Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Induction

So we went to sleep Sunday night wondering when labour would start. The nurses had given me two sleeping pills to make sure I got a good nights sleep and was ready for whatever the next day brought. The pills worked their magic and I was able to sleep pretty soundly until I woke up in the morning to the sound of my neighbour's baby's heartbeat echoing through the room. Not a good way to wake up.

I don't remember a lot of the day. I'm not sure if it's because it was over a month ago now, or if it's because I have blocked a lot of it out to protect myself. Whatever the reason all I know is that Monday was a long difficult day.

At 9am Susan came back to check on me and the induction was starting to work a bit. She decided to put in another Cervidil at that point. I was starting to dilate (only a fingertip dilated tho). She felt this should get things moving a bit more quickly.

My parents came by a while later and I was still only slightly crampy and not really in labour. Tania came back with Jackson in the late morning and visited for a little while. It was great to see Jackson again. I had missed him and needed to see his smiley happy little face. He had had a blast at Tania's house playing with Kai and even learned new tricks (how to jump!).

Brian and my dad had to go out to work for a little while so my mom and Jackson stayed to keep me company. We went for a walk outside for a bit. I couldn't walk too much because the cramping was starting to get a little more painful and it was tiring me out. Once we got back to my room Jackson was in desperate need for a nap so my mom walked him around a bit and we turned a music station on the tv. It was country, which seemed like a good idea at the time. Jackson ended up falling asleep in my mom's arms (I don't know how she does it!) so she laid him down in bed with me and we all ended up having a bit of a nap. It was fantastic to snuggle with Jackson. Definitely something I needed. The only problem was the music! How come all country music is about people dying and sadness!?! It didn't help that the station was having some Rememberance Day tribute to soldiers. And the tv was out of my reach so I couldn't change the station, so instead I laid in bed with snot and tears dripping into Jackson's hair. But don't we look cozy?

After Jackson and my parents left for the day Brian and I settled in for the evening. I was still cramping, but not thinking things were really moving along all that well. The cramping was more constant and I was getting more uncomfortable, but nothing to tell me I would be giving birth any time soon. We ate dinner and then started watching tv.

At 8pm I was on the phone talking to one of my friends and started getting even more uncomfortable. By the time I got off the phone around 8:30 I mentioned to Brian that I thought I might be really going into labour.

This is where I completely lose track of time.

We decided to go for a walk to see if we could speed things up. It worked and the contractions started getting quite a bit more painful. At one point I was standing in the hall just outside our room and got a contraction. I leaned on Brian for this one and one of the nurses came over. She said that she would call Susan and let her know labour was starting. I lost it at this point. I started bawling that I didn't want it to start. I didn't want to give birth to a dead baby. I didn't want my baby to come out, I wanted Daisy to stay in there. It was as if once she was born then it would all be real. It was just too much.

Susan came by and checked me. I was 2 cm dilated. Things were starting. I was able to labour in my room for as long as possible. At one point I was told that I would be staying in my room to give birth too, then they told me I would be moved to labour and delivery for the actual birth. I wasn't sure which option I liked better. I liked the option of staying in my room because I didn't want to go to l&d and hear all the other women giving birth and hearing the baby's first cry and the celebrations that followed. But then I also didn't want to give birth in that room and scare the other poor women that were on bedrest in the next room. Plus I didn't want to have to spend the next few days in the same room that Daisy was born in.

Throughout my entire labour I tried to keep as calm as possible. I kept telling myself to stay calm for Daisy. That Daisy deserved a calm, relaxed birth. There was too much sadness and stress already, labour and the actual birth should not add to that. I told Brian to tell me to stay calm for Daisy any time I started getting worked up. It worked like a charm. I was able to stay quite calm and relaxed for a very long time. At one point (maybe around 4am?) both Brian and I were exhausted so we both got in my tiny hospital bed and tried to get some rest. We ended up falling asleep (oh yeah, I was on morphine at this point). I woke up for each contraction but they had become very mild. This concerned me because I was worried that labour was stalling. Susan came back into the room a while later and I mentioned this to her. She decided to check me again and I was still only 2 cm dilated. Labour was slowing down. We decided that we would go for a walk to try to speed it up again. I walked the hospital halls for a while and then went back to figure out what to do.

