12/22/11 - The Worst Day of My Life

It's been two weeks since the worst day of my life and so I think I'm ready to write about it. We'll see how this goes...

On Thursday, December 22 2011, I woke up expecting a pretty low-key day at work.  Instead I got one of the biggest nightmares any expecting parent could imagine.

My wife was 38 weeks into her pregnancy.  For those not in the know - that's in the "can go any minute" zone.  Due dates are 40 weeks for reference.  On Wednesday (12/21) - Amy got a perfect report from the doctor:  Heart-rate was perfect; fluid was perfect.  They talked about possible induction dates.  That night (Wed) - Amy mentioned that she hadn't felt the baby move that much during the night-time and was a little concerned.  We thought the baby was just sleeping.  On Thursday morning she still hadn't felt the baby move that much so we went to the doctor's office for peace of mind.  The doctor wasn't in but the nurse mentioned she was working at the hospital so we went there.  They brought Amy into a "triage room" and then brought me in a minute later... It's the scene we will remember forever - where doctors were searching for the heartbeat but couldn't find anything...  We didn't understand.  We were sure there was a mistake.  We were wrecked and absolutely lost.

Our doctor came to us in tears with the "when am I going to wake up from this nightmare" look... She, too, had that look on her face a little...

For those that are reading this saying "that's gotta be the worse of it" - it was the worst from the shock perspective for sure ... but the worst day of my life wasn't close to over...

After we were told that the baby Amy was carrying for 38 weeks was no longer alive - we were told that Amy would have to deliver it - just as if it were alive... This process took about 13 hours.  13 hours of Amy in a hospital bed hooked up to machines feeling beyond lost and sad.  13 hours to ask ourselves every question you can think of... Amy described it like being a POW just waiting to be tortured.  Her torture was obvious and the only thing that got us through was knowing that every step brought us closer to the nightmare being over.

Amy delivered the baby in an amazing and remarkably strong fashion.  Looking at her go forward (and fight through that) is something I will never forget.  In such a painful day at a horrible moment - my love for my wife actually grew seeing how brave and strong she was.   We asked the sex; It was a girl (something we kept a surprise).  The pain got more intense/more real after we knew that.  Cause of "fetal demise" was determined a "cord accident" with the cord wrapped around our unborn daughters neck and legs extremely tightly.  While rare - it's apparently a known cause for stillbirths throughout time and nothing technologically can prevent that.

We decided not to hold or look at her (or get any other visual details) as we didn't want any more visual scars for the rest of our lives.  We cried.  A lot.

Our Doctor was such a big part of us getting through the torture.  We are convinced that while she has seen these cord accidents before, that it's never happened to any of her direct patients.  She was supposed to go away with her family - but rescheduled it to make sure she was there for us that night.  While leaving - she said "Guys - I will remember this day until I'm 80 years old."  That was something that will stick with Amy and I for a while.  What I'm also hoping will stick with us for a while are the facts that:
1) There is no one/thing to blame.  Just bad luck
2) If we were to go back in time and do anything differently - there really is nothing we would do.  Again - just bad luck.

So - that's the summary of our worst day ever.  It still hasn't been two weeks - so I can't say we expect the pain to have eased much - and it hasn't.  Our friends and family have been incredibly supportive - but it's a hard thing. There's nothing anyone can say, do, buy, etc. that will make us truly feel better.  The only thing is time and experience I suppose.

We are so thankful for our absolutely amazing daughter, Alexa.  Telling her was undoubtedly one of the hardest things I will do in my life.  Amy and I are thankful for the love, support, and bond we have for one another.  We are determined in the long-run to not let this horrible occurrence define our lives.  This said - it's going to take some time to allow for that.  We appreciate the support throughout our lives - but there's going to be a point when we will expect our family and friends to treat us the exact same they did before this happened.  We are going to try and move forward as best as possible.  Alexa mandates that we don't stay and sulk all day, every day - and we are determined to not let this effect her needs.

So - that's the worst day of my life.  There will always be a scar in my heart - but I will not let the size of that scar overwhelm my family's life.  I truly hope that this experience brings perspective to Amy and I that actually can enrich our appreciation for the great things in life and dissipate the nuisance of daily frustration as much as possible. 

