I am crawling out of my depressive hole. I’ve been struggling since last month, stuck between a mixed and severe depressive episode. Combine that with fibromyalgia pain that ebbs and flows, and financial stress. Makes for fun times. *rolls eyes*
Today would be my daughter Shirley’s 11th birthday, if she were alive. She was stillborn. I have cervical incompetence, and it was not discovered until my second trimester. It’s congenital; I was born that way. I had a cerclage put in, but my cervix was already effaced and partially dilated. My doctor had 3mm to stitch, instead of the usual 3cm. It held for about two weeks, and then on the evening of July 13th I began having pains. I started leaking fluid, it scared me. I was in premature labor, unbeknownst to me. I had back labor, so once a contraction would stop I would immediately get a contraction in my back. Back, front, back front, back, front. All night long, alone in my bed. Shirley was kicking furiously inside of me.
I was staying at my parents, my ex was at home with the phone off. I repeatedly called him, hoping and wishing he would turn on his phone. I tried to call my parents for help, but no sound came out. My mother found me 6:30 the next morning. She and my Dad rushed me to the Women’s hospital, where I was put in a bed and monitored. The Doctor came to examine me, and I had the baby monitor thing strapped to my belly. It turned out that the stitch could not stop my cervix from dilating, and wound up putting a small hole in my amniotic sac which caused fluid to seep out all night. I heard Shirley’s heart beating on the monitor, it was slow and weak instead of the usual fast and hyper beating. The doctor informed me that I would lose my baby, apologized, and walked out. In disbelief, I sat there and heard my daughter die. I listened to her heart stop beating on the monitor.
I was already 9cm dilated, so they wheeled me to the labor and delivery room. I was in a panic, my parents left to give me privacy when the Doctor came to examine me and I didn’t know where they went. I was alone, and terrified. They prepped me for delivery, informing me that Shirley was breach. I begged them to notify my parents, that I didn’t want to be alone. They were paged and rushed to my room. I was given Demerol in my iv, as I was tachycardic and throwing up. The Dr broke my water, and then it was time for delivery.
I’ll tell you one thing, you lose all dignity once you give birth. My father held my right leg, my mother held my left. Within three pushes, Shirley was born. Stillborn. 8:37am, 11.5″, 1.1lbs. Fair hair, my eyebrows, such tiny hands and feet with diminutive nails. Her whole hand was the size of my thumb nail. Purple skin. Yes, you read that right. She was purple. She was oxygen deprived because of the hole being poked in the sac. All night long, my baby fought hard to stay alive. The Doctor was surprised that she survived as long as she did with the oxygen deprivation. The nurses wrapped her in a miniature bunting, and gave her to me. They took molds of her hands and feet, took pictures of her, put those along with her ankle tag and measuring tape in a beautiful memory box and gave it to me the next day when I was discharged.
I’ll spare you the depressing fall out after her birth, and my conversation with my ex when I had to call him on his lunch break to tell him the news that our baby had been born and passed away. I won’t go into detail about the black depression into which I fell, or the incredible feeling of emptiness as I left the hospital with empty arms instead of a bundle of joy. What I will say, is that it took me nine years to come to terms with what happened to her. Nine years before the grief began to subside. Oh, it’s still there. I’m crying as I am typing. Today is eleven years, and it’s been within these last two years that I learned to accept what happened and stop blaming myself. If only I had called 911, if only I had banged on the wall until someone came to my room… If only. I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. It is that belief that gives me some shred of solace. Writing does too, it really does help. I may be bawling my eyes out right now but believe me when I say it feels good to let this out. A few years ago I wrote a poem on her 9th birthday. It was heart wrenching to write, but it helped me heal. Here it is:
A Poem for My Angel
We never had the chance to play, To sing and dance, or laugh and drink tea.
I long to hear you, hold you close, The little girl I will never see.