Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Winter Solstice. Lucia's birth story,part 1.

November 27, 2008. I had a dream about Lucia tonight. I was on my grandparent’s back porch—a large redwood deck looking into the Pennsylvania wood. My hands were searching my belly, feeling her position, and I could feel her head under my sternum. Breech, I thought. But my hands searched her head, and continued to her shoulders, and then connected to her arms which wrapped around my middle. Then I realized she was holding onto my belly, rather than being inside me. I looked down to see her dark hair. Ah, she is beautiful. Simply gorgeous. When I held her up I could see these violet eyes, and a smile. Her nose was crooked, so I took my finger and pushed it straight. And her eyes were violet. Stunningly violet purple. But what stuck with me was her smile and the peace on her face. That is what she gave me—a sense of peace from her smile. It is all she did, smile. I held her as I once held my Beatrice, on the left, to feed from the breast…it wasn’t a long enough dream. After my dream, I wanted her middle name to be Paz, which means “peace” in Spanish.

December 21, 2008. I had predicted many months ago, that my daughter would be born on solstice. That day, a Sunday, there was something about the lack of movement that was disturbing me. Had it been one day or two? Did I feel her yesterday? I couldn’t remember. Chasing my 20-month old daughter means that I seldom pay attention to movement during the day. I had attended a baby shower earlier, and thought I felt some shifting, but honestly, that seems all I have felt for Saturday and Sunday—shifting. Her bum would suddenly be hard and in front. Maybe there wasn’t enough room. I was 38 weeks. She must be tired from all the contractions I had had Thursday and Friday. I kept justifying all these different reasons for not feeling her be squirmy, but the truth is Friday, I know she was wiggling, and Thursday, I was in the hospital being monitored for what was a slightly elevated blood pressure. She was there, and responsive, and her heartbeat was beautifully loud in the little room.

Sunday evening, after I sat for a while, I began prodding her, moving her head, trying to get a reaction from her, but her body felt limp in my belly. I searched my belly for a heartbeat with a stethoscope. Nothing. My husband told me that it is difficult with the stethoscope to hear the heartbeat. I called the midwife. She told me to come to the hospital to be monitored.

In my mind, I kept thinking that I was going to look like a fool to come in and be monitored for my healthy baby. But still, I couldn’t be sure. I was just so anxious at this point, so nervous of that which could not be spoken. I asked Sam so many times, “Is she okay, Sam? She is going to be okay, right?” And he tried to remain optimistic, but I think we were both scared in the same way. We didn’t want to speak of what could be.

To say this was completely off of my radar is an understatement. I had prepared myself for the most horrible possibility of, say, having to have a c-section, rather than natural childbirth, but the idea that she could possibly die had never even entered my consciousness. We sat in PETU waiting for the nurse to come check her heart rate. She was one of those nurses you want on your team. Loud. Brash. Endearingly maternal to those who are brave. She searched and searched. And I began to cry. She said, “Ah, honey, sometimes I can’t find the heartbeat, let me get the ultrasound tech.” The team came in, and when there were three, and my midwife, I think it began to hit me that something was really wrong. The tech and the doctors introduced themselves. They started. “Here is her head.” And I saw her head, and then the screen panned down to her little ribs. Nothing.

“There is no heartbeat,” I said it first, I think. And the doctor said those words that I never wanted to hear, “Your little girl has passed away.”

I held onto my husband and we wept and wept. There was something about that moment that was so incredibly primal. I just wanted to shave my head. No, scratch that, it’s not quite right. Shaving my head sounds like a nice process. Studying religion, I had read about Jain nuns who pulled each hair out of their head for fear of hurting the lice that might be peacefully residing in their scalp. That is what I thought of, quietly pulling each hair out of my head until I was bald. Suddenly, yes, even lice were someone’s kid. Then, I wanted to wrap myself in orange cloth and fall on the ground sobbing. I wanted a ritual right then. Anything.

After a minute, I asked all those questions, “Why? How?” And then they began saying that it is nothing I could have prevented or done. It was not my fault. And that I may never know what killed my daughter. How had I gone through my whole life not knowing this? How had I managed to escape this particular insight into how cruel the world is to some parents? As though I found out that God picks some children to simply draw the life out of, without explanation, I felt outside of myself. As though I was someone who just had their forehead branded with a symbol of their grief, I just simply spoke the obvious, “My heart is broken.”


