The Loss of Dennis-Michael at 19 weeks
Updated: Mar 11
I am going to be very open and honest about my experience. Most of this will be taken from my journal that I wrote at the time. In no way am I giving medical advice or saying this is the same experience every person has with this, but this is my truth. This month is Pregnancy Loss and awareness month and I wanted to share this part of my story.
On Monday March 9, 2015 I went to my OB's office to have my anatomy ultrasound. I was 19 weeks along and feeling great. Jason was running late to the appointment so Dean (2.5 yrs old) and I went in with high hopes. I had explained to Dean some of the things he may see and he was excited. As the ultrasound began, I was joking around with the ultrasound technician, saying that the baby was being stubborn and staying in a ball. But after a couple of minutes I couldn't see the heartbeat, this was the fourth time I had been through an anatomy scan, I knew what I should be seeing. I asked her what the beats were and she very calmly said that she hadn't taken that measurement yet. I was getting very nervous because I could see no movement.
After 5 minutes of diligently trying, she gently informed me that she could not find a heart beat and the baby was measuring 10 days behind. My worst fear had come true. I just started to cry, trying to hold back, not wanting to bother the other patients. I had Dean by my side in the room and he looked up at my face and said. "Mommy hug"? as he rushed toward me, trying to bring me comfort even when he didn't understand my tears.
The staff rushed me to a room for privacy. Jason called asking me where he should go, I couldn't control myself and just blurted out, "I lost the baby", he responded "I will be right there." I then called my mom, knowing I needed her, she was in shock and kept asking are they sure.
Dr. Morris came into the room and I told my mom I would have to call her back. As soon as I hung up the phone, he gave me a huge hug as I was sobbing. He had been my doctor for a long time, through difficult and complicated pregnancies, I truly was lucky to have him as my doctor. I could tell that he was upset as well.
Just then, Jason came into the room and Dr. Morris handed me off to him and left the room to get more information from the ultrasound technician. With it being just Jason, I and Dean in the room, I felt the flood gates of my heart open. I felt ripped in half, my dreams for this child gone. I remember telling Jason over and over again how sorry I was. I felt I had done this in some way. As a woman it was my job to protect the life I would bring into the world and somehow I failed. Jason just held me close and rubbed my back, letting me grieve. There were so many times through this whole ordeal that I have been grateful to have him as my partner and Father of my children.
After some time, Dr. Morris came back into the room and let us know that the baby had passed 10 days earlier and there appeared to be some abnormalities. He immediately reassured us that it was nothing that I had done, it just happened. We then discussed what needed to happen. I had to be induced into labor and deliver my sweet angel. I said that I did not want to prolong this process and asked if I could start that day. He sent us home to ready a bag and make arrangements for our 3 other kids. They let us out the back door of the office so that I would not have to go through the lobby and see all of the other pregnant women.
Jason and I had drove separately to the office, but I was shaking so badly, he had to leave his car and drive us home. We stopped by his work to let them know what was happening. He went in by himself, but let me know later that he cried in front of his boss while explaining the situation, he had not cried in front of me yet, I think he felt the need to be strong because he knew how fragile I was. While I was waiting in the car, I began making the necessary phone calls and texts, each one more difficult than the last.
My Mom met us at our house, I hadn't stopped crying yet and she just held me. We had a few hours before we needed to be at the hospital. I just started cleaning, I needed to stay busy, I guess it gave me some sense of control. My mom and Jason said that it wasn't a priority, but I could not stop. Mom recognized my state of mind and just started cleaning along beside me.
Jason, Mom and I drove together to the hospital. We stopped by my dear friends house first to drop off Dean. She was so sweet and had a bag of goodies for me. Once Jason left my Mom and I at the hospital, he went to pick up our older two kids from school, we felt that it would be best for them to hear the news from Jason, then he would drop them off with our friend.
I got lost finding the woman's center and ended up at the nurses station in maternity, at the main hospital they separate women going through a loss from the labor and delivery floor. A woman walked by holding her new baby and I just froze, I could not move and just started weeping again. My Mom gently grabbed me and guided me out of the way and just held me until I got a hold of myself. I will forever be grateful for having her with me that day.
