So my pregnancy progressed as normal, with the nausea and all the joys that come with pregnancy. I took my girls to Virginia to visit my Mom at the end of June. I was scheduled for an Ultrasound at the beginning of July soon after I returned from Virginia. I was 20 weeks and excited to find out if we were having a boy or a girl. We currently had 7 boys and 3 girls, so we were kind of feeling it was time for some more pink around here.
So the ultrasound day came and we found out were were having that Girl! As the Tech continued on she asked if we were going to see a high risk doctor. I said I did not know. Since I was old for being pregnant and I have so many children, I was at a higher risk for complications. I also know that God is the author of life and this pregnancy was in his hands. All she mentioned was that she could not get a good view of the heart. She tried for a long time and then I went on to talk to my doctor. She mentioned that the Nuchal Fold was measuring thick, and that could be a marker for Down Syndrome.
The Following week I went on to the High Risk Doctor for a more in depth ultrasound. At that appointment the Nuchal Fold measured normal. There were no signs of her having Down Syndrome. However, it appeared that our daughter had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. This is where the left side of the Heart did not develop correctly.It is generally smaller and sometimes it is called having half a heart. They have come up with a series of 3 surgeries just in the past 20-25 years to help save these babies lives. Before that there was nothing they could do and sent these babies home to die. ( To learn more about HLHS check out this link )
We were referred on to a Pediatric Cardiologist. She did Echo cardiograms about every 4 weeks. Faith's heart continued to grow, but the left side still was not the same size as the right. Faith's condition was not clear cut. She did not fit into a perfect diagnosis of HLHS. So they continued to watch her as she grew. Meanwhile I developed Gestational Diabetes. This was a first for me. Even as I worked hard at trying to eat right, I ended up having to give myself 2 shots of insulin a day. They then said she was pretty small. How unusual! I have had pretty large babies, and I had Gestational Diabetes which puts you at risk for having a large baby.
Our plan was to go to the hospital at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor when I was about 37 weeks pregnant. They have one of the best surgeons in the world for babies with HLHS. She was to be born there and have to have surgery within a week after being born. We decided that since I was probably going to have to be there for a couple of weeks before she was born, that it would be best if my husband stayed home and try to go to work as much as possible. So my sister drove me to Michigan.
We left Kentucky on Wednesday October 22nd and arrived in Ann Arbor that evening. I had an appointment the next morning with a Pediatric Cardiologist and had another Echo done. They still could not see exactly what they were dealing with. I then had an appointment to speak with the Surgeon. There still was no clear cut plan on what course of Surgery we were going to take. He mentioned something about Coarctation of the Heart. He said that we would have to wait until she was born to do an Echo to get a better look. He said she would definitely need surgery but wasn't sure if it was going to be for HLHS or to fix the Coarctation. (to learn more please check out this link: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/heart-encyclopedia/anomalies/coarctation.htm.)
The following day I had an appointment with the OBGYN doctors. I have to admit, that my first appointment that day was not a good experience. We were to schedule when we were going to have the C-Section. They were supposed to assess my condition as well as the babies condition as to when it would be best to do this. The doctor walks in the door and starts asking me to sign forms for the C-section an asks what day I want to have her.
I also forgot to mention that I had been on Medication for High Blood Pressure throughout this pregnancy. So I proceed to ask him about my diabetes and blood pressure and how they would come into play in making this decision. He pretty much said that at this point it didn't matter. He didn't check my sugar levels or anything nor did he seem to care. He just wanted to put me on the schedule.
A little later I had an Ultrasound with another doctor and she helped me so much! I was also assigned a nurse to help me manage my diabetes. They decided I could bypass the other office and come straight to them. I was so relieved! As I left that appointment everything seemed to being going well. Even Faith's growth had increased at a decent rate, so I was so encouraged. This was a Friday, and I was to return the following week for more appointments.
So, after my appointments on Friday October 24th, my sister and I hung out at the Hotel for the Weekend. We found Meijer on Saturday and did a little shopping. Sunday came and we went out to eat for lunch and then went for a little ride to see if we could make it to the Hospital. We had ridden a shuttle from the hotel to the hospital both days, so we wanted to make sure we could do it ourselves. Later we got back to the Hotel and just rested and watched TV and talked to our families.