Susan gave us the options of: a) letting labour continue on it's own, which could mean it would take a long time if it was slowing down; b) breaking my water, which should speed things up a lot; or c) starting pitocin. I didn't want to start pitocin. I've heard too many horror stories about how painful pitocin labours can be. I didn't want to let labour continue on it's own because I just wanted to give birth! So we decided that she would break my water.

Wow! That worked like a charm. Very shortly after my waters were broken the contractions started getting much more intense. They were painful and I was having a hard time staying calm for Daisy. I still did not want to get an epidural. I was determined to keep this as close to our original plan as possible. Susan brought in the gas (I have no clue what it is) for me to breath in during contractions. I'm not sure if it actually helped with the pain or if it just gave me something else to concentrate on during each contraction.

There was this horrible picture (artwork?) in my room that we had joked about since I was first brought to that room. During labour I was able to focus on the picture and it took my mind off some of the discomfort because we would make fun of how silly the picture is. What in the world does "flower of tulips" mean??

Anyways... We got moved to the l&d ward once labour had progressed a lot. I think they moved me partly for the sake of the other patients on the antepartum ward. It has to be hard to be on hospital bedrest, fearing for the health of your unborn children, and hear a woman going into labour with a baby that has died in the womb. I am glad they moved me for that reason. Plus the room at the end of the l&d ward was free, so I wouldn't be right in the middle of other happy deliveries. I was okay with being moved.

I decided to walk to my new room. I did not want to be wheeled there. I was hoping that walking there would speed things along a little bit more. The last time I was checked I think I was only 4-5 cm.

We got to our new room when it was still dark out, so it must have been before 7am. It was the last room on the labour and delivery ward and it was nice and quiet. I couldn't hear any other woman labouring and definitely couldn't hear anyone celebrating their new arrivals, so I was pleased with this.

I was scared to be in labour and scared to be about to have my baby.

My labour and delivery with Jackson was such a fantastic experience. I am one of those odd women that love giving birth. For the most part I enjoy being pregnant, but I especially love giving birth. With Jackson I only had some morphine, that was all the pain medication I wanted. I wanted to be able to feel him being born, I didn't want to be told when to push; I wanted to just let my body do what it needed to do. I felt in tune with my body more than I have ever felt before. I felt powerful and natural about it all. It was an amazing experience. And when he was born? I cannot even explain how wonderful it was. We had a mirror set up so I could see him coming out (thanks for the words of advice on that, Sarah!). It was amazing to watch him being born, to know that all the pushing, all the pain I'd been feeling was causing that. That all the hard work was paying off and I was going to be holding my precious baby soon. Then when he finally did come out and he was in my arms, it was euphoric. My doctor placed him on my chest, we announced it was a boy, and we were a family. It was the best moment of my life.

I was scared how this experience was going to compare to that. I knew it was going to be so drastically different. I knew it was going to be so intensely sad. I confided to Susan that I was scared that my baby was going to creep me out. That I would be horrified by him because he was dead. That I wouldn't want to hold him, or kiss him, because he wasn't alive. I was worried about what he would look like, what he would feel like (would he be cold?). I was worried that all I'd be able to see when I looked at him was a dead baby. Not my baby, just a dead baby. I didn't want that. I wanted to look at my newborn baby and feel the love and pride that I felt when I looked at Jackson when he was first born. I was just so scared. Susan assured me that I would feel the love, that I wouldn't see a dead baby, I would see my child. She explained that when he was born he would have some bruising (from the birth), his skin may be peeling off in spots (because he had died a few days prior and he'd been in the amniotic fluid for those days), and he may not look like a newborn since he was only 34 weeks and would not have as much fat on him as a newborn would (they believed he was only 34 weeks, not the 36 weeks we now know to be true). We went over what we wanted when the baby was born. We wanted her to clean him up as much as possible, we knew she wouldn't be able to bathe him because his skin would already be peeling. We wanted to hold him right away. Brian wanted to cut the umbilical cord. We wanted her to weigh and measure him and do the footprints. Basically we wanted it to be the same as it would be if he had been born alive.

