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Flashlight Experience
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From: Lillian  
City: San Diego
State: California
Contact information: confidential by request

Aaack!  What happened?
I have always wanted to be a mommy, so when I finally found my wonderful husband and we started planning a family, I couldnít have been more overjoyed. We bought our house, and I decorated a special nursery, while we tried to get pregnant. Then just before my 28th birthday, it happened, we were going to be parents before Christmas that year. Then on my 8th month checkup, the doctor told me to call my husband. He wanted to talk to both of us. What I thought was the worst news I have ever heard Ė the doctor couldnít find a heartbeat on our baby. We watched the sonogram, and where there was once a kicking and moving image, it was still. I couldnít stop screaming. My husband was speechless.

Then it got worse, I had to make a choice. Since it was the 8th month, I could have a Cesarean  section and remove the fetus, or have labor induced and let my body finish its course of pregnancy. The doctor said the second choice would help my body return to normal faster. What a choice, neither was good.  The doctor said he didnít know how long our baby had been still, but the longer we waited it could be worse for my health, so we had only 2 days to decide. After a lot of research, my husband and I finally decided that having the induced labor was the medically best thing to do. We checked in the hospital the next day, just like all the other mothers waiting to give birth, They were all wincing at their contractions. I just sat in the wheelchair, quiet and stunned. My mother and mother-in-law, my best friend, and one sister were with us.   They put us in a birthing room, and the doctor came in and sadly explained everything to us again, and he gave me the shot to start the labor. Everyone but me cried. I was in labor for 6 hours, all the contractions and pain, my breathing and pushing. Then a physically perfect, beautiful baby boy was born. I had to see him. He looked like he was sleeping. I had no emotion when I gave him back to the doctors.  They put me on the maternity floor with all the other mothers who had given birth. I could hear babies crying all around me and mothers cooing.  All I could do was vomit. My husband stayed with me that night, and my best friend, Barbara,  stayed in the hotel next door.

Did you see it coming?
No. I excitedly started on the right nutrition program, took my vitamins, did the prescribed exercises and did everything the doctor recommended. Through every checkup I was in perfect shape and so was my baby., we thought. While we cried and whaled , we questioned ourselves and most of all our God.  We had done everything we were asked to do, we were good people and went to church every Sunday with our families. I gave up alcohol and fast foods, and ate all the healthy stuff I was told. I couldnít see what I did wrong. Why did it happen. I kept hoping we were going to wake up in the morning and see that it was just a very bad dream.

How did it affect you?
I felt like I was going crazy and I couldnít stop it.  I was vomiting a lot. When we called our families and told them that the procedure was set for the following day, we spent the day crying. I resented my sister for telling me it must be Godís will. She didnít even cry. I hated the pity in my mother-in-laws eyes. My best friend cried with me and brought me Kleenex all day. Afterwards, I hated anyone telling me time would heal it, or I was strong, or something better was on the way.  I screamed at anyone who said those things to me. When I was capable, I drove myself to the cemetery and lay on the grave and cried.

What did this experience initially do to you or cause you to do or feel?
I felt that something was wrong with me, and it was my fault. My husband wouldnít talk about it. I resented my sister for telling me it was Godís will, and time would heal. I didnít want to be around anyone, especially people  with empty words.

Were you alone, did you have support, did you have to find support? What kind? How?
My best friend, Barbara,  was my best support. She cried with me, or sat with me when I cried. She let me ramble on. She found me several times at the grave, and didnít make me feel bad for being there. She stayed with me until I was ready to leave. My Mother and Dad were great. They called me or stopped by every day just to say hi.

How did you react immediately after this event/experience?
Whenever my parents said they loved me, I would cry. I didnít feel lovable or worthy of love. My husband said we could try again, but I didnít want him touching me.

What did you do next?
First step
: Little by little,  I just got on with my life and tried not to think about it. I felt like a walking zombie.

Next? What happened? Step forward, same or step back?
Another step
: About 3 months afterwards Barbara  called to tell me one of our mutual friends just had her baby, but he was in the ICU. She wanted to visit her, would I go with her. At first I didnít want to, I was angry my friend had a live baby, but then I also felt bad that her baby wasnít doing good, and she might lose him. Very conflicting emotions.  Barbara listened to everything I said, without making me feel bad.  She gave me permission to bail out, if I couldnít handle it at the hospital, so I went. When I saw my friend and how scared she was for her baby, we cried together.  Iím not sure if I was crying for her, or me, or both. We went by the ICU and I saw her tiny baby in the incubator, and we cried more. There were a lot of babies in there fighting for their little lives. I went back to the hospital the next day, to see my friend, but I found myself standing by the glass of the ICU, staring at the babies for a long time. No emotion, just watching them. Step: I kept going back to see the babies, then I became a volunteer. Just being around the fragile and helpless babies made me not feel alone. I felt fragile and helpless. Step: But it also helped me to get stronger, by being of help to someone who needed me.

