Malou’s Birth Story

I wrote this letter shortly after Malou Amelia was born. It basically chronicles her entire life, death and birth.

Before the Birth

My beautiful daughter. Thank you for the seven months you spent with me. I treasure our moments together, your gentle kicks. You were our miracle from the beginning – waking up that Sunday morning in November, with my heart beating, knowing, just knowing, that you were there. Taking the test and praying to God that I could handle the results. Scared of a negative, because I wanted you so badly, but scared also of a positive and all of the unknown that that would bring. But as soon as the two lines popped up, I felt so at peace – no more fear, just love and excitement and hope. Rushing to wake your daddy, crying with joy to tell him the news. We almost couldn’t believe our luck. You were meant to be. 

I knew from the beginning you were a girl, our daughter, and that you would be okay. I was cautious, but didn’t really worry about a miscarriage, because I just had a feeling that you were healthy. And you were! I remember you gave me a scare after your first scanning at 7 weeks, where we saw your precious heart beating. I was already having morning sickness, but then it stopped for a few days at 8 weeks. And I wanted that morning sickness back! Anything to remind me that you were there. I would take it all, good and bad. My doctor reassured me you were okay, and you were.

We spent Christmas together in the US, when you were only 9 and 10 weeks in my belly – and everyone was so surprised that they could “see” you already – and I was so proud. So proud to see my belly expand, my love for you was too big to contain and my body knew it.

I was so nervous for your ultrasound at 13 weeks – I was so afraid that your heart wouldn’t be beating. I asked the technician to tell me immediately when she saw your heart beating – and she did, within seconds of placing the scanner to my belly. I was holding your daddy’s hand and I just started to cry with relief. I loved you so much, already then. And now I could relax – I knew you were here to stay. You were so cute on that picture – moving around like crazy, showing us your darling profile, where I joked to your dad that you already had our (prominent) noses.

Your next scan at 19 weeks showed you perfectly healthy – and the technician said you were still an acrobat! You were flipping around inside me, but I still couldn’t feel you. You made me and your daddy laugh so much. I moved to my side for a moment, and then back to my back, so we could try to get you in another position – and it worked! One second you were lying in one position, and the next you had done a big somersault. You also liked to hide your cute little head, face down, so the technician couldn’t get a good measurement. So we were sent out of the room and I moved around a bunch to try to get you to flip, but you didn’t. Maybe you were already a little stubborn like your mama?

There was a bit extra amniotic fluid around you, so the doctor checked you out as well, and we got another scanning two weeks later. Everyone assured us you were fine. I wasn’t worried, although your dad was. I remember him asking the doctor if this was something that you could die from, and I was horrified to even think the thought! But your dad is braver than me and can voice his fears, and fortunately the doctor reassured us that you would be ok. I was glad to get the extra ultrasound, to see you one more time, knowing it would be the last before you were born. I loved seeing you wiggle around on that screen! I would look at the pictures later, and my heart would just melt each time.

From then on, everything was even better than before. My stomach was growing each day, my morning sickness had stopped, you and I were always together, and I loved that sensation. I thought about everything I ate and drank, trying to give you only the best. We worked out together, so my body would be healthy for you, and I could recover from your delivery quickly in order to be healthy and active for you once you were born. I took vitamins, feeling good each time, knowing they were for you.

I got some kidney “attacks” (stones? they still aren’t sure) several times while pregnant with you – and I was so worried that the pain I was feeling would somehow affect you. But the doctors assured me this wasn’t the case. I hurt so much when these happened, but wouldn’t take the medicine that helped because that same medicine could hurt you. And I would gladly go through any pain, any sacrifice, for you, for your health.

We went to Norway and Sweden over Easter vacation, and then to the island Bornholm, where your dad grew up, to meet your grandparents, which is when I first felt your kick, saying hello. What a wonderful, yet odd, sensation that was! I waited eagerly for every kick after that, always trying to get your daddy over fast enough to feel it too. But he usually calmed you down…even if you were kicking up a storm, if he came over and laid his hands on my belly, you would calm right down. It was so sweet.

