Around 10am EST, exactly one year ago today on March 24, 2017 is when my whole world came crashing down. This is when we learned our baby had no heartbeat at 2 days shy of 38 weeks…16 days until my due date. I feel like i am finally ready to share what happened on the days leading up to Turners death and his birth story.
On March 23rd I had my regular check up with my midwives. I ended up having an NST performed (monitoring baby’s heartbeat, contractions, and movements for 30-45 minutes) around 11am because my sons kicks felt more subdue. They hooked me up to the monitors and he did beautifully, even tolerated the 2 contractions I had while being monitored. They sent me home without any concern. Our 3 year old came to nearly every appointment with me, so we met my husband for lunch at Arby’s afterwards. I went home and did my normal mom things, cleaning the house taking kids to karate, and getting them in bed. Turner remained moving the rest of the day, but still his movements were much softer than normal. I took a bath that evening, which had become my usual night time routine and time with my baby to just bond with him since we have 4 living children at home. I felt him softly kicking me before I went to bed on the night of the 23rd and drifted off to sleep around 11pm. I did not have any concerns about his soft movements since I had the NST just hours before and he was fine.
I woke up the next morning on March 24th around 6:45 am without a care in the world. Looking back now, I not once got up in the middle of the night due to his kicks or having to use the bathroom, which never happened during late pregnancy with him. I got my kids up and ready for school, drove them to school, gave them kisses and hugs as they hopped out of the car, told them to have a wonderful day and that I’d see them that afternoon. I had no idea at the time that I wouldn’t see my 3 older children until they came to the hospital the next day. That day is when they learned from my husband, in the L&D waiting room, that I had indeed given birth to the baby they were eagerly awaiting the arrival of, that the baby was a little boy (we didn’t find out his gender until birth), but that he unexpectedly passed away. They were told this soul crushing news a few minutes before they entered my hospital room to see me and meet Turner. I’ll give more details on this aspect of our families life and Turners birth in Part 2 of Turner’s birth story.
I finally sat down around 9am on the morning of the 24th. I put on a movie for my 3 year old while he lay in my bed so I could take a shower. It was then, as I sat on my bed and finally stopped for a moment that morning, that I realized I hadn’t felt Turner move yet that morning. So I sat still for several minutes and there wasn’t any movement. This stuck me as very odd as he was usually really active 30-45 minutes after I eat breakfast, which I had done around 8am. I tried getting him to move by pressing on my belly and he wouldn’t budge…not even trying to move out of the way or anything. I kept pressing and pushing on his butt (he was head down). Normally he would either kick me back, move out of the way, or give me a nudge somewhere else. He didn’t respond to anything I was doing. After trying this for about 5 minutes I got my home doppler out. I knew exactly where to pick up his heartbeat on my belly as he was laying with his back on my lefthand side and was head down. Plus at that point in pregnancy you can pretty much pick up baby’s heartbeat very quickly anywhere really. I placed the doppler on my belly and it was silent. Not even a gurgling noise or slight swishing sound. I knew deep down inside of me in that moment my baby was gone. I ran the wand over my entire belly and there wasn’t any sound other than silence. Complete and utter silence. This is when my heart sunk and full fledge panic sunk in.
I frantically got myself and my 3 year old son dressed and rushed to the hospital which was 30 mins away. I called my midwifes office and they told me to not even come to the office and go straight to the L&D floor. Their office is attached to the hospital and my midwife would meet me there. I called my husband and he told me everything was just fine and I was only freaking out. He reassured me the baby was just fine. I tried my hardest to let him know something was wrong and that I couldn’t pick up his heartbeat. He reassured me over and over again the baby was fine and that he would meet me at the hospital since he was already at work. I also remember he told me to be careful driving since not only was I 9 months pregnant, but I also had our 3 year old in the car with me.
That drive was the longest 30 minutes of my life. I begged and pleaded with God to save my baby. I prayed the hardest and most desperate prayers I’ve ever sent up to heaven. I begged Him to not let this happen. I told God I had enough faith that He would just let my baby live and be born alive. I told Him I knew He could provide a miracle and for my baby to be ok upon arriving at the hospital. I sobbed and begged my baby to just move one time. Constantly pushing on his butt trying to get him to wake up. I was just trying to drive as fast as I could while pleading with God so that they could perform an emergency c-section and save my baby. A part of me believed they could just get him out and he’d be ok. Now each time I drive on HWY 20 going towards Columbia that car ride plays in my mind over and over. The car ride replays on a loop like a never ending movie real.
