Gavin was somewhat of a surprise for my husband and I. One day in October, I had stayed home from work after feeling a little under the weather. My period was about 1 1/2 weeks late at that time which wasn’t unusual for me, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to take a pregnancy test. I waited a couple more days and decided one morning (at 4AM!) to take a test.
I anxiously waited as the result was revealed. Poof! There it was. A + sign! I woke my husband up to tell him the news. We were so excited and anxious about this new adventure!
Unlike other women, my pregnancy with Gavin was pleasant comparatively. I had very little morning sickness and, unlike my sister, I was not considered high risk. I had made efforts to cook at home more, to take my prenatal vitamin religiously and to use the stairs whenever I could. I felt on top of the world!
During my second trimester I recall telling my Mom how much I loved being pregnant. I felt like the odds were very much in my favor and I had no reasons to feel differently. All my doctor visits went accordingly. All my questions were answered with, “that’s normal.” I had no ‘spilling’ in my urine samples and I kept an eye on my weight gain and nutrition.
Of course it wasn’t perfect. I had a couple hiccups here and there, but that was to be expected. My 1 hour glucose test was just over the safe mark, but my 3-hour glucose test came back normal. I also learned I had Strep B, but my doctor said that was very common (1 out of 3 women) and they would give me an antibiotic when I was in labor. My biggest scare was when I came down with the flu during the winter months, but I followed the doctor’s orders and got better with time and rest. Everything looked up!
I really believed that I was amidst a very promising and routine pregnancy, but somewhere - just shy of 37 weeks - something went terribly wrong. The last week Gavin was alive I thought my water broke, so I visited my doctor to find out. My water didn’t break but my doctor measured my stomach which was getting quite large. She gave me a note for an ultrasound and told me to have it done before my next appointment. We talked about a couple other things, but like usual, nothing set off any big alarms. She listened to Gavin’s heartbeat and I attributed the whole ordeal to soon-to-be-mom jitters.
Between that Wednesday doctor’s appointment and the Friday afternoon in the hospital, I lost my Gavin…That Thursday I started to wonder why I hadn’t felt any true kicks from Gavin. “Am I feeling him? Is that twinge a hiccup? Was that a swish?” One of my co-workers came by to say hello and I mentioned how hard my stomach was and we laughed about it. I really thought everything was okay. Both my husband and I did. I just had an appointment. It’s just the mom-jitters creeping up.
Recalling the Friday it all happened is so painful. I worked a half-day and called my doctor due to lack of movement. The office nurse instructed me to head over to the hospital, where they would do a non-stress test. My confidence was waning, but I still stayed very positive. I told my husband to stay home and that I would call him if he needed to be there.
I reported to Labor and Delivery and was greeted by two nurses at the front desk. I was checked in right away and taken to a triage room where another nurse started the test. From the beginning it was clear the nurse was having trouble locating Gavin’s heartbeat. After about 15 to 20 minutes she decided to ask for further assistance. Another nurse came in to check and asked me where my husband was and if I wanted to call him. At that point I still was unaware how bad the outcome was going to be. The nurses proceeded to call for my doctor to search for the heartbeat and begin an ultrasound. Things at this point get very blurred together, but basically a better ultrasound machine was brought to the triage room, as well as another doctor for a second opinion.
The verdict was in. My baby boy was lifeless on the ultrasound machine… Gavin did not have a heartbeat. Nothing could have prepared me for this and it was the worst moment of my life. I instantly burst into tears!
A support nurse who deals specifically with pregnancy loss was brought to me. She held me and cried with me until my husband arrived. She said I did nothing wrong and that so much is out of our control. My doctor proceeded to instruct me that I would be induced the next morning to begin labor. There are so many things they don’t prepare mothers for in the event your baby dies inside you. You have to deliver your precious, deceased child the very same way a happy mom-to-be would deliver hers. I remember screaming and pleading with them to knock me out, that I couldn’t handle to deliver Gavin any other way. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option. It’s all a very brutal and mentally scarring experience. The only plus was that I would be awake to meet Gavin and I am so very glad I did meet him.
During all the chaos, my doctor called my husband and instructed him to come to the hospital. My poor husband raced there believing I was going into labor. On arriving he found out that we had lost our son. I’ll never forget the look of defeat on my husbands face. It just crushed me.
After everything, my husband and I were taken to a room to wait out the rest of the night. We held each other, going over and over in our minds what possibly caused our seemingly healthy baby boy to die. My husband called family and close friends, all of whom cried and agonized with us. My parents, who live out of state, came immediately and were just as devastated, broken and as puzzled as we were. To keep people from making any more baby comments, my sister made an announcement on Facebook that we had lost Gavin. Unfortunately, everyone knew I was pregnant and it was the best way to communicate our loss. As much as I hated having it announced, I was so touched by how many people actually cared that I had lost my baby. Having so much support ended up helping me get through the worst of it in so many ways.
The long night was over and, finally, Saturday morning was here. I was induced and by late afternoon Gavin was ready to be delivered. After much trying, unfortunately, Gavin was not going to come naturally and I had to deliver him via c-section instead. This meant I would have months of physical healing and no baby to hold in my arms. My c-section was not painless either. I remember screaming for help at one point it was that bad. I also came down with a 104 fever and my blood pressure dropped during the procedure. But through all this, I got to meet and hold my handsome Gavin. He weighted 7 lb., 15 oz. and was 19 1/2 inches tall. He was the most precious thing that my husband and I had ever laid eyes on.
After Gavin was delivered, the scares for my family didn’t stop there. My Kleihauer–Betke (KB) test came back insanely high. The highest the hospital had seen in years. Because of this, special approval was needed from the hospital board to administer a total of 10 RhoGAM shots! About 1/2 hour after the shots were administered, I had a severe allergic reaction that we all thought I would not survive. Fortunately, my team of nurses and doctors were extremely proactive and I made it out okay. After being in the hospital for about 5 days, I was discharged with a packet of resources on pregnancy loss. My husband and I were sent back out into the world to live our lives, someway but never the same.
Many couples I have spoken to since Gavin’s stillbirth have mentioned the lack of support they received after losing their baby. Though we are still continuing to figure out what happened to Gavin, I have to say that my husband and I were fortunate to have nurses who were educated in pregnancy loss. One nurse even shared a grief after pregnancy loss book with us.
We are also fortunate to have a great network of family and friends who opened up to us about their losses. I only wish society would talk more openly about loss so others would not feel as scared and unprepared as my family and I did. All the baby showers and excitement seem so unnecessary when loss is a reality for a great deal of women. I hope that my story can help empower other women to choose to take the stigma and shame away.
Big hugs to all! <3.