Our last weekend together was wonderful. On Saturday, your dad and I went for a walk in a beautiful park. We sat down in the grass and enjoyed the sun, watching the swans and ducks on the water. I felt big and beautiful, proud to be carrying you. We went to a Greek café next, sitting outside again, enjoying a delicious chicken burger. That night I was feeling so good we decided to go to a blues concert. We arrived a bit early, and we were the only people there while the band set up. They were Americans and they came over to say hello to us. One man, the drummer, was so excited to see I was pregnant – he kept telling your dad that the moment he first saw your face, would be the greatest moment of his life. He told us that he would pray for us, and for you, but that he knew you were a blessed child, a very special child. He told us he had a feeling you would play the flute, but considering you are my and your dad’s child, we had our doubts. 😉 That night, we talked about not letting our “lack” of talent in certain areas ever deter you from trying something. We didn’t want to assume you wouldn’t have rhythm, for example, just because we don’t. We talked about exposing you to music from early on.

Your dad and I left the concert early, so I could go to bed as I had to work the next day. Early Sunday, I went to a huge, gorgeous outdoor park with lakes and forests and a castle with you. I was observing an event I had helped coordinate – the weather was so great, we were walking all over enjoying the fresh air and all of the 350 plus people from around the world were excited to see that I was pregnant with you.

What a great day we had.

On the way home, my back started hurting, and by the time I got home, I thought it was the start of another kidney attack. I told your dad and we decided not to waste any time, but to go to the hospital. There they checked me and you – and you were fine. Your heart was beating, I wasn’t dilated, and so everyone was more worried about me. I slept there overnight, and the next morning, I think I felt you kick, once, very early. I went back to sleep, not knowing that that was you, maybe saying goodbye.

The nurse asked at breakfast if you were moving around, and I said no. I wasn’t worried – I thought perhaps my attack the night before had scared you, and I felt bad. I never wanted to hurt you.

I told the nurses again at lunch that I still hadn’t felt you move. Around 1 pm, a midwife came in to listen for your heartbeat. She couldn’t find it so another one came in, who also couldn’t find it. They said maybe the placenta was in front, so they would just scan me instead. I still wasn’t worried, because I had heard your strong heart beating the night before. And because we had been through this together before, and you were always fine.

But when I went for the scanning, where I was watching the doctor’s face closely, the doctor didn’t say anything. But her face didn’t change. They called another doctor in, and that is when I started to panic. Not in my wildest dreams could I ever imagine losing you. The thought was too unbearable. The next doctor came in and also didn’t say anything, at which point, I knew I needed your daddy with us. I asked them not to tell me anything until he arrived. The doctors left and the first midwife stayed with me, as I tried to get a hold of your dad at work. Unfortunately, that took a long time, as he was in a meeting. He had already stopped by to visit me that morning, so he wasn’t worried about us – he was just planning on coming by after work. The midwife stroked my hair and told me it was going to be okay, as I tried to control my panic and tears.

It felt like forever, but your dad called me back about 20 minutes later. I didn’t want to tell him I thought you had died, so I told him I thought something was wrong, and they were doing some tests and would he please come to the hospital right away so he could be there when the doctors did an ultrasound. It turned out he thought something was wrong with me. We just never imagined anything could happen to you, sweetheart.

20 more minutes later and your dad walked into the room. I was trying to control my panic and tears, because I felt so bad that something had happened to you while you were inside me. I didn’t want to admit to your dad that I had let us all down. The doctors came back in and your dad said, “Something’s wrong, isn’t it?” And they said yes. Then they said they had given me an ultrasound to find your heartbeat – and I interrupted, “But you couldn’t?” And the doctor looked so sad, and quietly said, “No.”

I think I started screaming and crying and hugging your daddy. I refused to believe it. After awhile, they gave me another ultrasound, and we could see you lying there quietly, without moving, without your heart beating.

The doctors explained that they would start my labor that night or the next morning, we could decide. We went home and packed some things, and took some pictures of my belly, called a priest (who told me he couldn’t baptise you or give you last rites, because you would be dead when you were born, which didn’t seem quite right to me), and called my mom, your grandma, who got on the first flight here.

The Birth Story

We then went back to the hospital. I insisted on another ultrasound, just to make sure you were really gone. I was still hoping for a miracle.