I arrived at the hospital 30 mins later and entered through the ER. I told them they were expecting me on L&D but they informed me I had to wait for a volunteer to wheel me up to the L&D floor. It took everything in me to not scream at the person behind that desk and say “I need to get up there now!! My baby is dying!!” Instead I stood there and waited with my 3 year old. I waited for 10 minutes for someone to get me. I envisioned in those 10 minutes that those were the moments my baby slipped away and fearing he died as I stood there waiting. I found out after Turners birth that he had actually passed away sometime during the night while I slept. More than likely around 2-3 am on the 24th just a few hours before I woke up. My baby passed away while I lay sleeping. That knowledge still haunts me to this day. I will forever wonder if he was struggling or desperately trying to tell me to help him, but instead I just slept having no idea that my baby was passing away inside my womb.
I finally got wheeled up to L&D with my 3 year old in my lap. My husband met me at the entrance to the L&D floor and a nurse whose name, Kim, I wouldn’t learn until the next day was waiting for me. She immediately got me out of the wheelchair and took me into the first triage room right there at the entrance by the nurses station. This is when I began crying and finally lost it after keeping it together the whole car ride and wheelchair ride through the hospital. Time started going really fast but also played out in slow motion from this point forward. Almost like I was watching a movie but knew it was reality and it was me laying on that bed.
Nurse Kim frantically started trying to find my sons heartbeat with the monitors to which nothing could be heard. I was panicking, hysterical and sobbing. There were a couple of times she was listening very carefully and thought she heard something but only to know it was nothing. I knew from the look on her face it wasn’t good. I could tell she was trying hard to remain calm herself and not have the look of fear and dread on her face as she desperately tried to find our baby’s heartbeat. My husband was trying to calm me down and our 3 year old was in the room saying “Why is mommy crying. What’s wrong mommy?” It will forever leave me feeling horrible knowing my son saw and heard those moments of when we found out our son died. Sounds and screams I didn’t know the human body could produce. Primal screams from the depths of your soul. Screams you only hear from a parent who has been told their child has died.
My midwife, Donna, entered the room moments later and an ultrasound machine was soon wheeled in. At this point I know there was other people in the room but I was delirious and couldn’t tell you who was all present. As soon as my midwife placed the probe on my belly I covered my eyes. I knew what the screen would show and I didn’t want the image of my baby not moving burned into my brain forever. No one had to say “I’m sorry there is no heartbeat”. They all knew I already knew he was gone. The only thing was complete silence as everyone obviously saw our baby’s heartbeat was no longer beating. There was lots of deafening silence and finally my midwife saying “I don’t understand…he was just fine yesterday. He was just fine yesterday”.
I remember soon after the first ultrasound an ultrasound tech came in to confirm that our baby had passed away. I had my eyes covered during this entire time as well. I couldn’t even tell you if it was a man or woman who performed the scan, but I do remember after the scan was performed the tech saying ”is that all you need” signifying that our baby had indeed passed away and his heart was no longer beating.
What happened after the ultrasounds confirmed our son had indeed passed away, is fuzzy and a blur in my memory butnyet I remember most details. I feel like the majority of the immediate aftermath of finding out our son died was a completely out of body experience.
I remember being hysterical and screaming and making sounds I didn’t know I could make and saying ”Oh my God” over and over again. I remember saying ”This can’t be happening. I’ll just wake up and it will all be a dream” repeatedly. I remember looking at my husband and just saying ”I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry” over and over again totally feeling like it was my fault my baby died. How could I not feel like I was to blame? He died within my body days before he was suppose to enter the world. Just 16 days before we anticipated him coming home. I was his mother and I was the only person he depended on to keep him safe, warm, happy and living. I remembering my husband looking me in my eyes and telling me everything was going to be ok. I could tell he was trying so hard to not only try to ease my brokenness, but also tried hard to believe that statement himself.
