Late Pregnancy Loss
by Kristen Peralta
In memory of
I am writing this to share the confusion and pain of my late pregnancy loss with other parents who have experienced loss. Please feel free to e-mail me, I would really like to talk to other mothers who have experienced a late pregnancy loss. Leahangel@prodigy.net
Update: Tue, 15 Jun 1999
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999
On June 10, 1998, one day after my birthday, I took a HPT and found out I was pregnant. One month later I had a vaginal sonogram and it was determined I was 8 weeks pregnant. I had a fairly normal pregnancy (so I thought). I ate properly, avoided medications and everything else I was supposed to do while pregnant. In September I had my 16 week sonogram and everything looked good. About two weeks later I could really start to feel Leah kicking and she increased in activity. I knew she was going to be an independent, active, and tough little girl. I had another sonogram at 22 weeks just so I could have a videotape of her kicking and moving. I planned to show this videotape to her when she was old enough.
The months of October and November were great. I had my appetite back, I felt good and I enjoyed being pregnant. My only anxiety was about going into the delivery room for the first time. Unfortunately that occurred earlier than I thought. My due date was Valentine's Day 1999. On Tuesday, December 1st, I woke up in the middle of the night feeling nauseous. I didn't think anything of it because you feel a lot of things when you are pregnant. I called out sick from work and drank a lot of fluids. I noticed that Leah's movements had decreased drastically especially for her rate of activity. I figured I had a stomach bug but decided if I didn't feel better by Wednesday morning I would go see my doctor. Wednesday morning I did feel a little better and I felt a quick flurry of movement from Leah but I decided to go see the doctor anyway. I wanted to cautious about everything even though the pregnancy seemed good.
The doctor put my on a fetal and a contraction monitor. She determined I wasn't having contractions but Leah was barely moving which concerned her. She did another sonogram which revealed a heartbeat but minimal movement. She also discovered I was very dehydrated and my amniotic fluid was low. She agreed with me that I might have a stomach bug and was dehydrated for that reason. She also felt that Leah wasn't moving much because of the dehydration. She had my go into the hospital so I could be quickly re-hydrated. I spent 6 hours in the hospital and they put two IV bags of fluid in me. My doctor said the amniotic fluid was much better but Leah was still not moving much. She debated whether to keep me in the hospital overnight and continue monitoring me, or let me go home. The doctor seemed positive despite Leah's lack of movement and felt Leah was responding slowly to my improved condition. She sent me home and scheduled me for another ultrasound for Friday morning with another doctor. It was going to be a much better one that could see the baby more clearly. I still did not feel a lot of actively from my baby but was not overly concerned because I trusted the doctor's judgement.
Since I felt that everything was going to be alright, my husband went to work and I asked my mother to escort me to the ultrasound. I thought this would be a good opportunity for her to see her granddaughter, and first grandchild. It turned out to be the worst moment of my life. The technician was doing the ultrasound and telling me about all of the positive things about Leah, her weight and size and bone structure. I noticed she wasn't moving. I asked her finally if she was moving and the technician wouldn't answer me. A moment later she jumped up from the chair and said she was "having trouble getting a heartbeat", and she was going to get a doctor. I immediately knew it was bad and went into shock. The doctor came back and looked and said "It's a loss. I'm sorry." I will never forget those words. It was as if my world just collapsed. My future ended and my world instantly had no meaning. My little Leah Rose had died.
My mother and I drove a short distance to my obstetricians office. She had gotten a phone call from the other doctor and you could tell she looked distraught. She said they would do everything possible to determine the cause of her death. I could not imagine what would kill my baby in my seventh month of pregnancy after appearing to be healthy all along. She and my mother made arrangements for me to go into the hospital that night. Since I was so far along, they would have to induce labor and I would have to deliver Leah stillborn.
My entire family was devastated. My heart breaks every time I remember my husband's face when he came home that afternoon. I went into the hospital that Friday night and my doctor began inducing procedures. My husband, and entire family stayed with me all day Saturday as contractions started and began to get stronger. The entire hospital staff, all of the nurses, were so wonderful and supportive and even shared their own stories of loss with me. I was scared and still in shock. I was being given pain killers which didn't kill the pain in my heart. I couldn't believe I was going through the entire delivery process knowing I would never take my baby home. I finally had an easy delivery (physically) at 2:45 am on Sunday. She looked exactly like my husband.
The nurses and my doctor all wanted me to hold my baby but I was terrified that I couldn't handle seeing my dead baby. My husband and father wanted to see and hold her. They took her into another room where the nurse took photos of Leah and my husband held her. In the meantime I had to have a D&C because my placenta wouldn't come out. In a way I regret not holding her and I still ask my husband how she felt and how big her fingers were. He said she was beautiful and he was right when I finally looked at the pictures. I am so glad now that they took them because even though she died inside me she is still my daughter.
We had a church funeral a week later and buried her. Any parent who has lost a child knows how difficult it is to get on with life afterwards. Not one person at my workplace said anything to me about it when I returned. I am told it is because they are afraid to bring it up. This still hurt me badly that nobody would acknowledge her existence. I wanted to talk about her and the experience. I didn't go through 7 months of pregnancy for nothing. I DID know my baby. I learned that when a baby dies before it is born, many people don't think of it as a "real" baby. My husband's boss said about two weeks later, in response to his lack of enthusiasm, "now that it's over with...". It is never over with. Instead of sending birth announcements I sent out memorial announcements with Leah's hand and foot prints and a poem my father wrote about her.
It is now four months later and I look at photos of her with pride. She was my beautiful little baby. I am trying to get pregnant again now although I am scared to death. The doctor could not determine an exact cause of her death after numerous tests on me and an autopsy on her. This scares me because I have no way of knowing if this will happen again. I will have a very nervous pregnancy since I lost her so late and without warning. Everybody reassures me that it is unlikely. I am not convinced. I feel like there must be something very wrong with me but I want a baby so badly.
Please e-mail me if you have experienced a similar loss. I will need the support once I get pregnant again. thank you.
Since writing my story I have found out the reason why my Leah died. They discovered in the autopsy that she developed a blocked bowel which perforated. My doctor did numerous tests to see if she could find a reason for this happening but didn't find anything. She believes it is not genetic and will not happen again in the next pregnancy. I guess that is good news but I still can't believe it happened and I wonder what would suddenly cause such a thing to happen. I am a little relieved to find out a reason because not knowing why she died was very difficult.
I have communicated with numerous people since writing my story and I want everyone to know how much it has helped me with my grief speaking to so many wonderful people who have experienced similar, painful losses.
If anyone has had a baby die of a bowel problem please e-mail me. I would like to know as much as possible about it and I would like to know how common a problem it is.
Please visit this web site I set up in memory of Leah Rose Peralta.
Thank you, Kristen
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