Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Isaiah's Story - Part Four

If you are just joining us to read Isaiah's story, here are the links to the first three parts.  Thanks for reading and caring about Isaiah's life and our journey through this loss.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Inductions have to move slowly so that one's body is tricked into thinking it is in natural labor.  If given too much Pitocin too fast, things can go terribly wrong - even to the point of rupturing the uterus, etc.  

The weird labor complications started with the epidural.  A few hours into my induction, the nurse called the anesthesiologist to come put in my epidural. .  

He was an older, funny man - so much so that I wasn't sure he knew he was numbing up a woman for a stillbirth.  He joked with the nurse the entire time and talked about the fact that he was the most experienced in the hospital and still chose to put in epidurals laying down instead of sitting up -- and he bragged about his successful track record.  After the first poke, he was slightly worried that I may have leaked some spinal fluid (which can cause the spinal headache some have heard about in relation to epidurals), so he pulled it out and tried again one vertebrae higher.  It seemed to work, so he told me to watch for the headache symptoms, and if they occurred, they may have to do a procedure later to clot the spinal puncture with blood to keep me from having a continued spinal fluid leak.

My first hint that something was wrong wasn't the headache, but that fact that the upper part of my abdomen went numb, yet my legs still felt completely normal - even ten to twenty minutes into the epidural.  Soon my midsection and chest started going numb...then my arms...then my hands.  We realized the epidural was moving up instead of down.

The nurses had never really seen this before, so they had me sit up very straight to try to get the medication to go down.  Next I developed terrible itching all over my arms and chest.  Apparently the itching is sometimes a side effect of epidurals, so they offered benedryl (but since I usually get knocked out from the stuff, I refused).  Soon I got an unbearable headache in the middle of my forehead. The anesthesiologist came back a time or two because of these crazy side effects, but he was certain that the epidural would still work fine.  

I tried to distract myself from the labor - but even aside all of the physical issues - it seemed unbearable to think about the decisions we would soon be making.  We discussed the possibility of having a service, but it was Easter week - and we had no idea if the church would be available with the many Good Friday services...or how people would find the time to come around a holiday.  

We agonized over the decision to bring the kids to meet the baby or not.  At first I was pretty sure we wouldn't.  Our daughter had just turned two and our son was about to turn four...why expose them to the this kind of pain?  Our nurses really shared no opinions about any of these hard questions, but B did tell me about losing her younger sister when she was three and a half.  She said that she was never allowed to see her except at the funeral, but her parents wouldn't allow her to ask questions.  She said they are her oldest memories.  Once we realized that our son would probably remember this, we were certain we wanted them to come...not only to meet the baby, but to deal with the reality of this loss together. 

(Since then, we are so thankful for this decision.  Not only will the kids possibly have memories of meeting the baby, but they also have pictures showing that they met and held their little brother.  They know why we are sad, and they know it isn't because of anything they did.  Some have told us that by letting them experience this with us, we are dealing with it in the present instead of putting it off for them to deal with later.  I'm so glad we made this choice.)

As we looked through the book of funeral homes, we had no idea where to start.  We considered the large one that we have seen many times in our community and figured we would go with that, but my Dad contacted some good friends that own a funeral home in Fargo and asked if they knew of any good ones in the cities.  They told us not to go with the large one that they knew to be impersonal, but suggested a funeral home in Eden Prairie that was owned by a man they went to school with who was a wonderful Christian and who would be very supportive to us.  We were relieved to have at least one decision made, and Matt called them to let them know of the situation.

Although we had already decided on burial over cremation, we had no idea where to bury our child.  Though we knew it might be hard at times not to have the grave close by, we knew we probably wouldn't choose a place in the cities because we have no immediate family roots here (and may not remain here) - so we talked with our parents about other options.  Neither of them had plots purchased, though they both knew where they were planning to get them and they both offered to do that if we wanted to bury our child next to them.  It was so unbearable to think about burying our child.

