Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Baby We Lost

After I gave birth to Rose, motherhood really agreed with me. Being a mom came quite easily for me. As Rose got older and older I really started to want another baby. RJ and I started discussing when we might want to have our next one. We wanted to have our kids as close together as possible, so RJ and I had sex as often as we could. Surprisingly I still got my period when Rose was between 6 and 8 months old. After my period was over I started taking ovulation tests once a day. I ovulated when we expected, based on my cycle patterns I had before Rose. We we ended up getting pregnant our first try! RJ and I were VERY excited for this baby and to grow our family. My due date was April 6th 2015.

On November 10th 2014 I had my 20 week ultrasound. RJ and I dropped Rose off at a friends house and drove to the ob gyn's office. We were both very excited to see our baby and find out the gender. We have never really cared what gender our baby would be, just that he/she was healthy. Our ultrasound tech came in and slathered a ton of jelly on my belly. As she was taking a look around and doing measurements we told her to tell us the sex as soon as she figured it out because we really wanted to know and couldn’t wait! At one point I was pretty sure I caught a glimpse of a penis, but it was brief and I wasn't sure. RJ thought that glimpse was a vagina. It turned out I was right and it was a BOY! Our ultrasound tech stepped out to get the doctor. We had already decided on names and we were planning on naming him James Robert. RJ stands for Robert James, so we thought reversing it would be cute, we were ecstatic.

The doctor came in, we had meet him before when, I was pregnant with Rose. He is very down to earth but very, very knowledgeable. He is a very smart man, he even built one of the first ultrasound machines used at Virginia tech to diagnose a double tubular pregnancy. Anyways he’s a great doctor who really knows his stuff. This part of our appointment is a bit of a blur because it came as such a shock. I have heard plenty of stories about complications during pregnancy, I just never thought it would be us. I remember our doctor saying there was something wrong. I just wanted to know what issue was and if our baby would be ok. It turned out our baby would not be ok. He had a renal blockage and could not pee. Because of this his kidneys had died. The amniotic fluid was dangerously low and would probably dry up soon because after 20 weeks amniotic fluid is primarily made up of the baby's urine. They were also unsure how his heart was doing, it could have been strained because of the blockage. Our Doctor used to do in-vitro surgery to fix renal blockages, he would go in and place a shunt to unblock the bladder so the baby could pee and the kidneys could heal. Eventually he stopped trying this because none of the babies made it through. The very few babies who did make it to full term were in very bad shape, and died after long painful short life lived out in the NICU. Our first little boy had little to no chance at life.  

All I remember was bursting into tears lying there on the table and RJ hugging me. Most women after the first trimester feel like we are in the clear and nothing else can go wrong. Being told our baby was sick, and there was nothing anyone could do was really hard to handle. Our doctor told us we could either continue with the pregnancy, or terminate. RJ and I had discussed situations like this before. Together we had decided that if we had a pregnancy that would possibly not make it to term, and if it did it would die shortly after birth, we would terminate. We would not want Rose to be neglected because of the time the baby would take from us if we tried to carry the baby full term. We would not want to put that type of financial burden on ourselves. I knew it would be much easier to say goodbye to the bump in my belly than it would be to say goodbye to a dying infant in my arms after birth. Before we even left the office or knew what each other was thinking, I knew RJ and I were on the same page. As heartbroken as we were, we knew the best decision for our family would be to terminate the pregnancy.

Our doctor seemed very concerned for us and our relationship. In similar situations, couples are not always on the same page. Choices like these can destroy a relationship. If one spouse wants one thing and the other wants the opposite, a decision like this can be much more painful than it already is. I am so glad RJ and I had discussed things like this before and knew what our decision would be ahead of time. This situation as shitty as it was definitely made our relationship even stronger.

I texted our friend who was watching Rose, and told her we were headed back but we had bad news. She was hosting the play date at her home that day with some of our friends and their children. I wanted her to warn everyone that I was pretty upset, and I would explain when I got there.

When we arrived I was still teary eyed, and choked though telling everyone we were having a boy but he wouldn’t make it. The room was filled with hugs and tears from all the other moms, a few of them had also lost babies. It means so much to me to have friends who are moms too and understand exactly what I’m going through at any point in time. They all offered their support and love, and told me they would help in any way. It was great to know they were all there for me, I have never felt more understood or supported.

