My Daughters’ Names

What’s in a name?

Choosing my daughters’ names was not a task that I took lightly. We made many lists, and considered ancestry, word origins & the meanings of different names. First names have to flow properly and sound right with the middle and last names. There’s so much to consider, because you are not really naming a baby, you are naming an adult. I feel that any name must work for whatever profession my child chooses to pursue , whether that be writer, teacher, lawyer or President of the United States.

My oldest daughter is Lakin Leigh. Lakin is my middle name, and my paternal grandmother’s maiden name. Leigh is the more feminine spelling of her father’s middle name, Lee. It flows beautifully with our last name. Her name was decided before we knew she was a girl, before we were even pregnant. Her name suits her perfectly.

Lakin Leigh

If she had been a boy, the name we had chosen was Andrew Patrick. I loved this name at the time, so much so that we considered it again when pregnant with our second child. Ultimately, I can’t picture myself as the mother of an Andrew or a Patrick, though I’m sure I would still be in love with the name if my oldest had been a boy child. Funny how that works, eh?

My second daughter is Addah Shannon. I had loved the name Addah since high school, when I had a brief friendship with a beautiful blond girl by that name. Her middle name is from the River Shannon in Ireland, and goes well with our very Irish last name. As it turns out, “Ada” is a family name, though I did not know that when we chose the name. I realized pretty quickly after Addah was born that we would forever be correcting the spelling and pronunciation of her name, but it never seems to bother her. The English meaning of Addah/Ada is “happy” and the Irish meaning of Shannon is “little old wise one”. My Addah is indeed a very happy and wise child, just as her name suggests.

Addah Shannon

Unlike our first pregnancy, on the second time around, we did not find out whether we were having a boy or girl via ultrasound. If Addah had been a boy, which I was absolutely convinced of until she was born, the name we had chosen was Rory Patrick. I still love this name, though it didn’t feel right anymore by the time we were pregnant with our last baby. Different husband, different place in my life, but still, a lovely boy’s name.

David and I considered hundreds of names for our third baby before we settled on Clara Edith. Clara means “clear, bright, famous” and Edith means “prosperous in war”. We had five early miscarriages before we conceived Clara, and we were in a very dark time financially when we became pregnant with her. She was the symbol of our clear and bright future, and we felt very prosperous in love, even during the war we were waging on our financial circumstances. Clara is a lovely old-fashioned name, and not one that you hear very often, which is exactly what we were looking for. Edith was my paternal grandmother’s first name, which makes the name even more special to us. It is the perfect name for this beautiful child.

Clara Edith (photo by Carly Marie Project Heal)

We had a perfect boy name picked out as well, in case Clara had been a boy. It is still our favorite boy name, and we hope that we will one day be able to bestow it on a son, so it shall remain private for now.

I adore all of my daughters’ names, and wouldn’t change them for the world. I think their names suit them perfectly, and I can’t imagine them being called by any other name.

How did you decide on your children’s names? Are they named after family members, friends, or famous people? Do you prefer classic or unusual names?

Random Struggles

This week is filled with random struggles. The beginning of the month is always hard, as I am consumed with thoughts of how old Clara would be (8 months now), what she would be doing (crawling? standing? saying “dada”?) and images of what she might have looked like by now. Then I have to go look at my photo albums so I can remember what Lakin and Addah looked like at 8 months old. It’s a special kind of torment.

By mid-month, I’ve usually pulled it together some and I can get things done as they come up, cross things off the to-do list, but as the end of the month approaches, I start thinking about how it’s almost the beginning of the month, almost the 1st, almost another entire month that she would be older now. And it starts all over again, the ugly cycle.

I can’t imagine that there might be a day when I won’t know precisely how old my third daughter would have been, if she had lived. Will I still be tormenting myself when she would have been 3 years old, 10 years old, 17 years old, 30 years old? Yes, I probably will.

Random Struggles - My older girls at 8 months
Lakin and Addah at 8 months old

My oldest little brother and his wife are due with their second baby this coming Saturday. They found out they were pregnant on the day that Clara died. I am very happy for them, but I am a nervous wreck as their due date inches closer. I refuse to entertain any thoughts of bad things happening, though they bump around in my mind against my will. I am eager for the phone call that tells me that my new nephew is here, safe in his mama’s arms, nursing happily while his proud daddy and big sister look on.

