I typed this (the following story) shortly after the death of our little girl, who was 15 weeks old. She died on May 23, 2008.
Now I am releasing the story, on the 6 month anniversary of her death. A short 6 month update (including her name) is found at the bottom of this story.
I should WARN PEOPLE that this story contains DETAILS of womanly parts/etc (not sure how to word that) that some may consider TOO MUCH INFORMATION. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK. PEACE.
I thought some of you may like to know the full story of what happened with our miscarriage. Since I am getting tired of telling it over the phone I thought I'd type it out so there is a starting point from which to talk if we do.
Sarah (my four year old daughter) and I had a big day on Friday. We had been trying to go the Strong Start program at the elementary school and Sarah was very much looking forward to trying out the water and sand stations. We got there and there was a sign on the door that said there was a field trip to Swan Lake, a local lake in our area. So we decided we'd try and join the group. I saw a sign that said 50 meters (or 100m?) to Swan Lake Bird Sanctuary. It had arrows pointed in two directions and I thought it must be a loop trail. Well, we walked down a straightish gravel path for 30 minutes! We had brought no snacks, only water, because the sign at the school said they would provide snacks, but to please bring water. We ended up at a view of the Mill and I knew we were in the wrong place. We had another 1/2 hour ahead of us and Sarah and I were pooping out and hungry. We had made it thus far with her walking on her own and us singing and making up interesting animals (make-believe) to keep our minds off the long walk. I ended up piggy-backing her part way back and then we found the real trail and the kids. We arrived just as the group was packing to leave. We had a little time in the bird blind with binoculars. We also got a ride back to close to our car in the back of the truck. We went out for Quiznos - had a wonderful time. I was enjoying looking beautiful in my maternity clothes and ever showing tummy. Sarah counted (1, 2 - me and baby and 3, her) when we were in the line. Also went to the library and then home. So, that was Friday.
The day before, Thursday, we had spent relaxing, cleaning and taking a walk to the swings. We had a later supper of veggie soup I made but Sarah didn't prefer. That evening I helped Andy in the garden after S. was in bed. We planted squash and then moved the greenhouse covers over them. I was exhausted that evening.
The previous day, Wednesday, was a trip to Kelowna to the midwife. I was still a little nauseous from my Monday sickness where I threw up 2 or 3 times (was the frozen OJ concentrate to blame for food poisoning? I had forgot it in the warm trunk and made it anyway). At the midwife's we heard the baby's heartbeat right away. Elizabeth, the midwife, thought I had a yeast infection so I took some Canestan cream Wed. and Thurs. nights. On Thursday my labia felt bruised, sore, not just itchy. I thought my body didn't like the cream. On Fri. and Thurs. I noticed more discharge and Fri. it was tinged with blood.
After coming home from town on Friday I laid down for a couple hours - very tired. Then started having pain in my lower back and abdominal area around 3 pm. This increased to cramps that would range from every 5 min. to every 2 min. and they wouldn't last very long - 20 seconds sometimes. A call to the nurse line and the midwife and they suggested getting a vaginal swab soon to see if I had an infection. I called when I had mild pain.
Then I called my midwife later because the cramps were getting worse. She said to take 2 extra strength Tylenol and take a bath and tea and go to bed. I did all that. The water was nice relief from the cramps, but the pills didn't do anything.
We actually didn't have any pain pills that were not expired but Andy found some at camp. The cramps/contractions continued every few minutes. Sarah had been put to bed by her Dad at her normal time or a bit later and by this time Andy was in bed too. Sarah was still sleeping in our big closet and was 6 feet away from me and Andy beside me. Through each contraction I breathed and tried to relax and be quiet for my sleeping family. I was feeling kind of weak and I think that was from not eating since dinner and at 11:45pm I remember kind of thinking that I couldn't go on and was really needing some relief. I felt I heard God say it would be over near/at midnight. At 11:50 pm I felt a ‘pop’ in my vagina - something lowering, and then went into the bathroom because I had the urge to pee. As I was just squatting my waters broke and the baby came out. A big splash happened and I called for Andy right away and was noticing the baby was still attached to me (of course). The splash had woken A. up. I had A. bring me the phone and I called the midwife and she told me what to do - to cut the cord near the baby and to try and gently grab what placenta I could. I remember saying to the midwife on the phone that the baby was beautiful and fully formed. Little arms resting on the chest, the legs folded how they are supposed to be. I could see the heart beating through the skin. I had called for the camera too, as I quickly called my Mom to update her. As I adjusted the little leg to get a picture of the toes the baby flinched. He/she was still alive and I was probably cold.
