It is finally time to tell Emi’s story. I have dreaded this for reasons that I don’t quite understand. Am I afraid to see her story in the screen before me? Afraid that regrets will arise and the torrent of the pain will resurface?
My husband and I were marrried on Oct. 1st 2007. We discussed trying for a pregnancy in January but other plans were in store. Sometime between the alcoholic beverages and our tour of the carribean island we choose for our honeymoon, we conceived our girl. I found out on October 31st that I was pregnant.
To say we were elated doesn’t do our feelings at the time justice. We were just dumb with happiness. I remember our first sonogram at 10 weeks in which Emi was busy kicking up a storm. My husband asked upon seeing this, “What is that?!”, to which the doctor said happily, “Your baby!”.
Two weeks later we rushed over to the ER due to bleeding. We were so worried. The doctors checked my os and an ultrasound confirmed ‘fetal activity’ with a strong heartbeat. There she was, on her back waving her tiny arms and legs above her. I felt so relieved, even now I can feel that relief, it was that strong. All is well, I was told. At 16 weeks a similar situation developed with bleeding, except I was at work. I rushed over to a local hospital and my husband soon followed. Again, my os was closed with a strong heart beat. It was the first time I saw her little spine. She was busy waving her hand at me. I joked she was waving hello, when little did I know it was more like goodbye.
At nearly 20 weeks I received my results from the A.FP test. The baby had a high risk of a ne.ural tube defect. I almost died. I always had an odd feeling that the baby was not quite mine, a feeling like we were on borrowed time. This was the worst day of my life. I left work early and started to look up everything I could on this test. I immediately scheduled myself a Level II ultrasound. Before going in we were told that our unique risk, due to A.FP levels were actually 1 in 14 of our baby having a neural tube defect. My heart sunk. A few hours later we were led into the ultrasound room. I lay on the chair, the gel was spread on my belly and the ultrasound machine was turned on. The tech was very chatty and nice; yet suddenly her body seemed to stiffen, her speech stopped and she had this very serious look on her face. Noting her suddent changed demeanor I knew my baby was not doing well, not at all.
She left to get the doctor and I burst into tears, my husband hugged me and said that we were not yet told any bad news; we had to wait for the doctor. He was Europea.n, I remember and he had an accent when he told us that he wanted us to switch rooms. Once in the other room and after yet another ultrasound yielded the same look in the doctor that I previously saw in the tech, I braced myself. Your baby has an opening in the back of the head where cerebral matter is exposed. Her kidneys are hardly functioning…little amniotic fluid….due to lack of amniotic fluid her intestines have failed to migrate back into her stomach…cleft pallate….the baby is incompatible with life. If, (if!) your baby goes to term she will have severe mental retardation…,little to no control on her ability to eliminate wastes, trouble breathing…etc….etc….I recommend termination. I am sorry, I know how difficult this must be, but you have to know the truth.
The doctor and tech then left the room. I looked at my husband, his face that he had managed to keep so composed, suddenly changed into the saddest, most horrified and devasted expression I had ever seen. His faced just crumpled and he burst into tears with me. The look in his face will forever haunt me. He looked me dead in the eyes and told me, that she had come to prepare us for her little brothers or sisters. He assured me that God was not punishing us.
At the time, as you may imagine, it was hard to beleive that God could be doing anything other than that.
We headed back to our OB/GYN and the available doctor (not our regular doctor) had already received our results by the time we arrived. I will never forget how cold she seemed. She spoke of the baby as if she were a virus. Telling us that there was now no need to be ‘unnessarily pregnant’ and quickly giving us the name of two doctors that performed abortions and the number to a ‘very good’ abortion clinic. I stared at her in disbelief without being able to utter a word. All I did was sit there and cry while my husband and she discussed our options. I was still internalizing the fact that my baby would die. How could it be? She is still alive, and I want her to live. I want her to live!
As if things weren’t hectic enough at the time we were moving into a new home. Being that we were in the neighborhood we decided to go there and think. There we were in our bare kitchen, with just donuts, wine and milk available. I really wanted a drink, but even then I could not do it, she was still here dammit, and I would care for her till the bitter end. We went back home to my grandmother’s (where we were staying in between homes), and my mother and cousin were there. We broke the news to my mother first and then my cousin and grandmother. My mom and grandmother cried. I can still picture my grandmother in the corner of her living room sitting and crying. She kept saying, “How can this be? I can already see the baby here. I already had socks picked our for her little feet. How can this be?” Heartbreaking.