We finally settled into our room. My sister got there at the same time, she bought the most amazing lotion from Bath & Body works. It was so relaxing and helped calm me down, she gave me a back rub before I had to start laboring. She was an amazing support that night and was very protective of me.
As I was checking in, the nurse brought the documents for me to sign. I did not know this before, but when a baby passes away in Utero and you need to deliver vaginally or surgically, it is medically categorized as an abortion. I had to sign the paper authorizing an abortion. When I saw this I asked them to listen for a heartbeat one last time even though I knew one wasn't there. I wasn't really acting very logical at the time.
After it was confirmed once again, Dr. Morris came in to the room to introduce me to Dr. Jones, the on call doctor, it was her first shift with the practice. He had finished seeing patients in the office for the day and even though he was not on call, he wanted to be the one to start the process. They gave me high dose of cytotec vaginally, it is a higher dose than what they give during an induction. within 30 seconds I felt the first contraction.
Jason made it up to the room. He tried to distract me and watch Netflix. I don't really remember much of the next 6 hours, they gave me some morphine to help take the edge off. Below is a picture of Jason and I that my Mom took during this time, it is one I treasure.
Hard labor, where I was really focused and breathing to cope began after 4 hours, they gave me my second dose of cytotec and said that my cervix was opening and I was at a 3. My Sister had to leave at midnight to pick up her 3 children from the sitter's because her husband was out of town, I knew she wanted to stay more than anything, but it just couldn't work out. It was just Jason, Mom and I left in the room. At 2 am I felt a lot of pressure and thought that I had to pee, the nurse wouldn't let me out of the bed because many times in these situations the baby can fall in the toilet. My Mom just said to pee and she would clean it up. It turned out that I didn't have to be, I pushed out the entire amniotic sac whole, the nurse said it was extremely rare. My mom ran out of the room letting the nurse know what happened, she did not want to have to describe it over the intercom. She said that I shouldn't look and I trusted her. The nurse came in swiftly and took the baby away to clean it up and see if it was in a state where I could hold it. When she came back in the room she had him wrapped in a white blanket that my Mom's best friend had made, she placed him in my arms and announced that it was a boy. As soon as I held him and saw his sweet face, I knew his name was Dennis-Michael, after both of our Father's. He looked just like my other two boys and had the exact same nose.
As I was looking at his perfect face I heard a tiny voice say, "Thank you, Mom" I felt such peace at that moment and knew that this was meant to happen.
I offered my Mom the chance to hold him and she did, Jason was not comfortable and I respected that. He took some pictures of my Mom and I holding him. I am choosing not to share these pictures because of the graphic nature. To me he was perfect, but I recognize that it would not look that way to all people.
We did not get pictures from the non-profit, Now I Lay Thee Down to Sleep, because he was too early for their organization. The hospital provided us with a lovely keepsake box, they took his foot prints and I have the blanket that he was held in, kept there. It even has some spots of dried blood on it even now, it reminds me that he was real.
I know that this journey is different for each person that walks it, I had to go through it a second time 4.5 months later on his original due date and that time was very different. I share this not for pity, but to hopefully provide insight into the reality of pregnancy loss. Dennis-Michael and his Sister Emma are very much a part of our families lives. My children talk about them with love. It is how we have chosen to move forward. My desire to become a doula arose out of this loss, I wanted to help walk this path with other's and to bear their burdens with them. That is how I honor my children and my experience. 1 in 4 women will experience a pregnancy related loss, I feel their should not be a stigma in talking about it. Those people need to feel all the emotions so that they can heal and move forward. If you know someone who has gone through loss and don't know how to help them or what to say, just be there, hold space for them, let them feel. One of the best things a friend did for me was bring me a big stuffed animal, she said that when she went through her loss, her arms felt empty and it was so true. My arms ached to hold my baby and that stuffed animal brought comfort to my empty arms.
If you have any thoughts, questions or comments feel free to send me a message or comment on this post or on social media.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story,