April 9th, 2014 went far different than I had anticipated. Exactly one year prior, I was in labor. We received the devastating news our daughter's heart had stopped beating at 37 weeks. I delivered her shortly after midnight on April 10th, 2013. We knew this day - these days - were coming, a year later. However, we had made very specific plans for how to spend them. Those did not end up happening.
April 9th, 2014, started with me waking up with some intense heartburn - no more out of the ordinary than the last couple of weeks. Little Man gives me heartburn in my sleep. I was very emotional, though, anticipating the day ahead and the following day, and what they meant to our family. I was really struggling to hold myself together. Little Miss was having an off morning herself. She was far from perky or adventurous, and was instead clingy and not wanting to go anywhere. Considering her recent episode with the stomach bug, I assumed it must be residual feelings of general ickiness.
We snuggled, we had breakfast, we had a pretty intense tickle war (I won), and then I decided I would shower and go downstairs to my "office" and get some work done. As I prepared for my shower, I saw blood. Fresh blood. One year to the day we learned of Harlynn's heart stopping beating, and it appeared Little Man was in danger as well.
No. No, no, no, no, no.
I called the hospital and spoke to the charge nurse, as calmly as I possibly could, who agreed I should come in right away. I called Brent at work, asking him if it were possible to come drive us. He was home within minutes. I fought tears the entire ride to the hospital. Fought them and lost. I was begging, pleading, with Little Man to move. He wouldn't. It was kind of close to his regular morning "quiet time", but I was in no position to allow him to be quiet. I shifted in my seat. I poked. I prodded. I cried. Nothing.
We walked into the Labor & Delivery unit, and a nurse walked me back to a room - an actual room - not triage. She told me to put a gown on and what the plans were, and she looked at my face. She saw my tears and my ugly cry, and she knew. She asked, "Would you like to listen, first?" I nodded. I sat down on the bed and she readied the fetal monitor. She looked at me one last time before placing it on my tummy. I closed my eyes and prayed.
Whoomp whoomp whoomp whoomp whoomp
His heart was beating. He was fine. I put both hands over my face and cried tears of relief this time. She reassured me, patted my shoulder, left the room and I changed into a gown. Wouldn't you know it - my very own OB was the doctor on call for the day. Thank you, Lord. There is nothing quite so comforting as having your very own doctor, familiar with your case and history, as the one who will treat you for the day.
The nurse on shift who was assigned me was a divine appointment. She told me she had lost a baby. She was a loss mom. She knew what I had been through, and what I was up against. She was supposed to be my nurse - my first nurse - on that day. She was full of empathy. She was wonderful. She was not assigned to me by chance.
Shortly after being admitted, I started contracting. Intensely. Frequently. They gave me a shot. Then they gave me a pill. Still contracting. Blood pressure was high (149/85). Granted, I had been scared to death just prior to walking through those doors. Another shot. Another pill. The contractions weren't slowing. It turns out I have a bacterial infection, known to bring about pre-term labor. Of course I do.
April 9th, 2014, I was 32 weeks, 6 days pregnant. The same gestational period I was when Little Miss was delivered via emergency cesarean. April 9th, 2014, was also one year to the day we found out Harlynn's heart had stopped beating. This was all too bizarre. This was surreal. Crazy.
Eventually they started me on magnesium. I'm sure some of you have experienced it, but for those of you who haven't, allow me to summarize my experience: Pure misery. I felt drunk, I felt sick, I felt like I was left to fend for myself with a severe case of the flu, by being inebriated, and alone in a furnace. A giant, hot, furnace. I moaned all night long. I hardly slept a wink. I spoke to my nurse for a long time. The March of Dimes family consultant visited with me until almost midnight. These people - they got it. They understood the depth of not only what I was enduring, but the significance of the day, the heavenversary, the fear during this pregnancy - all of it. And my doctor was there to care for me in every possible way. As scared as I was, I felt a peace. God's hand was in this. There was no doubt. Brent and I don't believe in coincidences.
I was for sure going to stay overnight. I told Brent we should keep it quiet. I wanted April 10th to be about Harlynn, and about Harlynn's Labor of Love, not about people worrying about me or Little Man. I may be stubborn, but for my own grief journey, I needed others to focus on Harlynn. Not on me or what-ifs, but her and the impact she has left on our family. For those of you who texted - messaged - thank you. Please understand I had to ignore you. I couldn't spill my beans.
If labor didn't subside, it would be postponed as long as possible, with a cesarean scheduled for Friday, the 11th. My doctor, the nurses, everyone was very sensitive to the timing of all of this and having Harlynn keep her own special day. I don't know how many times I can say or reiterate - the care I have received as a patient is second to none. For all four years. I am a person, not a chart number. I get hugged, not rushed. I get visits in my room because I'm cared about, not because I'm on the rounds. These doctors and nurses have shown me time and time again what it is to be in this healthCARE industry.
For the hour total of sleep I got overnight, I think I fared pretty well. There were several times I was just awake in my bed, moaning, groaning, and being miserable. I wanted to throw up, but I didn't. I wanted to jump in an ice bath, but only from the chest up. Oh, magnesium, you are one tough cookie. Prior to not being able to sleep, the contractions were pretty intense. If I wasn't contracting, the magnesium was kicking my patootie. I was in pain, I was uncomfortable, and I was trying not to think about what all of this meant.
Thursday I was monitored closely, and the magnesium did the trick. Hardly any contractions. They lowered the dose, continued to check my blood, and everything appeared to be settling down back to normal. On antibiotics for the infection, and magnesium for the contractions, the labor subsided. I was going to stay one more night, though.
Thursday morning I could tell the labor was not progressing anymore. But wow, was I tired. Also, it was the 10th. Harlynn's Heavenversary. All the plans I had made with Brent to spend the day honoring her weren't going to happen. I was stuck in a hospital bed. Literally stuck. The magnesium had me all but paralyzed. I could not move. I was seeing double. I talked like I was drunk. I slept through vital checks. I slept through doctors and nurses coming in to see how I was. I slept through Michelle coming to get Harlynn cards from Brent. (I know she watched me sleep, creeper...)
In the few moments I was awake, and could stand reading with one eye closed, I perused Facebook. So many people changed their profile picture. Purple. Comments. Posts. Remembering. Encouraging others to remember. It was so moving. We were so humbled by the outpouring of love we received, once again.
It isn't just the 10th that we deal with. The 10th is so hard to face, because that's how we measure time. Every 10th that passes is one more month without her. But every day without her, no matter the number, is hard. Every Wednesday. Every Tuesday. Every Sunday. They're all hard.
This day I had to mother Little Man and stay in bed. I couldn't mother Harlynn the way I had intended. But she was here. I had her Harlynn bear with me all day, and snuggled with it. I prayed over people who were being loved on, and loved by others, in remembrance of Harlynn. I shed tears. I rubbed the necklace I wear with her name on it, between my thumb and finger. I was in the very hospital, the very floor, where I was one year ago when I delivered her.The same place. I have to believe there was some sort of reason - as insane as it sounds, to keep my sanity in check - for being there on these days, at that time. I think she wanted me there for some sense of closure. Admitted on the same day, discharged on the same day, as admitted and discharged with her. She was there. God was in this. This was no mistake.
I'm home now, taking care of myself as best I can, and having a heart full of thanks for those of you who carried out Harlynn's Labor of Love when her own mother couldn't. It wasn't how I pictured it, but then again, we never imagined we would lose her to begin with. I'm grateful for the love we've been continually shown, and hope that it becomes an even bigger chapter in Harlynn's story. Thank you all.