I feel like I have more to say, but the words aren’t coming this morning. I feel like this litany of my random struggles is too disorganized to even be published, but it’s the best I’ve got for you today.

I’m linking up several places today for Wordful/Wordless Wednesday…

live out loud button better in bulk button seven clown circus button babybabylemon jenni from the blog button pictimilitude button
Fresh Mommy Blog parenting BY dummies
Wordless Wednesday by David Good Girl Gone Wife
organic-mama.ca 5 Minutes for Mom

She Was Still Born

I have been trying to find the mental fortitude to write our youngest daughter’s birth story for five weeks. I want the details down before I forget them. I feel sure I may have already forgotten some things, but those are just the little things, nuances and comments made in that first endless week.

I have learned very quickly that after that first week or two after a child is born still, people don’t really want to hear about it anymore. It is such a sad and nonsensical thing, that a baby would die for no clear reason, and most people would rather not think about such unpleasantness. I am no longer asked how I am doing by most of the people I know. I have heard, “but it’s been a month, don’t you feel any better?” by a well-meaning friend. I do not feel better, and I do not want to forget a moment of this wonderful child’s existence.

The story is not short. It is not happy or uplifting.

Our daughter was stillborn at 42 weeks 3 days. She never opened her blue eyes. She never cried. She never nursed at my breast or grabbed her daddy’s finger with her chubby hand, but she was still born, and she deserves to be remembered forever.

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I had been having contractions on and off for several weeks. Sometimes they were only slightly painful, coming every 10-15 minutes and lasting 20-30 seconds. At other times they were intense enough to need to breathe through, coming every 5 minutes and lasting a minute or so. Each time I was sure “this is it” and each time the contractions would slow down and then stop completely while I slept, only to start again the next afternoon. I made sure to drink a lot of water and orange juice, thinking that the contractions could be a sign of dehydration and wanting to be sure that wasn’t the case.

I reached the 40 week mark on June 14th. I was thrilled to have made it to my due date, feeling a little arrogant about how the doctors had said I would “never carry a baby to full term”, but also feeling ready for our baby girl to make her appearance. We had read all of the research that shows that 40 weeks is just the average length of a normal pregnancy — anything from 38 to 42 weeks is considered in the normal range, and I know of several women who have had their babies at 43 and 44 weeks. We weren’t worried.

Our baby was moving a lot throughout the day and night, kicking my rib cage with enthusiasm and wedging her little head so far down into my pelvis that I felt like I was going to squish her when I sat down. At 40 weeks, I was dilated to 4cm and 100% effaced. The contractions continued daily, and we felt like any minute they would evolve into full blown labor.

At 41 weeks, I was still 4cm and baby girl was at 0 station. We discussed induction but decided against it. I wanted a vaginal birth after cesarean very badly, and pitocin is generally contraindicated in a VBAC, particularly when the mom has a “special scar” like I have (an inverted T incision from Addah’s birth, which basically means that my uterus was cut both low transverse and vertically). It’s been 9.5 years since she was born, but I still didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks with uterine rupture.

By this point I was very uncomfortable and ready to not be pregnant. I cried one night that I just wanted to go have a c-section, just so I wouldn’t be pregnant anymore. I didn’t really want that, not then and not looking back, but when your hips and back are aching with every movement, you start to feel a little irrational. David and I had a long soul-searching conversation over the course of a couple days and decided that, since baby girl was still fine, with a great heart rate and passing every kick count, we’d give it until 42 weeks and then reconsider the hospital induction. We felt very good about this decision, having weighed all of our options.

On the afternoon of Thursday, June 28th, the day that I hit 42 weeks, we made the decision that if I was not in “real labor” by the next night, when the girls were supposed to go to their dad’s house, we would go into the hospital for a medical induction. We didn’t make this decision based on any worry about the baby’s health, as she was still kicking quite exuberantly in her very tight living quarters. We made the decision because I was uncomfortable and oh-so-ready to meet our baby.