I remember our 3 year old becoming hysterical seeing me like that and was now crying and so upset. I know a nurse took him out of the room or was taking care of him in some capacity. I remember telling my husband I couldn’t do this. I KNEW immediately after finding out our baby passed away that he wasn’t going to be coming home with us. Not only would he not come home, but I knew I still had to endure labor and delivery knowing our baby was gone. Knowing I would have to give birth to a beautiful little baby and somehow hand him over to someone never to hold home again. I knew instead of brining him home we would be instead burying him. I knew all of these things immediately. I couldn’t bear the thought of having to physically hand over one of my children and not being able to take care of him. This knowledge crushed me to my core. I know I died that day with my son. I literally experience the death of myself but I was somehow continuing to breathe.
I remember the nurses giving me and my husband time to be by ourselves to process things. I also remember them telling Dave if he needed to step outside of the room to make phone calls that he could. I remember him asking ”do I need to be making phone calls?” to which they replied Yes. I don’t think it ever dawned on my husband that a healthy baby could pass away before birth. That knowledge never entered his mind until it happened to us.
I remember at some point our sweet nurse Kim asked if she could pray with us. She held my hand so tight and said the most heartfelt and loving prayer. I don’t remember anything of what she actually said but I remember the sweetness in her voice, care and love for us and our baby, and I remember seeing and feeling Gods presence in that moment almost as if he was carrying me. At some point Dave called his mom, brother, and my parents and broke the news to them. My Brother in law and sister in law, Nate and Echo, were suppose to be leaving for a 2 week long trip and were actually headed out that morning. They immediately canceled their plans and came to the hospital to be with us. Dave’s Mom also came to the hospital as well. I remember looking in their eyes when they arrived in the room and seeing their sheer and utter shock and devastation. We cried. We hugged and I do believe at some point I received a blessing from my husband and his brother. Nate and Echo ended up taking our 3 year old son, Andrew, home with them. I’ll never forget, before Andrew left with them, he came over to the bedside, took my face in his little hands and told me “Mommy, everything will be ok. Mommy. Everything will be ok”. Here, my sweet little 3 year old knew I was broken and was trying so hard to comfort me in my pain. I’ll never forget that moment. I’m not sure what time they all arrived or what time they left, but it meant the world to me that they came to the hospital and were there with us for a while.
It was at this time or maybe before everyone came… I’m really not sure, that they told us we had some decisions to make as far as delivery. I remember my husband being in disbelief that I still had to labor and deliver our baby. I know in that moment he broke. He felt completely helpless knowing he couldn’t do anything to not only take away my heartache, my emotional and mental anguish, but that he would now have to watch me be in physical pain as well while I labored and gave birth to our son.
They said I could have a c-section or vaginal birth but wouldn’t recommend the c-section since I’ve already had 4 full term vaginal births. I knew I didn’t want to do anything differently regarding his birth. Yes, I knew he was gone, but he was still my baby and a baby I loved beyond measure and I wanted to give birth as I would have done had he not passed away. I didn’t want him coming into this world any differently than my other children had.
After all of this, which was probably about 12pm or 1pm was when they finally moved us to an actual labor and delivery room. They wheeled me down the hallway where all the laboring women where. I heard all the heartbeat monitors and even heard some cries of newborns. It was the most crushing moment knowing these women were having normal labors and deliveries and would have that joyful ending when their baby was finally born. Knowing I would be doing the exact same things as these women, giving birth to the baby I carried for 9 months, but the only cries I’d ever hear would be my own when my baby was born. Our room was all the way at the end of the hallway. I knew exactly which room was ours as on the door there was a single yellow rose. This rose let other people who entered our room know that our baby had died. That rose signified that this room was different and to treat us with care because there would be no joyful ending.
10am on March 24, 2017 was the moment in time where my life will forever be divided into two time periods. The moment my world as I knew it ceased to exist. The moment the person I once was and knew died along with my son. The moment where my heart and soul would forever reside in two places, here on earth and in heaven. March 24th is the day my life will forever be divided in Before and After.
The actual labor and delivery will be continued in Turners Story Part 2…