Wednesday, May 4, 2016

How Have Six Years Gone By...

Six years ago today. 

Six years ago today I was standing in my kitchen making a huge batch of Gavin's food for the freezer. I remember piddling around the kitchen and feeling a bit weary. This pregnancy was my easiest by far and I had learned to not worry so much about little things. I was, after all, a vet of this pregnancy thing. I had two young boys and now...a daughter on the way. I was trying very hard to not panic about every single twinge this time around. So I continued to piddle as my brain told me to freak out. Not long after that, my brain won. I freaked out and called my OB who told me, "Don't freak out, but I want you to be seen. I'm not so much concerned about the baby as I am about a blood clot." I was having leg cramps and shortness of breath and some cramping. He told me to head to the emergency room since the issues were with my legs and not my baby. For some strange reason, I was comforted by that. 

Six years ago today I remember driving myself to the emergency room more than a half hour away. After calling Ed at work, we both figured this was just another one of those pregnancy checks that was going to wind up being nothing. I remember walking into the Emergency Department and thinking - shoot - for a Tuesday night it sure is crowded. I knew I was in for a long wait. How long, I could have never predicted in a million years.

I posted on my Facebook a little after 3pm:

Is in the ER at the request of my OB. Abdominal cramping, shortness of breath and leg cramping. I told him I'm too busy for this, but apparently breathing is important. Who knew. Waiting to see Darcy and hoping she's okay.

Then I posted this at 5:36pm...
Been triaged twice - but have spent the last several hours in a very crowded waiting room. An announcement was just made to be patient...the hospital broke records today with the number of people being treated. You'd think they'd at least offer us cake to celebrate. I thought of just leaving, but I really need to know that Darcy's okay before I get my butt out of here.

My final Facebook post was at 8:38. After I was cleared by the Emergency Room doctor and it was determined that I did not have a blood clot, they were about to release me. I asked - and then begged - them to please check on my baby. I mean, you have the ultrasound equipment right there, I reasoned. The truth was - I wanted to take the opportunity for a free peek. Any chance I had to see Darcy on an ultrasound was a great day for me. The nurse said he could use the doppler to listen to her heartbeat for me. Ugh. I really was hoping for a visual, but that's fine. When he tried and tried and couldn't find a heartbeat, I decided that he probably didn't use them that much in the ER and just didn't know how to find her. I told him that I could try - I had a doppler at home and had just listened to her the night before. He said he would rather page someone from OB to come down. 
They just "ultrasounded" my legs. Hmmm...I thought the baby was in my belly, but I guess they know what they're doing. I have an IV, have seen the doctor three times (don't worry, Mom), and I'm waiting on OB to monitor Darcy. I will likely be home very late tonight!

When someone from OB came down with a portable ultrasound machine, I breathed a sigh of relief. "Finally someone who knows what they're doing," I thought. I figured I'd get a quick look at Darcy and then make the trip home. I remember feeling disappointed that I missed the boys' bedtime at home.

Suddenly, the room was very quiet.

And suddenly... I knew.

Darcy was gone.

Six years ago today, a stranger I never met gave me an ultrasound that I wasn't supposed to have and as I sat there alone with no one around me told me my daughter was dead. Five and a half months pregnant - and just like that, she was gone.

At first I couldn't believe it. Wouldn't believe it. She was moving that day! This is not possible. How is this possible? What happened to her?

She said they could schedule a D&E right away and I refused. There was no way. The only thing on my mind in that moment was - how in the world am I going to tell Ed. He had been checking in on me for updates and I couldn't lie to him. I can tell you that it was one of the hardest phone calls I ever had to make.

The nurses let me stay in that little room with very little privacy as I cried and cried. And cried. Six years ago today I think I cried six years worth of tears for the daughter I never knew I dreamed of. I somehow made my way home alone and knew that when I woke up the next day I would start a very sad journey.

