doctor explained that the heartbeat they had heard on the ultrasound was very weak (when I saw the report it had said around 70 bpm - and those of you that have had a baby know that it's usually double that) and that my baby probably passed away shortly thereafter. We will never know what happened. Owen did build a box for Lil' Bean to be laid to rest in, and as strange as it sounds, I have found that very comforting.

Lil' Bean was due March 30, 2011.