As we continued to ask many questions during this early part of labor, I asked our nurse, B, what to expect when the baby came.  She said the baby would look pretty normal, but the lips would be very red.  She said it would look like they got into my lipstick.  She said the skin would be paper thin, very delicate, and would peel very easily.  But since they thought the baby had passed only that day before, there was a good chance he/she would be in pretty good shape.

She also asked if I wanted to see the baby right away like they do in a normal delivery -- usually they lay them on you right after they are born, etc.  I thought about it and decided that since we didn't know what was wrong, I would let Matt cut the cord and then let them look the baby over quick before we got to hold him and see him.

For much of the morning and early afternoon I remained at 3cm, but finally the contractions slowly started getting worse.  Around 3pm we got another new nurse, K.  She was very gentle and sweet.  Since we were further into the labor process, she spent a bit more time than B focusing on the medical aspects of things than being able to just sit and talk/ask questions, etc.  

Soon the contractions changed from mid-stomach to lower contractions that were causing dilation progress, and I was getting no pain relief from the epidural.  After a LONG afternoon of itching, TERRIBLE headache, etc. and no pain relief, I was finally at 6 cm around 5:30pm and working hard through the painful contractions.  Because of the Pitocin, they were coming every minute or two and lasting a long time.

The nurse finally said she had had enough and went to look for the anesthesiologist to re-do my epidural.  She was frustrated that I was going through this much pain in this situation (and so were we - after earlier telling him that the epidural wasn't working). 

While she was gone, the next contraction got drastically worse.  I was pretty much screaming through them, and Matt pushed the button for help to come.  Since K was off looking for the anesthesiologist, a neighboring nurse heard me yelling and came in to check me.  In two contractions (about 2-3 minutes) I had gone from 6 to 10 cm.  She patted my leg and said - "I think you are about to deliver, honey."  I said "What?  I can't deliver without an epidural!"  Apparently it is very normal to have a quick progress to the end of labor for later babies, but with the induction taking so long, I wasn't prepared to be ready to deliver so quickly.  I hadn't yet mentally prepared for the pushing phase -- especially the pushing phase of a natural birth since I was under the impression I would have an epidural.

(Matt tells me now that I was pretty loud through that time.  I joke with him and tell him not to give me a hard time -- he finally got to see what transition was like in full force...during my first labor with Caleb, he thought I was in transition 12 hours before the baby was born...but it was just the horrible back labor.)  

My nurse, K, and the anesthesiologist came back in and the doctor was following them, but it was obviously too late to re-do an epidural.  They told me to hold my breath and start pushing, but I was so shocked to already be in the pushing phase that it was like I couldn't focus enough to catch my breath.  The pressure and pain were horrible.  Once I focused long enough to know that I just had to "do this,"  the baby came after several good pushes (but I can tell you that I am NOT all about natural child birth at this point -- or at least not natural child birth with Pitocin added into the mix).  Our baby was born at 5:45pm.  All I can remember is the silence...the silence was deafening. 

Once they could see the baby, with an unbearably sad look on his face, Matt's voice caught as he told me it was a boy.  I was pretty certain through the pregnancy that it was a girl, but Matt was SURE it was a boy - and he was right.  My heart broke just a little more knowing these details -- that it would be our little boy that we would never know.

Matt cut the cord, and the nurses took him aside to look and see if they could find out what happened (while I finished delivering and got stitched, etc.).  Right away the doctor said that she could see that his cord was very long and wrapped tightly around his abdomen.  When they looked closer, the cord was wrapped 3 times very tightly around his abdomen, and one time around his right arm.  Directly in the middle of his chest in one of the wraps was a true knot in the cord.  This is not just a loose knot , but a knot that is pulled tight all the way through the cord, stopping all blood flow.  This was the obvious cause of our little boy's death.

Though it was so hard to learn these details, I am thankful that we have an clear answer as to what happened.  This helped us avoid having to have an autopsy and chromosome gives us answers and relieves some of our fears for future children (that it is not something hereditary) helps us understand that there was nothing that we could have done to prevent this...and it keeps us from the terrible reality that many stillbirth families encounter -- never learning the cause of their babies' death.

