the story of my stillbirth
I haven't written on the blog in a while, and for a good reason. I had a stillbirth on Easter Sunday, April 1. My baby Ronnie, who we found out was a girl when she born, was 33 weeks old when I delivered her. It was the worst day of my life.
My pregnancy had been normal the whole time. I was sick until 16 weeks, as I was with Ruthie. It was a tough pregnancy, because after I was so sick, Matt had surgery and couldn't lift Ruthie for six months. Then Ruthie broke her leg. It was a rough time for the Andersons!
I had a regular OB appointment on Monday, March 26. I didn't feel any kicks the next few days, but I felt pressure in my belly, so I didn't think anything was wrong. Then on Thursday I felt a definite kick, so I thought things were ok. Then nothing on Friday. On Saturday I woke up with stomach issues and throwing up, it was awful. I assumed it was the stomach bug (I'm still not sure what it was), and called the nurses' line at my OB's office and told them what was going on. I told them I hadn't felt a kick in a couple days. She told me if I didn't feel 10 kicks in an hour, then I needed to come in. I was so naive to think there wasn't a problem, but after a healthy pregnancy with Ruthie and so far with Ronnie, I didn't think there was a problem.
Matt brought me to the OB triage, and honestly I wasn't even that scared at the time. I was so sick that that's all I could really think about. I just wanted to get hooked up to an IV, make sure my baby was ok on the monitor, and go home in a couple hours. That's not what ended up happening, of course.
They had me lay down and hooked up the monitor to my belly. It wasn't an ultrasound, just a heart monitor. They kept saying I needed to calm down so they could hear the baby's heartbeat. I heard one nurse say "we hear the baby's heartbeat," and I felt so relieved. Then a minute later she said, "never mind, that was your heartbeat." That was awful. I realize now they were stalling because the nurses aren't allowed to call it when there's no heartbeat -- it has to be a doctor. The doctor came in, and told me the worst news I had ever heard, "I'm not hearing a heartbeat." I remember crying out and Matt putting his head down on me and crying. The next few minutes I looked up at the ceiling and kept saying "This isn't real, this isn't happening" over and over. It honestly was the first out of body experience I ever had, where I felt like I was looking down on myself crying. Another awful part was having to call my family to tell them the news. Hearing them sob on the other end of the phone was horrible to hear.
The nursing staff gave us some time to process the news and then they asked what we wanted to do, go home and come back to deliver Ronnie, or deliver her that night. I couldn't imagine going home and acting like I was still pregnant, so I chose to get induced that night. They induced me, and gave me an epidural. It was a tough delivery, as my blood pressure was really low, and my heart rate and temperature were high. I was also so thirsty but any time I had something to drink I threw up. I was still fighting the stomach bug.
The next morning around 9am on Easter Sunday, after only about 20 minutes of pushing, Cameron Jean Anderson was born into heaven. We were going to call the baby Ronnie if it was a girl or boy. Ronnie named after my dad, and Jean named after Matt's grandmother, Barbara Jeanette. Weighing 5 pounds and 9 ounces, she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She looked so much like Ruthie. Matt and I got to hold her for a long time, as well as my mom and my sister. The hospital gave us a lot of keepsakes, like her footprints, and the dress she wore, which was someone's old wedding dress, and the hat she was wearing.
A sweet thing that happened after Ronnie died was our visit from a mourning dove. This little bird came and sat on the ledge outside our window and stayed there all day. The story behind the mourning dove showed my God was with us during this horrible time.
One of the hardest parts of this, besides missing my sweet Ronnie, is giving up my plan of having my children two years apart. See, I'm a planner. My sisters and I were two years apart, and I loved that age gap. It's what I always wanted for my family. I mourned not only the loss of Ronnie but also the loss of Ronnie and Ruthie's relationship. I wanted to see them as sisters, see them play together like my sisters did.
I don't know why God allowed this to happen. All the genetic testing, autopsy results, my blood-work, have all come back normal. There is literally no earthly explanation on why Ronnie didn't make it. But as my pastor said at her funeral, having a medical explication wouldn't answer the "why" question, only the "how" question.
I've learned some things since all this happened. One thing I want to tell people is, please don't be afraid to bring up Ronnie to me. It never hurts to simply say "I'm sorry for your loss." It won't make me more sad that you brought it up because I'm literally thinking about it all the time! I don't judge people who are silent, because I was the same way before my dad died. But everyone I've talked to who has been through a tragedy agrees with me. It means something when people bring it up, and it hurts them when people don't. So don't be afraid to bring it up! If you don't know what to tell them, just say "I'm sorry."
All the people who have brought us meals, offered to watch Ruthie, and have given me such meaningful gifts in honor of Ruthie -- thank you. It truly means so much to me and Matt.
The one word I keep hearing when I pray to God about sweet Ronnie, is "restore." I believe that God will somehow restore this situation in the fullest. I know I will see my baby girl in heaven, and I know she is there with my dad, her grandparents, and her cousin. I know God works for the good of those who love him, and I won't stop believing that.