Around 9 pm that night (Memorial Day), I was given a pill internally to soften my cervix and start labor (not sure of what exactly it was). I started getting very mild Braxton-Hicks type contractions. The midwives were wonderful…talking to us, preparing us for how you would look (silly me, how could I ever have been scared of seeing you? You were not alive, but you were still you), encouraging us to take lots of pictures and hold you once you were born…They also told me I didn’t need to feel any pain, that I could get an epidural. This was kind of funny – epidurals are frowned upon here in DK and I had been worried throughout my pregnancy that they wouldn’t give me one if I wanted it. And now they were offering it to me each time they saw me! But the pain wasn’t bad at all, just like menstrual cramps. And I was very interested to see what a real contraction would feel like, and at the same time, a bit worried about getting an epidural. I remember being afraid something would happen to me, and then what would your daddy do? How would he survive without his two favorite girls?

At 1 am, I got another labor pill, and the mild contractions continued. I remember hearing a woman in labor moan, and I thought she was being a wimp. I mean, come on – she was having a live baby – she should be laughing with joy! (We’ll see if I am laughing when I deliver your brother.) I remember also having to leave the room to go to the bathroom and seeing pregnant women and their partners entering the delivery ward (I was near the entrance, as far from the actively laboring women as I could get)…I just averted my gaze. I couldn’t believe this was me. I couldn’t believe you had died.

The pain started to increase a bit and I was so scared to go to sleep. I was terrified I would wake up and have to remember all over again what had happened. I didn’t want to experience that “realization” again. The midwife suggested a sleeping pill and pain medicine. I kept denying it. I also didn’t want anything that would make me groggy and unable to remember your birth. I wanted to remember every detail of bringing you into this world, and every detail afterwards.

The midwife talked to a doctor and again came back and strongly suggested I take the medication because I still had a long way to go. She assured me the sleeping pill would only help me fall asleep, not keep me asleep, and the pain medicine was mild, it wouldn’t make me groggy at all. So I finally did take it sometime in the middle of the night, and I fell asleep (more or less) until 5 or 6 am, when I got another labor pill. The “good news” was that I knew exactly where I was and what was happening when I woke up, and I wasn’t groggy at all. The bad news was that you were still gone. I wished it was just a nightmare.

By Tuesday morning, the pain and contractions started to intensify a bit, but they were still very manageable. My belly was hard as a rock. I was hardly dilated at all – I think it was 1-2 cm. The midwives made me a bowl of oatmeal, which I think was the last thing I ate. I just wasn’t hungry. I was too sad.

Your dad and I had thought you would have been born by that time. We thought 12 hours seemed reasonable, but it started to dawn on us that it would take a lot longer. The midwives said it could be that night or maybe the next day. At this point, your grandma was on a plane on the way over (a 10 hour flight! And it was delayed), and I was hopeful you would wait until she arrived that afternoon. The extra time was also good for us to mentally prepare for saying hello and goodbye to you at the same time.

Early that afternoon (after another labor pill), I started feeling more regular, painful contractions but still declined the epidural. (I did try acupuncture, which I did not like at all – after 20 or 30 minutes, I asked them to take them out. They didn’t seem to help me and I swear I could feel them stuck in me.) Your grandma’s plane finally arrived and she was in our hospital room by around 4 pm. That is when I guess my body started accepting labor. I was around 2-3 cm dilated now and got another labor pill. I was surprised I wasn’t further along, because my contractions started coming every 1.5 minutes and lasting for 30 seconds. I was quietly breathing through them, holding your daddy’s hand while your grandma massaged my back. I remember thinking, this pain is nothing compared to kidney stones.

At this point, the midwife (the 4th we had had) was annoying the heck out of me. She was young and perky and was constantly laughing. I said I hoped I could tell her this without offending her, but I really couldn’t handle how much she laughed. She tried to tone it down from then on, but I really just wanted a new midwife. I guess you didn’t like her too much either, since you waited until she was gone to come (thank you, baby girl).

As the pain got worse that evening, she gave me an IV with fluids to prepare me for an epidural, should I decide I wanted one. The contractions were coming faster and harder. I was out of it, but could hear your dad and grandma talking and timing them – they were lasting 30 seconds and coming every 45 seconds, like clockwork.

At 10 pm, I was checked again and I hadn’t dilated any more, despite such fast and hard contractions. Again, I can remember your dad and grandma talking and saying they thought they must hurt worse now, because now I was saying “owwww” through them, whereas before I was quiet. I couldn’t answer them, but I remember agreeing that it did hurt worse! I still didn’t think it was as bad as kidney stones (which, clearly, was on my mind – since I kept comparing the pains throughout your labor). I remember thinking, if you were alive, this would be no problem…but you weren’t.

