Ava’s Story, Part III

“The happiest story with the saddest ending.” – An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

Our sweet Ava Lea was born sleeping at 4:17 am, November 30, 2018. She weighed 11 ounces and was 9.5 inches.

I was induced sometime around 1 pm… they tell you how much labor hurts, but I never knew being induced hurt. I don’t think I felt any contractions during my labor process, but the constant cramping pain associated with the medicine to begin induction was awful. I was convinced that I would not need an epidural. I remember thinking that the emotional pain I was enduring would somehow be easier to manage if I felt the physical pain, all of it. I know my thinking process wasn’t logical at the time, but I remember feeling that I needed to feel the physical pain. After what I had done to my daughter, I deserved to feel all of the pain. Maybe I am a little too dramatic or harsh on myself, but that is how I felt. After roughly 8 hours of the extreme, constant sharp pain and vomiting 3 times (once because of the taste of the anti-nausea medicine which I found hilarious), I caved and asked for an epidural. I no longer cared how large the needle was, and the nurse had finally talked me off my self-harming ledge. The anesthesiologist prepped me, and then stated he would wait for my contraction to end. The nurse informed him that it wasn’t going to stop because my pain wasn’t a contraction. The sweet relief of the epidural was amazing. I know for a fact that I will be committing to an epidural as soon as possible in my next delivery.

The doctor came in at 4 am to check on my progress and told us that I had started bleeding and that Ava was on her way, feet first. Side note: I had spent the first 24 weeks of my pregnancy giving Ava pep talks about being strong and growing and making it to March, but also about being nice to me when the time came for delivery. Okay, back to delivery. It took two pushes, and they took her away to clean up. I started shaking uncontrollably and asked my husband to hold me to get my body to stop. I shook as if I was shivering in the freezing cold, but I wasn’t cold at all. A nurse I hadn’t met yet came over, called me by the wrong name, and asked if I was ready to hold Ava, but I was still shaking, and I was scared that my shaking would hurt Ava, so I said no. I’m not sure how long it took me to calm down, but I remember we had Ava for six short hours. I held her first and kissed her forehead, looked at all of her little fingers and toes. She had my husband’s nose and toes. We joked about how strong his family’s genes are because, of course, she would have the nose and big fat big toe. I really, really dislike feet, but I couldn’t stop looking at hers and those toes. I smiled at her toes. I cried. A lot. I told her how much I loved her and thanked her for listening to me all those times when I asked her to be nice to me. She was so nice to me. I told her I was so sorry, over and over again.

At some point, a photographer for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came to take pictures. I used everything I had in me to not lose it while she was taking pictures. I didn’t want these photos to show me sobbing like a mad woman. I wanted them to show our love for Ava. I think I did fairly well at keeping it together, but before the photographer left, she asked if we would like a peek at the pictures on her camera. I said yes, and she came over to show me. She flipped through about three pictures, landed briefly on a close up of Ava’s face and said, “She’s beautiful.” I lost it. I started sobbing and this wonderful, kind woman asked if I was okay to look at the pictures. I nodded, and we continued. I cannot say how much I appreciate her and the beautiful pictures she took, and the fact she called my baby beautiful.

I didn’t get the normal first baby experience, obviously. I was bitter that I couldn’t flood my friends’ and family’s phones and Facebook with cute pictures of our daughter. I couldn’t share stories with anyone about how beautiful she was, how her birth went, all the cute things she does. I didn’t get to brag like the proud mom I was. I wouldn’t be included in the mom group. I’m a mom, but, shhhh, no one wants to hear my sad, morbid stories.

I had been so wrong. No, the time in limbo was not the worst part. Not that I think I could pinpoint the “worst.” There are so many moments and things that hurt, or just plain suck when you lose a baby. We spent six short hours with Ava and had to say goodbye. I have always hated goodbyes, but not getting a chance to truly have a hello is worse.

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