On November 21, I started spotting. The next day, I had a homebirth midwife friend of mine check for a heartbeat and there was none. The following day, Thanksgiving, we confirmed this with an ultrasound at the Minnesota Birth Center.
We texted the kids on the way home. This was our 12 year old son Ezra's response:
I'm not even going to pretend to know why stuff like this, why a loss like this, would happen. I don't understand it, yet I am somehow able to accept it. I am able to accept the suffering. How can I not? I am human. Suffering is inevitable.
Awhile ago, I read this article about Stephen Colbert (who lost his dad and two of his brothers when he was ten), and this part has always stuck with me:
“Tolkien says: ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ ” Colbert knocked his knuckles on the table. “ ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ ” he said again. His eyes were filled with tears. “So it would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn't mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head.”
Death has never scared me, and I didn't see my baby dying as being an entirely negative experience. Sure, I was sad (of course I was sad) that I wouldn't be able to have her in my life, and I felt sorry for myself for missing out on her and for not getting what I wanted. Yet, at the same time, I was happy for her having entered the great eternal. Like Stephen Colbert, I can hold both of these ideas in my head.
Life is full of great paradoxes (and I've always loved a great paradox). "It is full of those apparent contradictions, those incongruous juxtapositions, that point to deeper truths." (Joseph Pearce) Being able to celebrate death while also grieving a loss is one of the best paradoxes out there.
I came across this article that talks about unbaptized babies, and how, of course, they go to heaven, and, of course, they become saints; and I started to feel very special for having this opportunity to give birth to a saint. Now, instead of praying FOR the baby, we started to pray TO the baby, and asking her to pray for us (just like we would do with any of the other saints). I wanted to respect and honor this little life as much as I could, all of it: body, blood, soul and divinity. I'm not a particularly reverent person: I get bored during church, I'm childish, I get the giggles in serious situations, I'm sarcastic. But for this, for her, I wanted to be reverent.
I heard this analogy once, it was about how life is like a giant tapestry that is being weaved, and you can only see the underside of it. And of course it looks messy, with a bunch of loose threads everywhere, and you can't really see how anything is connected. It is only after your life here on earth that you can see the other side of it and the beautiful picture that was being made out of everything.
We had planned to go to my mom's house in the Fargo/Moorhead area for Thanksgiving. Now, we weren't sure what to do. Our 8 year old daughter, Peace, was crying at the supper table saying she was sorry that she was crying, but she had really, really wanted to go to grandma's. I said, "And I really, really wanted to have a baby that lived, but sometimes we don't always get what we want." This made her cry even more. (See: This is an example of the horribly messy underside of life's tapestry.)
I didn't want to be surrounded by crying kids, because I needed to process everything, so we had my husband, Vernon, take the three youngest kids to grandma's, and our 14 year old daughter stayed home with me. It was hard being away from Vernon, but we couldn't think of a better solution.
So, also during this time, I was celebrating my husband turning 40 in December by doing 40 Days of Birthday for him. Every day, for the 40 days leading up to his birthday, I would do something special for him. A little treat. Or a surprise date. Or having a friend or family member surprise him with something. Well, Thanksgiving Day was Day 23 of his 40 Days of Birthday. I had given my niece Taylor ideas for things to do for him: dress up as a Simpsons character, serenade him with a Pearl Jam song, stuff like that. Well, she took the Pearl Jam song idea, and had her and a bunch of her college aged friends (who also happened to be at my mom's house for Thanksgiving) serenade him.
They chose a cover that Pearl Jam did of an old Cavaliers song. Here's the video (the video is bad, but just listen to the words, and jump to second 0:39 if you don't want to listen to it all):
Anyway, so Vern and the kids get back from Thanksgiving on Friday night. While they were away, I haven't really processed anything. I still don't know what to do. Should I have a D&C? Should I wait to have a natural miscarriage? I was scared of both scenarios. I honestly have never been so afraid of anything in my entire life.
