Monday, April 18, 2011

Baby Rachel

John and I kind of had a hard time knowing what to write about Baby Rachel. We love her so much and want to remember her in all the ways we can. So here goes.

We discovered that her heart had stopped beating the morning the babies were delivered. I had been in the hospital for several days because of my pre-eclampsia. I was getting pretty sick. The doctors were trying to balance three patients - me, Aubrey and Rachel. We really wanted to give Rachel the best chance we could, but she was so small the doctors couldn't do anything for her outside the womb. So we just kept hoping all three of us could hold on until she was big enough to get treatment in the NICU. She had been struggling so much through the whole pregnancy and held on for so long that we thought she would.

Nurses were monitoring the babies twice a day while I was at the hospital and they had both been just fine each time. On Saturday morning (March 5th) the nurse came and could only find one heartbeat on the monitor. Two doctors confirmed it with ultrasound. We don't know specifically why this happened or when. Rachel had been small and struggling for many, many weeks and we don't really know why. She had not been getting the nourishment she needed from her placenta for some time.

It was a very hard day. Aubrey was doing fine. So the doctors were trying to keep Aubrey and I going for a little longer since Aubrey was only 27 weeks. The more time she could spend inside the womb, the better. I was quite upset about the thought of Rachel just having to stay inside for a long time. But I wanted what was best for Aubrey. Nurses continued to monitor Aubrey. In the afternoon, her heart rate started dropping. The doctors had decided that if Aubrey showed anything funny on the monitors, they were going to get her out. We were not going to lose another baby. So I very quickly got an IV and other preparations for a C-section. After a few minutes the doctor came in to tell us that she thought it was best if I got an IV of Magnesium Sulfate for 12 hours before Aubrey was delivered. So the new plan was to deliver very early on Sunday morning.

I started the Magnesium Sulfate which kept me from having a seizure and getting sicker and helped protect Aubrey's brain. Because she was only 27 weeks in utero she was at high risk for having a bleed in her brain because the blood vessels were so thin. The Magnesium would help protect her from that. However, just a few hours after starting the medicine, the nurses came rushing in and said that we had to go to the OR right away and get the babies out.

So I went to the OR and John was able to come in as well. They got both the babies out. Aubrey came first and we heard a little cry from her, which was amazing and reassuring and joyful. Rachel came out second, with only the nurses to announce her.

After I was back into my room, the nurses brought little Rachel in for us to see. She was so very small, only 11 oz. She was 10 inches long. She looked so fragile. The nurses pointed out that she was perfectly formed, just very small. She had her little body, but her spirit just couldn't stay with us.

It was a little strange and unexpected, but I felt so much peace when I saw Rachel. She was so small and skinny that it was clear she would have had a very difficult time in this life. Her body would not have been comfortable. So I was relieved that she did not have to have that struggle. We had been so unsure of what would happen for so long that knowing that she had gone on was also a relief. John and I had really been grieving over her from months. We hoped that she would make it, but knew that this was the expected outcome. We had wondered what type of preparations to make. We didn't know if we should buy her a crib and car seat or if we should prepare ourselves to only have one baby at home with us. The whole time it felt like we were trying to prepare for two futures at the same time. Seeing Rachel and holding her made me feel settled. It was not an easy road ahead, but at least we knew what road we were going to be taking.

We often describe this situation by saying, "We lost a baby." It's just the thing people say and they know what we mean. However, I know that Rachel is not lost in any way. I know that she is not lost to us and will always be part of our family. I know that we will see her again. And I know that she is right where she is meant to be: in heaven. She is perfectly cared for and safe. She is not lost. We will always miss her and wish that she was here with us.