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Dustin, our Angel

by Jennifer Goodman

Date: Sun, 25 May 1997

My husband and I lost our baby on March 3, 1997 due to an Incompetent Cervix.

Our story begins at the end of October of 1996 when we found out I was pregnant. We were pretty happy, because we wanted to start our family and give my stepkids another brother or sister. We were fortunate to get pregnant after only three months of trying (and we weren't really trying that hard if you know what I mean.)

The first three months of pregnancy were like any 'normal' pregnancy. I was blissfully ignorant and extremely tired. I had quit my full-time job for other reasons just before we found out, and I spent a lot of time sleeping. I also had other symptoms right away. My unusually big appetite got even bigger and was eating everything in sight. At my first visit around 9wks, my doctor told me to slow down on the food!!! I was pretty embarrassed. Anyway, everything was peachy until shortly after my 12week check-up. I began spotting and then heavy bleeding. I was pretty worried, but I had no cramping and passed no clots. The doctor wouldn't see me until after the weekend, telling me that if I was miscarrying there wasn't a whole lot we could do. Finally, I went in on Monday, and my husband was with me. As I was on the examination table, I heard the doctor say. "Well, the baby seems OK, it's just your cervix." Then he said, "Here, Look." I thought surely he wasn't telling me to look, that was physically impossible. I looked up anyway, and saw my husband peering into my body! I thought, great, after seeing this, he will never be romantic again! As it turned out, my husband was glad that the Dr. showed him the problem, because he it reassured him to see it with his own eyes. Apparently, a spot on my cervix where I had a small leep procedure performed four years earlier, was raw and bleeding. According to the doctor, it would probably bleed the entire pregnancy because something as simple as walking up stairs could aggravate it. On the way home from the doctor I cried with relief, knowing that my baby was still OK! At that point I also think that my ignorance started to leave... Everything was going well from that point on. My only real problem was that occasionally I would have really bad gas. I'd get bloated and tender and very uncomfortable, but after a day or two, it would go away. I mentioned this problem at my 18week check-up, but it didn't seem to ring any bells with the dr.

I had a couple of more rounds of gas, one night it kept me from sleeping so the next day I called the Drs. The nurse told me I could take gas-x, so I started taking it when the gas got really bad. Sometimes it seemed to work, others it didn't help much.

(Don't forget, this whole time I was bleeding, so bleeding couldn't warn me that things weren't right)

At my 22week check-up, I was having a really bad round of gas. In fact it was so bad that I couldn't stand properly. When I told the doctor, he asked me where the feeling was. I told him, down here, and he said, no that can't be gas because that's where your uterus is. He told me it was my ligaments stretching and that Tylenol would help. I also told him about some rapid heart flutters that had been increasing with frequency lately. He told me that was a normal pregnancy related problem.

Just before we left, we heard our little baby's heart beat. It was always so fun to hear it. Just the day before, I began playing music to him (I somehow knew he was a boy) even though I knew his little ears couldn't hear yet. So, we went home, and I took Tylenol. But the pain didn't get better, in fact it got worse. I thought that a bath might make me feel better, so I went upstairs to run one. As I was sitting on the potty, I realized that the pressure was in the wrong place! I remember thinking, no! This couldn't really be happening. I lay down on the cool bathroom floor and started to panic. Then I thought, no I'm just imagining this. I got up and crawled into bed. At that point, a pain shot through me and I realized I was in labor. All those pains hadn't been gas or stretching, I was having labor contractions! All the books I read said it felt like cramping, well this was not any cramp. I screamed for my husband, but he couldn't hear me. So I got up and walked down stairs. I laid down on the carpet and told him I thought I was in labor.

He yelled at me that I was just panicking, calm down. I really wanted to believe him, and I said that maybe he was right, but then I started to sweat all over and I knew that something was really wrong.

He told me to go back upstairs to take a bath, but as I was on the stairs, I stopped and told him to page the doctor. The doctor called right back. He started asking me which hospital my insurance covered. I remember thinking, what the heck? Then he said, well I'm at Eastside, just come here. As I was explaining things, I felt the urge to push, and out came our baby! On the stairs, my husband right behind me. We were both so surprised that we let our baby fall! How I hated that when I thought back to it. I tried to look down at the baby, but my husband wouldn't let me. I was in such shock, I just stood there, blood running down my legs.