I didn't know if I could handle a natural miscarriage because I get kind of woozy around blood sometimes. Like, I've tried to donate blood at least three times in my life, and every time I can't do it because I get nauseous just thinking about it. Like, the fuzzing in my ears, head between my legs kind of nauseous. So, I didn't know if I could physically handle a natural miscarriage without passing out (not from blood loss, which is a legitimate concern, but from my weird woozy blood thing, which would just cause confusion with the actual legitimate concern of the too much blood loss thing). Plus, nobody really has a natural miscarriage for 2nd trimester births, because doctors don't advise it. (Only 2-3% of miscarriages occur in the 2nd trimester, so finding stories about them is rare to begin with.)
And I didn't like the D&C option much better, because I didn't want my baby being torn apart (again, I wanted to honor her fully: body, blood, soul and divinity). And the more I thought about the procedure, the more uncomfortable it made me. I couldn't think of a more invasive surgery to have. I didn't want that at all.
Oh, what to do, what to do. Seriously, so, so scared of everything.
For those first two days after the ultrasound, I stayed in bed all day and walked around like I was an invalid, holding my stomach, like I was broken (which, I suppose, in a way, I was). It didn't occur to me until the third day that I actually felt completely normal physically. As a matter of fact, within 24-48 hours after spotting, all of my pregnancy symptoms had gone away: I wasn't peeing all the time or waking up in the middle of the night to pee, no more pregnancy rhinitis, the pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel-like issues went away immediately, and my stomach deflated, so instead of looking like I was 19 weeks pregnant, I now looked like I was 11 weeks pregnant. I also weighed 3 pounds less than I did a week before.
Here's a picture of my deflated stomach:
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I went to mass, confession, and adoration. During adoration, I finally started to find some peace of mind. It helped when I started thinking of this whole thing as a birth instead of a miscarriage. I can do birth. Also during adoration, I felt that the baby's name was Agnes Faustina Grace. Now, this name came as a bit of a surprise to me. Agnes was a name we threw around for a girl when we were pregnant with Solomon and a little bit at the beginning of this pregnancy, but later on, I was actually thinking of a different name. And the middle names kind of came out of nowhere. But they all just fit and that was her name.
So, now it was all settled. I was at peace. We had the name. We quickly ran out and gathered supplies. Bought Shepherd's Purse and Yarrow in case I hemorrhaged, the homeopathic remedy Sepia in case of retained parts, picked up some desiccated liver pills to up my iron, got alfalfa (which has a bunch of Vitamin K) to put in with my red raspberry leaf tea to help with blood clotting, and got some dates which were supposed to help prevent postpartum hemorrhage as well.
I even sent this text to my placenta-encapsulating friend:
I wanted to go through this process. I didn't want it to end quickly with a D&C. I wanted to go through the process of birth, I wanted to feel everything completely, and I wanted to do things as naturally as possible. That was what I felt most comfortable with.
So, we were all set. I was still feeling a little scared about the whole thing, so I took some doula friends and a homebirth midwife friend up on their offers to be with me during this birth. For my other births, especially the last two, I like to be alone, with just my family around me. For this birth, I wanted to be surrounded by many people who would love me and take care of me.
I started scouring the internet for as much information as I could find on natural miscarriages. Turns out, there is not much out there. And the information that is out there is mainly about early miscarriages. I felt like I kept finding and reading the same things over and over. But then I came across this Mother of All Threads on natural miscarriage. I must have read hundreds of stories. It was insanely helpful. Yet, everyone's experience was so variable, and I still didn't know much about what to expect with a 2nd trimester miscarriage. I knew it would be like a "mini-birth", but what did that mean, exactly?
Then, I heard about a friend of mine from church who had three second trimester miscarriages and so I asked her about her experiences. How long were your labors? (about 3 hours) Did you bleed during your labors? (No) Where did you birth your babies? (toilet, tub, and plastic container) Did baby and placenta come out all at once or separately? (all at once) What was labor like? (not hard labor by any means, I never needed to stop what I was doing for a contraction, but it is annoying and bothersome)
All right, now here was some information I could work with! I felt comfortable and felt like I knew a bit more about what to expect and I didn't read any more miscarriage stories after that for awhile.
And, slowly but surely, I started to become even more at peace. I wasn't scared anymore. I told my friends who had agreed to be there for me that I didn't want them at the birth after all. Once again, I wanted to be alone with my family.
