Friday, November 30, 2012

Helpful Tools

Nothing can erase what has happened, can bring Elliston back, and take away our pain.  My body just had a baby.  Even though she was not alive in the end, she was alive for 9 months and I delivered her.  Therefore, all of the physical things after birth, still happened.  I was given some great advice, which I believe totally saved my sanity. 

First, and I will tell this to any pregnant woman who will listen, Placenta Encapsulation.  Go ahead.  Call me a hippie.  When Colby and I first met with our doula to “interview” her, we said, “We see on your website that you do stuff with placentas.  We don’t even want to talk about that.  We are NOT into that.”  She said ok, and never brought it up again….until we did.  I had heard stuff about it and continued to hear and read more and more.  When we were ready, we talked with her about it and researched some more.  Here is our doulas website where she gives some info about it. 

I came home from the hospital Saturday night and she came over Sunday morning with my pills.  I took 2 pills, 2 times a day.  I have had no other babies, so I don’t know what postpartum feels like.  I know its different for everyone and every pregnancy is different.  And I also know its potential.  I never felt my hormones were off balance at all.  I was grieving the loss of our daughter, in a very real way….but very present.  I had energy.  And as terrible a situation, and considering I did just give birth….I felt good.  I encourage you to at least look into it.  I will do this going forward with all of our children. 

Second, a doula.  The word doula is Greek for “Woman’s Servant”.  Nice, huh? 

We were intending to have a natural, drug free, delivery.  I believed that for me, having a doula was key to being able to do this.  Amanda ended up being greater than I could have ever imagined. She came to our house a few times before our due date.  I emailed her and text her all the time with questions or just updated on our appointments, ultrasound pics, etc.  Obviously, things did not go as planned…..but she was still such a comfort and help in the hospital with Elliston’s birth and quite honestly ever since.  She has become a dear friend, and will be involved in the birth of all of our children in the future.  Whether we are induced, have a c-section, or decide again for a natural delivery….she’ll be with us.  If you are in the phoenix area, her website is

Third, sage pills.  Amanda is also a herbalist.  As unfortunate as it is, just because I didn’t have a baby to nurse, didn’t stop my milk from coming in.  She brought over some sage pills along with my placenta pills.  She said sage helps dry up the milk.  I have heard stories of people leaking milk for up to 6 weeks after their stillbirth.  Seriously, its so cruel.  I started taking the sage pills immediately on Sunday.  The hospital had told me about putting cabbage on “the girls”….but that just smelled like a gross fart.  So that did not last long.  I started leaking on Tuesday, but that only lasted for about a day, and that was it.  If anyone, for any reason, decides to not breastfeed, please suggest to them sage.  It worked for me.  That was one issue that I did not want to deal with, and luckily didn’t have to that much.

Fourth, and so simple… the blinds every morning.  Thank you God we live in Arizona where it is pretty much sunny every single day!  At the advice of “New Friend Jen”, starting our first morning at home, I would get up and open all the blinds.  Even if I got back in bed, I would open them all.  The sunlight was so healing.  I should be saying “is”.  I still do this every day. 

Those are just a few of the helpful tools I have had to help me these past few weeks.  I cant imagine how different it could have been without them.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

One Month.

Today, my day was supposed to be spent trying to get a “1” sticker centered on a tiny onesie.  I should be taking literally a million pictures trying to get Elliston to look at the camera and have both bright eyes wide open, while saying her name in an ungodly high pitched voice.  Calling her every name that even remotely goes along with hers and even some that don’t.  Elliston, Ellie, Ellie Rae, Ellie Boo Boo, Ellie Bear, Rae Bear, Ellie Bean, pretty much any word with “bean” after it…. You get the point.  I had her perfect one month outfit hung up near the front of her long line of clothes in her closet.  I knew how I wanted her monthly pictures taken and what I wanted to do with the 12 pictures Id have when she turned 1 year.  But instead….today, I am sitting by myself drinking my starbucks.  I feel like I dry swallowed a huge pill and its still stuck in my throat.  This weekend I have been completely overcome with guilt.  Why didn’t I think to ask for more monitoring?  Why didn’t I go to the er when I hadn’t felt movement rather than thinking she was just big and didn’t have much room….or she was sleeping….or any of the other completely normal things that happen in the last few weeks?  I am the only person who could have said, “This doesn’t feel right, something is wrong.”  How could I have not known what was happening?  I do know that this is not my fault….but I also know that I am the only one that could have prevented this.  I did tell my doctor I felt decreased movement, and even though everything they checked came back normal…..what if I wouldn’t have been ok with that answer?  How do I come to terms with the fact that I will probably ask myself these questions for the rest of my life? 

