Friday, April 30, 2010

the big 3-0

When I imagined my 30th birthday, I imagined maybe a nice dinner with good friends and only one glass of wine (breastfeeding). My sweet baby would be in the background, there to entertain when our friends arrived for dinner, then after a feeding, she would have slept peacefully and gone to bed. Little did I know how things were to turn out. As it happens, I have amazing and wonderful friends. The ones here in the same city as us came over for a bday dinner. The ones far away sent an amazing DVD slide show. Thank you all for being there, and I love you very much.

On another note, this song has been getting me through lately. I'm a seamstress by trade; I do costumes for theatre, dance and film, and this song by Jason Mraz called 'Details in the Fabric' speaks to me, and it has strongly since Nevan died.
Details in the Fabric Lyrics
14 Mar 2009

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sweet Nevan,

Some of my favorite memories of you are when you were still in my belly. Every night between 8 and 11 you would move around so much. I loved feeling your wee heels kicking out of my tummy and imagining what they looked like. It was so amazing to feel your little bum rolling around in there, and I couldn't wait to hold you, rub your back and nibble your toes.

I also love to remember the first time we saw you, at the 20 week ultrasound. At first, you weren't moving enough, so I had to have a snack and walk around. After that, you wouldn't stop! I was in awe of your perfect little legs kicking up and down. You had one hand on your tummy, and were trying to put the other one in your mouth. I was just so amazed that you were so little, but so perfectly formed. Daddy and I really wanted to find out if you were a boy or girl, but you were kicking so much, we couldn't tell. We knew right then that you'd be strong willed like both Daddy and I.

I'm so happy we got to spend that precious hour with you. It means more to me than I can ever say. When the doctor put you in my arms, I was speechless for a moment, but Daddy started talking to you, and I felt like you looked right at him. You were so beautiful and perfect. You look so much like Daddy, but your eyes were light gray, and I think they would have been the same color as mine. I love to look at all the photos we have of you, and I'm so thankful Daddy thought to take lots of them.

I miss you so much, but you will always be with me in my heart.

Love mommy

what if's...

The guilt keeps coming back. Particularly when I'm having a bad day. I feel so guilty and so angry at myself for not having that induction on Feb. 12th. In the early days, every Friday was a reminder of the 'what if's'. Maybe she would have lived and been perfectly healthy. But maybe, if I'd been induced it would have been worse because the synthetic contractions would have been stronger than natural ones? I just remembered one detail of my labor the other day. At the same time I got the epidural, the doctors also gave me Pitocin to strengthen my contractions. The nurse in the room was over in the corner doing paperwork, not paying attention to the baby's monitors or to me. Why wasn't she watching or paying attention? Why was it Chris who noticed that the baby's heart rate was not normal? When all the doctors rushed in and they were poking at my belly, I remember one saying that I was having continuous contractions. Did this cause Nevan's oxygen deprivation? Or did it have something to do with the epidural?

When I go back over the fine details and think logically, I know her death was not my fault. We were in the hospital, and the doctors and midwives were constantly monitoring the baby and she was fine. I think that on that Friday, if the doctor was concerned about the baby's well being, she would have told me the risks of not being induced, which she never did. If I had thought there were any risks to the baby, of course I would have had an induction. Hell, I would have had a c-section on the spot if there was any hint of distress.

I guess questioning my decision is natural and inevitable, but it is extremely toxic to my well being. On most days I know I can't turn back time or change the outcome in any way, and there's no sense wondering 'what if'? But the guilt still comes creeping back sometimes.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nevan's birth story

This is a long one...

I had an amazing pregnancy, felt great and generally loved being pregnant. I am a big believer in natural birth, so I had planned to have a home birth with my amazing midwives. I wanted to give birth without unnecessary interventions in the comfort of my own home. I finished work 2 weeks before my due date, hoping the baby would come a bit before. As it turned out, I had lots of time to finish a quilt I was making for him/her (we left the sex a surprise), finish all the baby laundry, set up the nursery, and relax.

I got past my due date, but was not concerned as the baby was moving like crazy, and I had read that most first time moms are a week late on average. I had an appointment with my midwife at 41 weeks, and she sent me for an ultrasound to check on the baby, and suggested I go for acupuncture to induce labor. I went the next morning for the acupuncture (not so pleasant), and then for the ultrasound. My little stubborn baby was moving like crazy in the waiting room, she decided to nap during the ultrasound, and then resumed moving around when we went back to the waiting room for the results. The ultrasound score was almost perfect, but we scored one less because they wanted her to move her trunk once more. My fluid level was great, the baby's hear rate was perfect, she was moving her arms and legs, and she was doing her practice breathing. I wasn't that concerned because I could feel her arms, legs and trunk moving as soon as I wasn't lying on my back on the table. Our midwife told us to meet her at the hospital for a Non-Stress test, and a consult with an OB.

We headed to the hospital, and I was very upset, because I knew the OB would recommend induction because I was past my due date. All of the reading and research I had done on induction seemed bad to both baby and mama, and I strongly felt my body was going to go into labor at any moment. I had been having increasing Braxton Hicks all week, my cervix was 50% effaced, and I was dilated 1cm. I knew I'd go into labor naturally, and strongly felt the baby was fine. Our Non-Stress test results were great, but the doctor still wanted to induce me because I was late, and it was "hospital policy". Because of our good test and ultrasound results, the midwife, my husband and myself all were confident the baby was fine. I felt the best thing for the baby would be to go into natural labor, so I decided against the induction. The doctor had horrible bedside manner, and said to me "everything will probably be fine, but if not, then it's all on you." This comment will probably haunt me forever.

