My Story

My (and Gabriel's) Story

Some people may ask why I would want to share something so personal so openly.  First of all, I want to say it's actually been a little surprising even to me!  I never would have guessed that about myself.  I'd always hoped if I did experience a miscarriage I'd want it to be early on so I wouldn't have to tell anyone but those closest to me.  Now that it has happened I'm thankful in many ways it happened when it did. Sharing my experience and story with anyone who should like to read/listen has been (first and foremost) extremely therapeutic for me!  I had no idea how helpful it would be to just let everything out... To purge myself of all the sorrow and grief!  Another reason I do it is to remember and honor my baby.  To acknowledge that he really did exist here, and that his very life, however brief, and death had a profound impact.  Yet another reason I share is because perhaps there are others going through a loss who may come across my story and my hope would be that by reading this they wouldn't feel so alone.  Finding other women's stories has been another thing that has really helped me, and I'd like to pass that on.  If you've stumbled across this because you, too, are going through or have had a miscarriage I truly am sorry for your loss.  There really are no words other than "I'm SO sorry..."

{Just a heads-up... There are details of childbirth and several pictures throughout this post, many are of Gabriel at 18 weeks gestation. While I don't feel like they are graphic at all, they may make some people uncomfortable.  If that's you, and you'd rather just get the basics try this post...}

On to my story...

Gabriel's story began May 9th, the Thursday before Mother's Day, when that second blue line showed up on the hpt :).  My period was almost 3 weeks late, but I had already taken a test 5 days earlier (2 weeks after my period was due) and it was negative.  Honestly, I was just double checking since I had been so irregular prior, and had intended to ask my Dr. for some hormone testing!  Needless to say, it was a little bit of a surprise for us!  This definitely hadn't been part of our immediate plan, but we accepted it as part of Heavenly Father's plan for us without any hesitation.  From the very beginning I had a nagging, ominous feeling in the back of my mind.  I brushed it of as nerves or shock.  I thought maybe it was just because this was #4 and I hadn't had any issues in pregnancy to this point, so I just figured the odds were against me... Or maybe because I'd been having issues with high blood pressure that developed during my 3rd pregnancy and hadn't been resolved...  Regardless, I tried to ignore it.  I had my first Dr's appointment at what we thought was between six and a half to eight and a half weeks (I hadn't been very regular...), so they did an ultrasound to see how far I was.  That initial u/s put me at 4 weeks and 5 days! I was totally confused!  And worried... I thought for sure something was horribly wrong, and that this pregnancy wasn't meant to be after all. My husband and I did some serious praying, and I got the distinct feeling that no matter what happened, everything would be ok in the end.  At my next appointment, a few weeks later, everything seemed to be developing properly!  Apparently my cycle was just that inconsistent that my timeline was way, way off!  This was my second u/s

In the very beginning, I think daddy was the most excited (which was a pleasant surprise!).  Honestly, I took a little longer, maybe because of that funny feeling I had.  However, it didn't take very long for me to fall in love with this little person that I had not only helped to create, but who also 100% depended on me to nurture and care for!  He was literally a part of me, and I also became very excited!   We started to tell everyone at about 10/11 weeks, because I was already having trouble fitting my clothes :oP!  Here's how we told the grandparents:

Yep. I was pretty proud of that one... ;)

I was still a little nervous about my bp causing problems, so I bought a doppler machine to use at home.  That way I could listen to the baby's heartbeat whenever I wanted.  Just to check... Sometimes I would use it late at night just before bed, when everyone else (even daddy) was asleep. It was so reassuring to know everything was ok!  Well, nerves and all I breezed past the 'magical' 12 week mark, and then even 16 weeks with no problems whatsoever. Not even with my bp!  I think that 12 week mark was when I finally started to push off those feelings of foreboding. Finally, I thought, I could start to relax a little.  The kids had started asking constantly if the baby was a boy or a girl.  We had actually found out at my 16 week appointment (it was actually at 16 weeks and 6 days) that he was a boy, but we were waiting until our 'big' ultrasound (scheduled for a couple weeks later on 8/20) to tell the kids.