I woke up on Friday morning to contractions, but this time they felt different. They were more painful, radiating from back to front and sometimes down into my thighs. I told David that I was pretty sure these weren’t going to stop. They felt more real than any of the other times. I was able to manage them fairly easily at this point. David went to work and I went through the motions of my day, stopping to breathe through contractions when necessary.

At one point that morning, I remember telling Addah that her baby sister has hiccups, and remarking to David that it feels very strange having hiccups in one’s vagina.

The contractions slowed down that night but never stopped completely. The next day was much like the one before, painful contractions but nothing I couldn’t handle. I was very excited, getting the last of the baby things in order, picking out her first outfit and debating about which blankets matched which outfit the best.

By Saturday evening, the contractions were coming much closer and more intense. I told David that “we’re going to have a baby tonight”. I wanted to sleep while I still could, to conserve energy for the birth to come. I would wake up to breathe through a contraction and then fall right back asleep. I slept this way all night, fitfully but still getting some much needed rest.

I woke up on Sunday in real pain. It didn’t feel like the labor I’d been having, and it didn’t feel like the way countless books and birth stories and friends have described labor. It was pain and it was harsh. I couldn’t sit, couldn’t stand, couldn’t lay down, couldn’t make it to the bathroom without help and I felt like “if this is what labor really feels like, I give up”. I told David that something felt wrong, that it hurt too much and I needed to go to the hospital NOW.

He grabbed my purse and the diaper bag. Lee’s husband Benjamin helped me into their minivan and we sped toward the hospital. Each bump on the (under construction) interstate felt like I was going to split in two, and the 10-minute drive felt like it took hours. David parked in front of the entrance for Labor & Delivery, grabbed a wheelchair and helped me into it. We went upstairs and were asked to wait “just a moment” in the waiting room, while they made sure they had a room available for us. Those five minutes sitting in the wheelchair in the waiting room were awful… I was crying… I just wanted the pain to stop. They didn’t even feel like contractions that stop and start anymore… just pain that wouldn’t end.

We were taken to a room and the nurse hooked up the heartbeat and contraction monitors while the billing lady took my insurance cards and information. I was asked if I wanted to attempt a VBAC and I said “yes, I wanted to go natural but I think I need something for the pain… not an epidural but something because I can’t handle this”. The nurse said “sounds good, we’ll get you something as soon as we get the monitors up and running”. A different nurse came in to check my dilation and said I was “5cm, 100% effaced, baby is at +1 station”. I felt amazed… they were going to “let” me have a vaginal birth without arguing that a cesarean would be a better option!

David was sitting by my head, holding my hand, both of us as excited as children at Christmas. We were about to have a baby! The nurses were using a handheld doppler to find the heartbeat, and it seemed odd that it was taking so long. They said that “maybe it’s because she’s so far down in your pelvis” and brought in an ultrasound machine and tech. A couple minutes went by and the tech said (very cheerfully), “we’re going to have the doctor come take a look”. I was still in pain, trying to focus on the baby and on David, not paying a lot of attention to what the nurses were doing.

The doctor came in and began the ultrasound. After a couple more minutes, David and I looked at each other and the realization that there was a problem began to dawn. I said, “can you not find her heartbeat?” and the doctor said “no, here is her rib cage and there is no heartbeat there”.

Time seemed to slow to a crawl. I felt cold, lost in some surreal nightmare. David ran to the bathroom and collapsed to the floor, sobbing. The nurses and tech disappeared from our room. The doctor said “I’m so sorry”. David asked if he could possibly be wrong, that maybe he made a mistake. The doctor said that there are no guarantees in life and that there was a chance he was wrong. I asked “how quickly can you get her out?” and he answered “with a cesarean, we can get her out right now”. I said, “then do it, get her out now”.

All thoughts of my much coveted vaginal birth after cesarean were gone from my mind. If a cesarean can save my daughter, do it and do it immediately. Cut me from stem to stern if that’s what it takes for my baby to be okay. But of course, I realized later that the doctor must have known he wasn’t wrong, that our baby was already gone.

