Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Avery Christian

Warning, the following post may contain graphic descriptions and/or pictures that may disturb you. Read at your own risk.

Aaron and I named the baby Avery, which is the boy name we had picked out already. We didn't have a middle name yet, so we threw around some ideas until we found one that fit.

Our little boy is buried at my aunt and uncle's house. I took him out there Sunday inside an old eyeglasses case. It was a beautiful day, and my uncle had a nice spot picked out for him. My uncle had built a little cedar box to put the remains in. After lunch I was able to find a little alone time to transfer Avery from the case to the box. Then my uncle put some kind of metallic tape all over the box to keep it from rotting. He told me he was honored that I am letting Avery be buried there. I couldn't stand to watch him be buried, so I will have to visit him soon.

I still break down at least once a day. Sunday night was the worst. I was trying to pick out a picture of Avery's feet to hang on the wall, and I just wasn't sure if any of them were good enough (still haven't decided). And Avery was gone, and I'd never see him again (on Earth). There would be no more opportunities to get a picture of him. What I have is all I'll ever have.

Avery Christian Hartley

Things I am grateful for:
  • that Avery didn't suffer
  • that he is already in heaven
  • that I was able to see him
  • that he was small enough that there was no pushing pain, just contractions
  • family and friends that have supported me through this
  • that I didn't have to have a D&C
  • that I cleaned the bathtub Saturday morning "just because" even though it wasn't on my to-do list
Things I have learned:
  • some people will know what to say and some won't
  • contractions during a miscarriage are as bad as contractions during labor
  • laboring in a tub of water makes the contractions so much easier to bear
  • miscarriages hurt you emotionally far, far worse than you can imagine

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

blogging my miscarriage pt.3

Warning, the following post may contain graphic descriptions and/or pictures that may disturb you. Read at your own risk.

November 22:
Aaron gets home from work around 1:30. My contractions have really ramped up, and I want to get back into the tub. I show him the hat I made for the baby, and he looks at me as if he thinks I've gone crazy. He hugs me and won't let me go.

I run the bath water and pull a stool with some books and magazines over near the tub. As soon as get into the water the blood starts gushing out. I see what I think is the baby's back, but it comes out more and it is a face. I am really freaked out, and it takes me a minute to calm back down.

With each contraction, blood rushes into the bathtub. The water is dark pink. I don't want Aaron to be scared if he should come into the bathroom so I close the shower curtain. Sure enough, he soon comes to check on me. I warn him not to look. I assure him I'm fine and tell him it's very important that he comes back in ten minutes because I really can't tell how much blood I'm losing in the water.

The baby finally comes out with a pop, but it is attached by its cord still. I try to study it but it's not out far enough for me to really see. I'm afraid for it to stay in the tub because I'm afraid it will disintegrate before I can take some pictures. There is some filmy looking stuff attached to it, and I can't decide if it's just remnants of the amniotic sac or if its skin is coming off.

I wait and wait through horrible contractions thinking that the placenta should be coming soon. Finally a lot of bloody tissue comes out. I think it is the placenta, but the baby is still stuck. I wait and wait some more.

I finally get tired of emptying and refilling the tub and just want out! I think the baby's cord must be attached to a small piece of placenta that just won't let go. So I decide to cut the cord so I can get out of the tub and start taking pictures of the baby. I figure the rest of the placenta will come out in a while.

I clean up the baby as best as I can and take some pictures. I pray they turn out ok. The hat fits pretty well, but I end up having to make a large cuff.

The baby is so fragile and feels a little like the surface of jello. I was not expecting this. I am fairly certain it is a boy. His little face is so sweet, and his arms and legs are perfect. The hands and feet are beautiful and remind me of tiny baby doll hands. His head is still large, and his neck seems to be swollen. I'm not sure if this is indicative of something being wrong. My pet theory is that my body has kept pumping blood into his, but since his little body wasn't able to pump it back out it has pooled into his neck. He's somewhere around 3-5 inches long. It's hard to tell for sure because his body wants to stay curled up like it was inside.

These were all taken in water.

While I am taking the pictures, I soak through pad after pad. The midwife warned me that this is a sign of hemorrhaging so I know I should probably head to the hospital. I clean up the bathroom as best as I can, and put the baby into the refrigerator. I wake up Aaron and we're on our way to the hospital. It's about 4:00.

