Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Letter to An Angel

This is the unedited journal entry from the day that we lost Gummy Bear. It's long, but it didn't seem right to edit it.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Dearest Angel Baby,

This shouldn’t be the way that this all ends, but it is. I have to share it because I know that someday, I will want these memories on paper. I read back over the happiness of the past two months and I want to stop. I want to stop right here and have there be a different ending. As I have learned so many times this past year, I am not the one who gets to control the endings. I want to honor you and all that you have meant to your father and me. We will always treasure these months that we have had with you with us. You will always be in our hearts and our minds. No matter how my heart breaks as I write these words, or no matter how much I might cry, there is no measure to the happiness you have brought to us and I would do it all again.

Today started as any other day for the past few weeks. I was sick in the morning and a little dizzy. I went back to the conference in Seattle and my boss, J, was there. She told me some pretty exciting news – she is pregnant! She is due in August and I joked about her copying me! She is a little nervous about her baby, because they didn’t see much on the ultrasound, but I told her that is how things started with you, and now look how well we are doing. I look back on that conversation and it is bittersweet when I think of how I was so confident.

She told me to call her after my appointment because she wanted to hear the good news. I knew that after this appointment, we would be very confident about you coming and were going to start telling the world. I was planning on putting your ultrasound picture in my sign book as a way of telling all of my offices. I told her that I would try, but that it might be too late to call, or that we might not get to see the doctor at all, since the nurse had said that Friday afternoons are the hardest to keep on time.

I stayed at the conference until noon, then drove home and took a nap. It is amazing how tired I was. I remember waking up from my nap feeling a little disconcerted. I can’t exactly explain it, but I was feeling a little out of sorts, kind of jumbled. It was probably a combination of grogginess from my nap and excitement at the prospect of seeing you, or maybe it was some deeper instinct. I called the doctor’s office to make sure they were still on time, and was told they were. I started to get a little excited, because I knew we would be seeing you on the ultrasound soon. I was also really excited to tell Grandma Jan about you. I was thinking that it would be a wonderful evening. The details of what would happen next are so imprinted in my mind, it is almost as if I am watching a film loop over and over again. Some of the details are so clear it is as if I am still back in that moment, and then other little parts seem to blur right past me.

I tried to eat some chicken casserole for lunch, but it just came right back up. As usual, I was thankful for the pregnancy symptoms and laughed at myself a little because I was still checking for spotting. Since lunch hadn’t stayed down, I grabbed a bottle of grape Gatorade from the ‘fridge and took it with me.

Sweetheart, I wasn’t even that nervous going to the appointment. Daddy and I took separate cars because he was running a little late and we were both grumbling about the traffic on our phones. Daddy doesn’t drive around town much, so I had to give him directions. I felt lucky because I found a good parking space and hurried to get checked in. As I was walking toward the office building, I noticed a house all dressed up in twinkly white lights for the holidays. I felt a bubble of excitement and thought about how wonderful this holiday was going to be. I don’t know if I have ever felt such happiness as I did at that moment. I am sure I was wearing my goofy having-a-baby grin. I am thankful for that last moment of pure happiness as I know it will be quite some time before I feel that way again.

I checked in and had to ask for a bag since I was feeling so sick. Daddy came in a few minutes later. We noticed that we were both wearing green sweaters. I always love it when we match - and he always hates it! In fact, he will change if he notices that we are wearing the same color before we leave the house. I was thinking that we looked like such a cute couple expecting a baby together and that if you were a boy, I would dress you two alike someday.

I remember two things especially from the waiting time. There was a grandmother sitting with a little baby girl in a chair near us. The little baby had the biggest brown eyes and kept staring at Daddy. I nestled into his arms, smiled up at him, and said, “We are going to have one of those soon.” I felt such happiness, such pure contentment. I honestly felt sometimes that I would bubble over with all of the wonderful feelings that I had inside.