Over the next 15 minutes, I signed a consent form, was shaved and prepped for surgery, and had my blood typed. David changed quickly into blue paper scrubs and we were whisked down a hall full of the sounds of babies crying. Once in the operating room, a spinal was administered and before David was even in the room by my side, the surgery was in progress. I was crying, but still believed absolutely that they were wrong. I would hear her cries any minute. She might need some help, maybe she’d need to go to the NICU, but she would be fine.

The smell of infection filled the room when our doctor opened my uterus. David stood and watched as the doctor pulled our daughter from my body. He looked down and said, “she’s pink, they’re working on her” and again I thought that she would be okay, they would fix her. The operating room was silent, but for the radio playing on a far shelf — the line “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” from Semisonic’s “Closing Time” was playing as my husband looked down at me and shook his head slowly.

I began to sob in earnest and the anesthesiologist, with tears running down his own face, gave me “something for anxiety”. The nurse called David over and handed him our beautiful daughter, Clara Edith. He brought her to me and I touched her cheek, still warm from my body. I wanted to hold her so badly, and I was assured that they would take pictures of her right then and bring her to me as soon as I got out of surgery. David handed her back to a nurse and she was carried from the operating room.

It took almost an hour and a half after Clara was born before the doctors were done cleaning out all of the infection in my uterus. I was told that my bladder had to be peeled off of my uterus and that I had “a whole lot of adhesions that needed to be removed”. I was taken back down the hall of crying and healthy babies to a room at the end, where my husband and I waited for our lifeless daughter to be brought to us.

An hour after the surgery, a nurse brought in a cart with a white basket draped in a hospital blanket. She asked if I wanted to hold her and I said that I did. She laid my baby girl in my arms and told us to take as long as we needed.

Our Clara looked just like David, but also just like Lakin and Addah. Her hair was dark, like her oldest sister’s had been at birth. We had expected a blond baby, like David, Addah and I had been. Her dark hair made it worse somehow, because she reminded me so much of Lakin, my first baby. Her fingers were longer even than her sisters’ had been and I remarked that “she has artist’s hands”. I lifted an eyelid to see that her eyes were bright blue, like her mama and daddy. I placed my hand on her chest and begged her to breathe. David held her little hand and we clung to one another, trying to figure out how we fell into this terrible nightmare and hoping beyond hope that we would wake up and our sweet girl would be alive.

We held her and told her how much we loved her for a long time. Our families did not know that we had gone to the hospital, so for a short time, it was just the three of us and we did not have to share her. The horror of sharing the news with our families would come later but for now, we tried to memorize every detail of this beautiful and wonderful child that we had waited and wished for.

Finally, we handed her back to the nurse. I felt lost, utterly lost. What does one do in this situation? What the hell happened? David and I were devastated. We alternated holding one another and and staring at one another in stunned silence, still trying to begin to process the previous three hours.

I didn’t think at that time that I would want to hold her again after that first time, but David’s mom wanted to see her late that night, and when the nurse brought her back to our room, I had an overwhelming need to have her in my arms. I broke down completely at that point. I sobbed, feeling my heart break into pieces all over again. I am very grateful that Lee was there by then to hold and comfort the two of us.

The next week was a haze of physical and emotional pain, visitors and phone calls from people who don’t know the right things to say (because there is no right thing to say), repeating this story over and over, and long sleepless tearful nights with nurses who I used like personal therapists. My blood pressure was dangerously low and I had a raging infection that threatened to take my uterus before it finally came under control. I came home on Friday, July 6th. I left the hospital clutching a soft pink bunny, the one that my Papa gave us at our baby shower, instead of our baby girl.

I sleep with that little pink bunny still, 5 weeks later. I don’t sleep as much as I used to. The tiniest things can trigger a major meltdown. David and I feel very alone in our grief and sadness, though we know now that 1 in 115 pregnancies end in stillbirth. I am consumed with guilt and “what if” scenarios that play on constant repeat in my brain.

What if we had decided to medically induce at 40 weeks? What if we had decided 41 weeks was our limit? What if we had gone on to the hospital as soon as those contractions started on the Friday before she was born?