I tried to savor a few moments with the baby and sang something about, "You are with Jesus now." I just kept bleeding and every time I thought I was ready to go to the car I needed to put more padding (cloth square diapers) in. I ended up wearing a pair of old boxers of Andy's with a diaper stuffed in and I tied a yard bag around myself. My jogging pants went over top. I was getting really faint at this time and I had thought originally that I would clean the bathroom before we went because Andy couldn't look at anything he said. No, I was too faint to clean (of course) so we just went. I got myself to the car and shortly after Sarah and Andy came. We didn't tell S. yet...just that Mommy was sick. I was sick when she went to bed too...Andy had put her to bed.
Sarah was a trooper again - upbeat and caring, looking for deer and rocks on the road. I used a wheelchair (A. pushing) to get to the building and felt very faint...like I might die, actually. I had my head hanging between my legs, with the container with the baby on my lap, in a bag. I remember one nurse came to hold the door or just be available and she had her hand over her mouth as we came in. We had called ahead and they said I'd probably go to Penticton. Andy had packed a bag quickly for me - Bible, socks, shirts, extra underwear, and my book I requested.
At the Princeton hospital they did vitals, put an IV in (blood pressure was low) and also checked my vagina. When they checked me vaginally, the blood was fused to hairs and the cloth I had on. Our drive to hospital had been at least 20 minutes. They soaked my vaginal area and the clothes with saline water and it came off easier soon.
When the doctor came they wheeled me to a room with the big light and he got out more placenta...the size of my hand. While I waited in the emergency room, I had still been bleeding - a gush every once in a while. His action of taking the placenta out was quite painful. There were no stirrups on the bed so the nurse held my legs. I talked to her and let her know when I was in pain, via groaning. I talked about how being here reminds me of my grandma because she's been in the hospital lots. I had to use a bed pan a few times which reminded me of her also. So did the nurses trying to find a vein for the IV but not having much success at the beginning (ouch). They called a laboratory worker in to do blood work (getting ready for possible transfusion) also and another IV was put in. This IV was a bigger one, and the doctor froze the site of it’s injection before putting it in. After the placenta was out my bleeding slowed considerably. I was ready for an ambulance ride to Penticton (no lights). It was a pretty relaxing trip and a little cold sometimes. The attendant helped me with lip gloss and heat adjustments and we visited some and I rested some. I remember having a smile on my face as I reflected on my little baby I had just seen...so intricate and amazing and peaceful looking. At 5:45 am we arrived at the ER in Penticton. I remember being wheeled, on the stretcher, through the cool morning air, trying to savor that, because I knew I’d be inside for a while. Once in the ER, I did a lot of waiting and this brought time for reflecting and crying. They left the light off, mostly, so I could relax. My 1st nurse was pregnant so that was weird. Anyway, more blood work, bed pan time (handy things), and way later then, they brought me a commode chair and some towels and water and I got to clean myself. It took at least 20 min. because there was so much blood dried on to my pubic hairs. That end result felt so good. The specialist - gynecologist - that I had I actually knew. I had seen her last summer about fertility issues - wanting to have another child and me not having my period back. She had recommended weaning to start. I had weaned Sarah by Christmas. In January I got my period and Feb. we conceived. I had been planning on writing her a letter to tell her this but I told her face to face, there at the hospital ER. She is a very outgoing, friendly, positive person and I am thankful she was caring for me.
Then someone needed my room so I was moved to the 'cast room'. Now I was waiting for the ultrasound to check for leftover pieces of placenta. The girl next to me was 22 years old and it sounded like she had had an abortion a bit ago and was having complications now. She heard my whole conversation with A. on the portable phone about our baby and what Andy told Sarah etc. This was the first time I spoke with Andy since saying bye at the Princeton hospital. Sarah and Andy had said bye back there at the Princeton hospital...she in his arms. Wow. Back to the present. Around 1:30 pm I was taken up for ultrasound by a kind young married fellow whose wife he said he'd practiced on. He had waited to do the ultrasound because he wanted to confer with the radiologist because he was kind of new at doing ultrasounds. Sounded good I thought. They found a 2 by 2 cm 'something' (blood clot or placenta piece). I was returned to the 'cast room' to wait and I remember that my bed was not pushed far enough into the wall to press my nurse call button. I was hot and my two bags were resting in bed with me. I also had to go to the bathroom. I am good at holding it but it was weird, not being able to call for anyone. The thought did cross my mind that I could call through the curtain to Ashley (the 22 yr. old) and she could use her call button on behalf of me. Eventually a nurse came in and I asked about having help to the bathroom. I went and that was the first time since the whole event that I went in a real toilet. I had help walking on the way in case I got faint. Later Karla, the gynecologist, came in and I was given the option to have a d and c (scrape the inner lining of the uterus with a spoon type thing - a surgery) or have some pills to stimulate my uterus to contract and get out the rest of placenta/blood clot that way. I took the pill option