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Yesterday, I became a mother

I woke up this morning after a good night of sleep, comfortable, in my own home, but without my baby.

THE BILLING DEPT

Let's go back to Monday. We checked into the hotel and dropped of our luggage, then headed to the billing office before our appointment with Maternal Fetal Medicine for laminaria placement. The girl, who I had talked to on the phone on Friday and had already messed something up, was less than eager to help us. We were paying out of both of our health savings accounts, so she wrote down both of our account numbers on a good old fashioned receipt and gave us a carbon copy.

As we were walking into the building where our appointment was, my phone rang. It was the billing girl. Justin's card was declined and mine was being approved for $710 less than we had said to put on it. This was upsetting. It turns out that she had transposed a number in the security code for Justin's. I still don't know what happened with mine, but she called me a few minutes later to say that now it's only being approved for $710. Then I realized that she was the problem. On Friday, she had run the card and then refunded it. Well, billing genius, when you refund a credit card, even if it's one that's tied to a health savings account, those funds are not immediately available. Obviously she had screwed something up and charged the card and now is getting the $710 difference. It still didn't make sense, and she threatened me that we'd have to cancel the procedure if we couldn't pay in full today. At this point, I was sitting in the waiting room. Furious.

I'm still not sure how it all worked out because when I called my bank, I started to cry and had to give the phone to Justin. I knew the money was available because I had physically deposited cash on Friday, and I chose cash so that it would be available for immediate withdraw. Justin gave the bank our billing girl's phone number, and the nurse called my name to come back.

My blood pressure was 142/103. No joke, I've never seen it that high. The stress of everything with Amelia and now the billing girl sucks and our bank account funds aren't available because of the very idiot that was demanding the funds?? I couldn't take it. We silenced our phones for the appointment and I told Justin that the billing girl would have to figure it out for herself, we were on OUR time now, and she will NOT be interrupting the laminaria insertion. She left me a voicemail during the appointment to let me know that we were all set. I already knew that, but I was glad she finally realized it.

MONDAY - LAMINARIA

I don't remember what I've explained in previous posts, so I will start fresh. Laminaria is dehydrated seaweed that's been sterilized. It looks like a little cinnamon stick, with a diameter of, I can't think of anything to compare it to, probably about 5mm. The insertion process is painful because they go into the cervical os, a typically closed hole. I had to take 800mg of ibuprofen an hour before the appointment. Then, I received 3 shots of anesthetic before the insertion process and hung on tight to Justin's hand. I had a bit of an audience, which was fine but slightly awkward. My nurse was training another nurse. She asked me if it would be ok, and I said yes. I totally understand having to learn, and if I can be a part of that for somebody else, then great. Laminaria insertion doesn't happen every day for these folks. I have to say, I felt a little bit on display once all 4 sticks were placed and the doctor pointed at my cervix and was explaining something to the nurses. All three of them just peering up there. The sticks would absorb moisture from my body and expand, resulting in my cervix dilating.

We talked about what would happen on Tuesday. If I delivered early enough and was stable, I could even go home Tuesday night if I wanted. I told her I'd be more comfortable staying the night since we live so far away, and she was perfectly ok with that.

I received a script for Norco, which is the same as Vicodin only with less Tylenol in it, and was instructed to alternate every 3 hours between Norco and Ibuprofen throughout the night. I was also given a script for Cytotec to take at 6am, which would stimulate uterine contractions. I was also given the folate script to start after this whole nightmare is over, in preparation for our next baby. They recommend taking it for a couple of months before trying again.

I'm sure the alternating ibuprofen and Norco had something to do with this, but the evening and night were not very physically painful. Just some mild uterine cramping. I've had worse periods. I guess the anxiety of it all still caused me to toss and turn all night, on top of taking pills every 3 hours. I think I got a max of 3 hours of sleep, and it wasn't even consecutive.

TUESDAY - AMELIA'S BIRTHDAY

I started off the day absolutely exhausted. I took the Cytotec (200mg) at 6 along with some Norco. Not wanting to take Norco on an empty stomach, I ate a leftover roll from dinner the night before and some Swedish Fish. Hey, it was all I had. I hopped in the shower, and by the time I got out I was super nauseous, so I took some Zofran. No joke, my purse has become a damn pharmacy. The doctor had recommended that I eat breakfast, but I couldn't.

By the time we got to the hospital, I was feeling better. As the unit secretary showed us to our room, a nurse called out my name in a surprised tone. It was Betsy, who I worked with until I started my new job. She transfered to L&D a few weeks ago. She wasn't my nurse, but I was glad to see her face and chat with her - she popped into our room before and after the delivery. I was glad she wasn't my nurse but also glad for her support.