If you have any questions about this experience - feel free to reach out over time.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I have been through an almost EXACT experience. I was 3 days to my due date. My baby hadn't moved one day, went in "just to humor ourselves and hear the heartbeat", came home 2 days later with no baby. The cord had formed a true knot somewhere around 20 weeks that eventually tightened up and killed our son. I too, had to deliver him. We did choose to hold him, I slept with him overnight and then we said our goodbyes the next day. Please feel free to write to me at liseedono@gmail.com if you would like to communicate. We just passed what would have been his 7th birthday this past January 8th. My name is Lisa Vankula-Donovan. I am Chris Vankula's sister.

Mitch Joel said...

Brett, my deepest sympathies to you and the family. I have many close relations with people who have been through a very similar experience and there are no words. Just know that your friends and family care and are here for you as needed. Stay strong. I'm sending positive energy and vibes your way!

Manuel said...

Amigo, the best for you, Amy, and Alexa.. Can't believe what you have to go through but I'm happy that it already ended, and reality offers you infinite opportunities to retry.

A big hug from Buenos Aires, Brett. Send kisses to Amy.

Anonymous said...

12/15/12 - Brett, I am sorry to have to contact you this way. I am hoping Amy got the message I tried to send her through facebook. It is extremely important that she be aware of our family history of breast cancer as it could affect her and even Alexa. She now has a Grandmother (my Mom) and maternal Great Aunt as well as a mother diagnosed with breast cancer. According to my surgeon she needs to be vigilant and should consider genetic testing. I know she doesn't want to hear from me and I have no other way to contact her. If you have any questions or want to contact me, I am listed in the Tamarac phone book or can be reached via email at: sherglo75@bellsouth.net.
My love to you, Amy and Alexa.
Some day, if you are interested, you may want to hear the story from my perspective.
Amy's MOM.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain...experiencing it as I type. Same exact story, only mine is more of a mystery that requires investigation (currently in progress), as there were no cord issues; also, my tragedy occurred ON her due date, pretty much. I endured a 43-hour excruciating labor process, complete with labor-enducing drugs, grueling attempts at vaginal delivery including those tortuous forceps, then finally a C-section, my first major surgery ever, which I am still recovering in the hospital from, with no projected release. I finally delivered a 20-inch, 8lb 14oz baby at 12:01am on Thursday, September 26 2013. And of course, mine was also a beautiful baby girl...precisely what her father and I wanted so badly. He has two healthy sons through a previous relationship; I have NO children. I never will have children. There is just no way I could endure even a slim possibility of this happening to me again. I mean, how to you sacrifice your body, invest your mind, share your soul for 40 weeks, only to have been robbed at the very last minute with nothing to show for it?

Jennifer Spuler said...

Sorry for your loss. I had very similar story but I was on hospital bedrest and it happened during the night. I had my last non stress test at 10pm on Wed and when I woke at 6am I didnt feel baby move when I took my thyroid medicine with glass of water so I started talking to him and tapping belly and got nothing so then I remembered or think I remembered going to the bathroom and taking sip of water and not feeling baby move I think I either felt him move or figured he was asleep. Who knows but I called nurse immediately and they came over and she started non stress test. She couldnt find heartbeat so I freaked as it was always easy. Then they got sonogram. I could see heart wasnt beating. And then my dr came in to confirm. It was heart wrenching as I was in hospital for partial water break at 32 weeks and we were just baking baby until 34 to 35 weeks. I was 33+6 weeks and had noticed him not as active for the past few weeks but they said he was growing and he'd have moments of hyperactivity. And his heartbeat on non stress tests and ultrasounds were perfect. Waiting on autopsy results but dr thinks it was cord accident. Delivered vaginally cord was not around baby's neck.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for your loss . We had a similar experience only much worse. My daughter kept telling the doctor that this pregnancy was different, the baby was not as active and that she had abdominal and back aches/pains. The nurse practitioner who saw her the week before had trohuble finding the heartbeat-she probably finally heard the iliac arteries, not the baby's. She told her to be still and that she would feel 5-6 movements per hour. No sonogram, no stress test. Hope her opwn kids don't get medical care like she gives. They never performed stress tests or sonograms to evaluate her. At 36 weeks she had to deliver a very very dead mummified baby girl. The doctor was cold, callous, talked us out of an autopsy by saying, "they usually don't find much and you have to pay 3,000 dollars out of pocket" They barely came by after death, I guess they wanted no part in grieving mothers and dads. She called the office later, asking for her records , instead the delivery doc called her back, got testy and said her could not counsel her about autopsy because she was "irrational' (she is a financial company director) She mentioned family present and asked why he did not speak to us,. He dismissed us as "The whole group was irrational' HMMM, 3 healthcare professionals, one a PhD, 3 others with college degrees and business managerial experience. He then proceeded to "kick her out of the practice"- no 6 week check up. What a bastard doctor. That has compounded the grief and has made healing almost impossible. We recently found out that it was placenta abruptio- and THEY MISSED THAT DAY IN CLASS. ??? Perhaps our granddaughter would be here, beautiful , just like her brother (who wants to show her the Christmas lights, take her to see Santa and to hold her. ) Some doctors make good coroners- he should hang up obstetrics. So callous a man !I hope I never see him again , Be glad your doctor was a human being. His big Harvard education is in the way of compassion and professionalism. Bastard! Moral of the story-TRUST YOURSELF!!! ASK, DEMAND, CARE! Call your insurance company and ask for a second opinion-make a scene. YOUR LIFE AND YOUR BABY'S LIFE MAY BE IN DANGER. (good luck if iyour insurance is the US Govt- their answer to fetal issues will be an abortion, look it up! God help us now) Do not take no for an answer, be your own advocate!