and was admitted to the hospital. The pills were inserted rectally. I asked my nurse if I could have something to eat. Yes. Would you like pb and jam toast? Yes, that would be great. (I was so excited). So I had that with citrus juice (first drink and food since the dinner the night before) and then they put on a liquid diet just in case they needed to do the d & C after all. So, I took note of everything that came out of me when I went to the bathroom - clots - the nurses had me pee in a upside down hat type thing that rested on the toilet. They wanted to be able to see if anything of significance came. On Sun. morning around 10 am, Karla told me that since my bleeding had slowed and some clots came out I could go home. She prescribed some iron for me and I called Andy right away. I had to leave a message and he and Sarah made it there by 2 pm. They worked on moving the chickens from our laundry room out to the barn because they were ready and the stink was getting bad. I remember asking my nurse if I'd get a meal (I meant solid food) and the nurse said,
‘oh yes, till you're discharged, you'll be on the meal plan.' But, sure enough, at lunch I had delivered a liquid lunch. I had helped myself to another pb/jam sandwich and apple and juice from the self-serve gallery (whole wheat bread, spreads, fruit and juice available there for patients) when I got the news I was not having the surgery. But I knew I'd still be hungry at lunch. So after my lunch was delivered I went back to the gallery for some bread to dip in my soup. My nurse was there and she asked if I got my lunch - 'yes, but it's all liquid.' She told me there were some extra trays here and I could help myself to anything I wanted. Wonderful. I grabbed a bowl of fresh raspberries, a tuna sandwich!, and a banana. The fruit went great in my non-dairy vanilla pudding and the tuna sandwich paired up with my 'creamy' broccoli soup for a good lunch to leave the hospital on.
Sarah and Andy stayed at home during my hospital stay and I would phone every once in a while. I was hooked up to an IV until a few hours before my discharge (that was lovely, being disconnected!) so I'd wheel it along wherever I went and if I was unplugged from the wall too long it'd make this ear piercing beep. I was so surprised I slept during my one night there, but I did. I had missed one full night of sleep with the miscarriage and hospital time etc., so I guess I was really ready for night. They turned all the hall lights off and everything. I had a hallway view room. It was odd not seeing outside unless I went for a walk. I was noticing new born babies being wheeled up and down the hallway and also seeing visitors to the new moms and babes. I wasn't jealous but genuinely happy for them and noticed how BIG there babies were. I enjoyed seeing a dad, a girl a year younger then Sarah, a new baby and a Mom leave the hospital too.
Just before 2 pm I was resting in bed and I heard Andy ask for me at the nurse station, which I was close to. That was a wonderful sound. So, up they come walking and Sarah gets a little distressed look in her face when she realizes she forgot the picture she drew for me in the car. It's ok. We all hug and I say I have a few things for Sarah. I knew I couldn't get down to the gift shop with my energy and IV and not knowing how to get back, so I made a paper bag cat puppet with some crayons I found in the TV room. Also, I drew a picture for her on the slip of paper that listed you got for your meal. I also had saved a cranberry juice and she enjoyed drinking it with a straw. Andy had brought a few things for me and I enjoyed getting changed into my own clothes, underwear, and brushing and flossing my teeth. They only had these single use dentifrice- infused pink sponges on a stick to use for brushing...better than nothing that's for sure. In my room there were two ladies in there 70s or 80s. One was in because of diabetes, the other in because her house was robbed or people in her apartment had been stealing from her. She'd get kind of distraught sometimes thinking people had taken things from her in the hospital. We had a good conversation one day, but I remember because she couldn't hear I had to share the details - the fact my baby was 15 weeks and had died - very loudly because she wasn't understanding what I had said. Oh well, the whole room knew then. It was ok. I think this lady may have suffered a bit of from age related memory loss. The other woman, around 35 or 40, had had her gallbladder taken out and was in a lot of pain. There are more stories about my roommates and their visitors but I'll leave it at that for now. One that I’ll add now, in my 6 month edit, is the fact that the lady with the robbed house had a visitor read to hear from the book of Jeremiah and somewhere in chapter 1 it says, ‘when you were in the womb I knew you.’ The lady commented on that verse and said she liked it and I, silently, through the curtain, agreed.
After we left the hospital I picked up some 'good' pads from the health food store (non-chlorine bleached etc.) and Andy dropped me off at London drugs where I got my iron pills and ordered pictures I had on my flash cards and one from our camera of our baby. I knew I wanted it printed and first off had wanted a 3.5 by 5 size, but knew I'd need the employee's help for that smaller size, so I ended up ordering 4 by 6s so I could order more privately. Someone came up behind me as I was ordering and I shot up a little prayer that they wouldn't notice what was on the screen in front of me. The picture was looking kind of gruesome to me with all the blood in the background. We pick the pictures up July 9 when I have my appointment with Karla for some blood work, probably a vaginal swab and 'planning for next time' as she said. She said, come see me in 6 weeks. Classic. That is the time they usually say it takes for a woman's body to recover from childbirth. What a child birth this was.