  1. Hi Angie, I'm the first person to comment on your blog so I want to state the obvious and say how sorry I am that you don't have Lucia with you in your arms, that you've set out on this journey of your grief. Though our paths are all a bit different and often feel lonely, there are many of us walking beside you. You write beautifully so I hope that in some small way writing helps you process the meaning and experience of your loss. I will be reading...

  2. Angie, I'm just so very sorry that sweet Lucia is not in your arms where she belongs. There are too many of us in this club, with our shattered hopes and dreams. Wishing you peaceful moments on this difficult and devastating journey.

  3. Hi Angie, Ezra's mommy sent me your way to offer my support.

    I'm so so sorry that Lucia isn't with you and that you had to join this awful but oh so supportive and loving club.

    We're all sitting beside you in your grief.


  4. Hi Angie,
    I hate to say welcome, but I'm glad we've found your blog, and that you are writing. Know that you are held by a sadly too broad but incredibly supportive and loving community of people who know where you are and how it feels to have your heart break in this way.
    Sending love your way,

  5. Angie,

    So sorry to hear of the loss of your precious Lucia. Wishing you paz, amor, y esperanza on this journey. I think you'll find that we all take very good care of each other, here in the land where none of us should be. We are here for whatever you need.


  6. "To say this was completely off of my radar is an understatement. I had prepared myself for the most horrible possibility of, say, having to have a c-section, rather than natural childbirth, but the idea that she could possibly die had never even entered my consciousness."

    that is exactly how I was too. I was able to go on and have natural childbirth, in my home, in a tub, yet Silas was a shoulder dystocia birth and didn't make it past 10 hours of life. We are still so new with this whole thing- it happened on 9/25/08. what a horrible club to become a part of. but we are here for you. I am so so sorry about your beautiful daughter Lucia.

    my husband and I are keeping a blog as well- we've found it to be very healing for us. Stop on by if you'd like.

    sending much love your way.

  7. ``How had I gone through my whole life not knowing this? How had I managed to escape this particular insight into how cruel the world is to some parents? As though I found out that God picks some children to simply draw the life out of, without explanation, I felt outside of myself.`` Your words capture so well what we felt in the moments that we realized that Max was gone. Such a betrayal & a shaking to the core of all that we thought was so.

  8. Ezra's Mummy sent me here, so I wanted to stop by and send my love. I lost my little girl at 40 weeks 5 days in August. She was my first. It is all so horribly cruel. We are here to hold you up.

  9. So sorry that you have to be here in this way, but I am thankful that you have found us. Everyone is here to support you and listen...
    It's not fair, none of it. Your sweet baby girl is supposed to be here. Thank you for sharing yours and Lucia's story.

    Sending you strength and love,

  10. Thank you for sharing your story. I will come and visit again.

  11. Tears rolling down my face...still when I read a 'new story' hear of a new precious baby lost it hits me with such power. So sorry that you are here. Others care and have walked a similiar hideous road and care very much. I wish you so much...

  12. yes, completely off the radar is an understatement.

    When I realized that my son had not moved a bit in 12 hours, I honestly tried to google it. I didn't even know what term to use. The word stillborn didn't cross my mind.

  13. I'm so, so, sorry for your loss. It is so cruel that you have had to go through this.

    I don't yet have children, so I cannot even begin to imagine the magnitude of what you have been through.

    May peace be with Lucia and your family.

  14. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. I stumbled upon your blog during IComLeavWe in September one night while I was at work. Needless to say my face was splotchy when my coworker came over to ask me a question. I haven't been through what you have, and thus cannot begin to know what you feel.

    My cousin unfortunately lost her son last October, and I am a NICU nurse and deal with loss as I bear witness to my patient's families struggles. That said, I pray that in time your heart will begin to heal, and you will find a new "normal".

  15. Reading your story helps to put into words what losing a baby feels like. "My heart is broken" describes it, and yet even that does not begin to convey just how horrible it feels. I'm not sure anything does.

    I'm so sorry for your loss of Lucy. I also had a loss at 38 weeks pregnancy, though Finley died three days after he was born.

    I've only recently started blogging myself, and am truly amazed at the community that has opened up to me. Reading your blog and others is a comfort that I am not alone.

    Sending love,

  16. Hi Angie,

    A week ago this morning my 33 week old baby girl was alive and kicking. By evening, she wasn't moving. What you just described above is uncannily, word-for-word, what I just went through ... a week ago.

    Thank you for having shared your story. It makes the pain of feeling all alone in this process a little lighter. But, still just pain.

    Dying of heartbreak,



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