The doctor said she had been gone between 1 and 3 days. I know she had hiccups on Friday morning. After that, I was having contractions and I could have sworn she was still moving and kicking on Saturday night, but I couldn’t swear to it. I was in labor and thought that any slowing in movement was because I was in labor. She died sometime between Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. The doctor’s theory is that my amniotic fluid level dropped drastically and she passed and ingested meconium, which poisoned her and ended her life. Her decomposition was already advanced enough that it had to be at least 24 hours, so I was told. Her death caused the uterine infection that made my labor go from normal labor pain to excruciating pain overnight. I was told that if I had waited another day to come in, I would have lost my uterus and possibly, my life. We were told that it was nothing we had done, that it was nothing we could have predicted, not to feel guilty. Still, those feelings persist.

The only thing that brings David and I any comfort is knowing that Clara always knew how much we loved her and how much we wanted her. We talked to her throughout each day, and she would kick and punch at our touch on my belly. We sang to her. David would rub my belly every night and she would always get so active when she’d hear her Daddy’s voice.

She was loved, truly. The time she had with us was beautiful and we will never forget a moment of it.

I only wish that it could have lasted for longer. She lives, now and always, in our hearts.

Clara Edith Webb
Born still on Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 3:45pm
7 pounds 9 ounces | 20.5 inches
 
Clara, our stillborn baby girl 7/1/12
Memorial Ticker for Clara

Thank You

I realized that I have updated various groups and individuals about “how I am doing”, but haven’t updated here on my own blog. Physically, I am doing better. I’m in a fair amount of pain from my third c-section and the uterine/bladder infection, and I developed thrush from the high dosages of antibiotics, but my arsenal of medications helps with all three issues.

Emotionally, I am… okay. I have Lakin, Addah, David & Lee to keep me from getting too close to the edge of the (very attractive) cliff. I cry a lot. I miss my baby more than words could ever say. I try to stay busy during the day but the nights are harder.

I am pumping breastmilk, hoping to establish a milk supply that I can donate to Wake Forest’s Milk Bank. I loved nursing my older girls so very much that I could not bear to let my milk go to waste. I may not be able to feed my Clara, but I can feed someone else’s Clara. It’s hard… much harder than breastfeeding ever was, but it’s something I feel like I have to do.

I can’t thank everyone enough for the outpouring of love and support that everyone has shown our family. I’m sure I have missed some phone calls, text messages and emails/messages… it was not intentional. I love you all.


Clara Edith Webb

Our beautiful baby girl, Clara Edith Webb, was born still on July 1, 2012 at 3:45pm, by repeat c-section at 42 weeks 3 days gestation. She was 7 pounds 9 ounces and 20.5 inches long, my biggest baby by nearly 2 pounds and 2 inches. The doctor estimates she had been gone for anywhere from 1-3 days. I have a horrible uterine infection that you could smell as soon as he opened my abdomen. They dont know if I got the infection from her passing or if my infection caused her death.

She is beautiful. It’s just not fair & we can’t process this at all yet. My blood pressure is very low, temperature is high, urine output is low, uterus is boggy. The doctor is talking about a hysterectomy if we don’t see marked improvement by Wednesday.

Thank you all for supporting us these many months. I wish I had anything but this news to share. Our Clara was so very loved and so badly wanted. Nothing will ever replace her.



The Birth Story of Addah Shannon

Our beautiful youngest daughter was born on December 9, 2002!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Addah Shannon!
Addah weighed 4 lbs 5.8 oz and was 17 inches long @ 33½ weeks gestation!
My second daughter in the NICU - Addah's Birth Story

 

The Beginning:

I guess I should start off with the birth story of my first daughter Lakin, since it is through her birth that I decided on the path to Addah’s birth. I was induced at 37 weeks with Lakin because though I was not in active labor, I was dilated to 2cm and the doctor thought we might as well. I didn’t know any better and went along with it. After 12 hours of Pitocin and a nasty dose of Stadol, I had only dilated to 5cm. I was declared “failure to progress” and a c-section was performed. Lakin Leigh was 5 lbs 14 oz and 18 3/4 inches long. Although at the time I was thrilled to finally have my baby, in the weeks afterward I realized just how wrong my birth went. I never intended to have a c-section, I didn’t and don’t feel it was necessary. My body did not fail to progress, my doctor failed to be patient and wait for my body to labor and progress on its own timetable. I resolved to never have an experience like that again and planned for a home vaginal birth after cesarean for our next baby.

