Sunday, February 22, 2009

Our sweet Sydney's birth story

Our baby Sydney Alexis was born and passed on February 10, 2009. I went in to the hospital on Sunday, February 8, after some slight bleeding, and was told I was 4 cm dilated and my bag of water was bulging through my cervix. I was placed head down in bed overnight, but the next morning, my water broke. I was monitored throughout the day and my temperature rose little by little. By late afternoon, it was 100.4 and the water leaking looked infected. My doctor determined I had an infection (which may or may not have caused the early labor or might have come on later) and told I had to be induced. This was devastating, as I was only 20 1/2 weeks pregnant and knew Sydney could not make it. Around 5 or 6 that evening (February 9th, also my older daughter Hailey's birthday), Pitocin was started. I began to feel some slight cramping and contractions around 8, but I fell asleep and woke up around 9:30. At that point, I was praying that I would hold out until midnight so Sydney would not be born on Hailey's birthday.

From 9:30 until 11:30, I had major contractions that were every 2-3 minutes apart. Not a single one showed up on the monitor. They said my uterus was too small to really show. They also couldn't track Sydney's heart rate because she was too small to pick up. A little after 11:30, Dr. S showed up and checked me. I was having a lot of pressure and pain. Sydney had turned breech so her feet were kicking my cervix and the amniotic sac was pressing my cervix and filled back up. He broke the bag again and the pressure subsided. He said it would be another 4-5 hours probably. I decided to get the epidural finally. He wanted me to have it because a lot of times, the placenta is very stubborn and won't deliver when it is that early and he thought I might need to go to the OR to have it removed. I was in a lot of pain and wanted to get some sleep so I would be awake enough to spend whatever time we had with Sydney. I got the epidural (which hurt like hell) and then slept off and on from about 1-3:30.

At 3:30, I woke up to a lot of pressure and pain. My epidural seemed to not be working very well. The nurse came in and I told her how I was feeling. She went to get the resident and they finally checked me. The resident said that Sydney was head down and "right there." My legs were shaking so hard. I was so scared. I knew I had to push her out, but I didn't want to do it. I knew that it meant she was going to die. They told me they needed to get ready and would be right back. They didn't come back until about 4:25 am.

Dr. S couldn't make it in for the actual delivery, so the resident came in and got me ready to push. I figured it would be a huge ordeal with bright lights and everybody hovering around. It wasn't. They kept the lights pretty low and didn't even break down the bed. The resident had me pull back my legs and "try" a push. I pushed just a little and Sydney came right out. I couldn't feel anything and said, is she out? I looked at Eric and he nodded. The look on his face was one of shock, terror, but also adoration. I was so scared to see her, I had no idea what to expect. The doctor was taking her sweet time cutting and clamping the cord and I was getting frantic because they'd told us that she'd probably only live for a few minutes and I wanted her in my arms.

Finally, they wrapped her up and put her in my arms. I couldn't believe how tiny she was. I'd never seen a baby so little. My first thoughts were, she's so beautiful and she looks just like her big brother. She was so perfect. I studied every inch of her little body. She moved around a little bit, opened and closed her mouth, and gripped my finger a few times. I passed her to Eric and he held her for a minute. My mother in law was there and she got to see Sydney. I asked for her back and put her skin to skin on my chest. I wanted her little life to be spent warm and cozy, listening to my heartbeat as she'd done for the last 20 weeks.

For about 10 minutes or so, she moved around a little, reached her hands out and reacted to our touches. At one point, I stroked her arms a few times and she pulled it back like she was saying, hey leave me alone. After a while, she stopped moving and I thought she was gone. The nurse checked for a heartbeat and smiled and said, it's still there. She seemed to settle in all warm and cozy in my arms. A couple of times, I started crying because I couldn't bear the thought of losing her. I made myself stop because I didn't want her to hear me crying, I didn't want to scare her.

Every 15 minutes or so, the nurse would come back in and check for Sydney's heartbeat. Every time, it was still there. At about 6:15, when the nurse checked, she asked if we wanted to listen. Her heartbeat was faint, but still there. She wasn't gasping for air and she didn't seem uncomfortable. Just before 6:30, the hospital chaplain came in and said a blessing for Sydney. The nurse checked her heartbeat at 6:30 and it was still there. When she checked again at 6:45, it was gone. Our sweet baby girl became an angel after just over 2 hours on Earth.

I cried harder than I've ever cried before. I held her fragile little body and just cried. I was also in a lot of physical pain. In the two hours since Sydney's birth, the placenta hadn't budged. I was given Cytotec to cause contractions to push it out and I felt like my body was being ripped in half. The anesthesiologist finally came in and redosed my epidural and I dozed off for a little bit. At about 7:15, Dr. S showed up to check on things. I was in pain again so he didn't check me right away. They waited for another dose on the epidural to kick in. Dr. S pronounced Sydney's death and went to fill out the paperwork. He finally came back in a little before 8:30 after I was finally not in pain anymore. They prepped the bed because he was going to attempt a manual extraction. I passed Sydney to Eric and he held her for a while. When Dr. S was ready to get the placenta out, he realized that it had dislodged on its own and it came out with one tug. We were so relieved because it was going to be really painful for him to basically rip it out, plus that would risk leaving pieces of it behind.