I get into a room quickly once we reach the hospital. I am petrified they will have to perform a D&C. The nurse helps me undress and get into bed, and as soon as we pull down my underwear a huge blob rushes out. It is the placenta. What I had seen before was just a lot of blood clots. I saw my placenta after Amelie's delivery so I thought I knew what to look for. I had just assumed the earlier blood clots looked different from what I had seen before because this was a miscarriage. Once the placenta is out the bleeding is drastically stemmed.

The doctor does a pelvic exam and orders a sonogram just to make sure all the tissue has passed. They also draw blood and run some saline. The sonogram comes back clean. No D&C is necessary! My blood work also comes back good. The doctor says I must not have been anemic before so that's a good thing. I am free to go.

We get home at 7:00 and fall into the bed. It is finally over.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

blogging my miscarriage pt.2

Warning, the following post may contain graphic descriptions and/or pictures that may disturb you. Read at your own risk.

November 21:
I wake up early even though the kids are gone and immediately my head is full of plans for the day. I make a to do list that I know I probably will not finish. Aaron goes and gets me McDonald's, and then I take him to work. I come home and clean the bathtub and shower. It's 11:30 when I finish.

Somehow the time disappears, and it is 1. Meleah is going to run errands with me so we both get dressed. I curl my hair and put on make-up. I worry a little that someone will see me out looking so made up and think I was lying about the whole miscarriage. I actually worry a lot that people will think the whole pregnancy was made up now that there will be no baby. Is this a normal fear?

One of my errands is to find a hat for the baby. I'm pretty stuck on the idea that the baby should have a hat although I have no idea what size its head will be. I worry that if I don't deliver the baby soon that it will disintegrate inside of me leaving me to only wonder what it looked like.

Meleah tells me that people think the idea of me taking pictures of the baby is creepy. We discuss the creepy factor along with the ideas I've run through about what to actually do with the baby once I've delivered it. She thinks most of my ideas are crazy and tells me that she thinks part of me died with the baby and now I'm a little crazy. I've already wondered myself if I'm doing crazy things. Am I now locked in a weird reality where I think I'm living my life but in actuality I'm writing on the wall with feces?

The first place we go is Target. We shop a bit before heading toward the things we came for. In the book aisle I come across Notes Left Behind. I read a Yahoo article about the book several weeks ago and wanted to read it. Just skimming through it makes me break down right there. Meleah isn't sure what to do. She asks me if I need a hug or for her to walk away. I tell her I'll be fine in a second. I push the cart over to the coffee aisle and start babbling randomly about a percolator. I must be crazy.

We pick out a new shower curtain liner and then head to the toys. I scour all the baby dolls and Barbies, but there are no dolls with hats that I think will fit the baby. Toys'R'Us is my only hope.

Meleah and I run a few more errands, and then she takes me to get my car so she can head over to spend the evening with her boyfriend. I head straight to Toys'R'Us. I spend about an hour looking over all the toys again. There is one great hat, but I'm sure it is too big. There is another possibility but it's on the head of a fake Barbie that's only sold in a four pack for $15.00. I think it will fit but don't really like it so I balk at spending that much money.

I suddenly have the brilliant idea of making my own hat. I head over to the Babies'R'Us side to buy a hat to use as a pattern and as material. They don't have any hats that I like so I decide to buy some white onesies to use as fabric. As I'm paying for the onesies I glance over to the sale rack and see some baby pants that are perfect to use as a hat. I buy them instead. They cost me less than $2.00, and this makes me very happy. I also notice they have another pair in case I fail miserably at making a hat and need to return for more fabric.

When I get home I make a prototype hat out of an old sheet. It turns out fair so I use it as a pattern and make a hat out of the baby pants. I don't quite like it so I search the kids' closet for an old baby hat to use as a real pattern. I find one and take it apart. My first try using it as a pattern is pretty good but still not quite right. I make some adjustments to the pattern and try again. The results are very satisfying. I save the rest of the pants just in case the hat is way too big or way too small, but I think I can make it work the way it is.

Depending on how this fits the baby, I may make the cuff larger or uncuff it completely and have it be a "slouchy" hat.

I have been bleeding and cramping all day, and I feel like I'm having some contractions. I go to the bathroom and decide to try to push the baby out. I sit on the floor and visualize a baby crowning. I try to breathe the way I breathed when Amelie was born. I change into a squatting position to let gravity help and pretend that I am in labor with this baby. This was to be my first drug-free, natural childbirth - complete with alternative labor and pushing positions. I try to visualize the baby moving from my uterus and down the birth canal. After about five minutes I get scared that I might make the placenta detach prematurely and hemorrhage out in the bathroom.

