June 19th started like any other day. We woke up, Eric went to work, I had breakfast and a bath. Around 10:00am I noticed that I hadn't felt any movement for a while. I wasn't particularly worried as our little Lentil wasn't particularly active in the mornings, but I texted Eric to let him know that I was going to drink some cold water and lay down and that if I didn't feel anything in the next half an hour, I was going to go to the hospital to get it checked out. He left work and picked me up. I still wasn't worried- we were ten days from the due date. How could anything be wrong?
When we got to the hospital, they admitted us right away. The nurse came in and tried to find the baby's heartbeat, but couldn't. She blamed the machine, but I knew right away that something was wrong. There had never been an issue finding the heartbeat before and if she could hear mine, it probably wasn't a technical issue. She brought in another machine and still nothing. She left to get the doctor and I completely broke down. I knew in that moment that things were not good. The doctor came in and confirmed what I already knew. There was no heartbeat. Our baby had passed away.
Eric and I completely lost it. My brain couldn't handle the news. I felt like it wasn't actually happening to us. How could it? Especially this late in the game! And then the realization that this horrific experience had only just begin. I still had to give birth.
The doctor came back in and told us the next steps. They were too full to get us in that day and we'd have to go home and wait until the next morning. At first, I was outraged. How dare they send us home to sit with our poor baby still in my belly?! Looking back on it, I'm so grateful that they did. Going home gave us time to start the grieving process and say our goodbyes. It gave us time to make decisions together and come to grips with what our lives were going to look like without our new baby.
We went back the next morning and were hurried into our labour and delivery room. I have to say that from start to finish we were treated like gold. The nurses and doctors were so gracious and incredibly kind. Every single one of them became a part of our family that day and we will forever be grateful for them. I was induced at 11:30 and Annalee was born 11 hours later. The labor was intense (to say the least), but it ended up being better than I could've asked for. Because I was induced, I ended up getting an epidural- which was not part of our original birth plan (HA!). After all of our hypnobirthing classes and natural childbirth books, I was sad that I wouldn't actually feel the labor itself, but then, at 10cm, the epidural had worn of entirely. I was pressing the little button, they gave me a top up... and nothing. I could feel everything that was happening. So, I basically got to skip the painful middle part and experience everything else. It was incredible! I can't help but think that the Universe felt like it had given me enough to handle and that, perhaps, it could cut me a bit of a break.
We didn't know what we were having and our doctor was so good about giving us the same experience that any other parent's would have. She exclaimed, 'It's a girl!,' plunked her down on my chest and asked Eric if he'd like to cut the cord (which he did). Even though we knew that she wasn't going to cry and that we were going to have to leave without her, we'd never been so happy. She was beautiful! She had curly hair and big feet like her Dad and big lips like me. I couldn't get over how perfect she was. We were like every other proud parents. We spent the next 13 hours just staring at her- memorizing every single one of her little features. We gave her a bath, swaddled her and dressed her in the outfit she would've come home in.
I thought I would never leave the hospital. We would just move into that room- I'd take the hospital bed, Eric could sleep on the couch and we'd eat egg salad sandwiches for the rest of our lives with Annalee by our sides, but at a certain point a peace just sort of washed over me and I knew it was time to say goodbye. We couldn't, in fact, stay there forever and even though she wouldn't physically be with us, we both knew that she'd always be in our hearts. And so we came home.