Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Chapter Closed.

Monday, I closed a chapter of this life.

We finally met with the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) doctor to go over all my test results, the autopsy, the bloodwork...Of course, my midwife had called to talk me through what she knew when she got the preliminary autopsy results, and we had a copy of all our records, which I poured over trying to find anything to explain why Lucy died. As my midwife put it, "There was no smoking gun." No infections. No chromosonal issues. No placenta incidents. Nothing. But this cycle of tests, waiting, results, repeat, was growing old. I felt nauseated from the roller coaster ride. One day, the midwife told me there was a placental infarction of 8%, consistent with the car accident we were involved in in October, and then the next week, my friend (a high-risk OB) would tell me that placental infarctions don't affect the baby until it is 70%, and death would be over 80%. So, I would prepare myself for the next result, the possibility they could tell me something so I could prevent another dead baby, and then I would come crashing down...nothing. She simply ceased.

Still, having known and been mentally preparing myself for the diagnosis that my perfect baby just died, I was still incredibly anxious about walking into the MFM office for further information. I had known people to get different information. More in-depth reasons for their baby's death. I just wasn't strong enough to learn anything new. And well, when I really examined why I was so very anxious, it wasn't that I didn't want to learn new information about Lucy's death. I did. I wanted to know why this happened. It was simply I didn't want to learn information that indicted me. I had the fear that I would sit down and he would say, "Sorry, Angie, but it was your fault." I mean, how could I not realize I was harboring this deep guilt? I was afraid he might tell me that my weight gain caused her death. Like he would sit down and say, "Yes, pasta killed your baby." Or maybe he would say it was my inability to give up sushi for most of my pregnancy (there I said it!), or the glass of wine I allowed myself every so often.

But he didn't say that. He said he was so so sorry. He said that these cases are most frustrating. He called me "healthy" five times. Me? Healthy? Before December 22,2008, I would have said, "Yeah, so?" But now, I didn't realize how much I needed someone to call me healthy. All these tests and a dead baby, and I thought I was unhealthy, diseased...I wanted to kiss him, and lay my head on his shoulder and cry, "Thank you for calling me healthy." He said I did everything right. He said my chances of having another stillborn baby were the same as before. (Actually, that part wasn't comforting at all.) and when he was talking about what would happen if we got pregnant again, it was the first time since Lucy died that I remembered the excitement of having a baby, of trying to conceive, of going through labor...but I am still not exactly there yet. I just realized that I entertained an idea I also thought was dead.

I walked out of there feeling lighter, like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I am honest when I say I didn't consciously ever think I could have done anything differently in my pregnancy. The closest I got to blaming myself outright is that I often thought that stress took its toll on my baby. I blamed the stress of a car accident, a falling out with one of closest friends this fall, and a broken collarbone which all happened at the same time while my father-in-law was battling lung cancer and I was trying to care for my 20 month old, and prepare for very quickly darkened the happiest time in my life. I felt so alone during that time...I thought maybe my stress caused her to suffer too. But I didn't realize I was blaming myself for specific things I did in my pregnancy. As I virtually skipped out of the MFM appointment, it was clear that I had.

Now, I just need to really work on wrapping my brain around her death. I have tried to come to peace with this place of no resolution. But honestly, this will remain my biggest challenge. As a science-loving, non-religious mama, I am trying to come to terms with the death of my child for no discernible reason. Adults don't just die for no reason. Why do we tolerate this? I have tried to equate it to SIDS in my brain. In fact, in my quest to make sense of it, I came across this term: Sudden Antenatal Death Syndrome or SADS. Still, finding a term doesn't bring a sense of peace. It just doesn't. Someone named a no-reason. But hey, sometimes I'm up for grasping at straws too. But whatever you name it, it still remains the same--My girl is gone. She just died. In me. For no apparent reason.



  1. I get that too, that if an adult just "drops dead" a lot of people ask a lot of questions. But if an unborn baby just drops dead inside us, we get - better luck next time. So what, they never drew breath, they don't count. I got answers for Hope's death. But ultimately I hated those answers. Because they just showed me, how very preventable her death was.
    It was not your fault Angie. You just got unlucky, like we all did.

  2. oh angie, i battle the feelings of guilt and failure too, all the reassurances in the world won't ever rid me of those feelings completely. You will come to acceptance eventually, but do be patient with yourself, this is one hell of a journey.

  3. Rationally, I knew it wasn't my fault, but when she died on my watch, in my belly, I guess part of me thought, "How could it not be my fault?" But I now feel released from these chains that I didn't know were holding me. I suppose I needed empirical evidence to tell me that it wasn't my fault to truly believe it.

  4. I love the picture of you with your arms wrapped around your gorgeous, pregnant belly and *THAT* is the image I have of you - and each of us. We loved, we protected, we nurtured - and in the end we were cruelly denied the opportunity to continue that for a lifetime ... and I get the frustration with naming a no reason. My daughter's cause of death was "hypoxia". She's dead because she wasn't breathing ... that's not a diagnosis, it's a description.

  5. Even with an answer, I still blame myself. It really bothers me there is not much research being done on the cause of stillbirths and what can be done to prevent them. More needs to be done.

  6. Ahh.. the inevitable, self-destructive feeling of guilt. I carry it everywhere. Guilt that my body let Nicholas down, guilt that I let my two other boys down by not bringing their brother home.... the list goes on and on. Although the feelings aren't "rational" I think that they are perfectly natural. Just know that you did absolutely nothing wrong. Precious Lucy was too beautiful for this earth.... as much as that sucks!

    Love to you

  7. I still don't have a real answer, which leaves room for all the guilt in my brain- I was stressed. I didn't eat beautifully. I worked too late. You have never seen someone as happy to have a potential clotting disorder as I was when I found out that that was a possibility. I am slowly coming to understand that "my fault" and "not my fault" are not meaningful categories here- it's all just filed under "things that suck and never should have happened."

  8. sometimes i still think maybe lev died because i ate too much's so hard when we have no conclusive reason or answer and anything is possible. i'm glad that the dr. said reaffirmed that you are healthy. i'm still having a hard time believing that. i thought i was so healthy, eating so well, being so careful. but now i doubt everything b/c my so called healthy body wasn't able to create a living child.

  9. All I can send you is my love Angie.

  10. I'm glad a weight was lifted. I wanted an answer so, so badly, even if WAS my fault, just so I could do something different, just so i could know. Not knowing what turned Maddy's brain into liquid goo keeps me up at night. If someone told me it was something I ate, I'd probably kiss them.

    No answers for me are just the worst.

  11. I am glad you are feeling lighter after this meeting. It wasn't your fault, yet your thoughts are so normal. I thought that my daughter died because that day I had a 2nd cup of coffee. Or maybe it was all the sugar I ate when I had 2 pieces of baby cake at my work shower that day. They are irrational thoughts to everyone else, but they still occur.

    I am wondering if we go to the same MFM group (I delivered downtown at the hospital at 8th and Spruce). In the event we do, I just want to tell you that they were wonderful with me during my subsequent pregnancy. They listened to my fears and "humored" me with extra testing. I know it's scary to think about doing it again, but in case you decide to, they were wonderful to work with.

    Oh, and it's not your fault. I know it's easy for me to say, and it's sometimes very hard to believe when it comes to our own bodies.


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