Sunday, November 7, 2010

How I Became A Mommy To A Mermaid

Before you begin to read this please know that it is GRAPHIC AND DETAILED. None of my other posts will be like this but I want you to have the whole story and as a part of the healing process I needed to let out everything that my memory was holding about this time in my life. Please do not be offended.It is not meant to be offensive. I am only trying to let people know my experience and let others know that they are not alone.
 Also feel free to leave comments but I will delete offensive, rude and/or disrespectful comments. Thank you for your understanding.

On July 29th, 2008 my life as I knew it was changed forever. I discovered that I was pregnant. I was 18 and nervous and had no idea how I would tell my mom but I knew that I had to as soon as possible. I knew that I had to tell my boyfriend (who was living with me and my mom and brother at the time) first though so I waited until his alarm went off the next morning and I decided it was time to ambush him. What better time than when he was waking up before work right? I went in and tapped him on the shoulder...
"Michael? I really need to talk to you." I started nervously.
"Can this wait?" he asked with a hint of irritation in his voice?
"'ve already waited all night...This is really important." I pressed on.
"What is it?" he asked still not happy that I felt the need to talk to him so early in the morning.
I went and sat on the very edge of the couch and looked down at where my hands would be in my lap if I could see them.. "I'm...We...We have to tell my mom I'm pregnant." I said waiting to see how he would respond.
He suddenly stopped complaining. "Really?" he answered softly.
"Yes, really." I confirmed.
He then became very loving and had me lay down next to him on the couch rubbing my belly and talking to me.
The hard part would be telling my mom. I had told her that my period was late but that I wasn't having sex so I didn't know why. I knew that I could no longer lie and that I needed her help so I would have to tell her. I decided to just stay awake since I hadn't really slept all night and although I was exhausted I wanted to tell her before my brother had to get up for school.
 I went to my room after Michael left for work and waited. I heard my mom beginning to open shades and begin getting ready for the day. So I took a deep breathe and emerged from my room praying that I wouldn't chicken out.
"You're up early." she said happily.
"Mom...I need to talk to you." I started again very nervous.
"Okay." she said not so happily...not angry but not chipper as she had been moments ago.
"I bought a pregnancy test last night." I started.
"What did it say?" she asked calmly.
I then decided to burst into hormones decided for me.
"It said I am.." I confessed.
"Go get it." she said to me.
I went to my room and fished it out of the hiding spot I had found for it. I handed it to her and took my seat on the couch. She grounded me and called my biological father (I have 2. I was adopted by my adoptive father after my mom and him got married when I was 4) and told him. I recieved a lecture from him and then she commenced to punishing me or something. I'm not sure what to call it. I helped her mow 3 neighbors lawns that day thinking how I really should've gotten some sleep and would've if I had known that I would be doing so much work.
Things settled down and my mom became a little indifferent. It wasn't because she didn't care but because she didn't want to get attached to the baby if I wasn't going to keep it. I knew from the beginning I was but I thought it would be good to give it a few days so that I could seem a little more responsible. But to be honest, I knew from the time that the pregnancy test showed up positive that I was going to keep her. I wouldn't be satisfied any other way.
As the weeks went on we would go to doctor's appointments, I would begin working and going to school, I would begin thinking of names. Things would begin changing.
The first doctors appointment was just a confirmation that I was in fact pregnant and they got my medical history and all that good stuff. They would get more and more exciting though. I eventually got to see the heartbeat and then a few weeks later I would hear the heartbeat.
Hearing my daughter's heartbeat (although the only one telling me it was a girl was my instincts.) made the world stand still. I took my mom and Michael and my brother. I remember thinking that it was the most comforting sound I had ever heard and how real it became after that. It made me realize that I was in fact a mommy and my baby was growing inside of me and that everything I did from this point on would be for that baby.
A little after that I discovered that Michael had been keeping a few secrets. My maternal instincts were already kicking in and we began fighting. I finally sat down and said "Get it together. If you want to be around then fine. If you don't then leave now. We will be just fine without you. This is your call but you need to decide now."