After laying around for a while I suddenly thought that I could not remember when I last felt the baby move. I tried rubbing her a little, but nothing. Then I drank a lot of orange juice and ate a candy bar. I thought that the sugar would surely get her moving. The movement never came. After a while we went to the Hospital to get checked out. They couldn't get any heart tones, so they brought in the Ultrasound Machine. There we found out our baby girl was gone.
At first they wanted me to have the baby that night, but later they came and told me I could go back to Kentucky to have her if I wanted to. I talked to my husband and we decided I would go home and have her with my own doctor and my family and church family near by. So my sister and I left Monday morning for Kentucky. I was instructed to head straight to the hospital.
Monday afternoon we arrived at the Hospital and I get admitted. Later as my doctor came to check in on me, they started inducing me. She thought it would be safe to try a normal delivery instead of a c-section. I am so grateful for her wisdom. I have had 3 c-sections and know what recovery is like. This did prove to make everything easier for us.
They started the pitocin, but several hours later not a whole lot was happening. They decided not to increase the pitocin until the next morning. So on Tuesday as things progressed, I got the best epidural! It allowed me to take a nap and not feel any pain! Later in the afternoon as I was starting to feel more pain they came an gave me another dose. That did not seem to do a lot for me, so they came and gave me a little more. It took the edge off for a few minutes, but then I was feeling a whole lot of pressure. The nurse checked me and said it was time.
My doctor came just a few minutes later as the nurse was getting everything ready. They thought that I would probably have her with one push, because they kept saying she was so small. Well, that didn't quite happen. I had to push through about 4 contractions. All in all it wasn't too bad. She surprised them all by weighing 6 pounds 11 ounces! Not so tiny after all!
I really didn't know what to expect. My baby was already gone, and I didn't know how she would look. My doctor cleaned her up a bit and then handed her to me. I remember hearing something like a big gasp. I believe the gasp was from Mike and I as we both broke into tears. My doctor had tears streaming down her face. She has truly meant a lot to me through this whole process. Thanks again Dr. O! The hardest thing for me was there was no cry. She didn't breathe, she truly was gone. I was so used to that first cry, and this is not the way it is supposed to be.
Faith was absolutely beautiful! She definitely looked like she belonged to our family. She especially reminded me of my seven year old daughter Anna. Everyone tells us that our kids all look alike. We were able to hold her for as long as we wanted. We had a wonderful nurse Lori, who then took her and gave her a bath and dressed her.
Dr. O had brought a beautiful white dress that was hand made with smocking on the front with a matching bonnet. A patient of hers that had never been able to have children had made it, and gave it to her to give to someone who could use it. So we had her dressed in this beautiful dress.
A friend from church, Alison, who is part of the organization NILMDTS came and took pictures. She actually took most pictures that we have of Faith. This has been such a huge Blessing! Thanks Alison for all that you have done. A little later, my children came to visit us at the Hospital. They were all given the chance to hold her if they wanted . Most did hold her, but there were a few that didn't. That was OK. I wanted them them to do what they felt comfortable doing. They probably stuck around for around 2 hours. It was so good to see them, but I must admit it wore me out a bit.
Micah, our three year old was so oblivious to all that was going on. He thought we were having a party or something. It had been six days since he had seen me, and the last he knew I was in Michigan. So after being there for a while, he looked around and asked if this was Michigan! It was so sweet! Always ready to give us a good laugh even when times are hard!
This is Micah meeting Faith, being held by Rebekah.
After they left, they prepared me to be moved to a room. I was first told that I was going to be put on the floor with expecting mothers that were hospitalized for various reasons, but were not in labor. Eventually I was put on a floor that was for women in general. It was old and not very pretty. Of course they didn't want me to hear crying babies, and I am sure I couldn't have handled that very well. They put a special sign on your door, so that everyone who enters knows the situation. Some people (including nurses) were great about everything, and others you could tell were very uncomfortable coming into the room.