The morning was pretty boring. We showed up a little before 8, my sister, Sarah, showed up a little after 9. My nurse was absolutely fantastic. She is a really special person. So special, in fact, that they had asked her on Sunday if she would be willing to be our nurse on Tuesday.

I wasn't hungry, but I wasn't nauseous anymore. I ate a light breakfast at the doctor's request.

Around 10am, the doctor took the laminaria out. Each stick was about the diameter of a pen. She then checked my dilation and told me I was at 2cm. I simultaneously thought and said, "That sucks." I don't know what I was expecting, but not 2. The doctor assured me that I didn't need to get to 10cm to deliver. She couldn't tell me how far I had to dilate, just that things would happen when I was dilated enough. She inserted 400mg of Cytotec into my vagina to stimulate uterine contractions. I still only had some mild cramping, but she warned me that it would get worse with this dose of Cytotec. I could have an epidural whenever I wanted, but I didn't feel ready for it. It wasn't painful. I was, however, afraid of it becoming more painful, so I accepted their offer for some IV morphine. They actually offered Dilaudid, but I was afraid that would make me vomit. They also offered me Phenergan, an anti-nausea med that tends to make people sleepy. The doctor seemed really concerned about my lack of sleep and wanted to give me what she could to help me get a good nap. I used to have drug-seeking patients request a glorious combo of Dilaudid, Phenergan, and Benadryl so they could escape the real world. I laughed and told the nurse and doctor that I never thought I would be one of "them." I only took the morphine.

I talked to the doctor about the difference between acrania and anencephaly. I had done quite a bit of research on anencephaly since that was our initial suggestion at a diagnosis. By the time we were told it was acrania, I was too emotionally exhausted to do any more research beyond a basic definition. Acrania and anencephaly are basically the same thing. It's usually called acrania when it's diagnosed earlier in pregnancy. As pregnancy continues, the amniotic fluid breaks down the brain, and at some point when enough brain is deteriorated, the term changes to anencephaly. So it is most likely a neural tube defect, and it's possible that I just metabolize folate really quickly compared to the average person (since I was on prenatals for so long before getting pregnant).

The bereavement coordinator stopped in for a visit. She happened to share her first and last name, though spelled differently, with somebody who I greatly disrespect. She wanted to talk to us about our options for Amelia's body. We could go through a funeral home and have a burial or a cremation, or there is a hospital cremation. If we chose the hospital cremation, we wouldn't get her ashes back, but there is a memorial service every three months for all of the babies during that time that didn't make it. We had come to peace with the hospital option and told her that was our choice.

Things continued to be boring. We watched some Price is Right and I failed at taking a nap. We all ordered lunch and ate together, and the cramping got quite a bit worse. I hit my call button and requested the epidural. I got up to the bathroom and just didn't feel relief in my bladder after peeing. The cramping continued to get worse. I laid in bed, Justin holding my hand, and waited. Justin was on my right, and Sarah was on my left. I didn't wait long until I hit my call button again and requested another dose of morphine to tide me over until they could come to do the epidural. It was too early for another dose. I was miserable. I've never been in any major physical pain, but holy shit, that was intense. I felt like my innards were going to explode, like I was going to pee and poop in the bed and there was nothing anybody could do about it. I could see the lightbulb go off in my nurse's head when she realized she could give me Stadol. She got that for me quickly and then checked my cervix. She said that my bag of water was "right there" and that it might be too late for the epidural. She paged the doctor to come to my room because she thought it was time to deliver. She did not leave my side. She told me not to hold anything back, just to let things happen and to push if I felt the need to push.

I didn't push, but all of a sudden there was a warm gush and they told me the baby had arrived. Immediately, the intense pain and pressure I was feeling was relieved. I tried my hardest to see Amelia, but I couldn't quite sit up high enough. Justin and Sarah told me that she was moving. Weakly, but moving. She didn't try to breathe at all, and she wouldn't have been successful if she had tried. She only lived for minutes. Finally I could see her. Her face looked like you might expect at 16 and half weeks of gestation, but the back of her head was ballooned out because she had no skull to encase it. I was sad but emotionless, and honestly a little relieved that her diagnosis was correct. There is no chance that it could have been missed on the ultrasound, but I still had a little fear that she would be born healthy and that our decision to induce would have been a terrible mistake.

The doctor came in and cut the cord - neither Justin nor Sarah, nor myself for that matter - wanted to do it. The nurse took Amelia, wiped her off, and wrapped her in a blanket. The doctor told me to push and the placenta slid right out. "I can go home now!" I think the Stadol was kicking in.