I've always trusted in the process of birth, and now I was learning to trust in the process of a natural miscarriage. My body would know exactly what to do. I've always felt more comfortable relying on the wisdom of the body than interfering with it. That is just a part of who I am. As Albert Einstein said, "We still do not know one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us."
Emotionally, I felt ready to let her go. I told Agnes that it was okay for her to be born any time she was ready.
I visualized what it would be like when I gave birth to a dead baby, so I wouldn't be surprised by what she looked like. I looked at images of babies who had died at this gestational age on the computer. I felt prepared.
My mantra became Embrace, Trust, Release.
I started telling Vern about different friends of mine and people we know who had miscarriages and what their experiences were like. He had no idea so many other people had been affected by this. It was so cute, he said, "Since we've had this loss, now we're hearing about the losses other people have had that we never would have known about before. It's kind of like in Harry Potter, when they can start seeing the thestrals for the first time."
Oh, my dear, sweet, wonderful Vernon. Yes. That is exactly what it is like.
During this time, we also figured out what we would do with Agnes' body. We didn't want to bury her in our yard because there was always a possibility that we might move out of this house someday. So, we wanted to find a more permanent resting place for her. Yet, going through a funeral home and spending close to $1,000 didn't seem reasonable. Finally, we found this church in Coon Rapids (Church of the Epiphany) that does free infant burials for miscarried babies and stillbirths. And we learned from this site what to do with the body before the burial (put it in saltwater, keep it in the fridge).
Like I said, we were set.
Then, the waiting started.
At first, I walked around thinking, "Nobody knows this, but I am carrying death inside of me." And it felt surreal being out in the world like a normal person.
We went on with life as usual. I kept doing the 40 Days of Birthday for Vernon. It culminated with a Giant Pizza for his actual birthday on December 15:
Then, as time went on, there were times I would forget that I was carrying a baby inside of me altogether. By this point, I didn't feel pregnant at all physically. So, when my kids were trying to do the worm and were doing a horrible job of it (they looked like spastic electrocuted eels), I wanted to show them how to do it (not that I'm an expert by any means, but I could do it, like, a thousand times better than what they were doing). But then I remembered, oh yeah, I still have a baby inside of me.
And I started to feel dumb around the pockets of people who knew we had lost the baby. Like, durr, yeah, I still haven't had the baby yet. I had started getting acupuncture treatments with community acupuncture (going there for a total of 12 times over the next several weeks), and one of the acupuncturists asked if I had a follow up with my provider, and I said No, but I could have added, "Durr, I've just been looking stuff up on the internet, durr."
Which was true. By this time, I was back to reading miscarriage stories, and had even started googling things like "longest miscarriage ever". I came across this inspiring one where a woman went 5 months before having her natural miscarriage.
I felt confident in my decision to wait for this to take place naturally and I wasn't very worried. For me, when I make decisions, I make them from a point of, "What Brings Me the Most Peace?" If I can make a decision from that point, I know it's the best decision for me. And, since none of the other options were anywhere close to bringing me the most peace, I felt good with waiting.
And the more I read, the more I learned that waiting it out (also called expectant management) is not as dangerous as everyone makes it out to be. One of the big risks, they say, is getting infection. But from all of the miscarriage stories I read (and believe me, I've read hundreds), NOBODY was getting an infection before the miscarriage happened. Sure, infections happened, but they would happen after the miscarriage occurred and parts were retained. (I think the bigger thing to be concerned about with miscarriage is hemorrhaging afterward. The research on that actually has some weight behind it.) Plus, anyone who does expectant management is vigilantly on guard for any signs of infection. I figured I could address that if it happened, and it would end the same way (D&C) as if I chose it in the first place. But why choose it if I didn't have to?
Vern had some flu like symptoms at one point, and I didn't want to catch anything, so he slept on the couch and I tried to avoid him. Then, one day I woke up and my body felt so tired and I couldn't figure out if I was getting the chills because I was sick, or because I had a serious infection, or just because I lived in Minnesota and it happens to be cold outside. The next day I woke up with swollen lymph nodes, and I was so thankful because then I knew for sure that it had nothing to do with being caused by the dead baby. It's tricky though. You really can't get sick at all, because how can you definitively tell the difference between an infection caused by the miscarriage or an infection caused by the flu?