One thing that is hard is that you leave the hospital with empty arms. Not only do you not have the baby, but no new diaper bag, baby paraphernalia, etc. What you leave with is paperwork on funeral homes and cemeteries that work with the hospital to make everything easier, lists of grief support groups, how to obtain a stillbirth certificate, and foot prints and other little mementos.
Don't get me wrong, I am so very Thankful for all the help and support we have been given, and I will treasure the mementos for the rest of my life. It is just not what anyone ever dreams will happen to them. We had been given so much hope that she could have a good chance on living, so being Stillborn was not what anyone expected.
Faith's Memorial Service
After Faith was delivered I spent two days in the hospital before going home. We were sent home with a lot of information on Funeral Homes and Cemeteries, and we were told to take our time, there was no hurry. For several days Mike and I couldn't really talk about it much. I especially did not even feel "ready" to view these materials, more less make any decisions on the matter. One thing that was weighing on me heavily was that even though we live in Kentucky, it does not feel like home. After a few days, I finally started to read the materials and learned that some cemeteries will let you bury a newborn at the foot of an existing grave.
I am originally from Virginia and my Mom and siblings all still live there. My Mom has a couple of extra cemetery plots, so she offered one to us for Faith. I asked her to check and see if it would be allowed for us to have Faith buried at the foot of my Father's grave. Permission was granted, so we planned to take her to Virginia for burial. It just seemed like the right thing to do. All of our friends are here,so we decided to have a Memorial Service here first.
So, on November 13, 2008 we had Faith's Memorial Service which was also my actual due date with Faith. We had the Service here at our church. We sang "It Is Well", "Jesus Loves Me" and "Amazing Grace, My Chains are Gone." My 15 year old daughter read a poem that was written by my sister especially for Faith. My 12 year old daughter read a letter that she had written to Faith. Both of these things were so very sweet and touching. My husband Mike put together a slide show so we could share Faith with our Friends.( You can see it below) The pictures were take by our friend from church, Alison, who is with NILMDTS . Our Pastor conducted the service and we were Thankful to celebrate Faith's Life with our Church Family.
There were a lot of tears shed that day,but we were glad to be able to share Faith and what she meant to us. We were given so many comments how people were so touched by the Service . Interestingly enough, there were several comments on how well we taught our children to value the sanctity of life. More than anything we wanted the Lord to be honored that day.
The following slide show is of the pictures that were taken the day of Faith's Memorial Service. Again all pictures were taken by Alison. The last picture is of me hugging my seven year old daughter after the Service. She was just sitting there crying. She wanted a baby sister so much, and she had great plans for Faith. It brings tears to my eyes every time I look at it.
We traveled to Virginia to have Faith buried. We were given permission to have her buried at the foot of my Father's grave. We had options of having her buried here in Kentucky, but that just didn't sit right with me. It has now been over four years ago that we moved to Kentucky, but it is just not "home" to me. If we moved away from here, I am not sure that we would come back and visit much. My Mom, siblings, and a lot of extended family still live in Virginia, so it just seemed right to take her there.
On November 22, 2008, our friends and family assembled at the Cemetery to remember Faith. It was an unusual blustery day in Virginia. Just the year before were visiting there in November, and on Thanksgiving it was in the 70's. We were all wearing t-shirts. Now we were all bundled up in Parkas trying our best to stay warm.
We did not really have a pastor that we knew from the area, so a pastor from my sister's church led the Service. He is such a wonderful man with a true heart for God. We met with him a couple of nights before the Service to go over the details, and I really appreciated his joy of the Lord and his care and compassion for us.
Many of our extended family came out to support us. The pastor talked and sang a song and we sang a song together. He said a prayer and then we all released pink balloons. I
enjoyed watching the balloons go up until I could no longer see them.
Afterward, my sister's church opened up their Fellowship Hall for us to have lunch there. It was nice to spend time with family that we do not get to see very often.
We are so glad to share Faith with you. She was and is a Blessing from God even though things did not turn out as we planned. Lord we still Praise You!