After that ordeal, I held Sydney for a little while longer, then the nurse came and asked if they could take her for weight and measurements. I said yes and they took her. Eric and I cried together and fell asleep for a little while. Sleep was my only relief from how I felt. At about 11, they came in and took me to the post-partum room. Fortunately, I didn't have to go to the mom and baby floor, I got to go to women's health. I didn't want to hear babies crying and all that.

The hospital where I delivered has an amazing program that helps parents who have lost a baby. The coordinator, Maggie, had come in and seen us when we knew that Sydney wasn't going to make it. When we got to our new room, Maggie brought Sydney back in to us. She was dressed in a tiny white dress, with a white and pink hat, and wrapped in a pink fleece blanket. She also had a little pink heart pillow and a little white teddy bear. We spent the rest of the day with her, most of the time, all three of us were cuddled in bed together. I didn't want to put her down. We had the nurses take her out for a little while in the afternoon because Eric went to pick up Christian and Hailey and brought them back to see me. Once they left, we had the nurse bring Sydney in again and we spent the rest of the evening with her. I kissed her, rocked her, talked to her, stroked her little face and arms and hands. I sang to her and cried. The nurses took her for the night around 11:00 pm and brought us back her clothes and blanket. I had planned to sleep with her all night, but they said that she needed to be in the cold room for a little while. That seemed so awful to me. It was a rough night. I cried myself to sleep, then woke up around 4:30--her birth time--and went to the bathroom. When I came back, I saw her little blanket and hat, which I'd been sleeping with, and just lost it. I couldn't believe my baby was gone--I still can't believe it. I was dreading the next day because I knew that would be the last time I had with her, that I had to let her go.

The next day, the nurse brought Sydney back in to us. They dressed her in a tiny flannel gown, with a green hat, and a little brown teddy bear. We spent the whole day with her. When my discharge papers were ready, we told the nurse that we would leave at 5 pm. I told Eric that we needed to set a time because otherwise, I wouldn't be able to just tell them to take her and leave. I took a little time away from her to shower and dress, then we sat together on the couch in our room and held her. I unwrapped her blanket and looked over her whole body. I kissed her little hands and feet. I studied her little legs. They seemed so long. I wrapped her back up and let Eric hold her. He sang to her, Golden Slumbers by the Beatles, which he also sang to Christian and Hailey when they were babies. Then I took her and sat in the rocking chair and just held her and rocked. I kissed her forehead, her eyes, nose, lips, cheeks, ears. I wanted to give her enough kisses to fill a lifetime. I kept watching the clock as it ticked closer to the time we had to go. The nurse actually said she would be in at 4:45 to take Sydney and get us ready to go. The time seemed to go by so quickly. We took tons of pictures--about 250 altogether plus two videos. I wish we'd taken more. Just before the nurse came in, I sang Baby Mine to her. That was the song I used to sing to Christian and Hailey as I rocked them to sleep at night. At 4:50 the nurse came in for her. I held Sydney close to me and cried so hard. I looked at her little face and kissed it one last time. Then the nurse took her. Before we left, they brought back her little gown, hat, blanket and teddy bear.

I left the hospital with a bag of mementos and a broken heart and soul. I don't know how I can ever be the same person that I was before. I know I won't be. I don't know who I will be. I feel empty, lost, and broken. My body aches for Sydney. My arms and womb feel so empty. I never imagined I could feel pain of this intensity. I keep asking why...why me? why my baby? why why why? I don't understand and I can't accept it. It kills me to see my husband and children hurting so badly. It is hell to wake up every morning and face the harsh reality of my life. All I have left are pictures and clothes and mementos from the hospital. When I close my eyes, I see her beautiful perfect little face. The little brown teddy bear they gave us is my constant companion. I sleep with it and carry it everywhere I go. People must think I'm crazy when I'm out somewhere and I'm carrying around this tiny stuffed bear. Maybe I am crazy.


Anonymous said...

Oh Jaime I am in tears reading this. I cannot imgaine the unfathomable pain you are going through. My heart aches for you hun :*(

Alyssa said...

my tears are falling for you and your sweet sydney...from this mommy who said goodbye to her precious sydney grace a year ago, i ache with you and know your is so tangible to me right now as i type this....please know i am here should you need anything...even though i am a year out from our loss, it still seems like yesterday we had to leave our sweet girl at the hospital and your family are in my prayers tonight...please know that you are not alone.

angie said...

as i type this to you, jaime, i have tears in my eyes, for you and your husband, and you little one, and for sweet, beautiful sydney. thank you for sharing her story, and writing. sending you much love. xoxoxo