I know the process of telling Isaiah's story has been a slow one, but I'm just posting as I have the energy to write. Thanks for reading, friends - and for caring about his story and our journey.
If you are just joining us, here are the links to parts one and two of Isaiah's story...
We decided to call my parents first. I knew they were not at home as they had just finished a very busy campaign and convention in another city in ND. I decided to call my Dad's cell phone, knowing that my Mom was utterly exhausted from the aforementioned events, and I knew this news would be hard for her.
We called via speakerphone around 5:45am, and Dad answered in a groggy voice. I mustered the courage to talk through my tears, and told him that we had some bad news...we'd just found out that we'd lost the baby. I don't remember much from the call except hearing him say he was so very sorry, asking if we knew what happened, and praying for us. With modern medical advancements, hearing the news that a baby has died is just not news that people in our culture are used to hearing...it brings such a shock.
I was so thankful that I didn't call Mom's phone because I discovered that she had returned home the night before, and my Dad stayed one more night for a meeting the next day. If I would have called her phone first, she would have been alone when she heard. I thank God that he led the order of those events.
Dad decided to pack up right away and drive the three hours home to tell Mom in person since we knew this wouldn't be good news to hear alone. This meant that we didn't want the news to get out too far until Dad would have time to get home to tell Mom later that morning. My heart sank knowing how this news would devastate her and the rest of the family we had yet to tell.
Next we called Matt's home and his Mom answered. She also answered in a groggy voice and we asked if Dad was there - but he was already at work. We told her the news and the call went in a similar way. She said she would call Dad to let him know and she graciously offered to notify the grandparents and siblings. We asked her not to tell anyone except Dad until we were sure that my Mom knew...most of our worry was that somehow the word would get out past the immediate family and someone would write something on Facebook before my Mom knew.
We didn't know what to do regarding asking our parents to come to the cities or not. We had no idea how long we'd be at the hospital (my mind was focused on getting out of there as quickly as possible). We realized that we'd probably want to have some sort of service, so we weren't sure that we wanted to force them to come and miss work if they'd have to come later that week for a service. We hadn't thought about what we wanted our time with the baby to look like or if we wanted our parents/siblings/friends or even our children to meet the baby. We weren't able to think very clearly.
We soon realized that both sets of parents planned to come to the cities that day. We had no idea if they'd make it in time to see the baby (we didn't yet know that you didn't have to give up the baby right away after delivery). Once we realized that we could spend a little time with the baby after birth, we were relieved that they would be there for that. We wanted and needed them there.
Looking back I do wish that I would've at least offered to our siblings the opportunity to come. Since I had no idea what the time after delivery would look like or how much time we'd have - I didn't think to ask them and figured it probably would've been impossible with work. Yet, I really do wish they could've held Isaiah that day. I wish everyone I know and love could've spent at least a few special moments with him.
I do want to mention that the nurses didn't ever give us options to go home or wait for our family to arrive before starting the induction. Not that I would've agreed to any of those options since I was pretty much obsessed with getting this over with as soon as possible, but I do wish that we would have been told that things didn't have to move quite as quickly. Since our experience, I have heard about others where a person from the hospital comes to offer suggestions and options in dealing with a stillbirth. I do think that would've been helpful, though I am not unhappy with the care we received. Our nurses and doctors were excellent.
After our calls, the nurse came in and explained our options for delivery. They hoped for a vaginal delivery - though they thought it could possibly be breech (feet or butt first instead of head first). Since my first child was quite large (9 lbs 1 oz), they were fairly certain that my body would be able to handle a successful breech delivery - though there were still risks if the baby's head got stuck. But since the baby was transverse (sideways), a natural or even breech delivery would be impossible without a version.
A version is when the doctor tries to manually rotate the baby from the outside of the belly. It is sometimes attempted around or before 36 weeks with a breech baby to avoid a mandatory C-section. Since I was past 36 weeks, they weren't sure there was room for the baby to turn, but I really wanted them to try. I was terrified of the only other option -- the C-section -- not because of the surgery, but because of the days of recovery that I would have to spend trapped in the hospital. I wanted to escape that place as soon as possible.
It was almost time for a shift change for the doctor, and since the current doctor didn't do versions, they called the incoming doctor to ask if she'd be willing to try. I was happy to discover it was Dr. M who would be coming in. Though she wasn't my main OB, she had been the doctor that delivered Lydia, and I loved my experience with her. She honestly said that she hadn't had much success doing versions, but she would try...and if she couldn't do it, she'd try to find someone who could. I was relieved.
When she arrived, she and the nurse attempted a version. They put the ultrasound goop on and tried to get a hold of each side of the baby from the outside and force a turn. They asked if I wanted an epidural right then - as we all knew it would be painful - but I told them to just go ahead and do it. I didn't want to prolong this process and wait for the epidural, etc.
They were unsuccessful, and the doctor went to look for someone else to help. Soon another doctor from the hospital came in and on the first try they got a good hold on the baby. They simultaneously pushed on one side of the baby while pulling the other until finally that little, but seemingly big, body was forced to turn. Praise God that the version worked and we were able to avoid the C-section. This was just one of many glimmers of grace we experienced during this unimaginable day.
We also got a new nurse, B, during the shift change, and she was so compassionate and caring. We discovered that she was an OB nurse at the hospital I was born at in Fargo...around the time I was born. How funny that she could have been the nurse that delivered me. B took many blood samples that they said may be used to test to figure out what happened to the baby. Then as we started the very slow and long process of induction, she sat with us, asked questions, answered questions, gave us time to ourselves, made sure Matt was eating, cared for me, etc. Thankfully my water broke on its own, and things seemed to be going as planned.
During this early stage of labor we started talking about the many terrible decisions we would be forced to make. They gave us a packet of grief materials and a book of funeral homes to look through - as we would have to decide on one before we went home. Not being from the area, we had no idea where to start. B explained our options related to burial and cremation. We quickly decided on burial, but where would be bury our child? How was it possible that we were having to consider these things? This was our child.
Around 10 or 11am we discovered that my Dad had made it to Fargo and had told my Mom the news. She called and we cried. They made plans to stop and tell each of my brothers and my Grandma about the baby in person, and then they would head to the cities. Matt's parents were also on their way and had notified our immediate family on his side. We figured they would both arrive around 5:00 or 5:30pm.
We also told a few of our closest friends, our pastor, and Matt's employer. We decided to wait and tell others the news until after our child was born and had a name, etc. Some asked why we didn't notify others sooner to ask for prayer during the delivery, etc., but the news was so raw and painful - it was hard to know the right timing to share.
The doctor and nurses encouraged me to consider all pain options available as they are usually dismissed by moms in order to protect the baby. Since we sadly would not need to monitor the baby, they wanted me to go through as little pain possible during this horrific experience. After two other interesting births that would have been HORRIBLE without epidurals, I was all about getting an epidural anyway. So sometime in the middle of the morning - after a few hours on Pitocin - the nurse called for the anesthesiologist to come put in my epidural.
The weird labor complications started with the epidural and didn't seem to end until Isaiah was in our arms...
Why is it that when one is suffering or going through a traumatic experience, other things that may seem small often compound in their effect on us - making the experience even harder? That was Isaiah's delivery.
To be continued...
Link to Isaiah's Story - Part Four