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Our Precious Marisa Angel

by Cindy Ley
Mom to Matthew (1/25/93),
Marisa Angel (7/5/95-7/9/95)
and Michael (due 11/11/96)

Fri, 6 Sep 1996

I am new. First I want to say how sorry I am to read all of your stories. They break my heart because I can relate to many of them. I can't believe how many of us there are who have gone through this. My tragedy happened over a year ago, but I still can't believe it happened. Thank you for sharing your stories. Here is mine.

I have a 3-1/2 year old son named Matthew. I gave birth to him in January of 1993 after trying to get pregnant for about 6 months. He was delivered almost 2 weeks early, and he is perfectly healthy. It was a normal vaginal birth, and everything went fine, I had no clue it could have gone any other way. I just thought that was how it was, you got pregnant and gave birth and took your baby home. Never a thought crossed my mind that something could have gone wrong.

We tried to get pregnant again right away, as we wanted a large family, and I was already 34 when I gave birth to my son. We tried for a year and a half with no luck. I went to a fertility specialist and tried many things, and I took hormone injections (metrodin) 4 times. On the fourth cycle, I conceived! I was so happy. I have ultrasounds of my second baby from day one.

Everything progressed normally during the pregnancy, all tests, etc. went fine. I expected my water to break early again as in my first pregnancy, but instead I found myself a week *past* my due date. My doctor and I discussed what to do and decided to induce labor on Thurs. morning of the next week (about 10 days over due) because he would be in the hospital all day, and I thought 'how nice' it would be to have the physician there all day, 'just in case'... The Wed. night prior, my water broke. I proceeded to get my son ready to take to my mom's, and I felt another gush, I thought it was more water. I went to the toilet and saw it was all blood. I had hemorrhaged, although I didn't really comprehend this at the time. Looking back at it now, there was blood all over, but at the time I still wasn't really too worried that it meant something terrible. I never thought anything could go wrong, and I had heard some people bled in pregnancies. I called the doctor and we went straight to the hospital, my husband dropped me off and then took my son to my parent's. Still, I wasn't panicked, I still didn't know how serious this was. When I walk into LD, they said, "you aren't supposed to be here until tomorrow". I told them my water broke and I was bleeding. I didn't scream "I've HEMORRHAGED!!!" like I now wish I had. The nurse said that a lot of people have bleeding, like it was no big deal. The doctor arrived about 5 minutes later, and said, "why isn't there a fetal monitor on her, and an IV?". They put a fetal monitor on me, and noticed problems with the heartbeat right away. They immediately took me into emergency c-section before my husband returned. When I awoke, I saw my beautiful 9 lb, 2 oz daughter in a baby incubator, and was told she had lost some blood and was going to be sent to the Children's hospital near by. I was so drugged up, I didn't realize what was happening.

Each day we hoped and prayed for her progress, and for the first 2-3 days I thought she was going to make it, after all, our Children's Hospital was known for performing miracles. I never thought she could actually die, after all I was not a druggie, I got good prenatal care, read all the books etc. She had lost so much blood she was in shock when they pulled her out. I hope to God the shock she was in kept her from feeling any pain while this was happening. They tried for days to replace her blood, but she lost so much she wouldn't clot. Her bladder was not working, and they didn't know how much damage her heart, brain and other organs had received from lack of blood/oxygen. On the third night they did exploratory surgery to see why she kept bleeding internally and found her liver was too compromised from loss of blood and that it was 90% dead and said it could not heal itself.

They said without a liver she would die, and there was no chance of transplanting or any thing else.. They called my husband and he came and got me in the hospital at 2:00 in the morning, and we went over to the NICU at the Children's hospital. My husband and I then cleaned her up, she was bleeding all over, dressed her in a sleeper the hospital had, and a knitted cap volunteers had made. The cap was too small for her because they made them for all the preemies. We took her footprints and a few photos and slowly took off all tubes, etc. and held her with the respirator in her for awhile, then that too came out, and I held her for 20 minutes until she died in my arms. I never got to see her open her eyes, or hear her voice. My husband saw her open her eyes the day after she was born, and it broke his heart. He said she looked at him as if she wanted him to help her, and he felt helpless because he could not. I still cannot believe it.