"Of course I want to be around. If I didn't want to be here then I wouldn't be" he replied angrily.
"Then show me. Show me that you want to be around. When you say you're going to go to the doctor's appointments then get up and go. Don't blow me off because you would rather sleep this is your child." I begged.
At one point I remember thinking that I should just tell him to go. I would never keep him from his child but I didn't think that I was going to want to be with him. I knew somewhere in my heart that he wouldn't grow up no matter how much I begged and pleaded with him. I didn't leave though.
Although things were constantly changing inside my body and emotions, there was one thing that was consistant. I would work 40 hours in 4 days  (Friday-Monday) and then I would go to school the other 2 days of the week. I would go to sleep practically as soon as I got home and would continue to wonder about my growing child. Until one day, things would take another abrupt turn into another unknown place.
It was a Monday and I was at work. My stomach started cramping so badly...but I just figured I got to hungry or something. When I got home I would realize that I was spotting a little bit. I brought it to my mom's attention and we decided that Michael and I should go to the ER just in case something was wrong since I was still cramping pretty badly and was scared beyond belief. They said I was fine and that it was normal at this point in the pregnancy to spot a little bit and that it was nothing to worry about. I went home but this would be the first of many visits to the hospital that week and it would end up being the longest week of my entire life.
The next day I woke up at 5am and began vomitting and I felt horrible. I went and told my mom who assured me it was only morning sickness...
"If this is morning sickness then my baby better be REALLY cute!" I said at an interval where I was getting a drink before vomitting again.
My mom simply laughed, welcoming me to motherhood. After several hours of this I decided that I had the flu (my mother agreed) and I decided to stay home from school.
Tuesday night I ended up back in the ER (different hospital) because I was still vomitting and was so hungry and dehydrated that I didn't know what to do. I was worried that the baby would be harmed because of my lack of food and drink. The hospital wasn't my favorite. They kept asking if it was a possibility that I was pregnant even though I had told several doctors and nurses that I was and had written that I was pregnant on my paperwork. They still acted like they were explorers who discovered a new land when they got the results to the pregnancy test and said "You are pregnant. You know that right?"
I assured them that I knew that and had been trying to tell them that for the past several hours. They gave me 1 bag of fluids and informed me they should admit me. I asked if I could call my mom first and talk to her. While I was making my phone call and debating what to do with my mom and Michael the doctor decided to sign the papers so that they could release me even though I was still extremely dehydrated and unable to eat and they had just said that I needed to be admitted. They did however put me on bedrest.
The next morning my mom said that we had to go to the grocery store to use my WIC voucher. I explained I was on bedrest but she assured me that I would be fine for no longer than it was going to take. (She hadn't read my paperwork from the hospital.) While we were at the store I kept having to sit down even though sometimes the only place was the middle of the floor. I was weak and miserable and couldn't hardly function. We finished at the store and went home where I went back to bed (in my mother's room) and laid there until that night.
Wednesday night, I returned to the hospital yet again (a 3rd hospital) crying because the spotting had worsened. Little did I know that this would be the last time I would have to be here to make sure my daughter was okay.  The nurse that took my vitals was absolutely dreadful and unfriendly. She notified me that I couldn't have anything else to drink and since I had just gotten over the flu that I should not be drinking Mt. Dew and that I needed to take my last drink and give it to my mom. I decided that since it was my last drink until I got released I would chug the entire bottle.
"That wasn't what I meant" The nurse complained.
"I'm pregnant and thirsty. I'm tired of throwing up sprite and 7-Up. I wanted the whole thing" I replied satisfied.
The next thing would be that they wanted to do an ultrasound almost instantly and I wanted to wait for Michael to get there from work. We argued for awhile but I won in the end. All I could tell them was that something was wrong and I needed him to be there in case it was the last time that we saw the baby.
I guess it's true what they say...A mother always knows.