At this stage in pregnancy, the placenta doesn't like to separate from the uterus, which means I had a good chance of needing a D&C after delivery. The doctor previously told me that she'd give the placenta a couple of hours, and by that point, if it didn't come, risk for uterine infection increases so that's when she'd take me for the D&C. My dear placenta only needed a couple minutes. I feel like this is one of the few breaks I caught in this whole ordeal.

I don't remember if I was holding Amelia by this point or not. I think I was. Her receiving blanket was far too big for her tiny little body. She fit in the palms of our hands.

There was still a small fragment of placenta and some large clots in my uterus that the doctor was concerned with removing. Leaving them there increases risk for hemorrhage. She pressed on my abdomen and reached inside, and it was quite painful. She backed off, told me that I wasn't bleeding too much in that moment, so I could get another dose of Stadol and wait for that to kick in before she tries again. Yes, please. The nurse put the Stadol in my IV, and we all talked for a minute waiting for it to kick in. I got really warm and fuzzy.

"I think it's probably working now." The doctor did what she had to do and gave me another vaginal dose of cytotec. She didn't want my cervix to close until a couple of large clots passed that she couldn't get to.

I was high as a kite, and everybody knew it. I was also pretty emotionless, which I didn't attribute to the Stadol at the time, but I think I should have. After a little while, it was just Justin, Sarah, Amelia, and I in the room. I had to keep handing Amelia off to Justin because I would get so sleepy I was afraid I would drop her or hurt her. I kept saying how weird it was that I wasn't emotional because I had assumed I'd be an emotional wreck for this part. I compared it to losing my dad, how I was so anxious and miserable for so long leading up to his death, that when it actually happened it was almost a relief. I didn't have to see him in pain anymore, and I didn't have any reason to be anxious for the future anymore. The future was here, this was it.

The Stadol slowly wore off, and I was able to hold Amelia for longer periods of time. Sarah held her for a little bit, too. It had been a couple of hour, and Justin and I talked about how we had spent enough time with her and it was probably time to send her with the nurse. Her skin was starting to dry out and look not-so-good. The nurse came, and I started to tell her that we were ready for her to take Amelia, and I broke down. I couldn't let my baby go.

The nurse assured me that it was ok, we could keep her for as long as we like. This was my time to be Amelia's mommy, she told me, and I should take all the time I want. So I did, we kept her for probably another hour after that. Every time I thought about letting her go, I got really emotional. But eventually, I knew I had to.

While the nurse had her, she measured Amelia's length and weight. Six inches, 2.3oz. When we were holding her, her swollen head kind of drained onto her knit cap, so I think she lost some weight with that. It doesn't matter, I don't care that she wasn't weighed immediately - that certainly wasn't anybody's priority. I just have some weird need to defend her low weight for height, despite the fact that nobody reading this will probably even realize she should have weighed slightly more for six inches long. Our nurse also took some completely adorable photos that I am so glad to have, and she got footprints and handprints for us. We also got a couple of little memento things that I don't really care about, but I'll have to keep them forever because I'll feel too bad to get rid of them, like a little pair of booties pendant for a necklace. I'll never wear it. But maybe one of my future children will like it, who knows.

The bereavement coordinator came back. She repeated back our choice, stating that she understood we wanted the hospital cremation option. Yes, we told her, that is correct. "Well, that option is no longer on the table." Uhhh, what? I wanted to curse her out. Apparently it is Michigan State Law that if the baby is born alive, we have to go through a funeral home. I was annoyed at the additional expense, but mostly I was furious that she failed to mention this little stipulation to us earlier when she listed our options for us. I thought we were done with curve balls, damn it. I expressed my unhappiness about having to change our selection. She explained that she leads a support group once a month for parents who've had pregnancy losses. "Count me out, if you're leading," I wanted to say. Support groups aren't really my thing, but bring this ass hole lady into it, and I frickin' hate them! She asked us if there was anything else she could do for us, and I said no. Then she just sat there, silent. Like she was waiting for me to break down on her and tell her all my thoughts and feelings. Ugh. I hate bad counselors. I finally broke the silence, "Do you need anything else from us?" She didn't. Ok, then, get the hell out of my room. She did, but not in any hurry. Ughg. I know that to some extent, I'm probably displacing my grief on her, but even Justin and Sarah were appalled by the way she handled the situation. I wish I would have been more honest with her, directly asked her to leave the room.

