Despite all the fake-outs, we actually did make it to our scheduled delivery date. On Thursday, December 3rd we started the day by having a last growth ultrasound to let the medical team know what to expect. I wasn’t sure how I was going to act or how I was going to feel the day of delivery knowing that the outcome would most likely be devastating. To my relief, I was eerily calm and level-headed the entire day. I didn’t want to be the person sobbing and completely breaking down during an already difficult time. I wanted to be able to remember everything.
After the ultrasound, Alex stayed behind in my room to change into his scrubs while I went into the operating room to get my spinal block. I have a very large pain tolerance but I was shocked at how painful getting the spinal block was. I also remember my entire body shaking uncontrollably because I was freezing.
Finally, Alex was allowed in and I was so thankful to be able to squeeze his hand throughout the surgery. I had been warned that I would feel pressure during the cesarean. What a complete understatement! I thought the spinal block would really stop me from feeling much but I felt a ton. The constant pressure and tugging throughout the procedure was extremely painful. I am sure it was nothing compared to a natural birth but having no control over what was happening adds another level to the pain. I squeezed Alex’s hand so hard and told him half-way through that I could never do a c-section again.
As soon as our daughter was pulled out I knew the inevitable outcome because she didn’t cry. In my mind I had reasoned that if I didn’t hear her cry I would continue to mentally prepare for the next steps of saying goodbye.
Alex left to stay with our daughter as the team sewed me back together. At this time my support came from the anthologist nurse. The nurse was so incredibly helpful, he kept me distracted by just talking about everyday things. Then the palliative care doctor came in to tell me the baby was getting pink which was a great sign. Although the doctors were hopeful, I still knew not to get excited.
Alex was allowed back in and wanted to show me pictures but I couldn’t handle seeing images of her yet. Alex did reassure me that our baby looked normal. One of my fears was that without amniotic fluid our baby was being physically crushed by my uterus, fortunately she did not show any signs of that. I told Alex to stay with our baby while I was wheeled into the recovery area.
My mom was allowed back to be with me so I wasn’t alone. My abdomen had to be pushed on every couple minutes to make sure the uterus was retracting like it should, again incredibly painful. The top of my body was clammy and hot while the remaining part of my body was freezing. My face itched from the medication but otherwise I was comfortable just waiting for updates on my daughter.
After some time the neonatologist came to me to basically explain that they had tried everything but the baby’s carbon dioxide levels were not reducing and it was best if I came to say goodbye.
I was wheeled into the NICU room where a ton of medical staff were surrounding our tiny baby. Alex was beyond amazing knowing exactly what to say to me, helping me hold our daughter’s hand, and dealing with all the medical staff asking questions while I just lay there, finally getting to see my daughter for the first time. I was able to hold our daughter while all the tubes were being taken away from her and we were given some private time as a family.
After we had spent time with our beautiful daughter and said our goodbyes I requested to be taken back to my room to recover alone while Alex orchestrated all of our parents being able to see the baby. I could not have gone through this without Alex; he handled everyone and all the dynamics perfectly.
Eventually, everyone came into my large room for the rest of the day. It was very surreal; you go from a lot happening in one morning, to dealing with the death of your daughter, to just sitting around drinking lemonade and eating cookies. What are you supposed to do? Later on that evening we all watched the Packer game until the parents left so Alex and I could have some alone time just to digest what had happened that day.
On December 3rd, 2015 Alex and I had a beautiful daughter. Haley Madison DeSmidt was born at 36 weeks, weighing 3lbs 4oz and measured 15 inches long. Haley had dark curly hair and everyone said she looked like me. Though Haley only lived two hours she will forever be in our hearts.
Goodbye my sweet girl, goodbye.
P.S. We are still waiting on the results from the autopsy to determine why this happened.
(Originally published Dec. 22nd, 2015)