There was another couple there, too, the appointment after ours. The wife was pretty with curly blond hair and the cutest pregnant tummy. I remember saying to Daddy what a cute pregnant lady she was and how I couldn’t wait to be that pregnant. I was so excited for my “bump.” She carried her purse and a bottle of Tums. She sat down next to her husband, popped open her Tums and offered him one. It made me smile and think about toting Tums around in a few months. She caught me smiling at them and she smiled back.

K, the kind nurse that had her own miscarriages, called us back after we had waited for quite awhile. She told us that she was fighting for the ultrasound machine and I told her that Daddy was ready if she needed backup. We all laughed. I was weighed in and had lost a few more pounds. I changed in front of Daddy, feeling a little self conscious because the lights were so bright. I put on my comfy, thick blue socks over the thinner white ones I was wearing, because I wanted my feet to be warm. It’s funny how I was worried about such little things, but that was my world then. I was so content about the bigger things that I could just worry about the details.

There was a board of pictures behind the examining table and Daddy noticed the babies. We both leaned in and looked at all the cute newborns. I thought to myself that soon your picture would be on that board.

Dr. S was running over a half hour late, so I thought for sure that he would hustle us through our appointment, but he came in and jovially shook my hand. He said, “Well, look, they are all smiles.”

It seems strange now how long we talked to him before, almost a waste, but then again, those were our last moments to have before it all ended, so I am once again grateful. He was methodical and went through our entire history. We talked about medications to take for the nausea and other questions that we had. He did a physical exam and said that everything looked perfect. Then, he dimmed the lights and K wheeled over the ultrasound machine. She had a little trouble getting the screen to turn on and my biggest worry at that moment was that it wouldn’t work and that we wouldn’t get to see you.

Finally, the screen stopped acting up, and the doctor put the probe in. I remember asking at what stage we could hear the heartbeat and he answered me, but I don’t remember what he said, because I got distracted looking for you. It is at that moment that everything seemed to start going in the slowest of slow motions.

My first thought was, “Oh, my God, the baby is completely gone.”

From all of our previous ultrasounds, I knew what the uterus looked like and there it was, looking completely black and empty. I know my heart stopped beating. But the screen was really fuzzy, almost as if we were getting a bad reception, complete with diagonal lines running through it. I think I might have even commented on the bad picture. The doctor rotated the probe and then we saw a light image of you come on the screen. Daddy had been squeezing my hand and he started to relax it, but I was busy watching the doctor’s face and I knew something wasn’t right.

“Let’s get a measurement,” he said quietly. I saw him take the crown to rump measurement and my world stopped. The 9 weeks, 5 days popped up on the screen in this bright, clear print. I remember thinking how strange it was that everything else was so out of focus but those words were as clear as day. I knew you were too small. You should have been in the late ten week range at least. I started to shake a little and I remember asking K for a tissue. Daddy turned to me and said, “The baby is right there.” He was trying to comfort me and he told me later that he didn’t see the measurements pop up, so he thought I was upset because I couldn’t see you.

I don’t even know where my voice came from and it didn’t even sound like me speaking, I sounded too calm to be experiencing what we were, but I answered, “But I am not seeing a heartbeat, are you, Doctor?”

Dr. S’s words will forever echo in my head. “No, I am not.”

I turned to Daddy and said, “I am so sorry.” He just shook his head at me and smoothed my hair away from my eyes, then looked back at the screen. I kept saying it, “I am sorry. I am so sorry.” I don’t know who I was apologizing to – to Daddy for letting him down again, to you, for not doing my only job and keeping you safe, to the doctor for not sitting still and crying when he was trying to get a clear look at you on the screen. I just kept saying it because no other words seemed to come out.

K was by my side then, handing me the tissues that I had asked for. I grabbed her hand and looked away from the screen, starting to cry and shake some more. I remember saying something about how I couldn’t do this and I squirmed a little, I think just trying to get away from the horrible heartbreak that was crashing down everywhere. Daddy said that I was shaking the machine, so for just a second, he thought he saw a heartbeat, but then it was just still again.