So finally, Michael got off work and got to the hospital. They got the machine and began the ultrasound. She was beautiful. She was hicupping, kicking, punching..doing all sorts of things. Normal things that a growing baby should be doing. They said that the baby was fine but that I should still stay off my feet and be careful about too much vigorous activity. We waited for several more hours before I was released. Michael and I were both grumpy and tired and fell asleep waiting.
We woke up to a baby across the hall screaming because they were trying to get an IV into her foot but were not being very successful. Michael was in a bad mood that we were still there and I apologized that we were once again in the hospital for nothing.
"The next time we're here someone better be dead. I'm tired of being here every night when I have to work tomorrow and then they tell us over and over that nothing is wrong." he said angrily.
"I'm sorry. I just needed you. I couldn't be alone. I'm telling you something is wrong." I said voice breaking. I rolled over to my side so that I was facing away from him and he wouldn't see me crying. I couldn't make anyone understand that something really was wrong. I didn't know how I knew but I did. I knew that something was going to happen and that this very long and tiresome journey wasn't over yet.
"They said everything is fine" he said matter-of-factly.
"They're wrong." I answered holding my breath to get it out so that he wouldn't know I was in tears over what he had said.
FINALLY, the nurse came in so that I could sign papers and go home. I asked to use the restroom before we left knowing that it was a decent drive before we got home. I went into the restroom and realized that I was now spotting bright red blood. I would keep this to myself though because I didn't want to have them tell me I was crazy again. 
When we got home Michael laid down and said "I'm going to bed."
"I am too as soon as I talk to mom." I assured him. I still was not comfortable with any of the answers I had gotten but that would have to be okay for now.
I told my mom that they had put me on bedrest and that they said everything would be fine even though I wasn't convinced. When I walked back across the house I stopped and sat by Michael for a moment.
"I know that they said everything is fine but they are wrong. If you have anything to say to this baby then you need to say it tonight. Pray that God helps me because I know that there is something wrong. Don't ask me how. I just do." I said to him abruptly.
"You're fine. The doctor said you're fine. I'm going to sleep. Leave me alone." He repeated.
I went to my bed and tossed and turned for awhile. I kept thinking about what I was feeling and praying that God would just let my baby be okay and fill me with His peace. Things weren't over yet though. I knew that much as I drifted to sleep.
I woke up and automatically knew something was wrong Thursday morning. I was still cramping very badly. It almost felt like menstrual cramps. I had texted a bunch of people the night before saying to pray because I was going back to the hospital and had several messages when I woke up. It was about 7:20 at this point. I wrote them back and assured them that everything was fine and that I would be okay. Since I was awake anyway I decided that I would go ahead and call my boss and let him know that I had been put on bedrest so that he could find someone to cover my shift that weekend. I called 2 different times only getting an answer the 2nd time.
"Hello?" Someone answered. (I don't remember who now.)
"Hey..It's Brittany. Is Robert there yet?" I asked quickly. I was hoping this would hurry along because I was doubled over in pain at this point.
"Yeah. Hold on."
"Okay. I just really need to talk to him."
"Hello, this is Robert. " He answered.
"Robert, this is Brittany. I wanted to let you know that my doctors have put me on bedrest. I have a note and I'll have someone fax it just as soon as they get up but I can't work." I said timidly.
"For how long?!?!" he answered.
"Well, until the spotting stops or I deliver. Whichever comes first." I answered a little irritated.
"I need the note now."
"I'm not allowed out of bed unless it's to use the bathroom. you'll have to wait."
"Fine." he was irritated but i didn't care.
"I am going back to bed. I still feel awful. I just wanted to make sure you had time to find someone to cover for me." I said politely and hung up after we said goodbye.
I decided to try and sleep some more since I was feeling terrible and in excruciating pain by this time. I went to sleep and woke up at about 9:15am still feeling like I was going to die at any moment. Only this time there was something different...
My pants were wet!
 I walked quickly across the house to ask a question I knew would make or break my whole world.
“How do you know when your water breaks?” I asked my mom a little panicked.