We got a binder of funeral homes and chose one in Grand Haven, not too far from home. We had actually attended a funeral there a few months ago for Justin's step-grandfather's son (step-uncle?). This particular funeral home for some reason has a special place in their hearts for pregnancy losses, so they try to make it as affordable as possible. We were happy with our selection, and I found peace in the fact that we would get to keep Amelia in an urn next to my dad. I just wish our options would have been presented to us differently - like I said, we had had enough curve balls.

I got up to shower, and it was disgusting. So much blood. That's how it's supposed to be, but ugh. It felt good to get all cleaned up, but by the time I was done in the shower and trying to dry off, I got really lightheaded. I went back to bed without finishing my usual routine. Justin said I was really pale and my lips were purple. I felt better after a few minutes in bed, and the nurse assured me that this is normal for the first time out of bed. The nurse encouraged me to eat some dinner, so I did. She also talked to me about whether I wanted to spend the night at the hospital or go home. At that point, I was stable enough to choose for myself. I was concerned since my only time out of bed didn't go so well. I told her I wanted to wait until I got up to the bathroom again, but if that went well, I'd like to go home. I didn't think I would be able to sleep well in the hospital. She suggested that I talk to the doctor about Ambien for home because night time can be hard, and she was worried I'd wake up in the middle of the night and just want to cry, and not be able to fall back asleep.

We finally discharged around 9pm with an Ambien prescription. We picked it up in GR before driving the 45 minutes or so home. I took it before we left the pharmacy parking lot. I was zonked by the time we got home. I guess my awake time an hour or so after taking it wasn't so glamorous. I felt...like I was drunk, except I only had the uncoordinated symptom of drunkenness and not any of the fun stuff. After fumbling through brushing my teeth, though, I fell right back asleep in my husband's arms, and there I slept until morning. It was glorious.

WEDNESDAY - FUNERAL HOME

Wednesday as emotional on and off. We met with the funeral director. We're not actually having a funeral, but they have to arrange the cremation, and we choose our urn through them. Urns are really hideous. Some artist could really make a fortune by starting up a beautiful urn company. We found ONE urn that we both really liked. It is black with white crystal lilies on it. We chose that one. This lovely funeral home only has a few costs for us, and none of their costs are for their service. All we have to pay for is the urn, the cremation, and the death certificate. This is amazing to me. We thanked him profusely.

I updated quite a few family and close friends by phone. I decided to make a facebook announcement since I have some friends I really wanted to inform but didn't want to call or message them all individually. I cannot believe the response our announcement has gotten. I feel so supported and loved. Quite a few people actually messaged me with their own story of loss to let me know that they can relate. I really am overwhelmed by everybody's offers for help, thoughts, and prayers.

My two good friends from nursing school are coming to visit Friday evening. Jill asked me if I wanted her to bring dinner. Social norms screamed at me to say, "Oh heavens no, that's not necessary, I'll have dinner ready for you when you get here." I couldn't, though. I so desperately wanted her to bring dinner so we didn't have to cook. I told her so, and told her how lovely that would be. I still feel weird accepting that kind of offer, but we just need it right now. Neither one of us wants to do a damn thing in the kitchen. We're fine, we're healing, and we'll cook again soon, but when Jill offered to bring dinner, I just wanted to hug her and cry.

When we weren't at the funeral home, or on the phone, Justin and I spent the day snuggling on the couch. Occasionally napping, occasionally talking about everything that happened yesterday, or our future together. It's weird to say, and people told me this would make our relationship stronger, but I didn't really believe them. We've always had a pretty solid foundation, but Amelia has changed our lives, and our relationship is certainly stronger. I'm not sure exactly how, it just is.



I haven't proofread any of this, and I wrote it in three separate sessions. Please excuse any grammatical errors or repeated information.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have discovered a miracle. The Cascade Meijer sells Dark Horse Raspberry Ale. While I am not typically a fruit-flavored beer fan, this is one of the best beers I have ever drank (drunk?). Right up there with Leinenkugel's Honeyweiss and whatever German Oktoberfest I had at Hopcat a few weeks ago. I also believe the alcohol content of this beer is higher than that of your typical American pilsner crap.

This one goes out to my friend, Courtney:
Acute intoxication r/t consumption of 1.5 beers AEB feelings of euphoria and persistent smile.

I have to say - it bothers me that the formats of r/t and AEB are different. Why isn't it RT and AEB or r/t and a/e/b?

On a similar note, it still pisses me of that Brett Favre's name is pronounced Farve. That "R" comes after the "V" for a reason, people! Why don't we say Fah-vrah??

And Quahog, the town in Family Guy. Why do they pronounce it Ko-hog? Where is that first "O" sound coming from? And what does it mean that I just thought it was funny that I said "O" and "coming" in the same sentence? But why isn't it pronounced Kay-hog or Kway-hog?

