On Friday, September 14, I went to my normal baby appointment. Actually, I was having the glucose diabetes test done, so I got A and myself up, drank the orange sugar drink, dropped A off at school (I'll admit I let her taste it, since she was watching me chug it), and made it on time to my 8:15 appointment. I saw Dr. Harrison that morning, no big deal. But I told him how big I felt, how i ached, just how different this pregnancy was--I felt Baby Maggie move, just less than with Adria. We even made a joke, that doesn't mean she'll be any less active when she comes out! But when he measured me, I really was big--measuring 32 cm at 27 weeks. 5 cm ahead. He sent me in for an ultrasound, and I felt like a kid at Christmas--an extra ultrasound! The tech looked at all sorts of things, and I was quiet, not knowing what she was looking at, just watching the screen myself. And there she was! There was my beautiful strong Baby Maggie!
I finally asked her what she saw, and she mentioned the pockets of fluid before she excused herself to go get Dr. Harrison. He came in and right away just by looking said that Maggie was a very sick baby. She had ALL this fluid throughout her body, in her abdomen, on her lungs, swelling in her head. And she was swimming in huge pockets of amniotic fluid, which is why I didn't feel her so much. She was in there! She was moving! But she was sick. Dr. Harrison said he was sending me to a perinatal specialist as soon as possible, and they booked me an appointment at 10 a.m. I called mom and dad and told them to come. And I called Jason and Brandy and told them to meet me at the specialist's office.
By 10 the 3 of us were back in a little room for another sonogram, so powerful we were able to see Maggie's BEAUTIFUL face, and she waved at us with each of her perfect little hands. (I'll admit I counted right then--5 sweet fingers on each little hand.) But the doctor confirmed--a sick little baby. Hydrops fetalis, all that fluid was caused by a cardiomyopathy, a problem with her heart. Jason almost threw up in their trash can. Brandy just held my hand when he stepped away with her hot, 35 weeks pregnant hand. And we all cried together.
But they sent me straight on to the hospital for further monitoring. They hooked me up for both fetal heartbeat monitoring, and it began to look like I was having contractions. Perhaps what I thought were little baby movements were Braxton Hicks. Her heartbeat rose to 180, and would sometimes dive to 100, but usually stabilized around 160 or so. It was scary to watch it fluctuate. Mom and dad joined Jason, Brandy and me, and Jason's mom and dad did too. It was a busy and full room. A baby cardiologist came to consult and did another sonogram, and was able to tell us more about her heart. The muscle was too thick, it could pump blood OUT (diastolic pressure) well, but it couldn't relax and take blood back in (systolic pressure). It looked fine in form, but at almost 28 weeks was bigger than a baby's at 40 weeks. There wasn't anything to be done--it was just a sick heart.
They talked to us about what might happen. If Maggie came early, at 28 weeks she'd have enough of a battle on her hands. With a heart problem, and with the fluid essentially stunting the growth of the rest of her organs, she wouldn't survive. But if she stayed inside, she was sick enough she still might not make it. My only hope was that she stayed inside, alive, long enough for a miracle. I received a steroid shot for her lungs, would come back the next day for another, and they sent me home, told me not to do anything different. I could even still pick up Adria. Didn't even cut my caffeine.
Jason picked up Adria and brought her home to me and stayed a little bit. Dad took me back to the hospital on Saturday and they gave me another shot. Hooked me up to the monitors just long enough to get a reading on Maggie and me. I asked them what they were listening for and she put it plainly: we're checking to see if you still have a live baby.
I prayed and cried and didn't sleep. I went back to work on Monday. And I made it to see Dr. Lake at 3:15 on Monday afternoon. I honestly thought he'd measure and I'd have lost fluid weight and my belly would be smaller. I thought we'd just watch and wait and see. But he didn't take me into an exam room. He didn't measure me. He took me for a sonogram and stayed in the room. As the tech did the sonogram, she found my girl. I could see her there, but there was no heartbeat. I could see her heart. But it was completely still. Not even a flutter. My sweet Baby Maggie was gone. I would be induced the next morning to deliver my girl.
How does death and life mingle so? How does one give birth to death? It was horrible. I had an amniocentesis, so at least we'll get some ideas as to how our perfectly made healthy girl got so sick within the 2 weeks since my last appointment. Then Dr. Harrison gave me a 100g dose of cytotec. My body did not want to give that child up. Slowly labor began. Slowly contractions built. I wanted to feel them. Mom, dad, and Jason just sat with me, sometimes talking, while my body began contracting. Hours, only a cm dilation. Not giving that child up. Hours more, the same, but Dr was able to break my water. It was a flood. It was a flood. My stomach shrunk to half, and I could feel her again.
Hours more passed, and around 5 I'd guess, I got an epidural. I didn't want to be groggy. I wanted to feel. But I didn't want to hurt anymore. I didn't like the epidural. I didn't like the iv and chemicals. But I'm glad I got it.
Jason stayed with me and held my hand. I leaned against him while they threaded the epidural into my back. Whenever they did something, he was there. He would have taken my place if he could have.
Dad went to sleep at home. Mom slept on the couch and Jason had brought a sleeping bag and camping mat. I dozed in and out, finally 3 cm, and when it really started hurting the nurse checked me again--"the baby's here." The doctor asked if I could push, and I pushed once. Baby Maggie was born with another flood of water.
They wrapped her right up and gave her right to me. None of the ceremony that had surrounded Adria's birth. They wrapped her up in the blanket I brought for her, and just gave her to me.
It was a little scary--everything about this had been a little scary. But there was this teeny tiny little girl, the size of a baby doll. Her face was beautiful. She was so beautifully made. And she looked so much like Adria. I made that comment, then told Jason that means she looked like him, and he lost it, crying over our girl along with me. I held her, I kissed her, I spoke to her, I was almost afraid to touch her. But I had long promised that girl I would hold her in my arms and give her kisses, and that's what I did. She was so still. So lifeless. So peaceful. So beautiful. There wasn't any confusion that she was gone. I was holding her body, but her spirit had already departed. She was born on Wednesday, September 19, 2012, at 4:38 in the morning. But she'd already been gone since before Monday. The work, the labor, had been for me.
They've brought me Maggie's body back inside the tiniest pink urn, so small it can fit inside your palm. But that's it. She passed like a vapor. She is gone.
I know she is safe and well, I know she is with Jesus, but still I pray, God, won't you tell her she was loved, and she was wanted, she is missed, and won't you tell her about me?
Adria has been my light and my joy. Thank you God for Adria! I couldn't ask for more than she. I know I hit the jackpot with her. Thank you God for giving her to me for a time such as this. I don't know if we even will tell her she won't be getting a baby sister after all. She's done fine with me without us sitting down and making a thing of it. I'm able to hold her again, and she can climb all over me again. She is a happy girl! Thank you God for giving me that share of joy.