Five. Warning – not an upbeat post.

Five had always been a favorite number of mine.  I would pick it to use as my number when I played sports in school, whenever I could.  This year, it’s not so much a favorite.

You see, five years ago today, at this time, I was enjoying a dinner/interview with a former coworker.  We were discussing the possibility of me going back to work for the company I had left just 3 years prior.  I will never forget what I had for dinner, and I will never eat that dinner again.  Just as I will likely never set foot in that restaurant again, which is a shame, because it’s a pretty great eatery.

I came home from dinner, excited about the prospect of moving to a SALARIED position (I was working on a commission, high-pressure phone sales job at the time) and being able to support our family as it grew from two to four.  A little before 9 pm, I went to the bathroom, and in an instant, our lives were turned upside down.  I felt a sharp pain, then heard a pop, and felt a huge gush.  I knew that nothing good could come of that, since I was only 19w6d along at the time.
I yelled for Nick to call 911, and as he did, I frantically called my sister.  I was trying to tell my sister what happened, all the while trying to stop the constant flow of amniotic fluid that just kept coming.  The 911 operator told Nick to have me lie down, so I laid down in a pool of the sweet fluid, soaking my nightgown.

The ambulance arrived in a matter of minutes, but it seemed like hours.  I remember feeling like I was in a fog.  I saw my neighbors outside, gathering around the ambulance, wondering what was wrong.  I remember my sister telling me that she was rushing to the hospital.  I remember asking Nick not to leave me.

The ambulance ride wasn’t something I’d recommend to anyone.  If you don’t have to take one, consider yourself lucky.  As if it wasn’t bad enough that I was in and out of it, I was placed into a trendelenburg position, with my feet higher than my head.  They placed an IV to administer fluids.  I remember telling them, “Please take me to UM.  PLEASE take me to UM.  I don’t want to go to St. Joe’s”

Upon arriving at St. Joe’s, we were taken through the halls to triage in Labor & Delivery.  I remember feeling as if the staff was moving at the speed of molasses.  I felt like screaming – MY WATER BROKE AND I AM ONLY 20 WEEKS.  DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT MEANS???  They took me into a room and explained to me that they wanted to do an u/s and check my cervix.  They wanted to do cultures to rule out an STD.  WHAT????  Thoughts rushed through my head… I’m married…and have been with the same man since I was 19.  I don’t have an STD.  WHY AREN’T YOU DOING ANYTHING TO SAVE MY BABIES????

The doctor that came in – I’ll NEVER forget her name…proceeded to tell me that there was nothing that could be done.  Delivery was likely imminent.  We were going to lose our babies.  They recommended that I go home and ‘relax’.

How does someone go home and relax after they were just told their babies were going to die?  How does someone go home and relax when they were told they would likely be delivering within 24-48 hours.  How does someone relax when someone tells you that there’s no MFM/Perinatologist (AKA, High Risk OB) on call, and was refused a consult with the neonatologist?  Yes, you read that right.  We were lied to (there is ALWAYS an MFM/Peri on call) and there is ALWAYS a neonatologist in the hospital.

Basically, we were told, in a nutshell, that our babies’ lives weren’t important enough because I hadn’t yet reached 24 weeks gestation.  Just 4 weeks shy of ‘viability’ and my children’s existence was already being dismissed.

We contemplated going to UM, but thought (incorrectly) that we would be treated the same way.  We know now that they would have admitted me ASAP, started IV fluids, and IV antibiotics to try to prevent any infection.  Doing this MIGHT have saved our girls.  We have NO way of knowing that.  I carry that guilt every day of my life.  The ‘what-if’ situation.  What if we had gone to UM?  What if we had met Dr. VDV that night and not 3 months later?  What if the ambulance would have taken me to UM?  It is something that I will live with forever.  Never knowing the answer.  I plan to ask God that when I meet my girls in Heaven.  Not why they were taken, but could things have been different?

The next day, my horrible @$$ of a doctor refused to see me as his first patient of the day.  Obviously, he rebuked that refusal when I showed up at his office bright and early.  He then proceeded to tell me that the outcome wasn’t good.  If the babies survived, they would likely be very physically impaired/having special needs.  Nick and I didn’t care.  We wanted to hear what we could to do SAVE them.  NOT the other stuff.  When our doc told us, “in cases like this, we recommend termination of the pregnancy, but we can’t do that for you, since we’re a Catholic-affiliated hospital.  You’ll have to go to UM for that.”  We decided to pack up and leave.