I started googling "how long did you wait for your missed miscarriage" (a missed miscarriage is what it's called if your baby dies but your body doesn't recognize the loss and expel it right away) and writing down what I found. I logged over 121 answers from forums all over the internet (mothering, baby center, what to expect, mumsnet, bubhub, momtastic, etc). Here were my findings (the results are in weeks):
Plus, I read things like this from Danforth's Obstetrics and Gynecology:
And I liked what this website had to say:
When it comes to second trimester miscarriage, the number one cited reason for surgical management of miscarriage is risk of infection from leaving the baby or “pregnancy tissue” in the uterus. Yet, in the several hours of research on this particular topic, I could not find any substantial data to prove that a woman was at a higher risk of infection with expectant management of miscarriage versus surgical management of miscarriage.
I know, lady! Me too!
And she cites:
This Cochrane Review explained that the risk for infection with expectant management of miscarriage was similar to surgical management; although I did find information here that suggests there is a 1% risk of infection with expectant management and this site suggests 0% to 10% chance of infection with expectant management. This leads me to believe it’s not well studied, especially in the second trimester since second trimester miscarriage and pregnancy loss is less common.
Nearly ALL the websites I explored stated that the woman’s preference should be utilized. But here lies the conundrum because care providers are only presenting one option for second trimester miscarriage; the D&E.
Expectant management of second trimester miscarriage could take days, weeks, or even months to complete.
Yep, months to complete. Gotcha. I'm on it.
Other than the acupuncture, I'm not doing anything to encourage this baby to come out. I want my body to do it totally on my own, and I even view the recommended "induction" herbs (blue and black cohosh, cotton root bark, etc.) as too much interference.
So, I'm feeling good and prepared to wait this out, yet it is hard. I don't feel I can process everything emotionally until my body processes it physically. Waiting has been like walking around with a blanket over my head. Some days are really hard, but most days things just go on as normal (if we can consider wearing pajamas almost every day "normal"). Everything is just dulled and the world is less sharp.
There were two times during the wait where I started spotting. But then nothing would happen. I felt so let down. Then, I would have to build my spirits up all over again, find my peace, and start all over.
Being in a constant state of readiness was making me weary. The only thing I can think to compare it to is if you've ever been "overdue" while pregnant. But with that, you would only have to wait 1-2 weeks more before having the baby. Imagine being in that state of mind for almost 8 weeks. It's hard. It's exhausting. Yet, at other times, it's not. And you're just okay, moving about life as normal. So, it's just this great confusion. I stayed close to home most of the time. I didn't want to face people and I didn't want any more people to know. Like I said, I was starting to feel dumb, and I wish I hadn't told anyone in the first place. I didn't want to have to justify or explain why I was choosing to wait this out, flying in the face of convention. Having to do that was exhausting too.
I read one miscarriage story where she said the baby just fell out of her, without any warning. So, when I knew I would be away from home for more than a couple hours, I would carry my Sherpherd's Purse and Yarrow in my pocket, just in case.
Also, during this time, I would occasionally creep up to my children and whisper in their ears, like the big weirdo that I am, "You are my children that lived." I think this made them feel kind of special, and like it's some great accomplishment to be alive (which, I guess, maybe it is). As G.K. Chesterton said, "The way to love anything is to realize it might be lost."
One time I was on the couch, snuggling our two year old Solomon while he dug in my belly button, as he likes to do, and I said to Vernon, "Oh, how I wanted another one of these." That's when it hits me the most, in watching Solomon grow up.
I didn't do much of anything during this time, just the basics to get through each day. Any extra emotional exertion was too much for me. Vern had to take care of almost everything. Although, there was one rare day in December where I felt motivated enough to put our annual Christmas newsletter together. I even addressed and stamped all the letters and everything. I had written something about the miscarriage, so I didn't want to send the letters out until she was actually born and it was all over with. I kept thinking it would happen sometime before Christmas, but it never did, so the letters never got mailed out. (Now that she's born, I'll be getting them in the mail sometime this week, the third week in January. Close enough.)
