Thursday, July 02, 2009

Meeting Our Babies

Walking With You was created by Kelly of Sufficient Grace Ministries to help support those who have lost a child. Together we share our stories, helpful information, scriptures, encouraging words, prayer requests, and more. To join in on Walking With You please visit Kelly's blog.

This 3rd week we will be sharing about the birth of our babies and the moments we spent with our children after they were born.

I'll share some bits and pieces from that day and maybe some new things too, but if you'd like to read Carleigh's birth story in it's entirety then please click here. I know I said I couldn't write much about Carleigh this week but I am feeling better today and I really want to participate in Walking With You.

I made the decision on March 20, 2009 to go forward with an induction. I really wanted to carry Carleigh to my due date but both my growth and Carleigh's were falling behind as the weeks passed (on the day of my induction at 37 weeks I was measuring at only 29 weeks). I had an ultrasound that day and I talked with Dr. H after I read the report. We talked about her growth, the likelihood of her being born still, and whether to proceed with an induction. It was a hard decision to make.

On my OB appointment on March 23 I talked to Dr. F and we went ahead and set up an induction for the morning of March 27. That day came sooner than I wanted it to but I felt at ease about everything. I knew God was with me.

The night before was spent getting things around. My parents came down that night and stayed with us so they could go to the hospital with us in the morning. Carleigh was still feisty as ever that night and I took immense pleasure in feeling her moving around. How I miss those kicks! I had no trouble sleeping but, like always, I woke up before my alarm went off. I ate my breakfast and finished some last minute packing and then it was off to the hospital. I specifically remember Carleigh getting hiccups on the ride and how excited I was that I could feel those at least one more time.

At the hospital we checked in and they showed me to my room. I changed into my gown and we completed all the paper and blood work. It was after 8 am when they started my Pitocin. They bumped it up steadily throughout the day. The whole day we had family and a few friends in and out checking in on me. I let everyone come and go freely as I was not really in any pain at all. My friend Ashley got there around midday. She was taking pictures for me before, during, and after delivery. She captured so many great moments.

Around 7 pm we hit a fork in the road. I had a choice to make. I could either stop the Pitocin and start it up the next day or Dr. F could break my water and we could continue. It was very difficult to decide what to do. I knew that stretching out my labor over several days wouldn't be good on Carleigh but breaking my water wouldn't be either. In the end I chose for Dr. F to break my water and continue on.

Not long after my water broke there was a shift change on the floor and I got a new nurse, Erin. I am so glad she was the one that was there for Carleigh's birth and to help us afterwards. She was so great and she handled Carleigh so delicately. Around 9 pm I was 2-3 cm dilated and 80% effaced and about a hour later I got my epidural. I tried to rest but only did for a little bit. It was hard to rest when I was anxious about her birth.

I checked Carleigh's heart rate with the doppler about 2 am on March 28. It was very hard for me to find it. I searched frantically, praying that she was still with me. I finally found it and you can't imagine how relieved I was to hear that sweet swooshing sound. Her rate was still good but it was faint and that worried me. I figured she was just dropping so it wasn't picking up as well but I also thought the worst-that she wasn't tolerating labor well and was going downhill. A little later I had Erin check Carleigh on the doppler and she got the same and wasn't concerned so that made me feel better.

My epidural was concentrated on the left side of my body so I could feel everything on my right. The contractions were picking up in intensity. By 3:30 am Dr. F had come back to check on me. I started to feel a bit of pressure 'down there' so she checked me and told me it was time to push. This was the moment we'd been waiting for. Everything happened so fast after she checked me. Several people were moving around the room getting the supplies ready. Ashley got her camera ready. My husband called my friend Lindsey who was supposed to videotape.

