Trigger Warning: This post is about infant loss.
The photo above is old. It's from September 2000. It is at a funeral- my first born daughter's funeral. I was 22 years old. Little did I know, I would bury another child and almost a third daughter.
I don't talk about my first two daughters often. It's not that I am ashamed or that I have anything to hide- it's because it's hard. HARD AS HELL. I try to focus on the present but it's therapeutic and because I know there are many more women who have been here or who are going through this now (and I am soooo sorry you have experienced this cruel loss). I have an issue with avoidance and I have to stop running from the past and face it head on.
"My life is like a Shakespearean tragedy".
I truly feel that way at times. By the time I was 26 years old, I had buried my first two babies and was on the verge of having to bury my third daughter.
This part I: Alanna
My first pregnancy was relatively uneventful. I didn't have any morning/afternoon/night sickness. I hadn't gained very much weight. I took my prenatal vitamins. I followed all the rules.
Then, I had my routine ultrasound at 23 weeks. I thought nothing of the ultrasound tech taking extra images of the baby's abdomen. I also thought nothing of the tech going from extremely friendly to completely silent. I just thought it was her focusing on her job. Little did I know that a week later, I would receive a phone call from my obstetrician telling me I needed to be referred to a perinatologist for a high risk pregnancy. I didn't ask any questions- I just replied with a simple, young woman's naive "okay".
A week later, I was ushered into the specialist's office. The doctor introduced himself and said we were going to do extra, higher level ultrasounds done because there was a concern over the baby. That was when the high pitched ringing in my ears started and feeling hot.
That's when I learned she was extremely sick and her chance of survival was slim. I was 25 weeks along and the baby's belly was already 28 weeks ahead due to her kidneys being full of cysts (at this time, it was thought she had Infantile Polycystic Kidney Disease that was in both kidneys), due to her body being unable to produce urine to create more amniotic fluid- the amniotic fluid was getting low and thus she was essentially getting "smashed" by my uterus and causing "Potter's Syndrome" (smooshed nose, low-set floppy ears). Her lungs and heart were not given enough room by her massively enlarged kidneys and they were dangerously underdeveloped. She was Frank's Breech (feet and butt first) and wont' be able to turn the correct direction. She was not expected to survive.
My doctor told me I would most likely go into preterm labor or I would end up having a cesarean section.
I spent the next few weeks in shock and seething with anger. Thankfully my baby bump was small but there were many well meaning strangers asking me when I was due and I replied with shockingly rude answers.
I went into labor at 32 weeks. It was September 18, 2000. She was due on November 18th, 2000.
Labor and delivery went fast- I went into the hospital emergency room and had her on the stretcher just as I was wheeled into the labor and delivery room.
She was only 17 inches. 4 lbs. She never opened her eyes but she lived an hour and a half. She never cried. Only sound she made was the struggle to breathe from her going into respiratory arrest.
Her name is Alanna.
When I researched her name- I had found that it was Gaelic for "Serenity" and it fit.
There is nothing harder than watching your little, teeny tiny baby's life end right in your arms.
After watching the life exhale with her last breath, then a funeral must be planned.
Through the emotional turmoil of a pregnancy that would result in death, then wild delivery, and then silence.
There were babies crying in the hospital but mine wasn't able to cry. I had to leave empty. Empty arms. Empty belly. Empty heart.
No support groups, no counseling, just sent off to carry on with life after burying my daughter in her teeny, tiny white coffin in a pair of angel pajamas purchased by my friend's mother because she looked like a sleeping angel.
More than 16 years later, I still wonder it would be like to have her around. What would she look like? What kind of headaches would she give me with 16 year old shenanigans? I have a feeling she would have been a really sweet and good kid. My heart tells me that every day.
Stay tuned for Part II: Angeliqe. Mon coeur