The doctor looked at the screen for a long time. It seemed like both seconds and hours all at once in that darkened room and I just prayed for the miracle I knew wasn’t going to come. It was really too late to pray for your life when it had probably been over for more than a week. Dr. S said, “I know this is disappointing.”

I felt a flash of anger and snapped, “This is not disappointing, Doctor. This is devastating.”

He didn’t say much to that. What could he say? I asked him if we could have a print out of the ultrasound, which I think surprised him, but I knew I would want it for later. Daddy asked if I was sure and I was. I knew that I would want to cling to everything that was you. K clipped the picture off for us and set it by my purse.

Finally, the doctor slipped the probe out and the lights were turned back on. I sat up and for some reason, was acutely aware that my robe had untied at the neck and was gaping open. I felt so vulnerable because this was the worst moment of my life and there were all these people watching me. I was shaking and trying not to cry any more. I looked everywhere around the tiny room, trying to avoid looking at anything for more than a couple of seconds and definitely trying to avoid Dr. S and what he was going to say.

Dr. S sat down right at my knees and put his hands on them. I remember thinking what a kind man he was, how he looked like just the type of man that I would want to be the first person our baby saw when it came into this world. And then I remember thinking, “What baby?”

He said he was sorry, that I was right, it was devastating. That 1 out of 5 times, they have to give bad news at these early ultrasounds. He said that I was still so sick because the placenta still puts out pregnancy hormones even if the baby dies and the placenta takes awhile to break down. We talked about the options, whether to naturally miscarry or have a D&C. I asked about getting tests done to see if we could determine a cause, but he said because you had already been gone for a little while, we might not be able to get anything valuable from the tests. Daddy said he thought the surgery would be best, I really didn’t know what to think. To go from joking about fighting over the ultrasound machine to talking about how to get rid of this dead baby inside of me, in a matter of just a few moments, just didn’t seem possible. It didn’t seem humane.

I remember the whole time Dr. S talked to me, I couldn’t maintain eye contact. I wanted to. I know it is rude not to look at someone when they are talking to you and I thought that perhaps he would think I was going crazy. But I just keep looking away and couldn’t keep my eyes on him. He said that I needed to know that I had nothing to be sorry about, that I had no way of controlling this. He said that I shouldn’t try to stop myself from crying, that this is something to grieve. He was really so kind, but I just wanted him to go away. He told us to stay as long as we wanted, all night if we needed, although he didn’t recommend it. His last words to Daddy were, “Give her a big hug, will you?”

The door closed behind Dr. S and it was just Daddy and me. I remember looking down at him and the tears were starting again. Baby, in all of my life, I will never forget the look on your father’s face. For just a moment, I literally felt as if my heart would break into a million pieces. I really felt a physical shattering that sucked all of my breath out of me. Then, Daddy laid his head down next to my leg and I put my hand on the back of his neck. I remember seeing the tiny rash he has there and wondering if it hurt him. Even though that is one of the saddest moments of my life, it was also one that I never wanted to end, because it was as if we were on this bridge between the life we had just been living, so filled with dreams and hopes for your life, and the life we would now have to walk in, where all of my dreams and hopes were gone. I didn’t want to cross that bridge, I just wanted to stay there forever. But of course, life doesn’t stop just because our world ended.

Daddy took a deep breath and then he got up. He walked around to face me and he hugged me. I remember telling him that I would be all right and he looked at me as if I was crazy. We hugged a little bit more and this is one of those blurry times. I can’t remember everything we said to each other, but I do remember that neither one of us wanted to go home. I wanted to stay in that tiny room forever, because I knew that facing the world outside again was going to be the hardest thing. We talked about going someplace, perhaps Leavenworth or our favorite hotel, but we knew we wouldn’t be able to get the dogs boarded and that it was too late to really drive anywhere too far away. Also, I was starting to realize that I didn’t want to be far away from a hospital in case I started bleeding.