So now, at home, Sarah and I are working on creating a scrapbook to remember the joy this baby brought through my pregnancy. We have a lot of joyful pictures of our family and memories of excitement and anticipation.
Sarah said she will miss counting the people in our family. She still counts but the number is one less and sometimes we remind her we can still count baby, he/she is in heaven. My Mom, Andy and I have all, separately, talked with Sarah about the baby and about sadness (it's ok to be sad) and she had a time when she cried with Andy about the baby being in heaven and us not meeting him/her when he/she was all the way grown.
Since being home I have been very happy to be alive and be reunited with Andy and Sarah. I have gone through disbelief at this event to some anger and also not knowing what to do with myself as I get more energy. I have noted that if I reflect and journal and read the Bible during the day I have less of a flood of memories to inhibit me from falling asleep.
My parents bought a new sheet set and light down duvet and eggshell mattress foam for our bed. I had been finding our bed uncomfortable and my parents said ‘God is the God of all comfort’ and they thought it'd help to make the bed 'new.' There are lots of memories from my side of the bed and the bathroom. Andy had ended up cleaning the bathroom, which was very sweet of him and my Mom did another clean when she arrived (corners, mirror, tub, 2 more blood spots on the wall). I found myself inspecting the bathroom on arriving home to see if there was any sign left of our baby.
My Mom came out on the Tues. after the Fri. miscarriage and stayed for 10 days. She helped with cleaning, hanging out with Sarah, making special crafts with her and baking up a storm (muffins, cookies, bread) for our freezer.
Since being home I passed 2 pieces of tissue (one walnut sized, one slug sized) which I think was what they saw on the ultrasound.
It is interesting that I still have a bit of a tummy but no baby there. I was thinking about this the first few days especially. I am choosing to not wear my maternity shirts anymore. I had one that was very fitted and I could where it post-pregnancy (wouldn't look odd), but I'm not going to. I wore that shirt on Friday, the day of the miscarriage. I am, however, wearing my maternity jeans still as my other jeans are not fitting.
Currently I find myself very tired in the afternoons and I can sleep like anything during my afternoon nap. I wake up very groggy and am kind of sleepy the rest of the day. Andy and I have divided the bedtime routine and I am keeping up in the kitchen. People from church our bringing meals every other night so this helps tremendously, minimizing dishes and giving more time to Andy for gardening etc. Andy tries to take Sarah for a while in the afternoon. Yesterday he took her to the dump and today outside while he is doing stuff.
I think with my Mom's departure, there is obviously some adjustment and we are finding Sarah to put up more of a fuss (sometimes screaming, yelling) if she doesn't get her way. I think I could spend a bit more time with her too. With Mom here I had more time for processing the whole event. So today I tried spending more time with Sarah, especially in the morning. We had a Sarah-led make-up birthday party for her stuffed animals that lasted for what felt like 45 minutes. We had a snack in between there too. Sarah's favorite snack is cereal at the moment. We don't usually buy cereal but bought some convenience items after this loss. We also had cinnamon buns someone brought us.
So, it is amazing how many people are praying for us. I have been generally upbeat and positive. I'm not that teary. That was mainly at the beginning. We would love continued prayers for my healing and also with having wisdom in raising Sarah at this time. We are talking about having a family (us 3) memorial time at Swan Lake and maybe releasing a biodegradable balloon. I think going back there will be emotional for sure. A beautiful place to remember though.
So, we did have the memorial on Sept. 23, which was the 4 month anniversary of Karina’s death. We named our little girl Karina Joy. We got a call on Aug.20 from the gynecologist, with the news that the baby was a girl and there was no defect found in her body or the placenta. She measured 13 weeks, although I had been 15 weeks along. So, they found no reason for the miscarriage. The memorial was wonderful and involved us getting a purple (Sarah’s choice) helium balloon and going out to Swan Lake and remembering together, reading scripture together and praying. Then we sang Jesus Loves Me as we let go of the balloon and watched it disappear into the sky. We’d written her name on the balloon and ‘we love you’ and “Feb-May, 23 ‘08”. I felt a sense of peace after that memorial. We gave Sarah a necklace, there at the lake, with some green shells in it, to signify Karina’s birthstone, so she can have a tangible reminder of her sister. We’ve been steadily working on the scrapbook and hope to have it done by Christmas.
In the middle of the summer I had blood work done and they said I had absorbed the iron really well and my blood count was back up to normal.
I’m getting tired now, so that’ s all for tonight. I wanted to post something and finally you are getting ‘my story’ – the full version.
Karina, we miss you and I’ve enjoyed thinking of you and writing in my journal to you this evening.