My husband said, "go upstairs and put some clothes on." (I had my nightie on). I said to him, "we are bringing the baby, bring the baby." He said OK. I went upstairs and just stood in the bathroom. I kept thinking that I couldn't put clothes on because they would just get ruined from the bleeding. I don't know how long I was there, but my husband came up and said, "what are you doing, why don't you have clothes on?" I could see him on the edge, his face was red and his eyes were wild. When I saw him like that I immediately got very calm. I knew that one of us had to hold it together until we got to the hospital. I just threw on some sweats and didn't bother with shoes. Why ruin a pair of shoes? He had the baby wrapped in a shirt and a bag. I don't think that either of us realized that he could still be alive. (Not that he had a chance to survive very long, maybe twenty minutes maximum.)

We went downstairs to the car, the new station wagon that I had bought to tow about my new baby and my step-kids, and I said, "James, get a towel or something, I don't want to ruin the car." I can't believe I was so calm, because James was a wreck.

He grabbed some towels and we left. The entire time I was holding his hand telling him it would be OK. He was sobbing and saying how sorry he was that he had yelled at me. I offered to drive, but he said no. I had to tell him to get in the right lanes and where to turn, because he was on automatic. We got to the emergency room, and inside we saw a family, all looking very happy, and I realized that they were here for a birth. They all stared at me, and I looked down to realize how odd I must look. I was barefoot, and soaked in blood, holding a bag. I interrupted the nurse and said that I had just had a miscarriage. She looked up and asked me how I knew. I held up the bag and said, "the baby is in here."

She immediately got up and got me in a wheelchair. They took me to a delivery room and the doctor rushed in. The nurse was helping me off with my clothes, and the doctor was getting the bed ready. After I was in the bed, he took the bag to the warming table and started to open it. I wanted to see, and the nurse saw me and suggested that the doctor examine the baby in another room. He left quickly.

He came back a few minutes later and sat down on the bed with me. He said that I most likely had an incompetent cervix because the baby looked really good, nothing was wrong with the baby. I felt tears streaming down my face as the shock started to wear off. Then the doctor told me that he needed to check that the entire placenta was out. He started to examine with his hand and I protested at the pain.

So then he said, OK we will give you some medicine. I thought it was pain medicine, but later when I complained that it didn't work, my husband informed me that it had been a muscle relaxer.

The doctor insisted on putting the IV in himself. It took three tries and a different needle size before he got it. Then he put in the medication and I immediately got woozy. Then he disappeared to check on two other patients, and was back in a few minutes. Then he reached in to feel my uterus. It was painful and I complained, but he ignored me. The nurse told me to hold on to the handles on the bed, because I had been scooting away from the doctor. Finally, he found what he was looking for, and I felt something come out after his hand. He said that he had found a little bit of placenta but it looked OK otherwise. The doctor then showed me how to press on my uterus, which was also painful. He insisted that I had to keep doing it.

Then the nurse offered for us to see our baby. I nodded yes, then looked over to my husband who had been very quiet. I told him that I wanted to see our baby, and he just nodded his agreement. From the minute we had arrived I kept telling the nurses that I wanted to see my baby, and that they had better not do anything with the baby until I got to see it and say goodbye properly. Before the nurse left the room, I asked her if our baby was a boy or girl. I knew even as she said it, it was a boy. I looked at James and said, "I told you."

We were left alone for a while. I was silently crying, not really sobbing, just tears rolling down my cheeks. My husband still had a wild look about him. I think he was still in shock. The nurse came in to say that my family was in the waiting room. I told her that I wanted to see our baby before I saw them. James agreed.

The nurse came back a few minutes later, and asked us if we had a name picked out. I looked at James, and we communicated silently. Then I said aloud, "Honey, we will never be able to use this name for another child." He nodded, and I looked back to the nurse and said, "Dustin is the only boy's name we agreed on so far."

She asked, "Dustin what?" I replied that the first name was as far as we got, and said, "Dustin Goodman."

How strange it felt to say his name out loud for the first time. And I said it again, to get my tongue used to it. The nurse smiled and said she liked that name and left.

Finally, she came back and said they were ready with Dustin. She left and another nurse came in carrying a basket. I was so curious and eager to see my boy. Both my husband and I leaned forward eagerly. She let us peer into the basket, and I wanted to hold him so much. She knew, and asked if I wanted to hold him. I replied, "yes, but don't go away."