I was ready to meet her but I was scared. I wanted so much for her to be born alive so that I could just get a few moments with her. I wanted it so badly.....but it didn't happen. Carleigh was born still at 3:49 am on March 28. They told me her head was out and I looked up to try and see her but I couldn't see her yet. A few more pushes and she was out. Anthony cut her cord and they handed her to me and I put her on my chest. She was so beautiful and I loved her so much in that moment. She was who I had been waiting for all those months. My very special baby that I carried to term.

She took my breath away for a few moments and then I really looked at her. I knew she was gone. My nurse Erin checked her chest with a stethoscope for a heart beat....for anything. There was nothing. She was gone. But I instantly decided that it didn't matter. She was finally here with me and in my arms. I didn't cry. All I could do was gaze in wonder and love at my precious Carleigh. I kissed her face. I kissed her little hands and feet-so grateful for the gift of this little girl. I wanted to kiss away the bruises on her body and make it all better.

About 45 minutes later Anthony went and let our family know in the waiting room that she was here but she didn't make it. I only learned later the emotional scene that took place during that time. We slowly let people back to our room. We weighed Carleigh. She was 3 lbs and 15 oz. She was tiny but she had such chubby cheeks just like her big sister Kyndra. I let Erin give her a bath while I watched from my bed. I smiled the whole time she got her bath. (I actually don't know whether I physically smiled but it sure felt like I was on the inside.) I was (and still am!) a very proud mommy. Once she was clean and had a diaper on Erin gave her back to me and I dressed her in her hospital outfit and some jewelry.

I let our family and friends take turns holding her then. We got some hand and foot prints in pink ink and also some impressions of her hands and feet in clay. I let Erin measure her and she was 13 1/2 inches long. Everyone started to leave the hospital then and Anthony and I got some more time alone with Carleigh. Once I was able to stand and walk we went to our postpartum room. I carried my girl in my arms across the hall. We got settled down to finally rest. Carleigh and I snuggled up in my bed and went to sleep.

The next day (or I should say the same day) our family was back visiting. I asked my parents to bring donuts for the nurses because they were so kind to us. My postpartum nurse, Michaella, helped me change Carleigh's dressing on her head and get a lock of her hair. Carleigh spent the rest of the time in the hospital in our arms, mostly in mine. I was so happy.

Our last day was the hardest. I knew I would have to say goodbye and I didn't want to. We got it arranged so we could take Carleigh to the funeral home ourselves. I didn't have to experience leaving the hospital empty-handed. I am so glad I got to walk out with her. Before we left I dressed her in another outfit. I did it slowly because I didn't really want to leave. The tears were building. After she was dressed I held her and I finally started to cry. I didn't want these moments to end.

When our stuff was all ready to go we made the walk out of the hospital. A long, yet brief, walk. It was a Sunday and as we walked out there was no one around. It was quiet. I carried my daughter-wrapped up in her fuzzy pink blanket that held her the entire time since her birth-to the main entrance. It was a chilly day so I bundled her up tighter out of instinct. Once the cars were loaded up Anthony walked me out to our van and helped us in.

The drive to the funeral home was too short in my opinion. I didn't want to get out of that van. I wanted to drive straight home and take my daughter with me. Anthony came and got us out of the van and we went inside. We sat on one of the couches and spent our last moments that day with her. We hugged her and kissed her. We told her we loved her very much. I finally mustered up the courage to say it was time. We stood up and I handed her over to the funeral director, Craig. I gave her one last kiss and I walked away. I think I felt my heart break at that exact moment. I didn't just cry. I sobbed. Anthony held me as I struggled to breathe. He had to escort me back out to our van because my feet wouldn't move on their own. We made the long drive home....without our daughter.


I urge any parent who loses a child to get as many keepsakes and photos as you possibly can. You only get those moments to capture those memories and then they are gone forever. Ask for a NILMDTS photographer to take pictures of your baby. You can get hand and foot prints, impressions, and molds. You can get a lock of your baby's hair if they have any. Ask for anything that touched your baby in the hospital. I would say that many places would be willing to give them to you. Take videos. Even if you can't fathom having or looking at any pictures or videos or anything else, get them. Some day you may wish you would've.