She is so perfect.  I miss her more than I ever could have imagined.  I am filled with so much love for this little person.  It is strange to have such an intense love, while at the same time feeling such ugly, dark emotions as well. But today….when she would have been one month old….I choose to focus on the love.  That’s not to say there wont be tears.  I can barely see through them to type.  But for today, I wont blame myself.  She has made me a better person, a better wife, and a better mommy to our future children. 

I love you Ellie Rae. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

" can still fix this."

I was told (by a dear friend, so don’t verbally stone them) that I maybe should have made some sort of disclaimer before my previous post.  I do understand that not everyone wants to know the details, however Im a details person.  It makes me feel better, and I have found comfort in reading other similar stories to mine and their details.  My hope is that in the future, my story and my details will bring comfort to someone else.
DISCLAIMER ALERT!  This is not a happy post, and may contain details you might not want to know.  

We were lucky to have a hospital that told us we could pretty much stay as long as we needed.  Immediately, I thought “of course I am staying until they kick me out”.  I have heard stories of other couples being rushed out.  I cant imagine being hurried through the process.  Of course no time would ever be enough, but Im glad to have been able to leave on our terms.    You would think that giving birth to a perfect child who will never wrap her little arms around our necks would be the worst moment of a moms life.  I thought that on the night that she was born.  Until the next day, when I realized that even though the baby I was rocking wasn’t alive and breathing… some point, I was going to have to hand her over to someone and walk away. 
We were blessed with the most amazing nurse on the planet.  New Friend Jen.  She happens to do photography on the side and had her husband bring up her camera.  I remember reading a small page in one of our pregnancy books that mentioned the possibility of this outcome.  It briefly talked about taking pictures….my small brain could only think “ew”.  When Jen mentioned the pictures I was so confused because as in love as I was with my daughter, a part of me still thought it was strange.  I am so glad it was never really an option.  Now I have the most beautiful pictures of our angel that we will treasure forever.  Close ups of her chubby hands, her double chin, her tiny ears, and even one of her in the one dress I packed in her bag that was too small, but oh so cute.
Signing her birth and death certificates and writing “Mother” next to my name may have been the first time I think I could literally feel my heart break.  The day was filled with lots of emotion, which I was finally starting to feel some of.  Our close friends and family that were in town came to see and hold her.  It was sad and comforting to know that they were suffering a loss too.  They had all dreamed with us and giggled and imagined life with this precious little girl.  Of course I hate to see anyone I know and love grieving, but it was nice to know that Colby and I weren’t doing it alone.  We were able to skype with our parents who all live in different states and they were able to see Elliston as well.  Thank God for technology. 
As the day went on, Ellistons little body started changing.  Colby told me that ultimately we would leave when I was ready, but I may want to start thinking about when that time would be.  He let me know that he had been shielding me from the changes that were taking place but soon he wouldn’t be able to hide the changes.  I felt so shallow knowing I should leave so I only had beautiful images of her in my head.  I felt like such a bad mother CHOOSING to leave my daughter before they made me leave.  But it was the right choice. 
I showered and changed while Suzanne and Leila came to say goodbye to Elliston and help Colby carry our stuff to the car.  Everyone left us to have our final moments with our angel.  For the first time she fit perfectly in my arms.  I had been so swollen and hooked up to stuff and uncomfortable in the bed and emotionally absent while at the same time so overly emotional at times, that she had never fit just right in my arms.  When I held on to her for the last time, she fit effortlessly.  Colby and I laid on the hospital bed holding our family tight.  I cant put into words what those moments felt like.  Colby said he was going to pray and as much as I felt like God did not deserve to hear from us, it was all we knew to do.  He kept telling God how pissed off we are at him for allowing this to happen.  I still, 20 hours after she had been born, was thinking “God, if you could just have her start breathing, you can still fix this”.
I have no idea how long we laid and cried with her.  We eventually had to call the nurse to come get her.  Normal procedure was for us to leave her in a bassinet in the room and then leave.  But I said I couldn’t do that.  Something about me leaving her and walking away from her, I just couldn’t stand to do it.  The nurse entered the room to take her.  As she stood crying, she promised to take care of Elliston herself.  She would not pass her on to anybody else.  The next seconds turned into slow motion for me.  Worse than any moment we had endured so far, or I believe will ever endure in our lives......placing my perfect baby girl in the arms of someone who would take her away from me forever, there is no greater heartbreak.  4 weeks later, I am still frozen in despair when I think about that moment. 
We walked out of the same hospital doors that for 9 months we had imagined walking out of with our baby.  Now, empty handed.  Our family had removed the car seat to try to lesson the blow.  Love them. 
Unfortunately, driving away from the hospital is not leaving the pain, the anger, the extreme sadness.  It followed us.  It changes.  And it grows.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lips so beautiful, made to be kissed