We talked out our options. My mother told me she felt abortion was forbidden by God. Before finding God, she may have considered it, but now….she didn’t think so. I was glad for her honest opinion. My husband wanted to go through with it. He didn’t want the baby to suffer (little to no amniotic fluid = little to no movement). He wanted me to reach closure as soon as possible. I was still numb but leaning toward an abortion.
My husband scheduled me with the abortion clinic and stressed just how devastated we were. The administrator took compassion of us and assured him that we would be well taken care of. A few days later we showed up. It was horrid. After registration I was told that my husband had to stay in a special area for visitors only. I burst into tears, I must have been such a miserable sight. While having my blood drawn a Spanish girl who was also having her blood drawn, asked me why I was there. “Because, my baby is going to die, and I am ending the pregnancy to spare us further pain. You?”, I ask. “Because my husband does not want us to have another baby”, she said cooly. I wanted to kill her. I think she sensed it because she stopped talking to me. Later on in the waiting room she was talking with a Black woman. This woman was talking about how she wanted to get the abortion over with because she was going to a party that night and she needed to get her nails done. I gave her this look that must have been so menacing that the Spanish girl told her to quiet down because not everyone who was there was there willingly.
At this point I was called in for my songram. I told the tech that my husband needed to be called in. She said no, with this look of utter disgust. I told her that I was not the shit that she was probably accustomed to outside, that she should treat me with respect, and that the administrator had said she would bend the rules this once. Ask her, I challenged her. Hubby and I were reunited by the grace of that adminstrator for our last sonogram (so we thought). All the anomalies were confirmed, but we were also informed that I had complete placenta previa. I had to go to a hospital. If anything went wrong I could surely bleed to death, (sign me up I thought).
I was numb. Now, I was really torn. The day before I took off from work; I wanted to spend that day with the baby. I remember we listened to a D.ave M.atthews CD together. All day I lay in bed with her. Just the two of us, surely God would not deny me this. That night I took a bubble bath and played more music, just for us. I told her how badly I loved her. How badly I wish I could have changed things, and saved her. I told her all the dreams I had for us. I told her of how I had looked forward to the day that she was born. So your the one that caused me all that indigestion, would have probably been by first words to her. And then an introduction: I am your mommy and you are my baby. I love you. Followed by so many gentle kisses. All the while saying this, I rubbed my belly and cried a river.
You see, I had prepared myself (somehow) to say goodbye. It took everything I had to say goodbye to her. I walked into that God-forsaken clinic prepared to leave without her, and now I wouldn’t. Emotionally I fell apart. I honestly wanted this hell to be over with. Now I had to find a doctor that would perform an abortion/induction at nearly 22 weeks. A doctor and facility that was equipped to handle me and my baby. Sadly under the advice of doctors we had the decided she would have an autopsy. My husband looked in his wallet and found the number to the two doctors we were given earlier by the evil ob/gyn that was on duty. The social worker on staff helped us make the calls. We finally found our doctor. Three hours later we were at his office.
So we went over to the new doctor – Dr. L. He told us that I would require a c-section due to my placenta previa, but with this condition risks could go as high as an emergency hysterectomy due to severe bleeding. A walk in the park I thought. He ordered us to have one final sonogram, where once again I heard the millionth time all that was wrong with Emi and the fact that she did not have a shot in hell of living. Thank you very much. However, I must mention a very kind doctor who took his time to tell us all that was wrong so that we felt comfortalbe with our decision to end the pregnancy. He told us that he never felt comfortable recommending a termination, but that he felt we could make our decision at peace. Her heart was failing, and my placenta moved; we were cleared for a vaginal delivery the next day.
I woke the next morning and had a very somber breakfast prepared by hubby before heading to the hospital. Once there it took all the courage I had to say to the labor and delivery nurse in charge that I was there for an induction. I was lead to a single room where I got into bed and watched the clock tick by. My nurse for the next few hours intoduced her self (Susan?) and told me sympathetically that this would be the worst day of my life. I agreed and appreciated what she said. It helped strengthen my resolve. Dr. L. arrived shortly and removed the (seaweed sticks) that were placed in my cervix the night before to help with dialating. Next he applied the pitocin directly to my cervix and we waited. I soon started to vomit profusely, it seems I was supposed to be given an anti-nausea medication before the pitocin. Medication was given to releive the nausea. Once I started to feel contractions, an IV with morphine was placed in my hand.
The phone started to ring over and over in my room. So one was looking for a former patient, they must have called 5x. My very annoyed husbad and nurse answered each call. I found it to be so absolutely irritating. I kept thinking that the former patient probably walked out with her living baby. And here I was with nausea, painful contractions, a blood pressure cuff contantly tightening and beeping around my arm (drove me nuts), feeling cold and heavy due to the morphine, and of couse my baby was dying or already passed.
