Our Rainbow for 41 weeks
Sequoyah was so wanted. So loved. We found out Christmas morning 2020 that we were pregnant again after an early miscarriage in November. He came after a lot of discord in our life, we were ready to welcome a new baby with open arms alongside our older son. No matter what life threw at us throughout the pregnancy, we held on strong knowing he was right around the corner and would add even more to our lives. My pregnancy was mostly uneventful, a bleeding scare at 12+5, and false alarm of leaking fluids around 37wks. We passed all the tests, my blood pressure stayed reasonable. We had a perfect score of 8/8 at our biophysical profile ultrasound on Sept 17th. 9 days past my due date. 2 days before he was pronounced dead, and I was induced.
We get asked a lot why I wasn't induced around 40 weeks. It hurts to hear the judgement. I already blame myself; it doesn't help. Many women go over 41 weeks. Due dates are an estimate for when a fetus has reached full development in the womb. My midwives at the birth cottage delivered babies that late all the time. I wanted to avoid an experience like I had with my first child. I wanted a natural and more gentle approach to bringing him into the world including a water birth. I had no indications that we needed to be induced sooner. My midwife's attempt at a membrane sweep at 40 weeks was unsuccessful as I wasn't dilated enough. My midwives assured me that everything would be fine and that they have mothers go over 41 weeks and deliver by 42 all the time.
We passed that ultrasound. The next day we had friends over, had a relaxing day of video games, food, a campfire and a movie. I ached, but I was super pregnant. Nothing tipped me off that anything could be wrong. I felt him move one last time when I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The next morning, I noticed he didn't do his usual morning movements. I thought maybe today was the day I would go naturally, and he was settling in for the ride. I thought maybe I was just missing his movement with me moving around so much. I was 2 days from them breaking my water as scheduled. We were busy getting ready and meeting my gram to shop for last-minute baby things. I was getting more and more worried and trying to tell myself I was overthinking and all that. I had already sent in a message to my midwives' portal that morning with my concern and didn't hear back after 2hrs and having a big lunch and cold water. I called in and my midwife told me to try a coffee and then head to the hospital for an NST because all she had was a doppler and it wouldn't tell her if there was anything else wrong.
I started crying on the way to the hospital. "Born sleeping" popped into my head. I told my husband how bad I wanted my anxiety to be wrong. My anxiety is always wrong, it's supposed to be, it's an anxiety disorder. We had conflict getting admitted to be seen and we had to fight to keep our oldest with us as we had no one to wait in the car with him and I wasn't going in alone. I tried to keep calm, it was going to be alright, they'd hook me up and tell me it was all for nothing. I got set up on the bed, the nurse put the NST reader to my belly right in the vicinity of his little heart.
It was loud. I tried to keep breathing, maybe he moved and wasn't positioned the same. They moved it all over my belly over and over. Nothing but static. they rolled an ultrasound machine in and tried looking. they weren't 100 percent, so they called in an actual ultrasound tech to confirm. I called my dad beginning to panic and crying.
"They can't find his heartbeat"
I was on Bluetooth and my stepmom and little siblings were in the truck, it was my youngest brother's 10th birthday.
I got off the phone to allow the tech to do the ultrasound that would confirm his heart had stopped.
"I'm sorry, there is no heartbeat"
That phrase you've heard of, but never imagined someone would be saying it to you. Not me, can't be. But it is.
Next came reforming our birth plan, informing some of our friends and families. My two best friends who were part of our original birth plan to help with having our oldest present were on their way as my texts went through. "He's gone". When I was telling them that we were going to get checked, it was casual, one related to it with her twins. I was just supposed to be an over worried mother who was pregnant for the 1st time in 5yrs, and having to basically rewrite my relationship with my body, pregnancy, and labor/childbirth. Now I felt like the universe's fool.