We never used birth control after Lakin was born. It had taken us 15 months to get pregnant with her and since we wanted our children to be close in age, and since I was breastfeeding, we didn’t want to add any more elements to keep us from conceiving as soon as possible. We were never clear on our actual conception date because I was nursing our older daughter Lakin and had not yet gotten my menstrual cycles back. I do know that the date we took our first positive pregnancy test was March 23, 2002, putting our due date at approximately late December/early January 2003.

My pregnancy was very normal, seemingly as textbook as my pregnancy with Lakin. I felt fine, gained very little weight (10 lbs, which is normal for me). My blood pressure never went over 120/80, fundal height consistent with a late Dec./early Jan. due date; baby’s heartbeat remained between 140 and 162 every time we checked with our rented Doppler and from late August on, baby’s movements were very active. We chose not to have any ultrasounds since all signs pointed to a normal pregnancy and baby, and since we had no desire to know baby’s sex. We planned a home vaginal birth after cesarean: read everything we could get our hands on, gathered our supplies, and got ourselves as ready as we could.

On October 22, I woke up having mildly uncomfortable contractions. I took a hot bath, drank several glasses of water and went back to bed. After several hours the contractions slowed and then stopped. Contractions continued to come and go throughout November, some so hard that I just “knew” I was in labor but they always slowed and stopped after a while.

On December 4, 2002, our county was hit with a hard electrical storm and we lost our power. After a long night of contractions by candlelight, it was getting cold enough in the house that we decided to head to my mom’s house. It was the first time in over a month that I thought, “please don’t let me go into active labor right now”. All I wanted was to get back into my home with my privacy before labor started.

Off to the Hospital:

On December 7, 2002 at 4:00 am, Drew, Lakin and I were relaxing on my brother’s bed when I felt a “pop” and a gush of fluid. I told Drew that I thought my water had broken, but when I put my hand down to check for fluid, there was bright red blood instead. I rushed to the toilet and sat for a few minutes, thinking that the bleeding would slow or stop, that maybe it was nothing. In hindsight, I wasn’t really thinking clearly at all, I was panicking and my head was pounding. I started crying and told Drew I was scared to go to the hospital. Visions of a repeat cesarean were already rushing through my head but when I stood up and the blood gushed out again onto the floor, I knew I didn’t have much choice.

We arrived at the hospital at 4:30 am and were taken immediately to Labor and Delivery Outpatient for monitoring. Blood was still gushing out and I had soaked three towels by this point. I was hooked up to a fetal monitor, which showed that baby was doing wonderfully. I was swabbed for several tests and an ultrasound machine was brought in to verify that baby was okay. At this point, baby was head down and my placenta was low-lying but not over my cervix. 2½ hours later another ultrasound was performed and our baby had flipped to a back up, transverse lie and was being blocked from flipping back down by my placenta. An hour after that we had a 3rd ultrasound and baby was still transverse.

Three different doctors came in to tell me how dangerous and negligent we were being by having planned a vaginal birth after cesarean and one told Drew he would never “allow” his wife to make such a decision. We were feeling pretty antagonistic towards the staff by this point and just wanted an answer as to what was going on so we could know what would happen next. I was still very much planning on having a vaginal birth and since the ultrasound showed the baby to be pretty small, I wasn’t concerned with the transverse lie. After all, baby had just turned from head down to transverse so baby could still turn back, right?

Tests all came back normal. I was moved to a regular Labor and Delivery room and shortly after 9:30 am, the bleeding slowed and then stopped.

At 12 pm the bleeding was still stopped and I felt much better. The doctor wanted me to stay for another few hours for monitoring but Drew and I decided to go on home. We left the hospital at 1 pm, I ate a sandwich and went to bed.