I would sometimes wonder if death was painful for Agnes. Did it hurt? Could she feel death approaching or was it like when an old person dies in their sleep? I hoped it was the latter.
Christmas came. We were supposed to go to my mom's for Christmas Day, but once again, we had to cancel. As I told her: "Because it would be really awkward for all of us if I had a dead baby in your house." We spent Christmas Eve with Vern's side of the family, and Christmas Day we stayed home. It was nice.
Vern got the kids these framed papers that had their names on them and then lyrics from songs that he thought fit their personalities. For Peace, it said something about singing. Ezra's said something with No Man Is an Island. Ocean's was something about the depths of the ocean. I can't remember what Solomon's said. Then he gave one to me, and I was expecting it to have lyrics for my name, but instead it said this:
Oh, my dear, sweet, wonderful Vernon. He's a good one.
Vern and I have always been close, but this experience was drawing us closer together, in a way that no other circumstance could have.
January came. More of the same. Just getting through every day.
Then, January 11th.
This was the day I received a scared-straight, intervention type of phone call on behalf of some very loving and well-meaning friends who were worried that I was putting myself in danger by waiting so long to have this baby. They were worried about infection, that I was putting myself unnecessarily at risk, and that I "could die". The person who gave me the call recommended that I have a D&C.
This phone call left me terribly upset. Once again, I had lost my peace. It was getting so terribly exhausting trying to maintain this bubble of peace all the time and I wasn't looking forward to having to rebuild it once again. I was shaken up, emotionally and physically, I was literally shaking, I was so offset.
Vern and I decided to meet with a nice, kind of natural-minded doctor the next day (who we had never met before because we've never really needed to go to the doctor), just to ask some questions about what he thought about everything, and to see if we could get a blood screen done to see if I had DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation) or not.
So, on Friday, January 12th, we met with the nice doctor. And it turns out he really was the nicest doctor on the planet! He was so respectful of us and our decisions and he didn't seem flabbergasted or shame us when he learned that I had been carrying a dead baby inside of me for almost 8 weeks. He told me that I didn't need to test for DIC because he could tell just by looking at me that I didn't have it. But, of course, he is a medical professional, and he agreed with my friends that it was risky to let this go on, and he didn't think the baby would come on its own without some sort of intervention.
By this point, I didn't know what to think anymore. I had lost my peace. I was too tired to rebuild it. I was scared again. I was done.
The nice doctor recommended a misoprostol (Cytotec) induction as soon as possible.
I figured, okay, it would still be a birth. I could do this. Agnes would still be intact. And he said it wouldn't be so bad since I only had to open up to 4 or 5 cm. I've had four natural homebirths already, I could do 4 or 5 centimeters, easy.
We scheduled an induction for the next day.
At one point during our visit at the clinic, as we were waiting in the little room for the doctor to come in, Vern looked over at me and said, "You're my favorite person." (It was a sweet moment and I just wanted to write it here so I would remember it forever.)
Some extenuating circumstances that contributed to our decision were that my mom was in town for the weekend, and we thought it would be nice that she was around to help with the kids while we did this. Also, Solomon had a fever. I was tired of being on the lookout for signs of infection. I couldn't avoid him like I avoided Vernon, because he was always up in my face, getting his germs all over me. I figured I might catch whatever it was he had and get a fever and then I would have to figure out if it was a fever from him (which it probably would be), or maybe just maybe it would be a sign of the infection that I needed to watch out for.
I was just tired of being constantly on guard about everything... peace, infections, explanations, etc. I was just so tired of everything.
My mom was in town because she was coming with us to this fancy fundraising gala for my daughter's high school. So, the night before I was going in to be induced, we got all dressed up and went to this gala.
What a weird thing. I wasn't really in the mood for celebrating. Again, it was like walking around with a blanket over my head. My mind was numb.