Once we got to our new room we met our nurse. I don't remember a single thing about her. I know she told me how sorry she was for my loss. I just got used to everyone saying this to me. At this point I'd stopped responding with "It's not fair". Instead I just thanked people. What else do you do in this situation? What else is there to say?

The pain was getting intense quickly. I had already had another morphine shot and was not able to get another one for quite some time. We got the gas working again and that gave me some distraction, but it was still more painful that I remembered from Jackson's birth. I could not find a comfortable position. Every time Susan had me lay back to check me I was blinded by the pain. Labouring on my back was not an option, the only way I could get any relief was to sit up in bed. Finally I started seriously considering an epidural. It was not at all what I wanted but I had never imagined the pain to be this intense. Once it got to the point of telling Susan that I really wanted the epidural she decided to check me again. She lowered the bed again to have me lay back so she could see how far along I was and the pain intensified. I told her that I either needed the epidural or I had to push. She told me that was what she figured; she thought I must be in transition (about to give birth). As she started checking me she was prodding my stomach and I started yelling at her to stop touching me, it was hurting so badly. She checked how far I was dilated and all I heard her say was 'oh, I see a foot'.

During the ultrasound on Sunday Daisy had been head down; and had been for weeks. Apparently at some point between that ultrasound and Tuesday morning the baby had gotten flipped around and was now feet down. And now one of the little feet had started coming out already. As Susan examined me and felt the foot she announced that I could start pushing. This was it.

The pain was incredible. Every contraction hurt like hell. I've heard breech births are more difficult and more painful, but I never really understood until now. I don't know how long I pushed for; I have no clue how long the whole delivery took. I know at one point I was in a lot of pain and was tired and I asked Susan "can't you just pull it out". I regret this statement so much. I hate that I said it. I hate that I referred to my sweet baby as 'it'. I hate that I wanted her to just pull it out, like it was just some thing that I wanted to be out of me. That was not the kind of birth I wanted for Daisy. Not the kind of thing I wanted to say. She deserved so much better than such a crass hurtful statement. I know I was in pain, and the heat of the moment, and all of that, but I am so horrified by the fact that I said that.

The baby was born feet first (Footling Breech) and then the arms were over the head. It was basically the most awkward, painful birth. (I have since learned that Footling Breech births are not that common, especially in full term babies. 10-30% of all breech births are Footling, and only 1-3% of full-term births are Breech births at all.) I had forgotten to mention to Susan that I wanted the mirror set up. I remembered how glad I was that I had that during Jackson's birth and would have liked it this time too. I wish that I had seen his little feet coming out. I think it would have eased the pain a bit too as it would have given me some distraction and some incentive.

At 9:52am our baby was born. Once the baby was completely out both Brian and I looked down (I was already sitting up through the entire delivery) and got to announce "it's a boy!". It was odd. During the entire pregnancy I had been referring to the baby as Daisy. As a girl. But when I looked down and saw my son it just felt right. Just felt like 'of course it's a boy, how could it be anything else?'. Our second son was born. And he was beautiful. I did not see a dead baby. I was not horrified by him, or creeped out by him. He was my son and all I felt was love.

During the last 2 days Brian and I had talked about names. We had always knew what name we wanted to name Daisy if she was a girl. But once we learned that our baby had died we knew we couldn't use that name anymore (and no, we are not sharing what that name was!). It's not that we were going to save the name for any future daughters, it's more that the name just wasn't right for Daisy anymore. We knew that if Daisy was a girl the only name that would be perfect for her was 'Daisy'. She was our Daisy and always would be. But if 'she' was a boy, then what? We had never agreed on a boy's name. We had no clue what name to chose. We had both always loved the name Benjamin. When I was pregnant with Jackson we considered that name but I had researched it in baby books and we quickly vetoed it. I read that in the bible Rachel gave birth to Benjamin but it was a difficult delivery and she died shortly after childbirth. We decided this was just a little to much of a bad omen. On Monday I had brought the name up again to Brian. I told him that the situation was already horrible, it couldn't get much worse than the fact that our baby was already dead. He got a bit annoyed at me for that, reminding me that it still could get much worse. But we agreed. If Daisy was a boy we would name him Benjamin, but we were not allowed to say the name again until after the delivery and I was okay. For the middle name we decided on two family names. I wanted William since on my dad's side of the family all the men are named only 2 of 3 names; James (which is Jackson's middle name), Ross, or William. I wanted Benjamin to carry on this tradition. Then we also wanted to honour Brian's granddad who had passed away. His name was Brian Herbert. We didn't want to use Brian so we agreed on Herbert. So our Daisy became Benjamin William Herbert.