Immediately, my sister got on the phone.  She called her contacts at Hurley, from when she was a patient and also experienced a pPROM (though hers was a small leak and not a complete rupture like mine).  They said to come in right away.

The staff at Hurley was amazing.  They did EVERYTHING in their power to try to save our babies.  We had an U/S right away to measure my fluid levels and the prognosis was bleak.  Baby A had little to no fluid.  Baby B was happy as a clam, and we learned right away that she was indeed a girl.

The next day, baby A’s cord prolapsed.  The staff did everything they could to get it back in, but it wasn’t working.  We lost her a little while later.  I listened to her heart beat slow with a doppler until it was quiet.  Just the sound of swooshing fluid (what was left).  They checked baby B – she was still alive and well.  I delivered Angelina stillborn two days later.

Extra precautions were taken to try to keep Baby B safe and sound inside, but an infection was quickly setting in.  Called chorioamnionitis, there is no cure for it except delivery.  Despite being on 3 different types of major IV antibiotics, I was getting septic. My white count was in the hundreds of thousands, and my temp was over 104F.  The doctor spoke with us about terminating.  We explained that we didn’t want to do that since we already had Angelina – we felt like this baby needed to be laid to rest with her sister.  They lived together – they would rest together.  I tried to hold them off and Nick had to make the most difficult decision any person has to make.  Choose your wife, or your child.  Possibly lose both.

The induction started a few hours later.  Gabriella was born in the early hours of the morning – the chief perinatologist had just arrived and barely had time to change into ‘protective gear’.  She was born alive and looked just like Nick.  I gasped when I first saw her.  Everything about her was perfect.  She had my lips, Nick’s nose, my chin, and we think she would have looked like Christopher.

The hospital took photos of her for us, and of course we treasure those as they are the only ones we have of her alive.

And so…here we are.  Five years later.  On the anniversary of the day that started our roller coaster ride.  We had just registered for our baby shower the weekend before.  The next weekend was  their funeral and within weeks we were trying to explain WHY we wanted to cancel our registry and were picking out the type of granite we wanted for their headstone.

Things are just as clear to me today as they were 5 years ago.  The sounds, the smells, the sights. I’ve been told that’s because I suffer from PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I wasn’t diagnosed with it until I was pregnant with Christopher.  It explains everything.  The flashbacks.  The anxiety.  The irritability.

So please, tread lightly with your words.

We are NOT happy that we have angels watching over us in heaven.  We’d rather that they be here with us.  We don’t consider it a blessing – raising multiples would have been difficult, but having to bury your children is likely much much worse.  We don’t like to hear about other parents that have lost children and have gone on to have families, like us.  It makes us sad for those parents, not happy to know that there are others that have suffered.

Child loss seems to be such a taboo subject, even in the year 2011.  People don’t seem to realize how prevalent pregnancy loss, especially late pregnancy loss, from the 2nd trimester on, is in the year 2011.  Either they don’t realize it, or they just ignore it.  It’s an awful club to join.  I remember reading this early on in our grieving journey.

A child that has lost a parent is called an orphan; a spouse that has lost their partner is called a widow(er); and yet, there is NO one word in the English language that says “Bereaved Parent”.



4 comments to Five. Warning – not an upbeat post.

  • Lareina

    Beautiful post. I’m thinking of you and your beautiful girls today and always. Hugz.

  • Lori

    I also will always remember the day. I remember being at TW & Friends for dinner wondering where you were. I couldn’t undertand why you didn’t show. I had recently spoken with you and was expecting you. I kept asking if anyone had heard from you. I wondered what was going on. I knew it wasn’t right that you didn’t come, but not really understanding.

    My thoughts are with you.

  • Monica

    There are no words. :(

    Love you,

  • My bestfriend became my best friend because we were both in the club. It’s so interesting that you called it that. “Welcome to the worst club in the world, it effing sucks. Sorry you joined us.” That’s what I said.

    I’m so sorry you’re in the club too. I wish I had known earlier. I could have listened.

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