Here is what we looked like (the middle picture is my favorite because I like how it showcases how awkward we are):
Saturday, January 13th. We checked in to St. John's Hospital. I got my first dose of Cytotec (800 mcg) vaginally at 8:15 am. Our nurse was really nice. She made me feel like I was in control of everything, and they were just here to help me out with whatever I needed. I got my second dose (400 mcg) at 12:15 pm, my third dose (400 mcg) at 3:15 pm, my fourth dose (400 mcg) at 6:15 pm, and my fifth and final dose (400 mcg) at 9:15 pm. Every time they inserted the Cytotec, they would feel my cervix to see if it was doing anything, and every time it was not. No dilation. No effacement. No nothing.
Throughout the day, I had to keep reminding myself that this was my choice, this was what I wanted. I had to make this mine.
While we were at the hospital, we were trying to straighten out what would happen with Agnes' body after she was born. Apparently, the hospital has restrictions against releasing bodies to anybody except funeral homes or the like. We said we thought that was only for babies over 20 weeks gestation, and that according to Minnesota state law, we could do whatever we wanted with the baby if it was under 20 weeks. Long story short, they wouldn't let us take our baby home. Now, we have to pay $100 for the Washburn-McReavy Funeral Home to transport our baby to the Church of the Epiphany in Coon Rapids, whereby we can then go to the Church of the Epiphany and pick up our baby from them, take her home, and then return with her when we do the burial. So dumb.
I was very upset about this and I said to the nurse that I don't have patience for stupid policies, and it's enough that I have to lose this baby, give birth to this dead baby, and that I would just like to get one thing that I wanted. (It's not her fault for the hospital's policies. I apologized later for taking it out on her.)
There wasn't much happening with the labor all day. At around noon, it started feeling like one constant menstrual cramp that never went away. It didn't hurt, but it was annoying because it was always there. Regular contractions started around 8:30 pm. Around 10:30 pm, it started feeling like active labor. And around midnight, it started feeling like transition.
Looking back, I'm not sure why I chose to wear the shirt that I did. It's a kind of dressy sweater type of shirt. Not the type of shirt that one would normally expect to want to labor in. But I guess I just figured, 4 or 5 centimeters, I could do that with my eyes closed.
Well, it turns out I could not do 4 or 5 centimeters with my eyes closed on a Cytotec induction.
As I was writhing around on the floor at around 1:50 am, after almost two hours of transition type labor (this was harder than any of my natural births), I told Vern that I wanted some nitrous or something to take this all away. Once again, I was throwing my hands up in the air, and I was done. When the doctor came, I said, "You said this wasn't going to be bad because I only had to get to 4 or 5 centimeters, but this is like transition!" He said maybe this was my body's way of going through its own sort of transition for the birth I was going to have.
Around 2:00 am, they gave me some nitrous, which hardly did anything. So then they gave me some fentanyl (I'm not even going to google the side effects of this), and that was lovely. I could still feel the contractions, but they were down to a level that I could easily handle. The nice doctor wanted to check my cervix to see what was happening, and I wanted to know too, so he checked and my cervix was still freaking closed! "Well, what the heck have I been doing here if all of this is not even opening my cervix?" I asked. (It's an unusual situation to make my body do something it's not ready to do, blah, blah, blah.)
We decided we would try to get some rest, and then check to see where we were at in the morning. To see whether we would proceed on this path, or maybe have to consider a different course of action (the dreaded D&C, which I had been trying so very hard to avoid).
At 2:15 am, the doctor and nurse left the room, and Vern and I snuggled up and started to fall asleep. Then I felt a little gush, like I was bleeding a little bit, so I got up to go to the bathroom. And there, at 2:20 am, in the bathroom of Room 28 at St. John's Hospital in Maplewood, Minnesota, 10 minutes after the doctor checked and told me that my cervix was closed, Agnes Faustina Grace came into the world. She fell into the little top hat thing in the toilet that the nurse put in there to catch her. She just fell out, like a placenta does after you have a baby. She came out with her placenta, still inside her sac.
I got up and told Vern to call the doctor and nurse back in. When the doctor got there, I said, "Well, that was stupid."
We took her out of the caul (there's a video that I'm going to include at the end of this for all of you birthy people out there, it is seriously the coolest thing ever), looked at her, took pictures, loved her. I saw Vernon was crying and I hugged him and I felt one of his tears fall on my arm.