The pushing makes the contractions stronger. I pray they will get even stronger - and soon. Aaron will be home in a few hours, and I really want to do this alone. Even worse, I will be spending tomorrow at my aunt and uncle's house. I really don't want to have the baby somewhere else.

November 22:
I'm standing in front of the bathroom mirror when I feel a big rush of fluid. I peek down into my underwear and see a very dark, runny fluid gushing onto my pad. I tell the baby to please hold on and quickly run a bath. I check the time - 12:08.

I get into the tub and let the warm water wash over me. I forget to grab a book so I decide to use my fingers and pray the Rosary instead. I try to visualize the baby coming and feel sure it will come before I reach the next decade. I am wrong.

I finish the Rosary and pray a quick prayer to St. Anne. I then ask God to make this go as quick as possible and let me see His will in all of this. I am desperate to have this over before Aaron comes home from work.

I talk to the baby, pick at my toes, and stare down into the water. I warm up the bath several times. Contractions come and go. No baby.

I have the idea to use some pH paper the midwife gave me and check to see if the fluid was amniotic fluid. The pH paper didn't turn navy when I tested the fluid I was leaking on Tuesday. Today it does. I know the delivery is imminent.

I grab a magazine and read. Finally I have to get out of the bath. The water has almost completely seeped out of the tub and surely Aaron will be home soon. I have both house keys so I have to be able to let him in. I check the time again - 1:05. I am disappointed.

There is more to this story but it cannot be blogged yet. I am off to the hospital.

blogging my miscarriage pt.1

Warning, the following post may contain graphic descriptions and/or pictures that may disturb you. Read at your own risk.

November 16:
I sneeze while sitting at the computer and feel a rush of fluid that soaks through my underwear and pajama pants. I'm a little confused by this as I don't think I peed when I sneezed. I think that it could be seminal fluid residue but don't know why it is exiting several hours later. I change into some shorts.

Several hours later I'm lying in bed when I feel another fluid rush. This time my shorts are soaked by what looks to be fluid the color of weak tea. Again I'm confused but go back to bed.

November 17:
I have clinical for four hours. During clinical I keep thinking that my underwear feel wet. Each time I go to the bathroom there is a peachy colored, watery discharge on the toilet paper.

I have a midwife appointment scheduled for the next day but am anxious. I call the midwife as soon as I get home, and she offers to drive to Tyler to meet me. I decide to drive to Gladewater and meet her instead, as I don't want to inconvenience her over my being paranoid.

When I meet her at her offices in Gladewater I explain that I've been feeling smaller over the past week. She checks my urine to see if I possibly have an infection, and the dipstick registers blood. I lie down on the bed while she goes out to her car for the better doppler.

She returns with the doppler and begins listening for a heartbeat. We hear nothing. There was a heartbeat four weeks ago (at 13 1/2 weeks gestation). She tells me there is a slight chance that the baby is in a weird spot, but she is 99% sure I will miscarry. She advises me on what to expect and sends me on my way after a few hugs and tears.

On the way home I start making my phone calls. My sister and my mom both cry. Aaron is clearly upset, but is more stunned that I'm telling him right before he has to go to work. He tells me later that he cried on the way in. My grandmother is afraid I'm mad at her because she wasn't happy about me being pregnant in the first place. I assure her that I'm not mad at her.

My sister stays with the kids while I go to the Rosary service at church. This is something I've been trying to go to for a while, but tonight I'm desperate to attend. I am pleasantly surprised that in addition to saying the Rosary, the group says a perpetual novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help - one of my favorite Marian titles. I pray that this is all a weird mistake, or, that if it's not, Jesus and Mary will comfort me.

I call Aaron's mom on the way home from church. She takes the news in stride but can't talk long because she is out with a friend. I spend the night in anxious expectation. There is no more fluid leakage or any spotting. I pull out my stethoscope and try to hear a heartbeat. I put the kids to bed early and try to study for tomorrow's test. I give up and go to bed. Again I listen with the stethoscope. I hear nothing, but I reassure myself that it's really too early to hear a fetal heartbeat with a stethoscope anyway.

The night offers little sleep. The little sleep I do get is filled with weird dreams.

November 18:
I wake up more confused and anxious than ever. I go to school and sit through the first hour of lecture. I can't sit there any longer and leave. I head to the midwife's office, praying that she will find a heartbeat today.

