An unexpected heartbreak.
Samuel died a few weeks before his scheduled c-section. He had been with us for 33 weeks. We had also gone that long not knowing he was a boy. We decided, like his sister, that we were going to be surprised at his birth. The surprise we ended up getting was unlike anything we could have imagined.
It was a warm September morning when I woke up and noticed I wasn’t feeling him move like he usually did. I did what you are supposed to do, I drank the juice, tried to get my heart rate up and still nothing. I texted my husband, who is a doctor, my concern. He was luckily on his way to another hospital so he stopped back home with his stethoscope. Let’s get some reassurance I thought. He tried for awhile to find a heartbeat but couldn’t. He was chalking it up to the fact that Samuel was just in a weird position. He was a mover. The techs frequently had trouble finding him during ultrasounds. I called the doctor. I already had an appointment booked that afternoon. They told me to go right to labor and delivery. I jumped in my van thinking, OK, maybe baby is just ready to come out today so he’s not moving much. A part of me thought I would just have him that day. My husband followed me in his car thinking he would go back to work after we found out everything was okay.
As I drove, I called my mom and dad to let them know I hadn’t felt the baby move and I was heading to the hospital. I told them to not worry. My mom said she was on her way. As I got closer and closer to the hospital I noticed I was going about 90 mph. I started getting panicky. My gut was telling me something was wrong.
We got to labor and delivery and I was immediately put back to triage. The Medical Assistant got out the Doppler and started searching for a heartbeat. Still nothing. At this point my anxiety was suffocating. A resident doctor came in next with the ultrasound machine. He put the cold jelly on my belly and started scanning. I remember his face. Every detail and the look in his eyes when he saw what he was about to show me. I knew before he showed us. He turned the screen around and pointed to the area of the heart. Nothing was moving. He said, “this is where the heart is, there is no heartbeat. I’m sorry.”
I screamed out in agony and time seemed to stop. It took me quite a few moments to finally look over at my husband, Doug. His face was broken with horror and disbelief.
My mind immediately went into protection mode searching for a plan of action, something my sanity could hold on to.
My doctor came into the room at this point. She said she was so sorry and that we will need to deliver. I remember I kept asking why this happened? No one knew the answer. Since I had already had a c-section with my daughter Emma, she said doing another one was the safest option. That was our original plan anyway.
I wanted the c-section as fast as I could get it. I needed to move through this as fast as I could. But there was one big thing weighing on my mind. I needed to know what this baby was. A boy or a girl. I couldn’t take any more surprises. I needed to know. My doctor had to call around to find that out as it was not put in our chart by our request. She came back in the room and said, “It was a boy.” I broke down again. It was our boy. We had one of each.
My husband started making calls and then my mom can through the doors. The look on her face is one I will never forget. She broke down, came over to me and gave me a hug only a mother could give.
Over the next few hours, my mom went out and bought a tiny little outfit for a boy with my sister, my pregnant sister-in-law sat by my side and doctors and nurses came in and out of our room preparing for the c-section.
I got the spinal block and was put on the long silver operating table. Doug and my mom were scrubbed up beside me. The anesthesiologist asked if I wanted music. They didn’t do that when I had my daughter, Emma. I think this was a different kind of birth for everyone. I asked for The Piano Guys. He played it on his phone. My OB talked me through what she was doing.
I felt a lot of pressure and then this huge relief. My ribs had room again. Then the realization of that sunk in. There was no sound. No crying. It was the most eerie and sorrowful experience of my entire life. They asked if I wanted to see him, I said no. Not right now. I was cut open on a table and needed to focus on that first. My mind was firm and couldn’t deal with more than one thing at a time. That was how I was going to survive this. My mom had been constantly running her fingers through my hair. Both her and Doug started to look over to see him. All I saw were feet. Tiny, perfect little feet.
I was taken to the recovery room. That is where I met my son Samuel. He was perfect. He was 5 pounds and had the cutest little button nose, dimple in his chin and finest features. He was our son. He looked so peaceful. The tears were streaming down my face as I cuddled him in my arms. He was stillborn but he was still born and we loved him so much.