This is Riley.
This is Riley’s story. This is probably going to be long; how do you shorten the length of the single story that your child has?
I found out that I was pregnant with Riley on March 19th, 2011. The week leading up to that Saturday I had tested no less than 20 times all with a negative result. I just knew she was in there; she had to be. We were still reeling from the early loss of our son, Liam (who died on December 15th, 2010). I’m sure that my heartbreak over Liam contributed to my deep longing for that second line to turn pink.
After negative, negative, negative, a very, very faint pink line appeared. Neurotic testing continued as I watched that line slowly get darker and darker and darker. A baby! Our healing baby! A second chance! I decided she would be a baby girl with blue eyes and dark, curly hair.
The pregnancy was fairly routine. Morning sickness, anemia, exhaustion, breech positioning, nothing too crazy. The day before a doctor’s appointment I would get all freaked out because I was so afraid that something had happened to my baby, but after she had a heartbeat at the 12 and 16 week appointments (around when we lost Liam), I felt I could breathe a sigh of relief. Whew, she’s okay.
Weeks passed. I was GIANT. I was 38 weeks along at this point. The day after Thanksgiving (November 25th) I started to get myself a little worried. When did I feel move last?? I tried to get a hold of myself; after all, this was not the first time I had gotten worried that she wasn’t moving. Multiple times I had lain on the couch crying, trying to feel my daughter move only to have her shift herself around enough to make me feel like a total dunce. Over-reacting mother…..again!
But on Friday night, I really started to question……When did I feel her move last? I had been having a lot of Braxon Hicks contractions over the last two days…. I was walking around a ton on Friday; we went to the zoo. Easy to miss movement. Did I feel her on Thanksgiving?? I couldn’t remember feeling her, but I had SO MANY contractions that day that it could have been easy to miss movement. Plus, I argued to myself, I have never been this far along in pregnancy. Hunter, my only living child, was born at 37 weeks and was tiny, tiny. It’s probably hard for her to move around at this stage. I convinced myself that I was just overreacting again. That’s the only way I got myself to sleep that night.
During the night I kept waking up. I would press my hand into my stomach and feel for movement, but there was nothing. I looked up all urgent care centers in my immediate area and decided that in the morning I was going in. Someone, somewhere needed to do a Doppler or an ultrasound just to calm my nerves.
When Hunter woke me up in the morning, I took him downstairs to make ourselves smoothies. I knew that I kick from sugar on an empty stomach would surely get Riley kicking away and cancel my need for a trip to any old medical facility. I shotgunned a big cup of Orange Julius and lay on the couch, hands in my gut feeling for my baby….. nothing.
I woke my husband and called my OB. She didn’t sound worried but said I should go ahead into the ER just to get checked out. In the Labor and Delivery Triage. I’m in a hospital bed fully clothed as the nurse tries to find the heartbeat. I got the same stupid wave of relief that I had with Liam, but wait…..that’s my heartbeat. She couldn’t find a heartbeat. She went to get an ultrasound machine and my doctor. I realize now that she already knew Riley was gone. As soon as she left the room, I flipped out. I guess I knew too. Memories of Liam came flooding back. I COULD NOT do this again.
They moved me away from triage probably as much for me as the lady next door whose baby’s heart monitor was beep, beep, beeping away. The ultrasound found no movement, no heartbeat, swollen little hands (a sign of death). The rest of the day is a blur.
Labor was induced. As it was getting closer to the time for me to deliver, I cradled my belly for the last time and tried to tell Riley good-bye. I thanked her for the time she had spent with me; thanked her for staying in there for 38 gloriously pregnant weeks. I told her how much I loved her.
The problem is I don’t fall in love with my babies until I see them. Yes, in utero, I love them. But as soon as I see them, my heart soars. I am head over heels for them. I would kill for them. Be killed for them. That’s what happened as soon as I saw Riley.
I won’t lie, I was concerned about holding and seeing Riley. I had never before seen a dead body….ever. I was afraid. But as soon as she came out of me, I wanted her. I wanted her NOW. Trepidation was still there a bit as I looked at my mother’s face and asked if Riley was scary looking. I was reassured that she was beautiful. Oh, and she was.
I asked if they could tell what happened to her. The doctor said it wasn’t apparent. As I looked at her little body, I saw it. Her umbilical cord right by her belly. Something was wrong with it. It was all thin and strangled looking. Too red. I pointed it out to the doctor and nurses. Oh, yep. An amniotic band on her umbilical cord. No one in the room had ever seen one before.
ABS happens when some of the amniotic sac fibers go floating around in the amniotic fluid (I don’t really understand how it gets separated from the sac….). This fiber then lands on the baby. The fiber doesn’t grow with the baby. It is like a rubber band tied around the baby. Usually it lands on hands and feet causing malformations and amputation. It landed on Riley’s umbilical cord letting through enough blood and nutrients to keep her alive until she kinked the hose and cut herself off. I’m pretty sure that happened on Wednesday night. She moved a big old flip. I was worried she’d gone breech again. I carried her around 2 full days after she died; the feelings of guilt around that will haunt me for the rest of my life. How do you carry your dead baby around for 2 days and not know it??
I held this perfect little girl for hours. Senselessly, covering her with blankets and snuggling her close so I could keep her warm. I spent the night with her, slept with her, told her how much I love her, snuggled her and rocked her, kissed her little cold face, counted her perfect fingers and toes, sang to her. I tried to memorize the way she looked and felt in my arms. Her little body was perfection.
Riley was born at 7:15pm on November 26th, 2011 and weighed 7 lbs 14 oz. I miss her every day. My heart has been crushed. Her loss hurts more than I can express. The sorrow runs deep and I know I will never be the same. I would give anything for my Baby Girl. Riley, mommy misses and loves you very much. Take care of Liam for me.