This came as a pretty big surprise for both me & and DH, because we both felt pretty sure we would have another girl in our family!  That same appointment my bp was starting to act up a bit.  Not terrible, but borderline.  The nurse practitioner had me double my meds (mostly as a precaution) and had me schedule an extra appointment in one week to discuss it with the doctor.  She found his heartbeat just fine, but that horrible ominous feeling popped right back up.  I think it was Monday evening I started to feel like something was off.  No symptoms to speak of, just a feeling.  The hubby was out of town for a short work trip, and we were busy getting ready for school to start, so I pushed it off.  The next day I couldn't ignore it anymore.  I pulled out that doppler on Tuesday afternoon and tried and tried but couldn't find the baby's heartbeat.  I found mine over and over, but where I had always found the baby's was eerily silent.  I'd never had a problem until that day so I was pretty sure something was wrong.  We went to dinner with my mom, and saw some friends at the restaurant.  My friend asked how I was feeling, but I just said fine... I didn't say anything to anyone because I sure hoped I'd find it if I just tried again later.  After I put the kids to bed I tried again.  I tried to find him for a good 20 minutes to no avail.  I called DH and told him I was worried... that I thought there was something wrong. I hated to worry him, especially if it turned out to be nothing, but I knew I needed to tell him right away in case it was something.  He tried to calm me down, and told me he was sure everything was fine, but I wasn't convinced.  It was still a little early to feel much movement, but I had a few times, so I desperately felt for anything while I lay in bed that night.  The next morning, I tried the doppler again. Still nothing.  I had a Dr's appointment already scheduled for Thursday, so when daddy got home Wednesday night I had him give me a priesthood blessing (a brief definition of what this is can be found here).  I listened carefully for any indication that things would be alright, but I knew... I spent much of the night crying because I already knew in my heart that this baby wouldn't be joining our family here on Earth.  He was already gone.  I felt so badly for my hubby. He so wanted to make things better and instead felt he had somehow made it worse.  It really was exactly what I needed to hear to prepare myself, though.

The next morning I headed to the Dr.'s.  I told the hubs not to take off work... hoping I was overreacting and would've felt badly for making him take off for no reason.  They were so busy I had to wait almost 2 hours. I tried to relax and calm my nerves, but it was torture.  I had tried my best to prepare myself for the worst, while still hoping that maybe, just MAYBE, I was wrong and had misinterpreted the messages I'd gotten loud and clear.  When I was finally was called back I told the Dr. of my concerns, and she very sweetly did her best to reassure me as she pulled out her doppler.  Nothing. My heart sank.  She again tried convince me that it could still be alright. She said sometimes babies like to hide, so we went to the room with the ultrasound machine. Still nothing!  Once more she told me that there was still a chance she could miss it on the smaller, less advanced machine, so we moved again to the room specifically for ultrasounds.  The lights were dimmed so the ultrasound tech could do her thing.  I was more certain than before that my suspicions had been right, but I just couldn't help but grasp for any thread of hope, no matter how small!  She found his perfect little body immediately, and moved the wand to the exact the spot where I had always found his heartbeat.  Because it was the very same spot I had been checking, I knew *instantly*.  She hadn't found anything, either.  She asked the Dr. if she needed to take any measurements, but because I had a pretty accurate timeline she didn't feel it was necessary.  As grateful as I was (and still am) for the intuition/ warning, no amount of preparation could have possibly made that moment ok.  A wave of grief washed over me and the tears flowed.

