My birth story # 2: Leaf (sensitive, birth loss)

We found out in May 2007 that I was pregnant.  This pregnancy was a bit of a shock to us but a baby is always cause for celebration.  We began setting up a baby registry and tracking development.  At our 16 week visit, our midwife could not find a heartbeat and said I was only measuring at 12 weeks.  She sent us for an ultrasound and we found out that our baby had died around 10-12 weeks gestation.  We chose to wait for the miscarriage to happen naturally but had no idea how long it would be. 

At 19 weeks, I started to induce with herbs but Amy stopped me.  She sensed God wanted me to wait. 

Waiting is hard–trying to carry on normal activities when you know there is a death in your womb.  While we waited, Scott built a little box to bury the baby in.  I was matron-of-honor in my sister’s wedding–she placed a white flower to honor our baby at the altar and I later placed it on the grave.  My dad picked out a burial spot under a big holly tree.  While we waited, I learned that people don’t send sympathy cards for miscarriages.  Some people close to me did not even speak to me about it.  That was the hardest.  I guess they feel like they shouldn’t bring it up?  Why?  We lost a baby.  It is not shameful or taboo.  I would rather talk about it than pretend it didn’t happen.  I needed to talk about it. 

One night in September, I dreamed I was inside my womb.  I saw my baby.  I placed my hands on his face and said, “Little one, it is time to go.”  He spun away from me and I woke with peace that God was in control.  I remembered the verse, “God has made all things beautiful in his time.”  Two days later, on September 7th (21 wks gestation–5 weeks waiting, knowing), I went into labor around 10am.  I was in pain but mostly I was scared.  I didn’t want to do this, didn’t know what to expect, didn’t want to see the baby.  I called Scott to come home from work around 1pm.  I got in the bathtub and drank a beer–trying to relax.  Around 2pm, I noticed that the cramps were actually timeablecontractions.  Just like Norah’s birth.  I tried to eat dinner but couldn’t sit down long enough to get much.  Contractions were less than 2 minutes apart.  I was angry.  I shouldn’t have to go through real labor.  I should get a free pass.  I sent Norah home withmy mom.  I could no longer talk through contractions.  I thought I was going to pass out and drank some orange juice.  I was writhing in the floor withmy head in Scott’s lap.  The sounds I was making were just like with Norah’s birth:  low, long “oooooooohhhhhhh” sounds.  I threw up.  I even said, “Natural childbirthis stupid.”  Scott knew that these signs meant I was in transition.  It would not be long.  Scott was amazing.  I’ve actually used some of his coaching words with my own doulaclients.  He reminded me that I knew this pain; that it wasn’t scary.  He knew I needed to be upright and worked on convincing me to get off the floor.  I didn’t want to.  But he finally moved me to the bathroom and sat me on the toilet.  My water broke almost as soon as I got on the toilet.  When my water broke, everything stopped and I suddenly felt great.  I was confused.  No contractions.  But after 5 minutes, they began again.  I felt the baby coming.  He came with the placenta which was about the size of an orange.  He was hidden by membranes and placenta.   

We called our midwife, Amy, and asked if we could bring the placenta to her.  She said, “yes” so we drove to the birthcenter.  She separated baby from placenta.  She said she thought he was a boy.  His little arms were crossed and we could count fingers and toes.  He was between the length of my pinkyfinger and the next finger and absolutely perfect.  I had been so afraid that because he had been in the womb so long, he wouldn’t look like a baby.  I was feeling relief and peace and completion.  Amy left us alone with our baby.  We held his hands and memorized him.  Then Amy prepared him for burial and placed him in a little box.  We buried him under the holly tree the next day.  My mom wrote a poem and read it.  Scott prayed.  I shared a verse, Ecc 3:11.  Norah wandered around carrying a leaf she’d picked.  Scott’s mom and my mom placed flowers on the box.  Scott and I named our baby, Leaf. 

The whole experience taught me that while God never desires death, he overcomes it with beauty.  It is a profound mystery but it is Truth.  The waiting was important.  The timing was perfect.  The journey was long and deep.