At one point I had the need for a bowel movement and being disobedient, I was not going to ‘go’ in bed. I tried to lift myself out of the bed but could not, I felt like my body was made of stone. Hubby helped me to the bathroom and made me leave the door slightly open incase I needed him. I was ready to leave the bathroom when suddenly a huge gush of blood came. The toilet was filled with blood and my legs and thighs were streaked. I quickly got into bed and we called the nurse. I was checked by her and then the doctor and I was told we were getting close.
At this point I urged my husband to go eat something, poor thing had been with me every step of the way. While gone I was checked again and the doctor told me I was very close. I think it was after 3pm. I thought these were probably my last few moments left with my baby. God knows what I told her, I was so pumped with morphine that I was falling asleep and only waking with strong contractions. I think I offered one more prayer and tried to prepare myself for my baby’s birth.
Maybe 20 minutes went by and my husband returned. I told him that doctor said ‘soon’. My current nurse’s shift was ending; she wished me well. A new nurse – Peggy was now on duty. The doctor and nurse entered a few minutes later and he gave me one more check. Ok, he said. Ok?, I questioned. “Yes, you are nearly 5 centimeters, it’s time”. My husband stood by my right side and held my hand. I was so scared now. The nurse told me to push, and I asked how. She told me to push as if I were having a bowel movement. The doctor’s hand was inside me now and I began to push. Throughout the day they were massaging my belly, I assume trying to get my baby into a more favorable position. Now this massaging intensified. This is when my mind spaced. I was now pleading with God. Bracing myself for a dead or barely living baby. Suddenly I felt something inside me –my God- it was my baby being guided through my birth canal by my doctor’s hand. I told my husband that the baby was coming, all he could do was nod his head and tell me to focus on him. I felt her body go through my own – it was so surreal. I asked God at that point to accept her in his kingdom and to give her all the love and care I could not. I asked Jesus to send his angels to guide her home to heaven. I begged that she would not know how much I suffered, but only to let her know of all my love. Her limp body was placed between my thighs slightly resting on my right thigh and I trembled.
It’s so quiet I thought. She is not crying. Not screaming. Not breathing, because she is dead.
The doctor went over to a table in the room to prepare I guess a basin for her and some syringes to take ‘samples’. My husband and I hugged and cried. The doctor returned and lifter her tiny to a blue basin. As he lifted the basin, I could make out a tiny head, arm, her hand and fingers. All I saw was her silhouette. I will forever remember that form, for as long as I live, I will. She was and is my first child after all.
Peggy asked if we wanted to hold her and we said no. (This is now something we increasingly struggle with). We were offered fingerprints and footprints which we wanted. We asked what the baby’s gender was. “A girl”, we were told. My husband just about died then. My sweet husband, he said: “If the baby would have been a boy, I know my boy would have said, ‘Don’t worry Dad, i’ll be ok. Take care of Mommy’. But my girl, my little girl…I could do nothing to save her.” As long as I live, I will never forget those words. We needed a name. My husband suggested my middle name – Emilia.
Afterward with much painful massaging my placenta was delivered, but not completely, which led to more bloodloss. I needed a D&C and when meeting the anesthesiologist, he congratulated me. No, she did not make it. He felt so awful he offered me an injection to ‘take the edge off’. I must have been that pathetic a sight, I thought. I joked (I actually joked!), and asked if it came in a shot glass! I was wheeled away to the operating room where he wanted to give me an epidural but I begged to be knocked out cold. I needed to escape. He conceeded, and as I drifted out of consiousness all I could think about was how badly I wanted to join my daughter.
When I came too Peggy was sitting beside me; she went to get my husband. I was still groggy. Peggy told me that she had lost a pregnancy suddenly at 22 weeks for no apparent reason. She also told me about losing her 6 year old son whom was run over by a car. She had two grown daughters. She gave me hope and courage to go on. She told me that I would go on to have another baby and that I would get through this with my husband that was obviously so sensitive and loving towards me. I will always appreciate that she confided all this in me.
I know that I was in a recovery room with other women. I was placed closest to the door. Large curtains separated us. The woman next to me, was just told that her baby weighed just over a pound and that she was in the NICU. The woman cried. I remembered understanding her pain, yet being envious of the fact that at least her baby still had a chance. In the distance I heard another woman being told to push…I heard nurses counting to ten…I heard a baby being born.
Later that night after midnight, I was wheeled out of the hospital on very strict orders. Honestly I just wanted to leave this place while they wanted to keep me overnight. They conceeded. I was off to start a new life. I would never be the same again.
I love you Emi. I am so glad I had you, if only for a time.