The midwife fits me in as soon as she can. She tells me that the only way to know for sure if the baby is alive is to have a sonogram done. She calls in a different midwife to listen for a heartbeat again first. Again I lie on a bed, staring at the ceiling, while the doppler makes its way across my belly. Again there is no heartbeat to be heard. This midwife also explains that even if we didn't hear a heartbeat we should hear the baby kicking and moving, and she didn't hear that, either.

I decide I have to have a sonogram to know for sure. They put in a call to the sonographer and promise to call me when he calls back.

I head home for the lunch break and then return to school for my test. I'm the first one finished. When I reach the car I receive a text. The sonogram appointment is scheduled for three. I text Aaron about lunch, but they ate a pizza after I went back to the school. He tells me to get myself something. I decide on Jason's Deli because I'm obsessed with the broccoli and cheese soup. I eat slowly to kill time and then head across town for the sonogram.

I'm a half hour ahead of my appointment, but they have me come in anyway. Lying in the tiny sonogram room, waiting for the sonographer, I break down. I try to compose myself. He comes in and does the sonogram. The baby's profile is clearly visible, but there is no movement. The sonographer shows me the that the placenta is still looking good and is providing good blood flow to the baby. But the baby is clearly dead. The back of the skull is caving in ever so slightly, and the brain does not appear to be the right size. He explains that perhaps this is the reason the baby died, but he also said it could be that the it is just shrinking since it is not growing anymore. Without an autopsy we'll never be sure.

The baby's measurements point to it being about 13 1/2 weeks gestation. We know it was alive at that point, so it probably stopped growing around 14 weeks - which is about where my uterus was measuring. I actually think it could have been even a little later than that since my uterus has measured small in my past pregnancies. Again, we'll never know for sure.

The sonographer burns a CD for me of the sonogram pictures. I stop at Walgreens to print one right away, but the files are low resolution and won't be clear if I print. I start crying and leave.

I become obsessed with the idea of finding the baby when it passes and taking pictures. I stop at Babies'R'Us to find a good baby blanket. I cry through the store, and I'm sure that the lady at the check-out must think I'm crazy.

At home I put the sonogram disc in the computer. On the screen the pictures are large and clear. There is really only one good side view. I'm not even completely convinced it is a profile view, but it is definitely a different angle than the one that is viewing the baby from the top down, so I'm just going to assume it is the side view. I take pictures of the sonogram picture on the screen so that I can have a bigger print.

The picture on the left is what I think is the profile view. The only reason I question it is because of the arm positions. The one on the right I know is looking at the baby from the top down. So the first one is definitely not looking straight from the top down, but I can't be sure if it's a definite profile or not, either.

I cry a lot more tonight. I call my friend Pamela who says she will try to meet me tomorrow. Aaron is very sweet to me. I begin to have some spotting and cramping. It looks like the light brown discharge stuff you have at the end of your period. I pray that this will all be over soon.

November 19:
I skip class. I have a project due but just don't care at this point. Throughout the day I have very light spotting. It still looks the same. I cry a little on and off but mostly just want to be left alone. I scour the internet to find out how long it might be until I begin to pass the baby. I find very little helpful information. I do find some very clear pictures of a baby that was miscarried. I e-mail the blog owner to find out how she took the pictures. I want beautiful pictures of my baby, too.

We meet Pamela and her family for dinner. It's the only time I leave the house all day.

November 20:
There is more spotting today and some mild cramps. The discharge has become dark brown and maroonish. I e-mail the midwife to see if I'm going to know when the baby's coming. I'm petrified it will fall in the toilet. She e-mails back and assures me that I will know when the baby's coming. She says that the spotting I'm seeing means the placenta is detaching. She says I will most likely have 2 to 6 hours of contractions before the baby comes.

The lady that took pictures of her miscarried baby e-mails me back. She is very kind and shares her description of her miscarriage and also tips on how to take good pictures of the baby. Her story gives me an even better idea of what to expect as this all plays out.

I am very grumpy today. Aaron goes to work, and I just cannot deal with the kids. I call my mom to come get them for the weekend. She and my dad have to drive from Dallas and don't arrive until after nine so I end up dealing with the kids all night anyway. Still I am relieved when I am alone.

Almost as soon as they leave I begin to have mild contractions and the bleeding becomes heavier. I think that the baby will come soon. I lie on the couch to watch a movie and wait. I fall asleep. The baby never comes.