So after Benjamin was born and Brian had cut the umbilical cord, Susan took him to the other side of the room to clean him up. While she did this I finished with the whole birthing process (placenta and all that nasty stuff). Susan weighed him (6 pounds 3 ounces) and measured him. He was 24" long. This was an amazing length. When Jackson was born he was in the higher percentile for length and he was only around 21.5". Benjamin was way off the charts. From his weight, length and head circumference Susan decided he was actually 36 weeks, instead of the 34 weeks she had believed. Even for 36 weeks he was off the charts for length. Even for full term he would have been off the charts. He was a very tall baby.

Susan brought him to us to hold. He was gorgeous. He looked so much like Jackson. He had his chin and his forehead. His nose was a perfect combination of Brian and me. We couldn't see his eyes, he was born with them closed and we didn't want to open them. He had adorable little ears and perfect fingers and toes. Oh, his toes. They were so perfect.

It was bittersweet. It was so surreal to hold him. He was done. He was fully cooked. It just wasn't right at all. He didn't look premature. He didn't look like there was anything wrong with him. Sure, his skin was bruised and peeling in spots (really only his belly tho). But his cheeks were so chubby!

We held him for a long time in that room. Susan and the nurse had left to give us some time with Benjamin. We were holding him at 11am when the moment of silence for Rememberance Day was announced over the hospital speakers. I can't even think of what to say about that. Here we were holding our son who was just born still and we knew all over the hospital everyone was stopping what they were doing to have a moment of silence for people who had passed away. It was right, but also so wrong. I didn't want to share this moment with anyone. I didn't want his birthday to be so closely associated with death and grieving. It just wasn't right. I know I will always associate his birthday with the day of his death; there is no way around that. But in my mind he died a few days before, this was only the day of his birth. He may not have been born alive, but he was born this day.

This is all I can type today. It is after midnight here and I am tired and now I am sad. But strangely also happy. I like remembering him and remembering the first time I got to see him. He is my son and although he was not born kicking and screaming I still got to hold him and kiss him and love him.


  1. Hey, I just stumbled across your blog. I am so sorry about your loss. One of my closest friends lost her second daughter to stillbirth almost 2 years ago. We were both pregnant together with our second babies. I've tried to be there for her whenever she needed me. It's been a long road, but she says she has learned to live with it and that the grief is no longer the number one in her life. I really admire her and although I guess I have accepted her loss now, I will still always wish it could have been different. The question why just does not have an answer. Take care and all the best to you and your family. Hugs, Anna

  2. Hi again, I just commented here yesterday. Just came back to your blog and been crying for the past hour reading it. I hadn't really heard of stillbirth until it happened to my friend, just two months after my son was born. I took it really bad. Really bad. In fact, I was/am shocked at how people are insensitive to it. I was so worried and heartbroken for my friend - for her broken dreams. For her heartache and that of her husband and 2-year-old daughter who had been waiting for her sister, just like my 2-year-old had been waiting for her brother. I too want people to know about stillbirth. I want people to know about my friend's daughter. That she will always matter and be missed. I am shocked and disappointed by how little proper support my friend has gotten from family and friends. It's great what you are doing. I might be weird to be still reading about stillbirth 2 years after my friend's loss, but it will always hurt me. It's amazing and devastating to be reading your journey and seeing the strong love for Benjamin. My friend decided not to see her daughter. I don't dare ask if she regrets it. Once again all the best to you, I'm sure you are helping many people through this Blog. Hugs again, Anna