She handed him to me gently, treating him like the precious baby that he was. He was so tiny, I cradled him in my elbow and shoulder. He was so beautiful. I thought he must be an angel. They had cleaned him, and wrapped him in a little dress and cap. Part of me wanted to take all the clothes off and inspect him, but another part of me didn't want to humiliate him like that. So I held him a looked in awe at his perfectly formed, tiny features. I felt his hand, it was so tiny, and his little fingernails. I looked up at James, through my tears and saw him crying too. I asked him if he wanted to hold Dustin, and he declined. I didn't push it. Then, because it was so painful to hold my baby, knowing that he was dead and I couldn't do a darn thing about it, I kissed his little forehead and silently asked for forgiveness for letting him drop to the floor. I silently told him how much I loved him and then I held him out for the nurse to take. (Even now, three months later, I cry with the pain and beauty and wonder of those magical moments.) Dustin was 15oz, 7&3/4in at the head, 10 &1/2in. long. The nurse took Dustin away, and my husband and I sat there trying to compose ourselves. Then we said it was OK to let my family in.

My Dad, stepmom, stepsister, and her roommate came into the room. When they saw me on the bed, I could tell that no one had told them the news. I said, "we lost the baby, and the doctor diagnosed an incompetent cervix." I could tell that my Dad was really uncomfortable, but he said, "you are OK, right? You are going to be OK?" I reassured him, and he sat there looking worried and uncomfortable. He hates sick people and hospitals. My stepmom didn't seem too worried, but my stepsister gave me a long hug. I offered for them to see Dustin, and the women went eagerly with the nurse. My Dad said no, he couldn't do it.

I was disappointed that my dad wouldn't go, because I knew that if he saw his grandchild then he could really appreciate what he was losing. He never seemed that excited about becoming a grandfather. I myself had lots of doubts about becoming a mother. Would I be a good mother, was I ready. But when I held Dustin in my arms, I knew! I knew at that moment that I would have given anything to put him back in my womb. I wanted my Dad to experience that, but he wasn't brave enough.

When my stepmom and stepsister came back, I could see that they had been moved, the reality of what we lost was reflected in their eyes. My husband was not comfortable about being with my family, and he left to go home and clean a little and to get me some clothes. My family sat with me, not really knowing what to say.

After a while I got worried about James and I called him. He sounded wild, and said that he was busy cleaning up the mess. I told him that I didn't like the way he sounded, he shouldn't be alone, please come back to the hospital. "OK, just a little more and I'll be back." No, I said, come back now. I was really worried about him.

He finally came back, somehow he had composed himself. By this time it was after midnight and I told my family to go home. I thanked them, but said that I was just going to stay overnight to make sure everything was OK.

The doctor came in one more time to talk to me, and I asked him a few questions about what had happened and trying again. Then he left to deliver a baby and the nurse wanted to give me a sleeping pill.

At first I refused, I wanted to sort out my feelings and analyze everything, but she insisted, and so did my husband, saying that my body had been through a lot. So finally I relented. At about three o'clock, my husband was finally exhausted enough to unfold the guest chair to sleep, and that noise woke me. After that I just tossed and turned, and so did he.

In the morning, I was ready to leave. Part of me didn't want to go home, to face all the reminders, and part of me knew I had to. They offered for us to see Dustin again, but my James was firm and said no, even though I thought I wanted to see him again. Looking back, I realize that James was probably right, because there wouldn't have been enough time ever to spend with our son!

Anyway, I'm sorry this has been so long. It helps so much to relive the story, to tell people who have had similar experiences. James took the entire week off from work, and we stayed around the house, numb and crying. Then he went to work, and I was all alone. It has only been three months, but I have faced my grief head-on. When I was sad, I cried, when I was angry, I yelled, when I had questions I asked. Every little thing stressed me out! Two weeks later I broke my toe, someone had parked their car on top of mine, and I had just visited a dr. for a second opinion who was a real pompous jerk! Plus we were hosting a party for some out of town friends and I had to clean the house, hobbling around with a broken toe. That week was the worst. I was stressed to the max, angry at everyone. After that, things slowly, slowly got better.

We planted a flowering cherry tree in the front yard to honor Dustin. On his due date (July 6th) I'm going to place a plaque by the tree. James thinks it is a little morbid to place the plaque out there, but it's something I want to do. I told him that people will probably think we buried him in our front yard, but I don't care what they think!

I feel that I am on the right path, healing very nicely. I am searching for a specialist, interviewing doctors. I've started a part-time job to get out of the house, and I've started exercising. I feel really good about my emotional progress, and I can't wait to try again. We are probably going to wait four more months.

Thank you so much for reading and sharing my story. God Bless to all of you who have had a loss similar to ours.

Take Care,

Jennifer Goodman

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