I can hardly remember anything about the funeral and the events during that time. I do remember going out with my husband, and we bought a beautiful baptismal white gown with satin shoes and a gold cross for her to wear in her casket. We had to put a bonnet on her because they had to shave off most of her beautiful black hair to put IV's on her scalp. I remember picking out the casket. But I don't remember much about who came or what the priest said. It all went too fast. The funeral director asked if I wanted to hold her, and I had no doubt in my mind. I held her and I remember thinking she looked like a little porcelain angel. Then all too quickly I had to give her back. People were coming in and coming up to me. I remember thinking all I want to do is hold my baby, I do not want to talk to you people now. Before I knew it everything was over and she was gone. Months later we picked out a cemetery marker. It has a little angel and a lamb and a cross on it. It says "Our Precious Marisa Angel, We love you forever".

I did much heavy grieving for the first few months, trying to get it out of my system, reading everything I could get my hands on. I could barely function during this time. Because I had maternity leave, I was able to stay home and grieve hard for 3 months. I can't imagine having to go back to work before that like my husband had to. In the beginning I was so depressed I did not even want to get out of bed in the mornings. When I woke up, for a split second I didn't remember what had happened, so for that one moment I felt peace, and then the next moment the memory of what happened flooded in and all I could do was lay there crying and hugging my pillow and a teddy bear which has come to be somewhat therapeutic for me. I put my love and energy into hugging this bear, and I hope and pray that when I do, Marisa feels how much I love her. When I finally went back to work, it was really hard. Most people didn't even say anything to me about her, like I had never been pregnant and like I never gave birth to a daughter.

They just continued to talk about trivial things, which I had trouble doing. I have a picture of her on my desk, and I look at it often. The memories of her have faded. I hardly remember what she looked and felt like, other than the pictures I have. I was drugged up after the c-section, so much of it was a blur. I can't stand not remembering, but then again, it does not hurt as bad when I can't remember as much. Now I have been though over a year of grieving and I am pretty much able to function, however, it still comes over me in waves, and then the terrible sadness and anguish returns. I did join a support group, and recently have found quite a bit of support available on the Internet. When I read these stories of other's tragedies, I do not feel so isolated, but reading these experiences also brings great sadness and intensity of remembering what happened to my daughter again. But, I think I need to keep re-experiencing that intensity of anguish .. It is all I have to really feel connected to her. After a while you tend to become numb to some of it, as if it were all a terrible nightmare, and I think it is because you didn't, you could never go on and function otherwise. Marisa was born on July 5, 1995 and died on July 9. Still even after over a year, not a day goes by that I don't think of her and *long* desperately for her.

I now am 7 months pregnant, due in early November, 1996, and getting very nervous. It is a boy, we are naming him Michael James. It has been very difficult dealing with the emotions of a subsequent pregnancy. All my naiveté is gone, I now know what can happen. And since I have heard of so many other types of tragedies, not only am I worried about a repeat abruption, but also about every other terrible thing I have heard about from nice people like you this last year. The first time I heard Michael's heart beat I broke down and cried because it sounded so much like Marisa's and that is one of the very few memories I have of her life.

I also cried at the doctor's office when they put me in the over flow room. I had only been in that room once before - during my last visit while pregnant with Marisa. It was when the doctor and I decided on the date of the induction. It is really hard going back to the same office.

People ask how are things going, how did the tests look, etc. I answer that they all look great, just like they did with Marisa. It is hard to talk to anyone about life "after" this baby. "When the baby comes this or that..." It brings back memories of my talking about that when Marisa was inside of me, and now she is not sharing this life with us as we had talked about.. I remember with pain making various jokes when I was overdue with her, i.e., maybe I should ride in my husbands bumpy truck to get things going, etc. If I only knew... I get really upset when anyone acts like having a third child is going to fix me up, heal my wounds for the child I will never get to raise or share this life with. No matter how many children we end up having, that could never happen. I am even glad this one is a boy because I would really lose my temper if instead he was a girl and someone said to me, "oh good, now you have your boy and your girl". I know I need to develop some tolerance for others, I used to be ignorant about this too, but I think that will come in its own time.

Thanks for hearing my long story. If anyone has had a placenta abruption, or is currently going though a subsequent pregnancy, I would love to speak to you.


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