We also want to know what you did, that didnít help. And why.
Step
: The following year I got pregnant again. Unfortunately, I lost this baby in the 4th month. Another horrendous event. Then another blow Ė the doctor told me there was something wrong with my uterus and I would never be able to carry a baby to full term. Another blow Ė my husband divorced me. ďHe wanted a family, I was not the woman he married, he didnít love me anymore because I killed his babies.Ē Those were the cruelest words I ever heard. After he left me, I never heard from his family ever again either.

I went into complete depression. I couldnít get out of bed, I couldnít stop crying, I couldnít eat. I felt lost and worthless. Step: My Parents moved me into their house and my old room. I stayed in bed all day. I felt like a failure. Surrounded by all my pre-marriage stuff, it was like the previous event never happened. My mother thought this would be good for me, but it made me more depressed. Step: My Sister had the preacher stop by to try to comfort and counsel me. He didnít have any real personal experience with my loss, so his words didnít comfort me. I felt more alone. Step: I went back to the hospital to see the babies that I had helped before. That didnít help this time. Step: My family kept asking what I was going to do with my life. I couldnít answer that. And just thinking about not knowing, made me re-think everything that had just happened and all I could do was cry. All I ever dreamed of was being a Mommy.

We want all the specific steps and results that let you from point A to point W.
Step
: A friend I made when I volunteered at the hospital sent me a book ďSurviving the Loss of a LoveĒ. I read it and cried Step: I had lost a lot of weight and my Mother took me to the Doctor to make sure I was ok. The doctor suggested vitamins and taking a daily walk. Step: They did not talk about what had happened to me. We talked about movies, and gossip,  and flowers and anything else. Step: I called a friend I had lost touch with, Diane, and asked her how she survived her divorce. I needed to talk to someone who knew what I was going through. I didnít tell her about my babies. Step: Diane suggested I move out of my parents house. Step: My friends got together and moved me into an apartment with some of my favorite stuff and some new stuff. Step We had an old-fashioned slumber party the first night after they moved me in, complete with pillow fights, make-up lessons and ghost stories.  Step: The second night we made our favorite foods, set a beautiful table, got dressed up and dined ďin-styleĒ. Step: The third night, we rented two of our favorite comedy movies and got drunk and laughed. When they all went home, I felt alone again, but not quite as hopeless. Step: I was still taking walks with my friends, and now each night for the next week, one friend came over and we had dinner and watched a funny movie. It felt good to laugh Step:  Diane also told me that by being around new people in her job helped a lot too. I had quit working when I was pregnant the first time, so I didnít know if that would get in the way of getting a new job.  Diane helped me write a resume and look for a job. It took a few months, but then I got a job as a salesperson. I was assigned a territory and had to travel to trade shows every few months.  They trained me and kept me very busy right from the start. I liked the job. Step: On a sales call one day, I met a man (twice) in the elevator. We started to date and 13 months later, we got married. I told him about my pregnancy problems and my divorce, he still loved me and didnít blame me. Step: After we were married a few months, my husband, Dan, and I talked about adoption. We adopted a beautiful little 2 year old boy, Steven. It seems that people overlook the children once they are no longer babies. Step:  After getting married, I enrolled on Danís medical insurance. When it came time for my annual checkups, I visited new doctors. The first visit with my new gynecologist was very hard, telling her my history. She requested my previous medical records, and ran tests of her own. She found what was wrong with my uterus and that it could be fixed with surgery. Step: I jumped at the chance to fix my uterus, and had the surgery.

Point W Ė Whew!
Where are you now? How has this experience helped you, changed you, etc

6 months later after my surgery,  Dan and I talked about having another child. This time we might be able to have one by me getting pregnant. We decided to adopt instead. So many children waiting for someone to love them. We are so blessed with Steven. We adopted a daughter, 3 years old, Annatha.

I still have occasional nightmares about the loss of Baby Kenny. I still get angry sometimes wanting to know why I had to go through all that.. My sister said, that if I had children the first time, I wouldnít have my two beautiful children now. But then why did I have to go through such terrible and painful experiences just to have them?  I donít have the answers.

What I do know is that I am very grateful for my friends and family who helped me get through the horrible experiences. I donít believe I could have done it without them they were my strength and clear thinking when I couldnít do it for myself.

 

* Discussion with Lillian, we have added the bold indicators in her story to help the reader identify her steps..

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