I finally said that I wanted to get dressed because I felt naked, which of course, I practically was. But I felt a different kind of naked, stripped of everything on the inside and outside. I got dressed and then left to use the bathroom. I walked in and thought it was strange that the last time I was in the bathroom, I had been throwing up and now I was crying. I looked at myself in the mirror, my face pale and eyes red. My hair was a mess and I had this crazy kind of look in my eyes. I went to the bathroom, and ironically realized I was still checking for spotting. Obviously, I hadn’t quite accepted that it didn’t matter any more.

When I came back down the hall, I could hear Dr. S in another room, laughing. I realized he was probably talking to the blond woman with the Tums and the cute round pregnant belly. I wanted to be that woman. I wanted to be any woman but me.

K was in the room with Daddy and she was talking about scheduling the D&C. Dr. S had jury duty on Monday and Tuesday, so the procedure probably couldn’t be done until Wednesday. I felt a brief panic and told her that I was scared to miscarry you at home because I didn’t want to see you. She said if I started bleeding a lot, I could go right to the ER and have an emergency D&C.

Finally, K hugged me and said that this is the toughest part of her job. I looked back at the board of newborns and said, “But think of all the happy times.”

She replied, “I hope I will get to be there for your happy time.”

I didn’t know what to say for a second and then I said, “I just don’t know that I will ever have that, K. If this was the first time. . . but there have been so many.”

We walked out of the office and everyone had gone home. It was empty and dark in the reception area. Everything felt kind of surreal. We got into the elevator and rode down to the bottom floor. I was not crying. And then I saw her. She was waiting by the door, probably for her husband to go get the car. It was the blond woman with the cute pregnant tummy and the bottle of Tums. I tried to smile at her, but my face got all twisted up and I put my hand over my eyes as the tears started. I know she saw me crying and I hope that for just a moment, she forgot about her heartburn and realized how lucky she was and how precious her baby is. I still think about that woman. How they probably went to dinner afterward or maybe Christmas shopping. It is weird how I can’t get her out of my mind. I guess I am just so jealous of all that she has. All that I feel we have been robbed of.

Daddy walked me to my car. He was so concerned about me driving home, but I didn’t want to leave my car parked on the street. I promised him that I would be okay. I also needed to make some phone calls.

I called J first. She answered and said, “Do you have good news for me?” I told her that I had the worst news ever, that you had died and that I didn’t know when I would come back to work. She said to take all the time that I needed.

I then knew that I had to call Grandma and Grandpa. I really didn’t want to have to do that, but I also knew that I would have to at some time. For some reason, I thought if I could just say it enough times, I would believe it. They were right in the middle of dinner and Grandpa asked if I could call back, but I said that I couldn’t wait. Grandma got on the phone and I told her that you had died. Every time I said it, I felt like a hammer was hitting me in the chest where my heart should have been.

We got home and I took the white frame with the ultrasound picture upstairs. I took the baby books from the coffee table upstairs. I couldn’t put your things in the miscarriage basket yet, so I put them all on the bed, where your blanket and Pooh Bear had been sitting. I shut the door to the second bedroom and came back downstairs.

Daddy sat on the couch and I sat on my chair. We talked for awhile, trying to figure out what we should do. I warmed up some chicken noodle soup and sipped at the broth. I didn’t really want to eat, but my body, my stupid body, hadn’t realized that it wasn’t pregnant anymore and was demanding food.

Finally, we got the dogs in the car and drove around, looking at Christmas lights. I patted Jack and didn’t really cry. We listened to Christmas carols on the radio, but I kept changing the channel. I never realized how many of those songs are really quite sad once you really listen to them. Even the happy ones about family and children waiting for Santa Claus were now sad to me.