I realized the only thing holding me back from an epidural was my own fear. I also thought it would be nice to sleep a bit, so I could be more “with it” once you were born – I knew we wouldn’t have much time with you, and I wanted it all to count. So I asked for an epidural and it seemed like instantly the doctor was there. She was great – I was of course having contractions, but she told me what to do and put it in – and I don’t remember feeling it go in at all. And I thought, this is what I was afraid of??! That was great! I have always been pro-epidural for myself, so in retrospect I find it strange that I waited so long and was so afraid to get it. Especially because it was heavenly. After it was in, I had about 4 more contractions, and then it just melted away…but I could still feel my legs and move my body on the bed. I was so exhausted at this point, that I fell asleep.

I woke up at 1 am with pain in my back, so I called for the midwife (yay! A new one) thinking maybe I needed an epidural boost. She checked me and I was 10 cm dilated! I started crying at this point, saying I wasn’t ready to let go of you. She said that’s ok, and left the room, telling me I could push where it hurt, as that would probably make the pain better (and it did). She came back and had me switch beds, and then said she could break my water and that would make the labor go faster. Well, pain or no pain, I wanted this labor to go as slow as possible! So I said no. I wanted to keep you as long as possible.

I remember pushing and pushing during contractions, never really letting up. I remember reaching down and feeling you crowning, and all of a sudden feeling nauseous, so the midwife ran to the cupboard to get me something to throw up in, and came back to me. She then broke my water, and I threw up, and you were born, all of this felt like it was happening at the same time, at 2.06 am on Wednesday, May 28th. It happened so fast at the end – you came out in one push and I couldn’t believe it was over. Your grandma said, “Oh, she’s so beautiful!” The midwife placed you on top of me and I started crying and then just felt so peaceful. Your daddy and I stared and stared at you, getting to know our beautiful girl, just amazed and in awe that you were finally here. And so very sad that you couldn’t stay. You were so tiny (1420 g / 3lbs 2 oz and 40 cm / 15.7 inches) but so perfect. We loved you so much more than we thought was possible.

Next it’s a bit of a blur…but the midwife told me to push and my placenta came out, along with a ton of blood – I could see it splatter all over the midwife and the wall behind her, but I didn’t care, I was too mesmerized with you. She did show us your placenta and what she called the “tree of life” – your view for the last 210 days. It was beautiful.

After the Birth

We spent the next few hours cuddling you…I cut your cord and dressed you in the tiniest outfit we had (and hand-me-down from your cousin McKenna), which was way too big, and your daddy and I took hand and footprints and lots of pictures, and the hospital priest came and blessed you…it was a really nice, peaceful time. 

Around 5 am I was wheeled into a large private room, with extra beds for your dad and grandma. You were in the bassinet right next to my bed, and we all fell asleep exhausted. But just an hour or two later, I woke up crying. We spent more time with you then, just cuddling your sweet little body. We also cut some locks of your gorgeous dark brown hair. At 11.30 am we decided to let you go for an autopsy. I thought this would be the last time we would see you, but it turns out we decided to see you after the autopsy as well, and again to place you in your casket – these were all good decisions for us. Every moment with you was a chance to create a wonderful, lasting memory that we will cherish forever.

We stayed in the hospital until Friday afternoon. I had lost a lot of blood, and I couldn’t get out of bed Wednesday without passing out, and I couldn’t stand on Thursday without passing out…but progress came quickly and by Friday I could walk (slowly and carefully)…

Leaving the hospital without you was one of the worst feelings I have ever had. But living our lives without you every day is just as bad. You were meant to be here, and I am so sorry we couldn’t keep you. You brought love and peace and happiness and joy to our lives, from the moment you were conceived. And you continue to do that for us. Thank you for being our daughter. I love you, baby girl.

Love and hugs and kisses to last a lifetime,
Your mama

Published on December 9, 2009 at 14:53  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What an amazing letter. thank you so much for sharing this very personal journey. I think of you often–your story has really touched me, and I cannot wait to hear about the birth of your second child!

  2. im very sorry about your baby girl she sounds really beautifull god bless u

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