We went home, and I felt happy with my decision, and could feel my saucy little baby moving all night, and all next day. Chris and I went to the movies the next night, and lo and behold, contractions!! I was relieved and excited I was finally maybe going into labor. When we got home, we took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood. It was a beautiful clear night with stars, and slow falling snowflakes. I remember I thought this was a great way to start labor. I didn't get much sleep that night, I had irregular contractions until the morning. My mom came down, and we called the midwife to let her know. She wanted us to do another NST, so we met her again at the hospital. My contractions had slowed down, but I was fully prepared to be induced that day. I felt it would be bad luck to go against the doctor's orders twice. But again, our test results were great, and the doctor sent us home (different dr. from the other day). It was Valentine's day, and our midwife was going out for dinner with her family, we joked we'd see her soon.

As soon as we got into the car to go home, wham! Big contractions. We got home by 5pm, and they continued to get bigger and stronger all night. Chris made a delicious dinner for him and my mom, but I could only eat a few bites between contractions. By 9pm they were really strong, and getting closer together. At midnight we called the midwife, at this point I was hanging off Chris to get through a contraction. The midwife checked me, and said I was only 2cm. She said to try to get some sleep (ha!) and call her when they were regularly 3 min apart. I got into the bath, which helped a lot. Chris sat with me, timed the contractions, and poured fresh water over my belly. Soon I was in so much pain, and no amount of deep breathing, hot water, swaying, or crying helped. I remember saying to Chris "take me to the hospital, I want the drugs". So much for my natural labor! At this point, the contractions were 3 min apart, so the midwife came back. It was 3am, and I was 5 cm dilated. I was back and forth between the shower and bed, and being very whiny about the pain. I was checked again, and 8 cm! Apparently, this was quick. My water broke when I was standing up, and I looked down and saw thick meconium. This meant we had to transfer to the hospital, so the baby could be checked by a pediatrician at birth. That was one long car ride...

At the hospital I was strapped up to fetal monitors, and continued to labor on the bed. This was the hardest part, as I could not go in the tub, or get up and move around because of the monitors. I remember being very nauseas and not able to drink anything. Apparently I was very dehydrated, and was given IV fluids. I was now fully dilated, and ready to push. It was such hard work! I tried a few different positions, and the baby was making good progress, then stopped. It had been over and hour and a half of pushing, and the baby still wasn't descending into the birth canal. I decided to get and epidural for a bit of a rest, and then would push again.

Our care transferred to the OB and nurses, and our midwife went to have a nap. The baby's heart rate was fine at this point, and I had the epidural and tried to rest. After about half an hour, Chris noticed the baby's heart rate was dropping. The nurse called the OB, and then chaos ensued. Doctors and nurses rushed in, were pushing the baby around through my stomach, giving me oxygen and medication, and then wheeling me into the OR for an emergency c section.

I was lying on the table and very freaked out, but I thought everything would be OK. They got the baby out in a few minutes, and Chris told me "it's a girl!". I didn't even see her, they whisked her into the next room. Our midwife went with her, and Chris stayed with me. The midwife came back with bad news. The baby wasn't breathing at birth, and her heart wasn't beating. They managed to revive her, but it took her 40 minutes to breathe on her own. I was wheeled into recovery, and extremely worried, but thought everything would work out alright. Then the pediatrician came in with more bad news. Our little girl was so sick, and would never recover. Her oxygen had been cut off sometime during labor, and she had no brain function at all. Chris and my mom went into the NICU to see her, and I stayed in recovery in complete shock.

Shortly after that, they took Nevan to Sick Kids hospital to run more tests. They brought her to my room so I could see her for the first time. She was so sweet, but hooked up to so many tubes and wires in her incubator. I couldn't hold her, so I just stroked her little cheek.

Chris stayed with me that night in the hospital, and at about 5:30am the next day, we got a phone call saying that Nevan's kidney's and liver were starting to fail, and it wouldn't be long. The doctors brought her back to us, and took out the respirator. When she was placed in my arms for the first time, she opened her eyes for a few moments. They left the 3 of us alone as a new family. We had one precious hour with Nevan, to cuddle, kiss, sing to her, and all be together. She looked so sweet and perfect, I told her we loved her very much, and to go peacefully. She was a little fighter, and every so often would take a few breaths on her own. At the end, she took one last breath, and passed away gently in my arms. I'm so grateful we got to spend that hour with her, take lots of pictures, and let her know she's greatly loved.

The autopsy results are still about a month away, but the doctors and midwives think they won't tell us anything, other than her oxygen was cut off in labor, which caused brain damage. We'll probably never find out exactly when it happened, and I know I will always wonder if things would have turned out differently if I'd had the induction...

Just know, sweet Nevan, that your Daddy and I love you so much, and you will always be in our hearts.

"One star in the night sky...

....shining for the one who will always be in my heart."

This is from a sympathy card we received recently, and I thought it was beautiful. I want to hang on to every memory and thought of her, as it's getting to the time when others are moving on and not talking about her so much. It's been just over 2 months now since Nevan was born, and passed away. Most of the time it feels like so long ago.......and yet I can't fall asleep most nights because her labor and birth are running through my head like a movie. I like to change the end of that movie in my head.

The grief of losing her has been like a horrible roller coaster ride. I remember reading about a week after our loss, that the first weeks and months (months?) you are in shock and denial, and after that life gets really hard. I was hoping this would not be true, and as time went on, "time would heal" (so many people said this!). All I know is that while I can still laugh at times, and enjoy certain moments, the pain is still very raw. I miss my baby girl so much, and life would be so different if she were here.