On Thursday morning, October 25, we went to our regularly scheduled 38 week doctors appointment.  Elliston's heart rate was 151.  My cervix was very soft but not dilated.  They did an ultrasound to check measurements and sweet girl appeared to weigh approx 6lbs 3oz, score an 8 out of 8 on whatever it is she gets a score for, and was as healthy as can be.  
Friday morning, October 26, I woke up at 230am with some cramping, nothing out of the usual.  I went back to sleep and was awoken at 430 am with much stronger "feelings" and a little blood on the toilet paper.  Nothing different from what I heard was normal.  I was 37weeks, 6 days. I noticed them coming and going.  I timed a few and they were never more than 5-6 minutes apart.  I wondered how i had heard so many stories of people getting so much accomplished in the beginning stages of their labor.  Luckily, my husband woke himself up by having some crazy dream.  I told him about my contractions and how quickly they were coming and how intense they were getting.  We got up and started getting stuff together.  I got in the bath and watched a movie from the bathtub, just trying to manage the pain (which was getting more intense a lot faster than i had expected).  We called our doula around 7am and since she lives so close she came over right away to check on me.  My original goal was to labor as much as possible at home.  I laid on my birth ball for a while, but for some reason just couldnt be ok with the situation.  I kept asking her if we should go to the hospital.  She made it clear that it was definitely my decision.  I said i could handle the labor better if I could just be sure Elliston was safe.  I had no reason to think she was anything but safe…. I just needed to be sure.  We made it to the hospital around 930am and my contractions were about 3 minutes apart.  In triage, they laid me down and started asking all the questions that are super annoying when you are having contractions 2-3 minutes apart.  And one very aggressive nurse checked me and announced that i was not dilated at all.  She put the monitor on my stomach and was having a hard time finding the heart beat.  It started to concern me, but i wouldnt let myself freak out.  They brought in a doppler and still could not find her heartbeat.  I began not being able to breathe at the thought of what was happening.  They put an oxygen maks over my face, which was making me more and more anxious.  They rolled in an ultrasound machine and did an ultrasound.  As soon as the picture was over her rib cage, where 24 hours earlier there was a strong beating heart, there was now a still, silent heart.  From our miscarriage 1 year ago, i was very familiar with staring at that heart beating at each ultrasound, and now to see nothing moving....that sight will forever be stamped in my memory.  My husband and I began to weep as the crowd of nurses left the room except one who remained with her hands lightly on my stomach while she stood praying for us.  Im sure that is somehow against some hospital policy somewhere, but I am forever grateful for that woman.  My doctor rushed over and did an ultrasound herself and gave the official word.  She slammed down the ultrasound wand and could not keep the tears from streaming down her face.  After a few minutes of tears and trying to catch my breath i was still having major contractions and we were faced with the reality of what the rest of that day held for us.  I begged to be put under and to just take care of it.  Thank God I had a doctor who didn’t let me make an emotional decision and walked me through every scenario.  After 11 hours of an epidural that sure never seemed to last very long, conversations i never imagined having, decisions I dont wish for anyone to ever have to make for their child, and having to push out my baby who will never experience any of the dreams we had for our new family.....Elliston Rae Pitts was born at 10:06pm.  As soon as she came out, I heard nothing but shock in the doctors voice as she began counting the number of times she had to remove the cord from around her neck.  Seven times.  Something she said she had never seen in her entire career and never even heard of.  Along with the 7 times around her neck was a tight knot.  Although I would give anything for none of this to ever have happened, I am glad we at least know what the problem was. 
After the cord was removed, we were handed the most beautiful baby girl.  6lbs 9oz of pure perfection.  Long toes, which did not come from me or Colby.  Long fingernails already in need of a baby mani.  Lots of dark hair. My nose.  Colbys ears.  Lips so beautiful, made to be kissed.
As my doctor and every nurse and person in the room didn’t even try to hold back their tears, I just watched every one as if I was a spectator in someone else’s tragedy.  I had no emotion other than numb.  I am currently still dealing with the guilt of my lack of emotion that night.  In a matter of seconds I witnessed Colby become the most protective, proud, loving father I had ever seen.  I saw him holding the most beautiful baby girl I had ever laid eyes on, still not believing that this is my life…..and that is my daughter. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

This involuntary journey

Why create a blog to document this tragic event in my life?  You may not be asking that, but I certainly have asked myself that.  I cant seem to stop talking about it.  I have read and heard of many people who hide from life and reality, refusing to acknowledge the event that happened.  I have made it a point to speak of what happened to us whenever it comes to mind.  Which right now is just about every minute of every day.  Morbid for some, but strangely comforting for me.  It happened.  No matter how many mornings I wake up hoping to look over at our pack and play and realize it was just another crazy pregnancy happened.  As much as nobody likes to talk about a pregnancy ending in the death of a happens.  It happened to me.

This is my journey through the pain, through the grief, through the anger.....through every high, and every low that goes along with this journey and the new person that I am.  A mother who has lost a child.