Here is a photo of me and Rose taken the morning after
we found out about our son. You can see the sadness in my
eyes. It's a very emotional photo but I am glad I have it
RJ, Rose, and I went home and had a lazy day, full of snuggles, and tears, while we coped with what was going on. The following evening our doctor called to see how we were doing and if we had made a decision. We had to decide how we were going to handle the shitty situation life threw at us. We told him we wanted to terminate, we had our future family in mind and did not want to risk everything for a child who wouldn’t make it. Especially when were more than capable of making more. He was very understanding and supportive.  He then told us about a couple he was close to went through this and decided carried the pregnancy to term. They later told him after their baby had passed, that if they could go back and make a different decision they would. They told him would never put another child through this and it had been very hard on them both psychologically, and financially. I could hear him choking up a little bit on the phone as he told us this. He was proud of us for making the decision we made knowing how hard it was to make. He gave us the number of the best clinic in town that performed abortions.

The next few days were long and full of gut wrenching phone calls. I made phone calls to the clinic, the insurance company, and to relatives. Telling relatives and friends was definitely one of the hardest parts of this. At 20 weeks I was already showing and had already told everyone we were pregnant because at that point you think everything will be fine. Weeks and weeks after our baby was gone people asked me how my pregnancy was doing. It was heart wrenching to tell the story over and over again.

During the days of phone calls, I called the clinic, and made an appointment. Making an appointment for an abortion is a really emotional thing to do. The hardest part was when the receptionist asked how far along I was. The she sounded shocked when I said 20 weeks. At that point I explained that our baby had many abnormalities and would not make it. I had a similar conversation with the insurance company I called to ask if they would cover a 20 week elective termination. There are some insurance companies who don’t cover abortions in the second trimester. Luckily my insurance company did, but the clinic I was going to was out of network. We would need to play for the procedure up front and they would bill insurance for us later.

The procedure for a second trimester abortion is a two day process. I would be getting a D&E which stands for Dilation and Evacuation. We had a consult appointment on Friday the 14th of November, just a few days after we found out our little boy wouldn’t make it. I also was told I would be coming back the following day the 15th Saturday to do the actual procedure. Our appointment for Friday was pretty early in the morning, with about a 45 minute drive to the clinic. We dropped off Rose at the same friend we did on Monday, I think the consistency helped her. This was the first time we had left her for an entire day with someone before, she did great.

The clinic was very safe and secure, the entrance was tucked up behind the back of the building. There was a security guard checking IDs to make sure everyone he allowed in had an appointment. We waited in the waiting room for a while, I filled out some paperwork, and waited some more. No cell phones were allowed in the clinic for privacy reasons. There was a man and a woman who was sitting across from us. He was using his phone, RJ asked him to put it away. The man claimed he was only using his calculator and refused to put it away. RJ got louder and told him to put it away this time. Then the security guard came over and removed the man from the waiting room. RJ and I were not concerned about our privacy but the waiting room was packed full of young girls who looked very nervous about being there. Whether they were there for birth control, condoms, or an abortion we wanted to stand up for those girls who were concerned about their privacy.

The first time I got called back they insisted only I went back. It is policy to make sure I wanted RJ there. Once they realized my situation wasn’t typical they brought RJ back immediately. I really could not have done any of this without him, I felt insanely nervous without him and was very glad they brought him back so quickly. They needed to do a ultrasound to confirm how far along I was, we didn’t watch but it was still very difficult. I cried the whole time. It turned out since the baby couldn’t pee fluid was backing up in his body, his head was swollen with fluid, and was measuring at 22 weeks. This would make the procedure more expensive and a more complicated than we initially thought it would. Knowing his head measured just over 20 weeks at the beginning of the week, and had swelled to measure 22 weeks in a matter of days he was clearly deteriorating quickly. We knew we were making the right decision to terminate.

After we the ultrasound, we filled out some more paperwork. The clinic took us to a private waiting room (someone's office), where we could have a bit more privacy. I was very thankful for this because RJ and I could cuddle and talk more easily about how we were feeling. I also made a call to our Doctor asking him to send over my records, and to give him an update. When he heard how the baby’s head had swollen up he told us we were definitely making the right decision to terminate. The baby was getting worse so quickly I would have miscarried within the next couple of weeks if not days. This definitely helped us verify the decision we had made, it was not an easy decision to make, but knowing there was absolutely nothing else we could have done was helpful. I was glad we were having the procedure done when we did in a controlled environment on our own terms. I’m it would have been a lot more emotional and scary it had been a emergency (which would have happened).