We went back to the regular exam room to talk about what came next.  My Dr. was very kind and gentle.  While it seems a little odd, over the past several months I'd had a bit of a fascination with miscarriage and the actual process and in my reading had come across some websites with a lot of really good information, so I pretty much knew the options.  Looking back I think that was probably just another way I had been being prepared for this...)  She said she felt like the best option at this stage of pregnancy would be to have me induced and basically go through a typical (just shorter and less intense) labor to deliver the baby.  I know that may sound like a terrible ordeal to some, but to me that was really the only reasonable option.  In my own mind I just couldn't justify a surgical procedure- especially one that would require pulling the baby out in pieces.  (PLEASE, don't misinterpret- Everyone is different, and what was right for me, may not be right for the next person in this situation).  She wanted me to go ahead over to the hospital to be induced as soon as possible.  Apparently when as far along as I was the risk of developing an infection is greatly increased the longer you wait.  I told her I needed a little time to process, talk to my husband and get my kids taken care of.  She said that would be fine and gave me her cell number so I could call her when we were ready.  I then made the very long, lonely walk back to my car.  I had been one of the last patients before lunchtime, so at least there was nobody left in the waiting room that I had to hide my tears from which was mildly comforting...  I sat in my car and called DH at work and then my mom.  He met me at home where we cried some more and we gathered what we'd need to take with us to the hospital. We'd really wanted to wait until the morning, but in the end decided to go ahead and get it done.  We did, however, decide to run a couple of errands on the way (strange, I know), and took some clothes and stuff over to my mom's for the kids.

On the way to my mom's, there was a rainbow through the dismal storm clouds.  I took that to be another little reminder that the Lord was mindful of me.  We intended to tell the kids what was going on, but once we were there I just couldn't bring myself to do it!  We decided to just let grandma tell them and we'd talk to them in more depth later (which I felt like was a major cop out!).  We got to the hospital about seven, parked and went up to labor & delivery. That in and of itself majorly sucked.  Really can't think of a better word.  From the moment we arrived the staff was extremely compassionate. They were ready for us and got us settled right away (in the very same room where I delivered both of my other boys! How's that for a coincidence!) We were assigned the sweetest nurse, Rita.  She was very motherly & nurturing.  Apparently (DH told me later) they put a sign on your door to indicate that you are there due to a loss.  That way they don't have anyone come in and say or do something insensitive.

"The leaf with the teardrop reflects both intense suffering of loss and hope for the future.
Though fallen, the leaf maintains its vitality, symbolizing hope. It cradles the teardrop with its upturned edges creating a sense of comfort.  As seasons change, so do feelings.  Just as there is winter and spring, there is sadness and hope."

We got all the paper work done and Rita got my IV access started & the blood pressure and contraction monitors set. Then we waited, and cried, and waited, and cried...  My Dr. got to the hospital at about 9:20 and was very sweet to appease me and do one more ultrasound.  I wasn't expecting a miracle, but I really felt like I needed to see once more for myself (and daddy hadn't been at her office before...), that there was no sign of a heartbeat before inducing labor which of course was the case.  She then inserted 3 Cytotec pills (600 mg compared to the 100 mg that started my labor with my third) to hopefully start contractions.  Then she left the nurse with instructions to insert another 200 mg pill every 4 hrs until the baby was delivered.  It did indeed start contractions, but not very strong ones.  We tried to watch t.v., chatted, cried (some more...I did a lot of that) and waited.  At one point Rita brought me something to eat since I hadn't had anything since lunch.  Sometime around 11:30 the lab techs came to draw blood for some testing and had to draw SIXTEEN vials!  Surprisingly, I did alright with it! (I do NOT like needles ;))  We'd really been hopeful that the one huge dose of Cytotec would do the trick, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. 1:30 a.m. rolled around and Rita came in to check.  DH and I had just finally dozed off when she came in, so it was a rather rude awakening to which he did not respond well... He left (rather unhappy) for a while. (Not the brightest moment of this whole experience, but I will say after that one small episode he was a saint and a great comfort to me!)  Rita checked my progress and inserted the next dose of Cytotec.  It was extremely disheartening to discover that I had only dilated to a little more than a 1/2 cm!  During this check she also discovered that a lot of the original dose hadn't dissolved, probably part of why it wasn't as effective as we'd hoped...  I was so frustrated, tired, and emotionally drained that it was hard to get any sleep.  I was still awake when Graig came back, but I just lay there with my eyes shut pretending to sleep.  I did finally doze off for a little while, just to be awakened for my next dose of Cytotec at 5:30.  I was just over 1 cm...