mukund said...

Very sorry for your loss. Hope your family finds the strength to get through this.

pwrath said...

So sorry for your pain. I have had 2 full term stillborns. You never get over tha sadness.

Music Mayor said...

It’s been 4 years since my wife and I had the exact thing happen. I feel like your post was written as if it were our story.
I’d like to talk. If you are open to it.
How does one contact you Brett?

Anonymous said...

Today is the 25th "birthday/anniversary" for my stillborn baby girl. She was delivered on her due date. May 15, 1993 was the worst day of my life. While everyone around me has forgotten, I will never forget my child. She was beautiful, she was perfect.

In my case, I felt the baby very actively moving all day. I decided we should buy some goodies and soda for guests who came to see the baby. I bent down to pick up the case of soda from the lower shelf, when I came up with the case of soda, I felt a pull. It was a little painful, but not excruciating. Once I got home the cramping started, I just thought "it's time to have the baby."

I remember when the radiologist arrived; the room was so quiet. I kept asking what they could see. Still the room was silent. All the hospital staff left, for what felt like an eternity, then the doctor came in to give me the most horrifying news. My baby didn't have a heartbeat. I remember screaming "What do you mean there's no heartbeat,the baby has been moving all day long." The doctor asked me to remember when I felt the baby move last. I told her it was while we were at the grocery store just hours before. Then I told her what happened when I picked up the case of soda.

I begged the doctor to please give me a cesarean, I didn't want to go through the whole delivery knowing I wasn't going to have my precious baby in the end. She said she couldn’t because it would be too dangerous for me. I had to deliver my baby girl about eight or nine hours later.

For the past 25 years I have kept my baby's death locked up inside me, constantly blaming myself and hating myself for picking up that case of soda. I have had tremendous guilt and pain over the years. The self-blame was constant in my mind. I never talked to anyone about it.

In the beginning when I would try to talk to those around me, they would tell me "you just need to get over it; time heals all wound; your young, you can have another child." I felt like there wasn't anyone I could turn to for support.

For my well-being, and for the future of my family, I had to make the decision that I just could not dwell on this incident surrounding baby girl's death any longer. Seeking professional counseling was my starting point.

It has been about a year since I began seeking help. Forgiving myself for the baby's death has been challenging work, and a very painful process. I am finally freeing myself from the shackles that I imprisoned myself with for so many years. I am feeling much lighter these days. Everything in life seems so vibrant. I held on to the pain for so long, I was making myself physically and mentally sick.

I share this with you today because my counselor told me that telling my story to as many people as possible will help me heal. I just need to get it out to release all that I have been holding in. It's okay if others think that I should get over it already, because I know I should. I wish I could just forget and move on. With my counselor's help, I have come a long way.

Thank you for reading my story, you are helping me to heal.

Anonymous said...

I too lost a baby to stillbirth, in 1975. The pain does not leave you, you just absorb it, and go on. Having other children doesn't help either, and you always think of how the baby would be ___this old, look like this, be doing this. Don't beat yourself up. These things happen, we grieve, we learn, we grow. Know in your heart that people who experience this understand.

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