Someone came and explained the procedure to us and triple checked that this is what we wanted. There was lots of waiting that first day, I had packed snacks and water. We were very glad we were given a private waiting room. We could talk and snuggle in there, and cry without getting stared at.

I got undressed, and put on a gown and socks so they could do the first part of the procedure. This included giving me Xanax to help me stay calm and relaxed. They also gave me some good painkillers because they were going to start to dilate my cervix which is not comfortable. They used something called laminaria, which is a type of seaweed that gently dilates your cervix overnight. It was basically something similar to a wooden coffee stirrer. They placed a number of them in my cervix, placed a few cotton pads over them to help keep them in. I have a very high pain tolerance, the nurses were impressed. She was able to squeeze in more than she expected. They told me that the cotton, or the laminaria sticks might fall out, if the cotton fell out that was fine and if a couple of the sticks fell out that’s ok too, but I was supposed to call if a lot or all of them fell out. The nurse thought they were pretty secure and she didn’t expect they would fall out.

We went back to our private waiting room and I got dressed back into street clothes. I could feel the sticks but they were not very uncomfortable. The last step to do before they send me home was to give me a shot in my belly to stop the baby’s heart. It was a very emotional part of the day even though the Xanax had completely kicked in, it was hard. The doctor used a ultrasound to guide her and help administer the shot. I needed to hold still so I just focused on my breathing and held RJs hand. I this part difficult for him too because he couldn't help and didn't know what to do. I didn’t want to talk because I knew if I did I would cry and wouldn’t be able to hold still. It was not easy. None of this experience was and I hope I never have to go through it again. But I know if we ever have a baby who has similar problems we would make the same decision.

We left the clinic around three or four. We picked up Rose our friend offered to keep her overnight but we wanted to see Rose. Having Rose around helped me handle the situation emotionally a little bit better. It was nice to know that I can make healthy babies. I was very glad this didn’t happen with my first pregnancy. My heart goes out to all the moms out there who have lost their first babies or any baby. It was very difficult to lose a baby, I cannot imagine how much harder it would have been without Rose to distract me.

After picking up Rose we got dinner and went home. We had a quiet evening and did a lot of relaxing. The doctors at the clinic gave me a prescription for some very good painkillers. I was glad I had them, I started cramping pretty badly but that was expected. They made me pretty loopy, and the next morning I realized I had attempted to order things off Amazon. It was only a small toy for Rose. The funny thing is I do not remember trying to order it at all. It was pretty funny and helped lighten the mood a little bit.

This is one of the only photos I have of myself
while pregnant with him. I wish I had more. I
will make sure to take more during future
We woke up very early and dropped Rose off. We made it to the clinic in good time. There wasn’t much waiting this time, but we got to sit in our private waiting room again. They had me get dressed into a gown and a hair net. I remember being pretty nervous but that’s expected. They would be putting me asleep for the procedure. I gave RJ a kiss and a nurse took me back to the operating room. The nurses were very warm and helped me feel a little less nervous. I laid down on the table, and my legs were strapped into stirrups. An anesthesiologist came in and put a IV in while the doctor and nurse got all the instruments ready. Everyone who was there was a woman I appreciated that. I feel women understand a little better than men when it comes to these things. I don’t remember much after the IV was put in. I remember waking up and immediately realized where I was and that my baby was gone. I cried and cried. The baby we wanted so badly. The baby we were so excited for was gone. The nurse went to get RJ, it was so comforting to see him.  

We decided to name him Reggie instead of James Robert. Reggie is short for Reginald which is a family name on RJ’s side. The Reginald we named our boy after also died young. We thought it was fitting.

The clinic was able to get his footprints for us. I have kept them in a box for the past year or so but I think I am ready to frame them and put them up somewhere. As hard as it was to choose to terminate my pregnancy, I am very glad we made that decision. I am very glad we live where we live and it was even an option. 12 states have a ban on abortion after 20 weeks. This is really hard for me to understand. No one gets an abortion after 20 weeks because they don't want their baby. Abortions after 20 weeks only happen when the baby isn’t viable, or the mother’s health is at risk. Abortion should never be illegal. I believe abortion should always be a choice. I would never choose to have one to solve an unwanted pregnancy, but I do not think that choice should be taken away from anyone.

I hope that sharing my story helps someone somewhere. I will always have a spot in my heart for our little boy Reggie.


  1. Wow, sounds almost exactly like my experience a few years ago. Hugs to you!

  2. Huge huge hugs to you and your family.


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