After that I fell asleep again for a bit until Rita came in to introduce my new nurse who would be taking over for the next shift.  I can't even begin to tell you how disappointing it was to have been there a whole 12 hr shift with so little progress :(.  I had just really hoped it would go quickly.  Brittani was my new nurse.  I'll admit I was a little nervous because she was a lot younger than Rita, but she was a perfect angel.  I felt a little bad, by this point I had pretty much lost my optimism, and she got all the "yucky" jobs.  9:30 rolled around still with very little progress (I think I had *maybe* reached 1 1/2 cm)  I was so done! I asked Brittani how far dilated I should have to get, and how long this might take. Brittani said a lot of times it didn't take more than 5-6 cm, then she very gently told me that sometimes this could take days.  DAYS!  Guess what... I cried!  That was so not what I wanted to hear. I just wanted to go home!  If I kept up this rate of 1/2 a cm every 4 hrs I was going to be there for days!  I decided as soon as I could get up (I had to stay horizontal for an hour after each Cytotec insertion) I had Graig ask the nurse for a labor ball in hopes that that could speed things up.  Between that last dose and moving around things picked up quickly!  The contractions had FINALLY gotten regular enough to take note!  I started timing them, they were about 30-40 seconds each and about 2.5-3 minutes apart.  I'm still not sure what actually did the trick, but I started to have a little hope!  The contractions stayed about the same duration and length apart, but I started to notice a difference in intensity.  Finally!  Around 1:15 My Dr. had stopped in to make her rounds and came in to check me.  Since I knew she was there I hopped back up in the bed. Not even 10 minutes before she came in the room the contractions very suddenly progressed from the regular contractions to contractions with a sharp intense pressure.  I could tell *something* had definitely changed!  The baby (I know, technically fetus... But he was my baby regardless) must have dropped and was putting pressure on my cervix- what would typically be considered 'transition'.  The Dr. checked a little after 1:30 and I had gone from only 1 1/2 cm to between 5-6 cm!  She said she didn't feel like it'd be much longer.  She told us that she was going to leave the membranes intact because that way everything would come out together,  and that because the baby was so little there really wouldn't need to be much "pushing", if any.   She told me what to watch for (a 'gush' of fluid) and to page the nurse when he actually came out.  That did make me a little nervous, because I really didn't know what to expect!  Sure enough, though, within about 20 minutes I felt a small pop (don't know how else to describe it!) and I knew his head had passed through my cervix.  The strangest part of the actual labor was being conscious of everything that was going on!  I've delivered all three of my other babies naturally, but when the pain is that intense you really don't notice a lot of the little things... With Gabriel, it was the same process, just not as extreme so I could be more mindful of what was going on.  Stepping away from the emotions of it all, it really was a very interesting experience.

Just before the baby was actually born, the contractions stopped for a few minutes.  I asked DH if he wanted to see (I know, that sounds weird, but he's seen all the others!)  He did, and then with a little push the baby slid right out!  Gabriel Travis Daniels was born at 2:08 p.m. on August 16, 2013.  He was 7" long and weighed 3.9 oz.

I figured that since I'd spent all of the previous day and night getting ready for this moment and cried so much over those 48 hours that this would be pretty straight forward.  Boy, was I was wrong!  When I first saw him he was still in the sac (I wish now that we had taken a picture, then, but I was kind of in shock I think).  We paged Brittani and she came right in.  By the time she got there, however, my Dr.-wannabe hubby had already grabbed a glove and had started pulling the sac off him ;).  Brittani helped get the rest of the sac off him and daddy cut the cord.  At this point, I was numb... Shock, I suppose.  Brittani asked if I wanted to hold him for a while before she took him and cleaned him up, of course I said I did.  She carefully placed him on a folded blanket and handed him to me.

