In April of 2002 I became pregnant with our third child. It was a planned pregnancy and we had actually “tried” for a girl, doing those tips you hear to help conceive a girl.
The pregnancy was going along fine, appointments all went well. Heard the heart beat at 8 weeks; it was strong. Had another appointment at 14 weeks and all was good to go. Heart beat nice and loud, fast like it should be. I was feeling great, and was actually measuring a little ahead, but all my babies have been big so that was no big deal.
I had worried myself to pieces during my first pregnancy, finally giving over my worries to the Lord because they were going to eat me a live. The peace I felt followed me through my next pregnancy as well, Daniel’s pregnancy. I went into Allison’ pregnancy with the same peace. I didn’t worry about whether anything would be wrong or if I would lose the baby.
My next appointment would be my ultrasound appointment, when I would be 18 weeks 3 days. Now, by the time I was 16 weeks, I was really showing! I mean, I looked like I was about 24 weeks pregnant, not 16 weeks. I have a picture of me, but can’t find it right now. Anyway, I actually wondered if there were twins in there.
A few days before the ultrasound appointment, I started to have some concerns and actually had a few bad dreams about the baby. Something was just off. The day before the appointment, I mentioned my concerns to my sister, telling her I felt like something was wrong. She dismissed it and said I was worrying for nothing.
David and I went into the ultrasound room, and when the tech put the wand on my belly I was so relieved to see the baby. The first thing she said was “Most of the time my job is a really happy one, but it has cruddy moments and this is one of those times. Your baby has stopped growing.” My heart plummeted to my stomach. But, then I wondered if she meant it was just small, not dead. I asked her and she said, “No, honey, it’s dead.”
I was taken over to the hospital and we began to try to induce labor. That was Monday morning. It took until Wednesday night to get my body to let go of her. The whole thing felt like I was in a dream. One time I actually pinched myself because I felt so “out of it.” Anyway, when I finally did start to dialate, it went quickly and although I asked for an epidural (yes, it still hurts badly even with a baby that small), I went to quick and delivered about 10 minutes after requesting it.
Marie, my favorite midwife who delivered three of my four living babies, delivered Allison. She was 8 inches long and 4.4 oz. She had swelling around her head and abdomen, so her features were distorted. However, the rest of her was so perfect. Her hands and fingers, feet and toes, her little knees and ankles. Everything was perfectly formed.
If you would like to see a picture of her, click here. Please be respectful; she is our daughter and we love her.
The nurses and Marie were so kind and compassionate. They treated her with such respect and care and that meant so much to me. We were able to hold her and spend time with her, and they took pictures and saved her things for us which were put in a box made by a church woman’s group. My father and two sisters came up that night to see her and be with us.
Three days later we buried her in my husband’s family’s church graveyard. Four generations of his family lay there, as will both of us, so it was the right place for her. Below is the box she was placed in for burial (yes this met state codes, and was provided by the hospital). We placed that box inside another box for added protection.
The service was private, just family. I had a lot of meals and cards sent from friends in the community, and most people were very understanding. I sent out a combined birth/death announcement – thank you note so I didn’t have to tackle those with the grief I was going through.
Just for education, I wanted to share a few things, so that if someone you know, or yourself ever go through this, you’ll know. When you deliver a baby, even one as tiny as Allison, your body still goes through the postpartum steps. I bled for five weeks after giving birth and my breast milk came in just as it did with my full term babies. My whole body ached for my baby.
I am sure many of you (well those who have lasted this long) are wondering why Allison died. They offered to do an autopsy, but when they told us 50% of the time they don’t figure out what happened, we chose not to have her tiny body torn apart. Here are a few things we do know:
- She had fetal hydrops which is swelling around the head and/or abdomen. She had swelling in both. (it looks like a halo around her head in the ultrasound).
- At first they thought it was 5th’s Disease, which causes fetal hydrops and is fatal to babies in the 2nd trimester, but after testing me they ruled that out (they could tell I had been building immunities for about a year, so I was already exposed before carrying her).
- The swelling in her head and abdomen (fetal hydrops) could have been from a heart or kidney defect.
- There was a spot on my placenta which could have been an infection and could have resulted in her death.
I actually had several (inconsiderate) people say that we should be “grateful” that she died because there was probably something wrong with her. Well, I wasn’t grateful – I wanted my baby back! We don’t know that something was wrong with her, but I do have peace now that the Lord is in control. He would not have taken Allison if it was not her time.
I strongly believe we all have a purpose and that God will not let us leave until that purpose is fulfilled. So, what was Allison’s purpose? Well, I believe her purpose to help me reorder things in my life and to make me realize that I am not in control. I will tell you that I have never been so close to the Lord as I was those months after her death/birth. I had to hang on to Him each and every day just to get through.
Thank you for letting me share Allison with you. If you have any thoughts to share, I would love to hear them.