“You’re not far enough along for your water to break. You probably just wet your pants.” My mother said. She told me that we would go to the doctor and get checked if I wanted. I agreed that I needed to go and she grabbed her phone and began dialing the number.
While she dealt with that I ventured back to my room and gathered some clothes and things so that I could change. I walked back to my mom’s room and went to the bathroom. I was cramping unbearably but I never would’ve expected what I would see next. I looked and saw that I had started my period and screamed. My mom came running to me. She saw what I had screamed about and ran to get her phone again. 
 I felt the first of the tissue start to pass and I knew right then that I was losing my baby. My beautiful, perfect baby. I had only heard her heartbeat a couple days before for the 2nd time when I was making sure that she was okay. I couldn’t save her this time. I knew that I couldn’t take her to the doctor and have them fix this.
I changed my pants and placed a pad so that I would be able to make it to the hospital.
My mom called and told the doctor that she thought I was having a miscarriage. They listed several appointment times off to her. We couldn’t make it to the first one at 9:30 because it was already 9:25.  The asked to talk to me and asked a bunch of questions that I couldn't repeat to you now if my life depended on it. They said that I needed to lay down and keep my feet up but I couldn’t. I was panicking and didn't know what I was going to do. I was terrified.
I kept getting up and walking around or just resituating myself. I kept asking questions that no one could answer. My world was crashing far too quickly and there was nothing that I could do to stop it this time. What I had feared most was happening and I couldn't stop it.
By this time Michael had heard me crying and screaming and wandered into my mother's room to find me on the bed crying. I didn't even want to look at him. He walked over to me and leaned down to hug me.
"I'm sorry...I'm so sorry. I tried to help..I tried to stop this. I'm so sorry. Please forgive me!" I pleaded with him and in a way I think I was pleading with God hoping that all of this would stop.
He looked at me with tears in his eyes "I'm sorry too. But this isn't your fault. You've done everything that you could do."
I gave way to a fresh wave of tears and curled up into fetal position on my side. Michael left the room to get dressed and I'm sure to try and pull himself together.
While he was gone I got up again pacing the room. I continued to pass tissue…larger amounts now. What happened next would change my life forever.
My mom called to me from the bathroom and as I stepped across the threshold of her bathroom suddenly I felt all the life in my body drain out of me.
 “She’s gone” I said calmly.
"What do you mean she's gone?!?!" My mom asked panicking.
"I just delivered the baby. She's gone." I said matter-of-factly. It wasn't that I wasn't upset but I didn't know where to go from here. I knew I needed to get undressed and get Serenity but I couldn't. I didn't want to see her but I didn't want anyone else to either.
My mom had the flu and the blood was making her queasy so I decided to call my neighbor. She was like a 2nd mother to me anyway and I needed to have help.
Mom had me step into the bathtub and helped me out of my pants while we waited for Miss Carrie to get there. She asked me if I wanted to see her but I couldn’t do it so she took Serenity out of the bathroom and went to get something to put her and the rest of the tissue in I was passing in since the hospital asked us to bring all that we could.
The night before they had said that she was fine, active and lively... I didn’t understand and to be honest I didn't want to understand. I had failed my baby. I wasn’t a mother at all. How could I have let this happen? How could the body that was supposed to protect her also kill her? What could have changed so much in 5 short hours.
As time went on Michael kept trying to get me to let him help me. I would become hysterical everytime he even walked into my mothers bedroom. I would beg for them to keep Michael away from me. I didn’t want him to see that I had killed our baby. I didn’t want him to see the blood and tissue flowing from my body. I didn't want him to hate me for this. Sure, he said it was fine a little while ago but if he saw all of this then would it really be fine? I couldn't handle losing him too.
All that I wanted was to die…I thought I might. I asked what I did wrong and why this was happening? Was it the hot dog I ate on Wednesday after the doctors had said that you aren't supposed to have them? Was it that I was too young? Was God punishing me? Since I had already had the baby did I really have to go to the hospital because I just wanted to sleep. Who was going to the hospital with me? I was full of questions but none of them had answers.
