motherhood

Losing a Child at Birth & What the Pain Taught me

11 years ago I gave birth to my firstborn, five months prematurely. At 21 years old this was a reality that I was refusing to accept. I was young and healthy; I had hopes and dreams for my daughter that I carried inside me for 23 weeks. She should’ve been safe from all harm nestled away in my womb. This traumatic event started three days prior when I had wakened up to a small gush of water when I stood up from my bed that morning; I figured it was urine, I even called my doctor, and they thought the same. I had a doctor’s appointment the next day, so they will make sure all is well then, plus I didn’t have any other symptoms nor incidents after. The next day I went to my doctor appointment with my fiancé at the time now husband, we got confirmation that we were having a baby girl on the way which we knew, a parents hunch, so we had her name picked out already “Autumn Sky.” The doctor examined me manually only because we pushed to get checked since the year prior I had cold knife conization on my cervix due to CIN 3 precancerous cells caused by HPV. What we thought was going to be a routine checkup turned into the worse day of our life’s. The doctor immediately stopped the manual check up and informed us that I was dilated with ruptured membranes and in premature labor, he knew that there was no chance to stop our daughter from coming this early, that gush of water that I had the day before was amniotic fluid.

The next part of my life became a blur, I was lost, hurt, distraught and angry that my body was unable to keep my baby safe. Walking out of the clinic was so hard, seeing the other mothers without a care in the world carrying their baby safe in their wombs, while my body failed my daughter. I was admitted in labor & delivery later that day; I was indeed in premature labor and had an infection. Honestly, I’m not sure if my mind just went blank because I barely remember that moment almost if my coping mechanism prevented me to capture the whole ordeal because I was so heartbroken. I gave birth the next day on June 1st 2007 that day a piece of me died too, I was scared to see her because of her prematurity but then anxious to meet her. Autumn Sky was born that morning weighing 1 pound 4 ounces & 12 inches long. She was perfect in every way, her long beautiful lashes, her little nose, toes and fingers, her head full of black hair. But then the reality of her prematurity was visual her fused shut eyes, her reddish translucent fragile skin. She kicked her feet and moved her arms like she did in my womb. We held her and we cried just knowing that she was dying by every passing second we wanted to cherish every moment. The hospital informed us that there was nothing else they can do for her since she was only 23 weeks they wouldn’t medically intervene unless babies were born 24 weeks and up at that time. We shared our love with her until she passed away an hour after her birth. The hospital provided a heart-shaped keepsake box that contained a little handmade white dress with pink & purple trimming on the neckline done by a volunteer for situations like ours.

The pastor of the hospital took pictures of Autumn with her dress on and of us while we bonded with her as a family for the first and last time of our lives. At first we refused because we didn’t want to have those painful visual memories, but she insisted that we will cherish those pictures one day. I must confess that till this day we have not opened that envelope containing her photographs. Why you may ask? Only because we are not ready as a couple to do so, once we are both ready we will one day.

The next day we went home empty-handed, I still looked pregnant, my breast was leaking milk which made it much harder for me because there was no baby to nourish but my body knew no difference. It felt like a bad dream; I was so angry with God, why did he do this to me, I wouldn’t wish this pain upon my worst enemy. A few days later we had to plan her funeral services, another hard obstacle to overcome. I remember breaking down in that funeral home, my heart & soul couldn’t take the pain anymore, I had hit my breaking point.

It took years to accept the loss and be at peace with it, since then I have been blessed with two beautiful rainbow babies both pregnancies were high risk due to Incompetent Cervix also knows as weak cervix that is the reason why we lost Autumn. Having my rainbow babies wasn’t easy; it came with bed rest, progesterone shots and cervical cerclages (which is a medical term for a stitch on my cervix) and PPD after my second birth. Autumn is not here in the physical but I know she’s always around her siblings, daddy & I, that brings comfort to my soul. Because of her, we have our rainbow babies, because of her I’m able to share our story and bring awareness of IC & loss. If we can help someone through their pain or help by providing support through a high-risk pregnancy that is enough for me. The 23 weeks that I was able to give a home in my womb for her, the comfort that my heart beats brought to her and the joy that she brought to her daddy and I as first-time parents. Those moments are irreplaceable and will forever stay frozen in time. I leave you with this quote queens,

“What a beautiful thing it is to be able to stand tall and say, I fell apart and I survived”- Tinybudhha.com

Know the signs of preterm labor:

If you have any of these signs or symptoms before 37 weeks of pregnancy, you may be having preterm labor:

  • Change in your vaginal discharge (watery, mucus or bloody) or more vaginal discharge than usual
  • The pressure in your pelvis or lower belly, like your baby, is pushing down
  • Constant low, dull backache
  • Belly cramps with or without diarrhea
  • Regular or frequent contractions that make your stomach tighten like a fist.
  • The contractions may or may not be painful.
  • Your water breaks

What do you do if you have any signs?

If you have even one sign or symptom of preterm labor, call your healthcare provider right away. If you have preterm labor, getting help quickly is the best thing you can do.

When you see your provider, he may do a pelvic exam or a transvaginal ultrasound to see if your cervix has started to thin out and open for labor. Your cervix is the opening to the uterus (womb) that sits at the top of the vagina (birth canal). A transvaginal ultrasound is done in the vagina instead of on the outside of your belly. Like a regular ultrasound, it uses sound waves and a computer to make a picture of your baby. If you’re having contractions, your provider monitors them to see how strong and far apart they are. You may get other tests to help your provider find out if you are in labor.

If you’re having preterm labor, your provider may give you treatment to help stop it or to help improve your baby’s health before birth. Talk to your provider about which procedures may be right for you.

Are you at risk for preterm labor?

If you have even one sign or symptom of preterm labor, call your healthcare provider right away. If you have preterm labor, getting help quickly is the best thing you can do.

When you see your provider, he may do a pelvic exam or a transvaginal ultrasound to see if your cervix has started to thin out and open for labor. Your cervix is the opening to the uterus (womb) that sits at the top of the vagina (birth canal). A transvaginal ultrasound is done in the vagina instead of on the outside of your belly. Like a regular ultrasound, it uses sound waves and a computer to make a picture of your baby. If you’re having contractions, your provider monitors them to see how strong and far apart they are. You may get other tests to help your provider find out if you are in labor.

If you’re having preterm labor, your provider may give you treatment to help stop it or to help improve your baby’s health before birth. Talk to your provider about which procedures may be right for you.

Information provided by marchofdimes.org

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