At 11:30 pm I woke up, went to the bathroom and ate some dinner. We were lying in bed watching TV when I felt a gush. I said, “I think I’m bleeding again” and then I felt something coming out of me. I reached down in time to feel a very large (2-3″) blood clot slide out of me. I didn’t know what it was or what to think and was freaking out. Drew called 911 and I called my mother to come pick up Lakin.

The ambulance arrived very fast and at 12:30 am I was re-admitted to Labor and Delivery. My blood pressure had spiked to 160/100 in the ambulance but it stabilized and went down quickly. Fetal monitors still showed baby doing great and another ultrasound showed that baby was still transverse, with feet dangling by my cervix. Measurements showed our baby to be 33 weeks and 2 days, completely inconsistent with our test date, and seemingly impossible since we had a non-existent sex life because I had such awful morning sickness until mid-May.

Doctors began considering that our baby had intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR) and the preliminary diagnosis given was a sub-clinical placental abruption, a fissure too small to be seen by ultrasound and too small to hurt the baby, but large enough to cause frank vaginal bleeding and large enough to have caused IUGR in our baby. I had fallen over a baby gate in our house back in August… the abruption could have happened then and just not been big enough to cause bleeding until now.

Bleeding slowed again at around 10 pm on December 7, 2002 but at this point neither Drew nor I even considered leaving. It had become apparent that this was quite serious and that it was not going to go away. I was quickly seeing my VBAC dreams go out the window and Drew and I spent much time talking and crying, trying to make peace with the huge possibility that I would have a repeat cesarean.

At 1 am on December 8, 2002 I was moved to the High-Risk wing on the Labor and Delivery floor and I was given a steroid shot to hasten lung maturity. The next morning I was taken across the hospital complex for a level 2 ultrasound. Measurements still showed baby at 33 weeks 2 days. The only abnormality found was a 2-vessel umbilical cord instead of a 3-vessel cord. We were told that while not common, this is not exactly uncommon either and probably was not a big deal.

The heads of High-Risk OB and Maternal/Fetal Medicine asked us to consider an amniocentesis so that if an emergency occurred and delivery became necessary, we would have some idea of baby’s lung maturity. We decided to do the amnio at 11:45am. It was not as painful as I’d feared it would be, but certainly very uncomfortable and more than a little scary. Amnio results came back that baby’s lungs are not mature, only rating a 24 when 50 is considered mature.

I went back to my room in high-risk L&D. I had some cramping, which I was told was normal with an amniocentesis. Three doctors came in and all mentioned discharging me within 24 hours and scheduling me to come back in for another ultrasound and amniocentesis in a couple of weeks. With baby lying transverse and my placenta partially abrupted, I was told I had no choice but to have a c-section. In my head I was still defiant — I thought I could go home, no more bleeding, baby would flip head-down and I could still have a VBAC. I made arrangements for Lakin to come up to the hospital to be with us and was feeling much better all around. It was a wonderful relief to know that baby was doing so well on the monitors and that I could go home soon.

Drew left to go run errands and my mom was on her way to bring Lakin at 5pm. I called Drew at home to remind him to bring Lakin’s pajamas and we hung up when my nurse came in to take my vitals. She commented that the baby and I were doing very well, said she was planning to take the monitors off in a while so I could get some real sleep and asked if I felt okay. I said yes, that the bleeding had almost stopped completely again. She left and had been gone no more than 90 seconds when I felt a big gush of fluid again. I hit the nurse call button and she came back in; I told her I thought I had started bleeding again. She pulled back the covers and freaked out! I had passed another large blood clot and I thought this nurse might just faint. She ran for the doctor, who ran in the room…. Everything started happening so quickly. The doctor thought my water might have broken too and decided to do a litmus test to check. Drew walked in the door while I was being tested and a moment later, my sister Hilary and Lakin appeared at the door. I had been waiting all day to see Lakin and I had to tell them to leave, that we would call.

The Birth:

The litmus test was positive for amniotic fluid, the head doctor of high-risk OB was called and it was decided that our baby needed to be born. A quick ultrasound was done and baby was still transverse and very high. Of course this means we had no option but to have a repeat cesarean.

