This Is Infant Loss
Today, we are sharing a raw and real story of infant loss. This may be a trigger to some of you, so please only read if you are emotionally able to. We are sharing this story to help create awareness, so that the mom reading this who has been through infant loss knows she is not alone, and so that the family who is supporting a loved one going through loss knows what their loved one may be experiencing.
This is a Story of Infant Loss
It started out like any regular Thursday morning. I had a pretty restless night, trying to get comfy with a bowling ball in my tummy. Ben left at the usual 6:30am after kissing my cheek while I stayed in bed. Malachi woke up and, like always, I brought him into bed with me for morning cuddles. He put his ear up to my stomach and giggled when his sister rolled twice. I remember thinking “wow, she’s active this morning.”
We started our normal routine of breakfast and getting ready. I headed to my moms to drop off Malachi for my regularly scheduled OB appointment. As I sat in the waiting room, I looked at pictures of Malachi on my phone, thinking of how good of a brother he will be. I was called into the back for my appointment and went through the routine. Getting weighed, I’d lost two pounds since the previous week. Normal for the last weeks of pregnancy. They took my blood pressure, which a little high, but normal for me with my anxiety. Then, the nurse put the Doppler to my stomach.
I waited patiently for the ever-reassuring steady thud of my daughter’s heart.
The seconds ticked by. The nurse said something about how she was in a funny position and called the OB in. He tried for a couple minutes. By now I was getting worried. “It’s just your anxiety talking,” I told myself. This has happened with Malachi too.
The doctor asked me quietly if I had felt any fetal movement today. I said yes without hesitation, Malachi and I had been playing with her just that morning. In the same quiet voice that was already ringing with pity, he asked “when was the last time you felt her move?”
I froze. My heart dropped all the way to my toes and it felt like my breath was taken away. Thinking back on my day, I hadn’t noticed her move since those big rolls in the morning. I just hadn’t thought about it because I was busy. How that would haunt me. If only I had noticed sooner… I quietly told him I hadn’t felt her since around 7am.
I curled my hand around my stomach protectively, begging God to let my gut feeling be wrong.
The doctor suggested I head to labour and delivery for a stress test. I called Ben at work on the way to the hospital in tears, telling him they couldn’t find the heart beat. Ben talked me down, and reminded me that the exact same thing had happened in my last pregnancy. With Malachi, they did the ultrasound and he was fine, just in a weird position. But I knew in my heart that wasn’t the case this time. I clung to the comfort and hope that my husband’s words brought to me. He said he was on his way.
I arrived at the hospital and went to the third floor in a daze. The nurse hooked the Doppler’s around my stomach, and it felt like they were barely on me before she said “I’m sorry I can’t find the heart beat.”
“But what does that mean?” I asked in a terrified whisper, already knowing the answer but needing to hear it out loud. She looked at me with nothing but compassion in her eyes and said “I’m sorry but your baby has died.”
I don’t think I could even come close to describing the feelings that spread through me at this point, so I won’t try. When I called Ben, he said he was on his way up. I managed to get the words “they said she’s dead” out. He didn’t believe me. I don’t think Ben really believed it until he saw her.
The rest of that afternoon passed in a blur.
We made phone calls to both our parents and our pastor. There was test, after test, after test, when I just wanted to be left alone. I had several panic attacks until they gave me Ativan.
Finally, Ben and I were left alone. They had admitted us into a birthing room. How I hated that room. A room that should be filled with such nervousness and elation. Now, it seemed like it was mocking me. They closed the door and put the symbol of a dove holding roses on the door. Anyone coming by would know that this was not one of the best days of our lives as it should be, but the worst.
Ben and I sat together in the hospital bed. I stroked my stomach, while he stroked my hair. We sat that way for a long time until the doctors started coming back in again. It was quickly decided that I was in no condition for labour, so they were going to knock me out with sleeping medication so I would be more prepared for labour tomorrow.
As if I could ever be prepared for something like this…
The next thing I remember is waking up to a newborn baby screaming as it made its grand entrance into the world. And the elated sobs of a mother who just got everything she had ever dreamed of. Apparently the rooms are close together, and not sound proof. Being on the labour and delivery floor is really not an ideal place to labour and deliver your dead child. I was confused. But those sounds pierced my heart and reminded me where I was and what I had to do. I reached for Ben and cried again.
The nurses came in and started my IV. An hour later, they broke my water. It all happened very quickly and very emotionally. Ben was amazing, but then again he usually is.
I will never forget the final push.
When I had Malachi, it was chaotic and loud. Malachi screaming, Ben laughing and saying “he is huge.” The nurses talking about how good I did, and that it was over now.
What a stark contrast. With the final push, I felt the relief of labour being over, but there was no chaos. Instead, I was met with the most overwhelming silence I’ve ever encountered. No baby screaming, no laughter from my husband, no nurse or doctor said a word. Silence. The kind where you can hear your heart beat thundering in your ears. I desperately wanted to see her, but they had her behind the sheet. Then I noticed the doctor had passed her to a nurse and the nurse was starting to take her away. I was angry. and demanded they put her on me for skin to skin. The nurse apologized, and said most parents want the baby cleaned first and checked for deformity. I insisted they put her on me anyway.
I’ll never forget the moment they passed her to me. I can still see her lifeless body, limp and purple coming towards me. This was the moment my heart truly shattered. I’d never seen a prettier baby. I told Ben as much, between sobs. I clung to her. I think I clung to her until they took her from me.
Rose Sandra Jane Kielstra
July 27, 2018. 1:13pm. 6lbs 12 oz. 21 inches
If you are grieving infant loss, miscarriage, or are supporting someone who is struggling, you are not alone. We want you to share your stories openly because we want you to find support.
Thank you so much to Katie for sharing her story. We truly hope that this story can help you better understand the journey of infant loss.
If you are going through loss or miscarriage read these articles to help you find more support: