Saturday, October 20, 2012

Guest Post: Becca

Today we are lucky enough to have Becca with us Guest Blogging from Bustabecaa - she is an amazing person who was willing to share with us all her story. Please take a moment to read her post, visit her site,  and feel free to leave comments in response on our Facebook page

The other day I was in the elevator making small talk with a new co-worker. She asked about my belly. I told her I was expecting a baby boy in January. She politely asked if this is my first baby. I looked her in the eye, took a deep breath, smiled, and said, no. I told her my first was born last year and she died. I watched her gaze drop and heard her say how sorry she was. I felt a little bad for the woman who wasn't expecting something so heavy from small talk in the elevator.

During my first pregnancy, the thought of my child dying at birth didn't register. If it crossed my mind at all, I must have brushed it aside or blocked it out. My pregnancy was normal and healthy. I went to yoga, I walked and I ate my vegetables. We hired a doula to help us get through labor without interventions and medication. We were so excited to find out she was a girl. We wrote to her in a journal and read her stories at night. We were anxious to meet her, to see what she looked like and to become parents.

I was in active labor around midnight on a Tuesday. We labored at home and went to the hospital when the contractions got more intense. We labored all day and finally all that was left was an anterior lip of cervix that the nurse slipped behind Avery's head so I could push her out. She came out and it felt so good. But something was wrong. They tried to get her to breathe. We sang to her. They called the NICU team. Someone started watching the clock and calling out the time since birth every 2-3 minutes. I barely remember delivering the placenta. We heard a noise that sounded like a cry. My doula and I gasped. A nurse gently whispered that the sound was just suction. Too much time had passed. Her heart rate was too low. She hadn't taken a breath. No one could explain it. Her heart rate had been fine during labor. It was a healthy pregnancy. She just couldn't breathe.

The doctors asked if we wanted to hold her.  Of course we did but I was so confused.  She was dying? Had she already died?  What was happening? Some sort of clarity kicked in when they handed her to us.  We got really calm and made decisions. We thought she looked like an Avery so we called her that. We held her and read her one last story. We introduced her to her grandparents who had been waiting down the hall.  Her heart stopped when she was in our arms. I remember thinking that they didn’t call out the time of death like they do in the movies. Josh had to tell our friends who had been waiting downstairs. I hadn't eaten anything all day so someone brought us pizza. I wanted to stand up but I was so exhausted a nurse had to help hold me up. That was it.  The labor was over. Avery was born and then she died.  

We cried a lot in those first few weeks. We talked to a Chaplin, a social worker, a therapist, a psychic and our doctors. We were not prepared for this. We sought out support groups. I read a blog about baby loss for hours at a time. We wrote in our journals. Many, many people reached out to us and we needed them to. Some people didn’t know what to say or said the wrong thing.  But it’s hard to know what to say. We had a memorial service one Sunday afternoon in the park by our house.

The autopsy results came back a couple months later. They were inconclusive. A bacterial infection was likely the cause but we can't say for sure. I had tested negative for GBS. We told ourselves and everyone else that we didn't want to remember Avery like this. We want to remember her for what he gave us and taught us. We do. We shared her story with so many people. We tell them how she reminded us that we are not in control.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that we made it through those first few months. I hear my own voice in my head asking if it really happened. I think about her every day and I expect I will until the end of time. The grief changes but it’s still there, right in the space below my heart. I get really sad when I think that my son, who’s growing inside me, will never know his sister. And at the same time, I feel lucky to have had those nine months with her. I feel so lucky that I birthed her and held her.

No one can give you advice on how to grieve your baby’s death. I can tell you that, for me, sharing her story, going to support groups, remembering her often, crying, laughing, asking for help, and taking long, quiet walks, helps. Everything you feel is okay.