After the doctors and nurses had looked the baby over and taken pictures to document everything for his file, they finally handed him to us, and we got our first glimpses of our beautiful little boy.  The first thing I noticed was his skin -- he was pink and warm, just like our other babies.  I don't know what I expected - but I didn't expect him to look like them - like he should just open his eyes and wake up.

Even in the ultrasounds I had noticed that our baby didn't have the prominent cheeks and tiny nose from my side, but had a taller face and just a different look.  Our baby boy was beautiful and resembled our other children - but he looked a LOT like his daddy. <3  It was like seeing what he looked like and learning each new thing about him made it even harder to bear that we would never get to know and love him in this life. 

He had the dark red lips like our nurse had told us, and his skin had peeled around the left side of his nose and cheek during the delivery.  At that point it just looked a little red, but as time went on, that peeled part got darker (and you will see it in all of the unedited pictures of him).  His unwashed hair was pressed down and looked almost curly...and he had lots of it (this must definitely explain the heartburn during the pregnancy :).  We could see the constricted area from the cord on his arm.  He was very long and thin.  His feet were extremely long - just like his Daddy's.  He just looked so long for a 36.5 week old baby (but he probably just hadn't evened out with the fat that comes in those last few weeks).

We sat and gazed at our little boy.  I can't recall how we reacted - it is such a blur now - but we just wanted to take him in.  There may have been tears - but all I remember is the absolute love and loss that I felt for my little boy all at once.  Obviously he wasn't there with us -- his body was just a shell, and his soul was already at home with the Lord -- but he was so very beautiful. How could this beautiful new person not be alive?  All of this seemed so wrong.

Since we have never known the gender of our babies before delivery, we always choose two names of each gender - so that when we see our child, we can choose the one we find most fitting.  We had the names Seth and Isaiah chosen for our boy names this time around, and as we looked at him and tried out both names, we were certain that Isaiah was the right choice.  Little did we know how much significance his name would have - even in the next few days - as we were comforted by so many words from the book of Isaiah, and as we thought about our little Isaiah knowing the Lord so intimately, much like Isaiah in the Bible.

All of our children have two middle names - chosen to honor members of our family.  We had our boy middle names chosen even way back when our daughter was born.  Christ (pronounced Chris casually or Crist formally) was my Grandpa on my mom's side and Albert was Matt's Great Grandpa on his mom's side and the middle name of his Grandpa on his Dad's side.  When we realized that Isaiah was already in the presence of his Grandpas - Christ and Albert - we were amazed at how truly fitting those names were. 

Isaiah Christ Albert - a long, but very meaningful name.  Beautiful - just like our boy.

Soon we realized our parents had arrived right around the time of Isiah's delivery and were waiting for us in the waiting room.  This was such a different experience than introducing our living children to our families with joy, knowing we had a lifetime to love them.  Now we still wanted to introduce our beautiful son with pride - as he was our little boy - but there was so much sorrow knowing that we only had a little bit of time to spend with his body here - and that we would spend a lifetime without knowing him.

After spending about 30 minutes with him by ourselves, Matt went to get our parents.  I imagine their walk to our room was much like our "walk" of delivering that day - long and hollow - not knowing how to face this unimaginable loss.

To be continued...

Link to Isaiah's Story - Part Five


  1. Oh this made me cry. It is so hard to hold our sweet babies lifeless bodies. I am really glad you found out the reason, we did not get a answer. Most likely placental problems :/ I am saying a prayer for you now sweet mama.

  2. Becky, Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. I cannot imagine having to go through something like this. I pray for you often!

  3. Becky, he really was so beautiful. Such a precious little boy!

  4. I found you from Tesha's link up. Our boys were born only a few weeks apart. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I am so sorry for your loss and the pain it brings you and your family. Isaiah is a beautiful baby boy.