The day before I delivered Marshall, I had been working my normal 12-hour shift, 7a-7p at the hospital. I work in the level 2 Neonatal ICU, with four babies to look after, so needless to say I had been quite busy that day. I thought during lunch and at the end of my shift, that I hadn't felt my little Tidbit kicking as much as normal. In my head I reassured myself this was most likely because I was busy and didn't have as much time to notice little movements, even though his kicks were usually so strong, especially for his age. I was about 5 1/2 months along at the time. In fact, just the day before his Daddy saw his kicks right through my pink dress for the first time. Oh, we had been so excited! So when I didn't feel kicks, I didn't freak out right away. I think I remembered him kicking that morning, I wasn't having any cramps or spotting, and a couple weeks prior, at our Gender reveal party, my sister-in-law, who is the mother to our then 5-month old nephew, had stated that during her pregnancy, she had at least one day where she didn't feel the baby moving at all. She said she had been scared, but everything had been fine. I took this as a reassurance that day, but now I curse the fact that we ever had that conversation. No matter how many people reassure me that it wasn't my fault, and no matter how much I believe that God would have called Marshall home no matter what if it was his time... Despite all this I still feel guilty, because I should have done something sooner. I work in the NICU, for crying out loud! My building is connected to the L&D building, which makes all of this so much harder to bear. I should have walked across the bridge to be checked on my lunch break. I should have stayed after work, instead of driving home. I should have been a better mother. I should have known, I should have known! But in my heart, I do believe God has a plan. That we cannot interfere. And in order to keep moving on with life, I have to constantly remind myself through the guilt that God would have taken him no matter what.
So that night after work on my way home, I picked up pizza and cinnamon bread sticks, then went home to Kevin. I told him I was worried about Tidbit, but he didn't want to be anxious too soon, and neither did I, so we did what you're supposed to do in these situations. I ate pizza and breadsticks, and waited. Still no kicks. I drank something cold and laid on my left side for 30 minutes while we watched How I Met Your Mother. Still no kicks. Kevin said maybe we can sleep and in the morning go to the hospital if still no movement (at this point it was about 11pm). But I said no, I won't be able to sleep. Let's call the doctor. So we did. And thank God, our OB was on-call. She said calmly yes, we should drive to the hospital, and when I asked her if this happens sometimes, she said well- if you've been feeling movements every day, they should not decrease, and since you've already tried eating something sweet and drinking something cold, lying on your side, it's probably best you get checked at the hospital- they may be able to pick up the heartbeat right away, but in case they don't, go to Memorial Hermann Southwest, so I can meet you there if there are problems.
On the way to the hospital Kevin and I discussed how we knew we were probably over-reacting, but how it was better to be safe. I felt several gas bubbles and wondered if that was kicks, thinking how I would feel foolish if everything was ok, but usually his kicks were so well-defined that I never questioned them, and now I was. We talked about how it would feel good to sleep in our bed later that night after we were reassured that everything was ok.
Everything wasn't ok. The ER sent us up to L&D right away, but when the nurse tried to find Tidbit's heartbeat, she couldn't. I thought I heard it at one point, but she said no, that's the placenta. I held onto hope that the placenta was ok, so that must mean he was ok. The nurse called the charge nurse in, and still no luck, so they called our OB. Apparently it would take her 15-20 minutes to arrive, and she would do an ultrasound. I asked several times why couldn't a resident there on the floor do the ultrasound? Insurance, insurance coverage... we have to wait for the doctor. By this time I was nervous but told myself everything would be ok. Kevin said the machines they were using were more outdated than the ones in his vet clinic, which I found hard to believe but took some comfort in. I went to the bathroom again to kill time.
Finally she arrived to do the ultrasound. My eyes immediately went to the area where Tidbit's heartbeat should have been. By this time in my pregnancy I was well-adept at this skill, but in confusion I stared instead at lifeless chambers, hoping I was looking in the wrong place. She carefully pointed out where the baby's head, arms, and legs were to the nursing standing beside her, before going back to the emptiness and stating, and that's where the heartbeat should be. Your baby's heart isn't beating. My world crashed around me as I turned my head towards Kevin and felt the deepest despair and anguish I pray that I will ever feel. I was sobbing so hard and in such shock that I don't even remember how Kevin responded, but he later told me his legs gave out, and he was kneeling on the floor beside the bed.
The next thing I remember is Kevin saying, We have to be strong, we have to be strong. I remember looking at the doctor and saying, what now? She told me I would have to be induced and deliver naturally, and I looked at her in horror. I pray that no one will ever have to experience this, but for those who have, I think they would agree with me that this is a mother's greatest nightmare. To go through the pain and expectation of labor just to deliver her dead baby. I cannot describe in words how horrible this moment in time was, how the world started spinning and crashing all at once. No, I told her. No. I want to do a C-section. Graciously but firmly she explained that not only would this be a bigger stress and risk on my body, but that it would leave a scar that would be a constant reminder every day. Kevin said Brittany, you can't do that. I can't lose you. We can't risk that... Still I didn't agree. I asked her a couple more times over the next few hours to explain again why natural delivery was necessary, and she did. She never got annoyed, but was firm, which I am so grateful for. She never said absolutely not, but in a way, she and Kevin gave me no choice. So I finally agreed to be induced, to deliver our dead baby boy.
The next several hours, it was all I could do to stay alive each minute. I couldn't see any further ahead in time than that. My mind could not and would not grasp what was about to happen.