I am lucky that I have a wonderful, compassionate and forward thinking OB. I called Dr. Langan, who already knew what had happened the night before, and told him that I wanted to deliver Darcy. She deserved to be born - and held - and cherished. He was 100% supportive. Neither of us could have known the shocking path we would take to get her into my arms. For some reason, Darcy did not want to leave my body. I was induced... and then induced some more. He tried all different techniques to help labor along, including a trip to the OR to insert Laminaria sticks. They are inserted into the cervix and, over time, slowly expand to dilate the cervix and induce labor. None of this was pleasant as I sat there day after day - it wasn't pleasant physically or emotionally. But...

Six years ago, my pain seemed like a small sacrifice. A tiny offering to honor her tiny life. And I would do it all over again if I could hold her one more time.

Five and a half days later, just hours before Mother's Day, Darcy was born en caul... which means she was still completely enveloped by the amniotic sac. The doctor had to break it open to remove her perfect, tiny body. It was as remarkable as it was tragic. Both beautiful and heart wrenching. The doctor then realized that it had been a cord accident that took her life. It wasn't the usual type of cord accident - because, let's be honest, we don't do things the "usual" way. Darcy's cord was hyper-convoluted...all twisted up so it was extra long and thin. He'd never seen anything like it - and he's been in practice for a very long time.

We were allowed to keep her with us as long as we wanted, for which I was so grateful. A friend came to take photographs, for which I was also very grateful. And I had to call our funeral director to arrange for him to pick up our daughter when it was time.
Six years ago, I sat in a hospital bed after 5 1/2 days of laboring and was so grateful to have the chance to hold our beautiful daughter. The nurses took hand and foot prints. I memorized every inch of her. I whispered promises into her perfect little ears and told her I'd see her again.
Finally I decided I was ready to let her go. I hated - and felt very resentful of - the kind hospital chaplain who came to take her from us. I hated watching her walk away with strangers to a cold morgue where she would wait for the funeral home. That was one of the hardest parts for me.

Six years ago, we would realize that after 5 1/2 days of carrying her... and 5 1/2 days of laboring to meet her... that we ended up holding her for 5 1/2 hours before letting her go.

That is why the recurring number of 5 1/2 means so much to us. Gavin was 5 1/2 when he died. Hope was born at half past 5. I have come to see that number as a sign from Heaven that I can survive.

Six years ago today, I thought I was having what would absolutely be the worst day of my life. In many ways, I was right. But I also feel thankful to this little tiny girl whose tragic life and painful birth prepared me for an even greater tragedy.

Every Mother's Day since and forever more, I remember my sweet Darcy Claire. I thought, six years ago, that my Mother's Days would never be the same... 

...and I was right. But not for the reasons I thought. Her short little life changed me. And prepared me to love even more. And for that, I will always thank her.


  1. I've been following you for several years now...and your posts are beautiful. I used to think how awful losing two children was and marvel at your resilience. And then in November, I went to the hospital with stomach pain to be told in a similar fashion that my son had died...and I know some of your grief....yet you continue to speak openly and honestly and have a great message. Thank you.
    Ps - my uncle has a house in Ocean City and I used to summer time I go, I will look for Gavins ride.

  2. Kate,

    I have been a reader of your blog for years and have never commented. There is so much about you that I admire. Your unflagging faith and your devotion to being a positive force in the world is admirable. You are an incredible mom and wife. You are someone I would like to know in the real world as we have lots in common. As a fellow rainbow chaser for my son, I too believe miracles happen every day, sometimes in ways we do not understand. I just wanted to reach out and tell you that reading your posts has made a difference in my life in ways that are powerful. Your perseverance has given me fortitude during dark times and your spirit and patience have given me the will to remain positive and accept the gifts God has given me with grace. Thank you.


  3. A month and 2 days ago I lost our first child...i went through 3 days of labor...reading your posts over the years I've always thought I couldn't imagine being in your shoes with the strength that you show and the resilience that you I understand a small tiny piece of the grief...and I'm so thankful that you are open and honest in every post you have! So thank you for that...I do so enjoy reading about all your children and love watching as you keep both Gavin's and Darcy's memories alive...


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