I gotta figure out where to buy some straw, or fake straw. Or hay. Whatever. I'm being a scarecrow for Halloween. I stole scrubs from work for TG to be a doctor. Also grabbed a surgical hat, shoe covers, masks, and some syringes (no needles). Should be fun. Not making jello shots for the party because it's kind of expensive and time consuming; feel somewhat like a failure for not doing it. Maybe I'll find some spare cash and motivation tomorrow.

Hrm.

Had a dream that Great Granny was dying on a stretcher at the hospital. Her EKG kept flat lining and then it would start back up again. I climbed on the stretcher and laid with her, waiting for her to die. I woke up before it actually happened. In real life, she died when I was in 1st grade.

I have a biometric screening today for insurance incentives at work. They basically get my height and weight, check my bp, and do a finger prick for blood sugar and cholesterol. I'm a little nervous for the cholesterol results because it was creeping up to the high end of normal last year, and I've been eating kind of like shit. On the up side, I weighed myself last night for the first time in like a month - I've been avoiding it because I just assumed I gained at least a few pounds. But I didn't gain weight, so that was exciting for me because I'm vain, but also because I can't afford a new wardrobe if my current clothes stop fitting.

I have lost $3500 per semester in state funded scholarships and grants because the state has no money. Holy fucking hell, that is SO MUCH MONEY. SO MUCH MONEY!

bummer

My throat feels like it's on fire. Er, it's not that bad. Feels like it's about to catch fire. Maybe it's sparking.

Lungs are slightly tight.

Made an emergency run to Meijer. Cold Eeze because I swear it helps decrease the time and severity of my colds, despite clinical evidence that would argue it makes no difference. Mango Sorbet to soothe my throat. Menthol Halls for the airway.


Everybody at work has been sick. Last night, a coworker coughed on me. Not on purpose, but it still pisses me off. Be more careful with your damn germs. I know it's likely too soon for me to have actually caught this from her, specifically, but I'm still going to blame her if this grows into an actual illness.

Dear Computer,

Ok, so if you're gonna be a Sony Laptop, you really shouldn't have a slot labeled "SD" and ask me to insert a memory stick when I try to upload my photos. How was I to know that my SanDisk memory stick for my Sony camera was not meant to fit in that slot? And where exactly, then, am I to insert this memory stick for which you are asking? Please get back to me as I am unable to figure this photo crap out, and my sister is anxious to get the photos of her kids' baptisms from me.

Thank you for your time.

Abbie






Dear Butter Knife,

Thank you for your assistance in the retrieval of my memory stick from my computer. I owe you.

Ab

holy cow

if i don't love this song, the sky ain't blue...

Student Loan

I could be mistaken, but I think I took out a student loan that I don't need. It's only $1000, and I have to wait until tomorrow to talk to a "financial aid specialist", but I think I will try to give it back if I am correct.

My roommate's cat is kind of a pain in the ass. Super cute, though. Orange kitten, and kind of a sweetheart when he isn't all up in my grill.

Beautiful day out, but I don't have the motivation to go enjoy it. Think I'll watch some more Grey's Anatomy.

2:41 am perfection

What a glorious night.

The joy of accidentally turning your alarm off at 10am and sleeping in until noon or so because you just haaaad to eat spaghettios and watch an episode of Grey's Anatomy before going to bed after work the night before, is that when you get home from work the second night, you've got plenty of energy to toss back a few beverages and pack for the big move while jamming out to saweeeeet music that you listen to with infrequency that should be criminal.

You also get to write really long sentences :)

Tonight's music specials:
Mike G - Cloudsy
Steppin' in It - On Down the Line
M. Ward - Vincent O'Brien

Ok, I guess the rest aren't so special (Blues Traveler, Sarah McLachlan, etc), but still good and not often enough listened to.

Also, while packing, came across an old journal with some random papers tucked in. One of them was a printed copy of this entry: http://vagabondshoes.livejournal.com/253255.html?nc=17 which made me laugh...I think I repost this thing like once a year because I randomly think about it or come across it or laugh about it with Hilary. What a fucking ridiculous night that was! I'd say I'm glad I'm not that stupid any more, but then I go and meet strangers and slip on algae coated rocks with them, but at least I stick with my friends while doing so!

Anyway, I have this playlist on my itunes that I call "Sad Duck" because I toss sad songs there and will continue to do so until I have enough to make a CD. I love the songs, but damn, I'm not sure I want a full CD of songs that make me want to curl up and cry...especially not when I'm in this good of a mood.

I'm pretty sure 2 and a half Leinie's is the perfect amount...I will drink that last half, though.