We got to the hospital and I was covered in blood..all down my legs and still coming…I was sure all the mommies would see me and would see the walmart sack that my baby and her placenta and all the other stuff was in and that they would think I killed her. I begged mom not to take me in the lobby until they could take me back into an exam room because the other women would think I killed the baby.
"Please mom! Please don't make me go in there! They'll think I did this on purpose!! I didn't do this on purpose mom!" I begged.
"Brittany it's going to be okay. You won't be in there long."
I continued to beg with Miss Carrie since mom had to go check me in. It turned out that they didn't even make me sit in there. I was hysterical and I kept telling the nurse that I didn't mean to and I was so sorry.Later on when I asked my mom would tell me how when we went through the lobby that all the other women grabbed their tummies.
I got to the room and all my mom could say was "My grandbaby is in there. My Grandbaby is in that bag."
…they took her away and never brought her back. I would’ve given my life to save her. I wanted them to bring her back to me. I wanted to hold her. I wanted to touch her and tell her that I loved her. I wanted to tell them to let me die and that my purpose in life was gone.
They poked and prodded and did ultrasounds while my mom lay in the floor of the room with a trash can sick and Miss Carrie held my hand. I didn’t want them to touch me. I wanted them to let me go home. I didn't want anything to do with any of this anymore. I just wanted to fade away into the darkness that was swallowing me quickly. I was disgusted by myself.
The doctors and nurses were in and out of the room pretty frequently. They couldn’t stop the bleeding and at one point came in and informed my mom that they might have to do an emergency hysterectomy if my stomach didn’t start contracting soon.
Then when I finally went into full on labor I wished I was dead. They gave me 4 ibuprofen and told me to wait. Miss Carrie was sitting down waiting for me to say that I needed her again because I told her I was okay for awhile. I continued to cry off and on as the contractions came and went. I didn't understand why this was happening since I had already delivered Serenity. Was God seriously that angry? Why was this happening?
The doctor came in and said that the ultrasound tech had gone to lunch and they still needed to do one more ultrasound but that I could go and get cleaned up a little if I wanted. I begged the doctor to let me go home. She asked me to clean up a little bit and wait just a little longer.
 I told my mom and Miss Carrie that I just wanted to go home and die. They told me I couldn’t die because they wouldn’t let me but did say that I could go to bed if I wanted when we got home.
The Ultrasound tech was late back from lunch and I continued to bed the doctor to let me go home. Finally she gave in. At first it was like they had forgotten that I had to give them my pants and underwear and everything because the doctor was said "Okay you can go but you need to watch for extreme blood loss and if you begin running a fever and just general signs of infection." and then she began to leave the room.
"Ummm..Someone said something about scrubs or something so that I can get home?" I asked through the tears.
They brought me some scrubs and a pad and some mesh like underwear to get me home. They handed me the clothes that I had worn to the hospital in a biohazard bag and got mom a wheel chair since she was too weak to walk from the flu.
I asked to walk. I didn’t want to sit. I cried all the way home and as soon as I got home I started trying to move all the baby stuff out of my room. I was too weak so I called my friend Mckenzie for help. I eventually broke down and had her call Michael at work. He had insisted that he had to go to work but that I could call him and he would come home if I needed him to. I made her tell him I needed him to come home and that I couldn't wait until his shift was over.
He came to me and laid with me for 3 days on the futon in the living room. I only moved to go to the bathroom and someone always escorted me to make sure that I didn’t faint or get too weak. I didn’t want to eat. I didn’t want to sleep. I wanted to curl up and die but that was the one thing that no one seemed to be willing to let me do.
Michael and I cried. That’s all we could do. He eventually had to go back to work and I was on my own during the day but I didn’t move much. If I needed to go to the bathroom then I managed…if not then I didn’t move. I wasn’t hungry anyway and even if I had been I don't think I would've eaten. I was thirsty but not thirsty enough to drink anything without someone sitting there watching.