That's when the reality of the situation really sunk in.  I broke down.  He was so tiny and so perfect.  I've heard others describe it as somewhat of an out-of-body experience where they heard themselves sobbing, but it just didn't sound like them... I suppose I can relate to that.  Daddy tried to comfort me best he could, but it was obvious that he was hurting, too.  All I could mutter was how "this is so much harder than I thought it would be!"  I never in a million years could have imagined how difficult that very moment would be!  I spent the next, oh, hour... maybe two, holding Gabriel and taking pictures.  To tell you the truth, I wasn't completely convinced I would want to actually touch him, but that changed as soon as Brittani gave him to me.  I touched his little face and awed over his miniature features.  His mouth was especially fascinating to me!  His jaw hinged and he had the cutest little tongue & gums (I know... weird the things you notice!)!  I studied every inch of his amazing, fully formed body!  I held his tiny hands and feet on just one finger!


He was slightly swollen and had some pooling of blood under his skin due to lack of circulation.  Overall, though, I just couldn't get over how human and baby-like he was!!  I know that sounds terrible, but I honestly did not expect that at 17-18 weeks!  He was warm to the touch (at first) and very sticky because his skin was so underdeveloped.  His skin was still somewhat translucent, so you could see a lot of his ribs and collarbone through it.  When we showed the 3 older kids the picture they kept asking why he was bleeding... we explained to them that he wasn't actually bleeding, but that his skin was so underdeveloped the fluids just leaked through.  He was so fragile!  I felt badly for 'hogging' him, so I tried to give him to daddy several times.  He was so sweet, though, to be more concerned about making sure that I could spend as much time with him as possible.  At some point (I don't even know when) I gave him to the nurse. She cleaned him up as much as possible and put a little gown on him. Then she brought him back to us wrapped in a little blanket.  The nurse said we could keep him with us long as we wanted.  

Somewhere in all of this they gave me a Pitocin drip to try to expel the placenta and stop any bleeding. The placenta never did want to come out on it's own so eventually the Dr. had to... well... 'retrieve' it. Talk about unpleasant! To tell the truth, physical pain-wise that was the worst part of the whole thing!  It HURT like all you-know-what!  They brought me some food sometime, too, but as hungry as I was I didn't feel like eating. All  I wanted was to hold my sweet angel.  I tried to soak in every second, knowing that we wouldn't have long.  Daddy did take him for a while so I would eat a little something.  At 7 p.m. yet a third nurse, Lucretia, took over.  She was the same nurse who had been there when my 3rd was born!  All this time we had Gabriel in the room with us was actually quite peaceful.  As sad as it was, it really helped to be able to have him with us, to take pictures and take our time.  Since we were really hoping to be discharged by 10:00, I handed Gabriel back to the nurse around 8:30. They hadn't been able to get hand and footprints before because his skin was so wet, so I asked if they would please try again. That was one thing I knew I really wanted to have.  Handing him over was really hard for me.  Yet another moment that was much more difficult than anticipated!  Lucretia said in all her 28 years there as a nurse she'd never seen a baby that early with their eyes open!  I gave him one more kiss and she took him from me ever so gently. As if he were any other newborn.  And I cried...  

Because Gabriel was earlier than 20 weeks, no birth or death certificate was issued.
This is the Birth Certificate I made for him.

This is a picture of  me and my incredible nurses.  I decided to take little thank-you gifts up to the hospital for each of them, and they just happened to have overlapping shifts so I was able to catch them all together which was awesome! :)
From Left to right: Lucretia, Me, Brittani & Rita

***We later found out from the tests that were done (from the many vials of blood drawn ;) ) that the likely cause for our loss was that I have a mutation of the MTHFR gene.  You can read about that here.***

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