She was perfect and intact, not breaking apart or decomposing at all.
She measured only 3.5" from crown to rump, which is about the size of a baby at 15 weeks gestation. This was curious, because I felt certain that I had felt her move at 16+4 weeks (and only then, not any times before or afterward). And why did my pregnancy symptoms go away so suddenly and all at once when I had the spotting at 19 weeks? Could she have stopped growing but was still alive for a couple more weeks? And why was her placenta so much bigger than her? Did that keep growing after she died? So many more questions that I didn't have the answer to.
At one point, as I was forcing some dates into my mouth and the doctor saw me doing this, I felt silly, so I said, "I read somewhere that dates are supposed to help prevent postpartum hemorrhage." I loved this doctor. He doesn't know it yet, but he's going to be my new best friend. I felt bad for him having to take time from his weekend and his family and his sleep to spend it with us. I didn't know how anyone could do a job like this, but he said that he loved it. (He's Catholic too, and we asked to pray with him a little bit earlier in the day. Vern said that after I had Agnes, when we called him back into the room to tell him that we had her, he held his hands in prayer pose, looked up, and mouthed the words, "Thank you.")
I didn't come anywhere close to hemorrhaging, by the way. There was a normal amount of blood, and it didn't make me woozy or lightheaded in any way. (I don't know why my wooziness around blood happens around some things, like giving blood, and not others.)
When the doctor was checking my uterus afterward, he said, "It's tight." And I asked, "Is that good?" This is when I noticed something about myself that I had been doing all day: I was constantly asking questions that I already knew the answer to. Why was I doing this? (If you watch the video down below that I mentioned, you will hear me asking such profound questions as: Where is the placenta? The bag of waters?)
We decided to get a little sleep, and then have the kids come and meet her in the morning. Agnes was on a little blanket, and I snuggled up next to her and slept.
The kids came with my mom in the morning. Ezra thought she was gross, but everybody else was really interested in her.
And then we were ready to leave. Agnes was taken away from us, as per hospital protocols, and that is when I cried. When she left me. (Maybe I wasn't emotionally ready to let go of her after all.)
And that was her birth.
Looking back on it now, I do wish that I would have waited for it to happen naturally. I was never worried. I still feel that it would have happened on its own eventually. Although the doctor we had is my new best friend, I still don't agree with everything he has to say, and I really don't think the risk of infection is what he makes it out to be. It's just not lining up with the information I found, what other people with missed miscarriages have experienced, and the fact that Agnes didn't decompose at all. If she really only made it to 15 weeks gestation, that means she had been dead inside of me for close to 12 weeks. And she was perfect.
I really wish I would have let my body do this on its own, when it was ready. And yet, at the same time, I am happy that it's over. Yet another paradox.
So, while our lives are sometimes a tangled mess like the underside of a tapestry, with a lot of loose ends and a lot of things I don't understand, the more faith that I have (in the process of birth, in life, in death, and especially in God), the more I can glimpse the beauty on the other side of that tapestry every now and then, and the more I know that everything will be okay.
For where there is pain, there is kindness; where there is suffering, there is grace; and where there is loss, there is love.
So, there you go.
That's my story.
Now you can see my thestral.
I'm going to include some pictures down below here, but they are going to have links and descriptions so that you will know what to expect before you click on it. I understand that pictures of dead babies is an acquired taste, and something that most people will probably not want to see. (Note: I'm a photographer, so I like to document these sorts of things. Plus, and more importantly, I just want to remember.)
Agnes - Coming Out of Bag of Waters
This is a video of Agnes being taken out of her bag of waters, where we can see here for the first time. You will be seeing a dead baby that looks around 15 weeks gestation, the placenta, etc.
Kids Meeting Agnes
This is a video that shows the kids meeting and holding Agnes for the first time. You will see mostly far away views of a dead baby, and mostly focusing on the other children.
Okay, so those are the videos. It turns out I don't know how to create external links for the pictures, so I'm going to include them down below. ONLY scroll down if you want to see them.
Keep going. I don't want to surprise anybody.
Ready? Here are some pictures: