Finally, after losing our first pregnancy we were pregnant again. The weeks went by, tense and scary but we had made it past the risk of miscarriage. We were well into the safety zone and so excited. Our first daughter! My husband had two sons prior to our relationship and I had been told for years that I couldn’t get pregnant due to a myriad of reproductive issues. What a triumph. His first girl! After the 13 week clearance we started picking out clothes, planning the baby shower, picking out names but decided we would wait to see her beautiful face to name her. We made it to 20 weeks! How amazing, twice as far as our first pregnancy. 21 weeks, 22 . . . it was flying by. Then one beautiful July morning I awoke to pain. I thought I had to poop and tried . . . for about an hour. It felt like bowel cramping and I didn’t know much else about pregnancy risk other than early miscarriage. We were broke at the time and my husband had work that day for the first time in a long time. I didn’t want to lose that by keeping him home or taking me to the hospital. I let him sleep, tried to calm my stomach, tried to tell myself this wasn’t happening but finally woke him up with those words I never wanted to say again . . . ”I think something is wrong.”
We drove to the nearest hospital because our birthing center was almost two hours away. I thought maybe I had a bladder infection, but once we got there and I used the restroom, I knew I was losing her. I had started to bleed and was feeling what I knew were contractions by that point. They checked me in . . . slowly . . . him-hawing away, thinking it was just a bladder infection as well. The doctor who had assisted during my first pregnancy and loss was on call. I didn’t want to see him. That by itself felt like the worst omen I could face at the time. But there he was, with his absolute lack of bed side manner. It took them hours to admit me; my mind was racing the whole time. I felt completely out of control. They finally did an internal exam. Of course the nurses couldn’t tell me then and there . . . even though they had five times the compassion of my doctor. They had to get him to tell me the news. I had gotten up to use the restroom at this point and mid pee they came in and rushed me into my bed and put me in the Trendelenburg position.* He did his own internal exam and said:
“I can feel baby parts.”
“WHAT!? Like, they dislodged, like . . . WHAT?!”
And then he said, “Let me put this into perspective for you. Your baby isn’t viable yet, you can stay here and we can offer comfort care or you can go home. She will be born and she will most likely be alive. You will have to cut her cord or tie it with string, then you will have to put her in the freezer. You should discuss with your family what you would like to do with her body.”
“Um . . . WHAT?! No . . . I’m past the point of risk. I’m almost into my third trimester. I’m only a couple weeks from viability!
No . . . no . . . no . . . this isn’t happening.”
“You have less than a 10% chance of your baby surviving at this point and if she did her quality of life would be no good.”
. . . but she is alive . . . she is kicking me . . . right now? Baby parts . . . back to the baby parts.
“Your cervix has opened prematurely and is fully dilated for her size. I can feel her legs and other parts inside the membrane, but it is bulging out and to maintain the pregnancy would put you at risk for infection.”
So, there was my diagnosis (finally, thank you) and I lost it. I threw things. I hit things. I yelled. I told him to get the *&*$!* out of my room and to never come back and he didn’t.
12:40 p.m., 36 hours later, I held my baby girl as she died. I was just as excited to see her as I would later be with our son. She was beautiful. Perfect. Her eyes were closed but she had hair, little eye lashes, long fingers like me. She was a perfect angel. I lost a lot of blood trying to deliver the placenta. I felt like I was dying and I saw in my husband’s eyes that he was feeling the same. There she was. Our daughter. Dotty Susan Jardine was 383 grams and
11 inches long. She lived for somewhere around a half an hour.
It was the longest and shortest time of my life.
After that I melted into the background of whatever life I had. I felt emptied. Some days I would wake up thinking “I am overreacting. She wasn’t even viable.” Other days I would wake up thinking she was still inside of me. But all day I felt empty. I eventually went back to work and tried focusing on that. Despite our efforts at birth control (including the pill and natural family planning), I became pregnant again the following December, a boy. I couldn’t accept that it wasn’t a girl for a long time. I was actually very depressed for a while, but I was excited regardless. Aside from cerclage placement, seven months of bed rest and one preterm labour scare that landed us in the hospital, I had a healthy pregnancy in and out of the high risk maternity ward.
Murphy was born at 3:14 a.m. on September 16, 2010. He looked just like her. I was ecstatic to be a mother. I was up and out of the house less than a week post-partum. I was finally doing what I was born to do. He grew up, more and more, and then by surprise (despite using protective barriers), I was pregnant again just as he turned two.
How am I going to do this with a toddler? Well, I don’t know how I did, but . . . we did. Thank God for Jeremy, he did everything. We knew it was a girl from the start. More bed rest, another cerclage. The same drill. Her pregnancy was much more emotional for me. It was like reliving all the feelings of Dotty’s gestation over again. Making it into my third trimester was the most amazing feeling. I thought for sure she would be early. I was contracting every day from 13 weeks and my cervix was shortening/thinning out at every ultrasound. At six months, I transferred my prenatal care. I had been seeing the same doctor that attended Dotty’s birth (why, I don’t know . . . lack of choices in our area). I felt superstitious in a way that I can’t really explain. During my pregnancy with Dotty, we had planned a water birth at the birth center I never made it to. With that doctor that would be impossible. So, after watching The Business of Being Born, I got the courage to call the midwives of Sutter Davis, again. I was accepted for care, with joint care by the perinatal specialist I had seen for Murphy’s pregnancy.
I started feeling so much more empowered immediately. Everything stabilized after that too. My cervix stopped funneling and actually increased one centimeter in length. The perinatal specialist graduated me from their care and I was strictly a client of amazing, loving midwives! The weeks went by . . . 36, 38, 40 . . . 41 weeks. OH MY GOODNESS! This was a whole other realm of worry. Now I was CERTAIN that my body was broken in both ways. I couldn’t keep babies in and I couldn’t get them out. But these were just my hormonal feelings. What a mind game. I fought with my emotions every single second. I had worsening symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) and could hardly sleep. I was worried she was going to be stillborn or otherwise suffer some tragedy. Luckily she was a substantial mover and I never (truly) had to worry. But, pity on those who tried telling me otherwise! Hah!
Ten days overdue, I couldn’t take any more. I drank half a bottle of castor oil; I took black cohosh; I drank red raspberry leaf tea all day long. I had sex . . . sex . . . sex . . . it was the most mechanical sex ever. “Can you put your prostaglandins in me, please?” Ugh. I bounced on the ball; I stimulated my nipples until they were raw. Then I pumped. I had painful contractions all day long but they never progressed to the point of calling the midwife. That evening they got a bit more painful though, so we headed to the birth center. When I was checked in, I was only three centimeters. I tried walking the halls, with my amazing toddler and my friend/photographer, to keep the contractions coming but they eventually slowed down. The midwives swept my membranes and “sent me home.” We rented a hotel for two hours.
Around 5:00 a.m., I couldn’t handle the pain anymore. We headed back. I was having so much cervical pressure I thought for sure I was dilating. Nope I was only three and a half centimeters. I thought my body was broken, for sure. My body was a lemon. I was going to need a Caesarean section or at the very least to be induced. I was losing my mind. I actually WANTED a Caesarean section at that point. I hadn’t slept in two nights and they had given me medication to try to calm my nerves but it did the opposite. I was tripping pretty hard when they told me: “Oh yeah, that happens to some people.” Awesome. Now I was exhausted, nervous and tripping. So they gave me something else to counteract that, cut out the pain, and let me rest. These were the only medications I had the whole pregnancy.
I slept (between contractions) for three hours. I felt AMAZING. After I woke up, Candice (friend/photographer) brought me some goodies that totally revitalized me. I felt like I could do it again and was getting sort of excited. They checked me. I was four centimeters. Well, that was a little progress! We discussed breaking my waters. I *felt* like that was the answer so she went in. After a few minutes of poking with the “crochet hook” she had to use her fingers to break them because they were so strong and bulging. After that things kicked in.
I pooped. It was awful. But it got things going. I showered and was sent to the halls again to walk it out. Two laps later, I was surging with the most intense cramps. I was pouring sweat. It was awesome. It was time. I went back to the labour room and Jeremy came in with food, I told him he needed to leave with it. I was totally alone. I had a few contractions and stripped my clothes. Then the nurse came in and she could tell. They started filling the tub and took me to the tub room. I had a few contractions before I NEEDDDEEDD TOOOO PUSSHHHH and waddled my way over to the tub and jumped in! I grabbed the opposite side and bore down. Hard. And pooped again. Poop happens. Her head came out a couple times. I turned over onto my back and pushed. I felt her hair. It was the softest thing I’ve ever felt. I could feel it floating around. I didn’t feel like I was really there. I pushed a couple more times and there she was. My daughter. Our daughter. I looked at Jeremy. I don’t remember what I said. She was finally here and that’s all that mattered.
Blossom Meadow-Isobel Jardine was born at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2, 2013. I feel like our angel has come back to us in so many ways. The post-partum period has been hard, I don’t feel as connected to her as I did with our son.
I’m just now coming out of some serious baby blues. It’s been an emotional time getting to this point. I’m just glad she’s safe and sound. The pictures from our photographer Candice are one of the most special parts of this whole journey. I can’t express enough how grateful I am to have captured that moment. I feel so whole. B
Jessica Jardine is a 24 year old mother of two on earth and two in the earth. Ever since losing her first child, she’s been on a quest to live more holistically. She believes her lifestyle changes made it possible to go full term. She really loves traveling and cooking and crafting of all kinds. She loves animals and can’t wait to become more sustainable and add to their four legged family of chickens and a dog and a turtle! They live in a beautiful spot in the woods. She’s been on this crazy journey with her partner Jeremy for over five years and he also has two sons who are 10 and 14. They all love skateboarding and watching movies.