Everything seemed to be happening at the same time all around us and we were more than a little scared. We were rushed back to the Operating Room Recovery Room, where it was discovered that my IV line was no longer running. It was taken out and 3 different people starting trying to get another IV, plus 1 nurse trying to draw blood. I had 2 people on each arm, poking and prodding and then starting over since they couldn’t find any veins. I ended up with cotton balls and tape on the inside of both wrists, on top of both hands and in each elbow. The IV ended up being placed on the inside of my left wrist, a really painful spot. I was in tears and in horrible pain from all of the needles.

At this point the doctor came in and explained that since no abruption was showing on ultrasound, that there was also the possibility that I had the opposite problem, a placenta acreta, where the placenta fuses to the uterine wall. To remove it forcefully can cause massive blood loss and maternal death, so he said that if he encountered that problem, that he would perform a hysterectomy. I was losing it by now. I was so tired, having contractions, lying in a pool of gushing blood, needles in both arms, facing an eminent repeat c-section and being told that I might have to have a hysterectomy. I think I started to shut down at this point, I remember feeling dizzy and then I drifted in and out of sleep for what felt like hours but was really only 5 minutes.

We were waiting for 4 units of blood to be sent up from the lab in case I needed a transfusion. Since the baby was still doing well on the monitor, it was decided that I had time for an epidural rather than the spinal I had asked for or the general anesthesia that we had feared as a possibility. The epidural was just as awful as I remembered from Lakin. My lower back is the most sensitive spot on my body and I could not hold myself still to save my life. I finally had what felt like an out-of-body experience; I focused on the spots on the chair in front of me and disconnected my brain while the epidural was inserted. A test dose was given and within 3 minutes I couldn’t feel my bottom or hips.

The blood was brought up, Drew changed into his scrubs and I was whisked into the OR. The nurse-anesthesiologist tested to make sure I couldn’t feel anything and the drape was put up. I asked for Drew “before they start” and the anesthesiologist said that they had already started, that my belly was opened already. I remembered the intense pulling and pressure from when Lakin was born but it seemed to be taking so much longer this time. I later found out that the doctor initially opened my belly and uterus on my previous cesarean scars, both of which were low transverse incisions, but that the baby was so high that my uterus had to also be cut vertically and diagonally, leaving me with a K-shaped incision on my uterus.

I heard a suctioning sound and then a loud cry, followed by “It’s a little girl!” and I started crying. Addah Shannon was born at exactly 8:00pm on December 9, 2002. She was crying so loudly and sounded wonderful. The NICU team checked her over and gave her the Apgar scores of 6 and 9, wonderful for such a tiny little early baby. She was brought around for us to see briefly and then Drew left to follow her to the NICU. I was closed up and taken back to the Recovery Room, where my mom and aunt were waiting for me. My vitals were checked again and at about 10pm I was taken to the NICU to see Addah and then moved to a regular Mother/Baby room.

My first impression was of how tiny she was, my fingertip filled her little hand and her head was no bigger than an orange. She weighed 4 lbs 5.8 oz at birth and was 17 inches long.

The Story Continues:

She was put on a forced oxygen breather at 25% oxygen, which we were told was very good since we only breathe 21% and this wasn’t much different. By 6am she had been taken off of the oxygen and was breathing regular room air.

A breast pump was brought to me this morning at about 8am and I started pumping. I was so proud of the 1 oz. of colostrum I was able to pump! As far as I was concerned, breastfeeding was the last thing that I had any control over of with this birth and I would not allow it to be messed with in any way. I started pumping every 1½-2 hours and got a pretty good amount to send down to the NICU.

My catheter was removed at 3pm today and I got up to move around some. I remembered having to relearn how to pee and walk from when Lakin was born, but this was much more excruciating that I remembered, I guess because I had the extra vertical incision this time around. By 6pm I felt good enough to take a wheelchair ride to the NICU to see Addah. She had been moved to a heated isolette and was doing very well. I got to hold her for a few minutes. She was so beautiful, so perfectly formed, like a little china doll.

Visiting my daughter in the NICU - Addah's Birth Story