Ten months of excitement, anxiety, anticipation, preparation, and confidence in all my choices to care for my body and my new child. All for it to mean nothing but delivering a dead child, losing my birth plan, leaving and enduring postpartum without the responsibilities of a newborn. I have felt that I have failed our families and friends, our community. My body lied to me and failed me, my biggest fears and anxieties came true, I failed my child, failed to keep him safe, alive. What was all the point of all my hard work to create him, just to have to turn him to ashes.
I called my photographer. Originally, we had planned for her to document my birth story at the cottage, I didn't know what this meant for that plan now. I shook as I tried to tell her through my tears what had happened so far. She didn't even hesitate.
Ok. I'm grabbing my things, I'm coming, do you need anything?
I couldn't imagine asking for anything more than for her to be there, and I don't think I would have had the courage to ask her. She was there because her soul was wonderful and her heart so big. She came and stayed through the whole night as I labored and delivered. Documenting it all. Just listening. Witnessing.
I want to say it was around 12 hrs from my first dose of oral medication to induce me and the time he was born.
I went through so many emotions as I communicated and interacted with family as they came to hug me and distract me as my early labor progressed. My best friends and husband held me as I screamed and cried and collapsed in a full panic attack, my photographer just witnessing them ground me. I didn't understand why, why me, why us, why him. After everything, after how hard I love and give and try. How much I just want to be a good person, mother, wife, friend, daughter, etc. How after how strong my marriage had become, how much work we overcame trying to build our life, support our oldest through his development delays, and take part in a new community we found that year. He was taken from us. I would never hear him cry, never see him open his eyes himself, never nurse him or experience any firsts. He wouldn't be in photos, never age, never learn, grow, nothing.
I rode the waves of contractions, too stubborn and wide awake to try to sleep at all. My bffs, basically my sisters, supported us, fed us, entertained our son, and rode out the mental roller coaster with me. Eerie and foreign moments of regular conversation and laughter, followed by more sobbing and groveling with the universe.
As the night wore on, I started to wear down. I couldn't focus on breathing and imagining what I needed to ride the waves. I wanted to cave and sleep. I begged for pain medication and crawled out of the tub to receive it. I was checked and was at 8cm. It all mushed together quick. At some point amongst the commotion of begging for pain relief, discussing with the anesthesiologist, and kind of blacking out, I hit transition and had the urge to push and just let my body bear down. I wasn't able to communicate it, but our midwife could tell. She jumped into action and helped deliver our sweet boy and put him on my chest.
He was born September 20th, 2021. 3:52am. 7lbs 11oz and 20.5 inches long.
All the physical pain stopped. Time stopped. All I could see was the beautiful face of the vessel I grew. The boy who came with us on hikes, including Arethusa Falls at 28wks, made me crave all the spicy food I never ever cared for in my life before. The baby who wiggled so fierce in my belly startling his big brother and making us all laugh. Did dances in his daddy's hands as I slept. The little bean that grew to fill my belly again, widen my hips, pack on the weight, flood my senses and emotions with hormonal changes. He was our "just one more". It took so much courage and time to feel worthy and confident enough to bring one more child into the world; it felt like the universe was telling me I was undeserving. He was so healthy, so perfect and so damn beautiful.
I would never get to embrace him again. I tried so hard soak it all in, all the details, the feeling of him, his smell. He was so special. It was so unfair. It still is. It was so hard and confusing and bittersweet to share him with our friends, one of my grandmothers, and my midwives from the cottage when they finally came to see us. I was so limited on time, and I wanted it all to myself but also wanted to share him as much as possible at the same time. 12hrs is all we had till they took him for autopsy. We tried to get all the pictures and memories we could with him. the hospital had supplies to get molds for hands and feet, but they weren't prepared and didn't have enough to finish the one foot we got, so his toes are mostly missing. It's crushing.
Our oldest never held him, he didn't want to, so he sat with me as I held his brother. I had my two beautiful boys, and that's all I wanted in the world.
Life without him and since losing him has been very difficult in many ways. We hold on tight to each other and try so hard to keep ourselves going and holding strong. We would never wish this tragedy on anyone.