I ask that you keep my friend, Jodi, in your prayers. Her daughter, Jillian, will be making her arrival soon. Jillian has anencephaly like Carleigh. I am praying that Jodi and her family gets some precious time with her.


Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace said...

Oh, have been so heavy on my heart this week. I am praying. Thank you so much for joining us...even in the midst of your sorrow. You amaze me...and I know it is the love of Jesus shining through you. I am amazed at your heart to reach out to others when your own loss is so fresh. Your Carleigh is so precious. You have told her story so tenderly and with such beauty and tonight was no exception.

I felt your pain as I read of the moment when you had to say good-bye. I am so sorry for that moment. And...I look forward with you to the moment when our sweet babies will fill our arms once more...and we will never have to say good-bye again. What glory! What grace! Thank you for joining us, sweet friend.

You are so precious to me...

Love and Continued Prayers,

Jennifer Ross said...

Saying goodbye, that's the hardest thing a parent will endure. Little Carleigh is so beautiful. I can see the love that you and your husband have for her, in the pictures that you posted.

Thank you for the comment that you left on my blog. It really is nice to be sharing this with other women who "know" how the other is feeling.

MommyIvy said...

Thanks for sharing Carliegh's story again. I will be praying for you.

Joye @ The Joyeful Journey said...

Holly, this was just heartbreaking to read. I am so proud of you for posting it and for being such a wonderful mommy to your two girls. Little Carleigh is so very loved. And I know she felt it even in your womb.

The moment you had to say good bye is one I will never forget, either. That is the hardest. I know that we will see them again--beaming in heaven, but it is so hard to let them go.

My heart and prayers are with you, sweet Holly.
I just received my captive opal in the mail and it means so much to me. It will remind me to pray for the mothers of babies in heaven, and for my own little one.

Thank you, Holly!

Anonymous said...

Holly, I am so very sorry you have had a bad week. Thank you for sharing with us about Carleigh. I am very sad that you lost her.I hope you are comforted somewhat in that you were able to spend time with her and get the mementoes you have of her. I know how important that is, to have tangible reminders of our babies who are with the Lord.I grieve along with you and I pray for you often, just as I prayed for you when we drove through Ohio.God bless you and may our Lord make your load easier to bear.
Blessings, Sarita

The Dortenzos said...

WOW Holly that was heartbreaking to read! Your love for your sweet girl was so evident in your words! I am so sorry for your pain and loss! This was a hard post for me and our Cicely has been gone for 6 years--I can not imagine the pain of writing this and having it be so very new and fresh in your brain and heart--you are amazing for being willing to share and help others along in the midst of your deep sorrow!

Blessings to you! Praying for you as you continue on this journey!

Emily said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It helps. I agree about making as many memories as you can. We have a few photos but mostly cruddy polaroids. But I am plenty glad to have those, even if I wish I had more.

Linda said...

Holly,...I wish I was there to give you a hug. After reading this I continue to be amazed at the strength you have,.. and the way you reach out and minister to others while you are still in your grief. I mean all of this is still so fresh,...your pain is still there....and you are sharing it, so that others can be helped! I know God is your source. Only by His power could you get through all of this. It does bring glory to His name.

You and Lynnette are certainly "soul sisters" because you have gone through the same things, and can both understand the depth of sorrows.

But praise God, can also share in the victory God gives,...and the return of joy to your lives.

I am praying for you.
Sending my love,
Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

croleyc69 said...

Thanx for sharing everytime I read it it still brings tears to my eyes. Holly you are amazing & so glad I met you on here. I have been thinking about Jodi & praying for all of you Mommies out there. Carleigh's journey has changed my life so much. HUGS :)

April said...

HOlly - everything I read your story of Carleigh - whether here or through your Weeks at consuling, it brings me to such heart tugging tears. I know you hold each of those memories dear to your heart. You have such a precious little girl!

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