It was by far the most difficult thing that I have ever been through. They did send Serenity to the Pathology lab and came back with answers. They told me that she had a genetic disorder called Sirenomelia or Mermaid Syndrome. For those of you who don't know what that is...The baby's legs begin to fuse together into a tail-like structure. Usually they cannot use the restroom when they are born and die hours after birth if not before. There are a few exceptions but not many. Shiloh Pepin had this disease and lived until 2 weeks after her 10th birthday but it was/is a difficult road for the few who do survive. I read somewhere that it was estimated that Sirenomelia occurs only once in every 60,000 births. It is usually in isolated cases so there is no genetic connection found at this time. But I'll leave some links at the bottom of this if you would like to do some research. I still..2 years not know anyone else...out of all the angel parents that I have met ..who has lost a child to this disease. It gets lonely at times but I know that a loss is a loss no matter what the child had or what happened and there is comfort in that.
There are still times that I can mentally justify why what happened is my fault when I miss her enough. I can tell you that I didn’t try hard enough to save her and that I should’ve stayed laying down with my feet up until we left like the nurses said and that if I had that things would've been different. I still can't drive by our old house without remembering that day. I can’t go to certain hospitals because of the memories engraved in my head pf the last experience I had there. 
2 years, 1 month, 1 week, and 4 days later I can still tell you that she was hiccupping and kicking and playing in my womb the night before she left us to fly high.
I find comfort in the fact that I know that she knew she was loved and that there wasn't anything I woudn't have done for her. I’m sure that she didn’t feel any pain. I still miss her but she has helped me grow as a person and she is still my guardian angel. She comes to me in dreams…she flutters through my thoughts quite often. She will always be there in my mind somewhere and I wouldn't have it any other way. I wouldn't trade those 14 weeks that I had with her for anything. I needed her to help me grow up and find strength in myself.
 I find it easier to cope now but I have not forgotten. It doesn’t happen like that. These angels are sent to each angel parent so that they will be able to grow and learn things that other people don’t learn no matter how long they live. Sure, I feel ripped off sometimes when I see someone leaving their baby in the car while they run into the gas station or hear someone complaining about how crazy their children are driving them. Don’t they know that their baby is a gift? I still feel angry when someone says I shouldn’t love her anymore or acts like I’m not a mother. But to be fair, I do have to remember that not everyone experiences child loss or pregnancy loss (nor would I ever want them to). I need to remember that sometimes people aren't going to understand why my close friends tell me "Happy Mother's Day" or why I still celebrate her birthday even though she isn't here with me. I also have to accept that I still need support and sometimes it's hard for me to understand why so much later I am still so shakey about things sometimes. I still think about her quite often but I am learning to thank God for the things on Earth that she didn't have to experience instead of pitying myself and asking why I didn't get to keep her. Although, sometimes I do that too.
I am learning to walk on my own two feet but I am not very stable sometimes. Sometimes I still even need someone to hold my hand through the dark hours while at other times, I put on a brave face and when someone asks how I am…I smile and say “I'm okay.” no matter how horribly defeated I feel on the inside. I celebrate her life on September 25th now. I do not look at it as the day she died because it was really the day she began to live even if it was with God instead of on Earth.
I have learned now that this experience along with others that I have endured and the ones that I have yet to face will become a part of me but that they do not define me. I do not have to be defined by the problems and troubles in life. I can let them help me to grow and help me to become the woman of God that he intended for me to be but I do not have to nor should I allow them to define or become who I am.

P.S. Kisses and Cuddles Serenity! I love you. Always remember.. The wings of mommy's soul fly with you.

Below are a few links with some information about Sirenomelia if you are interested:,631

1 comment:

  1. i am just speechless. I am sitting here crying. All i can think is OMG. i don't mean to offend, but Michael was a real jerk and could have been a bit more concerned with how you were feeling (during the cramping and everything). Sending you hugs and prayers. I know it must take a lot to share this.