We got home and I was nauseous. I realized that I didn’t have to hold off taking the phenergan anymore. I took one of the pills and within twenty minutes, I was so sleepy that I conked out right on the chair. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to go to sleep, because if I went to sleep, that would mean that I would have to wake up. And if I had to wake up, it meant that I would have to face my life without you.

Oh, Gummy Bear, I don’t know what to do without you.

Love,
Mommy

15 comments:

BrownEyedGirl said...

(((Katie)))

Honey, I'm crying...I'm bawling...I'm so sorry!

What a beautiful letter to your Gummy Bear.

As I read along, everything came flooding back to me too.

I just want to thank you for sharing this with us. (((Katie))) And I'm so sorry.

K said...

Saying "ditto" to browneyedgirl's comment seems horribly wrong, but she said everything I would. I too bawled when reading this, was struck by its beauty, found my own experience flooding back, want to thank you for sharing it, and am so incredibly sorry.

((Katie))

Geohde said...

I'm tearing up.

SO sad....

It makes me remember my devestating ultrasound. I was not so lucky in having a helpful medico present.

xx

J

Samantha said...

Oh Katie, I am so, so sorry. Hugs to you honey. I hope sharing this story will help give you peace.

Anonymous said...

Katie, I know your angel knew how much he/she was loved. Your post had me in tears all morning.

hugs!

Tina said...

This is such a beautiful letter...much better than I could ever write. And, it certainly makes my memories come back to the forefront of my mind...

Thank you so much for sharing these letters with us... You have made me cry.

**Hugs**

In Search of Morning Sickness said...

I can't say much more than has been said... But this is such a beautiful piece of your heart. I just cry and cry, for what you lost, for what all of us have lost. I can't believe how long your pregnancy progressed only to have your sweet baby not make it. I am so very, very sorry. That's just not enough for the devastation you've had to go through. You are so beautiful, inside and out. I can't imagine the kind of love you'd give to a child, it'd be enormous. I want it so bad for you.

alison said...

That was so beautifully written. I don't think that I would have the presence of mind to compose a letter like that, after receiving such awful, heartbreaking news.

Thank you for letting me know it's ok where I am on the IF spectrum. I was feeling a little down-and-out after reading everyone else's stories that seem much worse than mine.

:) alison

Shelli said...

Just a beautiful post. You brought back every emotion I have had when I was in the same situation (too many times now).

Thank you for sharing.

moosk said...

thank you for sharing your story, katie. what a beautiful, touching series of posts about your time with your gummy bear... it doesn't seem fair that anyone has to go through so much heartache. but i'm so glad that your dh is so thoughtful and supportive.

Misty River said...

Katie,

I'm so sorry for the experience that you had. Your letter was so beautiful, I only hope I can pull myself together for the meeting I have in an hour. I pray that you will experience the overwhelming joy that you had for such a preciously short time and that you and will have even more in common with the little blond.

Polka Dot said...

From my heart to yours. Your letter was so touching and beautiful.

ryc: I would love it if you would do that. I'm honored you would take a blanket in memory of our baby. Thank you so much.

Baby Steps to Baby Shoes said...

I can't imagine your pain, but thanking you so much for being open and sharing it with all of us. You have touched my heart from so far away.

Elaine said...

I can't believe how similiar our experience was. I lost my first baby around Christmas too, and every year those old feelings come creeping back up. The similarities are so eerily similar. Thanks for sharing your story, and I hope that it brought you some sort of closure on your circumstances. If our babies only knew how much we love and miss them each day...If only things had been different.

You are exactly right--it's devestating, not disappointing.

Yoka said...

Katie,

what a heartbreaking story you have to share. I am in tears and am so sorry to hear about all your losses. I can't even imagine what you have been trough. At least in my two miscarriages I never got to see the heartbeat.
I linked you in my post and look forward to hearing more from you. Maybe we can support each other in the adoption process.

Hugs.