by Maureen and Stephen Rosseter
reprinted with permission
My husband and I have had three children. Alexandra Jane was our first baby and only daughter and my pregnancy was filled with all the dreams a new baby brings. The pregnancy was uneventful in the dramatic sense, my nine months full of the usual woes, such as morning sickness and being too big and uncomfortable to sleep well at night, and wonders, such as the first kick and the first time seeing her on the ultrasound screen sucking her tiny thumb. Alex Jane was my magic and I will always think of her that way. There is something so incredible about a first baby, the innocence for the mother-to-be, the acknowledgment of such power and strength in that tiny baby still so protected in the womb. At my 37 week prenatal visit, I stepped on the scale and the nurse noted I had lost a 1/4 of a pound. Certain this meant that my baby would soon be ready to be born, I rested on the examining table and waited for my OB to do her usual check on the heartbeat. My baby had been active and playful the night before during Lamaze class and I anticipated lots of information about what the upcoming birth would be like from my OB during this prenatal visit. I was getting a little scared about labor and delivery but was excited, too. My OB used the Doppler to find the heartbeat but there was a continuous probing of my tummy instead of the immediate "lub-dub" I had become so accustomed to. She went over my tummy time and time again, having me turn this way and that in order to find the baby. No heartbeat was found. I was aware something had gone terribly wrong. My OB told me to get to the hospital right away for more tests. I called my husband, in tears, and told him that there had been no heartbeat and to meet me at the hospital. I drove by myself to the maternity ward, all the while rubbing my belly, begging my baby to please move, please kick, please...please...please. I was in a state of panic but still had a shred of hope that my baby girl was alive.
Upon arrival to the hospital, I was put in a gown and an ultrasound machine was wheeled in. My husband and I watched as my OB gently placed the device on my tummy and my baby came up on the screen, silent and still. She showed us her heart, her quiet, non-moving heart. Somehow, some way, my baby had died. We cried, I think, and stared at each other, not believing, but knowing that our baby would never come home with us. We had prostaglandin gel, pitocin drip, fentanyl for pain, an epidural, etc. to get us through the next 17 hours of labor. My mother wondered why they didn't take her by cesarean, but I remember feeling glad to have the chance to go through labor, that I deserved at least that.
At 6:50 a.m. on 12/10/92, my beautiful 6 lb, 7.5 oz daughter, Alexandra Jane, emerged with all the power my body could offer, but with no sound, no movement. She was placed on my tummy, heavy and warm, and I held her. She was perfect. My husband sobbed and sobbed as he cradled her in his arms, an image I will never forget. All our dreams of a lifetime with our new baby packed into a few brief moments of tenderness, sweetness and tears. This was a baby who would never open her eyes upon mine, never take her first breath, never utter her first cry. This was my child, my baby girl, who would remain a baby in my heart all the days of my life. This was a baby who had changed my life so dramatically and significantly that I would never be the same again. This baby made me a mother, for although I would never hold her beyond the confines of that hospital room in those early morning hours, I had given birth. The ability to give her life was no longer mine, but I was able to give birth and present her to the world.
We held her for a time, and my parents and sister were able to see her and give her a touch, a kiss. The nurse on duty at the time of her delivery took her for a bath and put her in a tiny pink dress and a bassinet, and we took more pictures. My husband had also taken pictures of the actual birth, and I'm so grateful to have those moments forever on film. It affirms what happened that day, makes a reality out of what sometimes feels like a distant, tragic dream.
Of course, the emotions weren't all courage and bravery throughout this experience; I never in my life imagined I would ever have to endure such intense emotional pain. The sorrow and grief was so great that I felt physically tormented and the tears that I cried seemed never-ending. Even now, three years later, I'm driven to tears and heartbreak all over again just remembering what we had those nine months of carrying her. I feel blessed that she was mine for the length of time I had her...blessed that she was my innocent babe, my magic. I've been enriched by her and continue to be as time goes on. I've since had my two boys, Cailean, born on 9/19/93 and Devon, born on 11/18/95, each with stories of their own. Both were born extremely prematurely for different reasons, and have triumphed over their own individual struggles to survive. It's been an extraordinarily difficult journey to parenthood for my husband and me, but our children are our treasures, all three of them.
If any other parents would like to share their stories, have had repeated difficulties having a term, healthy baby or have had preemies, we would love to hear from you. Our CompuServe eMail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maureen and Stephen
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