Around 8:30pm I started feeling some light contractions on the couch. Nothing serious, about one every 15 minutes or so, lasting about 20-30 seconds.
I went to bed about 10:30pm and couldn’t really sleep. Around midnight the contractions became more noticeable and I had to start focusing and working through them with deep breaths and concentration.
I remember thinking this is what I had prepared myself for and this is the reason I did so much reading and research about laboring and birthing naturally since about 16 weeks along. It just kind of happened naturally that I could work through them, as I knew I wanted to labor as long at home before going to the birth center. I let Dan know they were getting closer together and much stronger.
At 1am, Sam started crying, which he almost never does in the middle of the night. I finished working through a contraction and went in to comfort him and give him a drink. I sat that for an extra minute, because I knew this would be the last time I saw him pregnant with Naomi and I wouldn’t see him first thing in the morning. It was a special little moment for me.
The contractions were coming every 8-10 minutes, lasting about 30 seconds. When I would get up, it was more uncomfortable and the urge to “push” was quite strong and I kept wondering why I was feeling this after only just an hour or so of even starting real labor.
I worked through them in bed until 2:30am when I called my midwife. I told her they were more uncomfortable standing up and she suggested taking a warm bath and to call her back in 30 mins to an hour, which I agreed and certainly didn’t want to go there and have to turn back around if I wasn’t far enough along.
I just couldn’t take the time to get a bath going and went right back to bed to work through them. Contractions were coming anywhere from 5-9 mintues and they were getting more and more intense. I could work through them, as long as I wasn’t standing up. I had to lay on my side. This whole time I knew Dan wasn’t really sleeping and could hear me breathing deep and doing a bit of “moaning” to get through them.
At 3:25am, I decided to call my midwife back and let her know we should get to the birth center right away. Dan jumped out of bed and got the car seat and my bag and a couple other things together. I called Kirk and Linda, our neighbors to come be with Sam. Linda came over about 1 minute later. I was trying to work through the contractions and this strong urge as we were trying to get out the door.
I told the midwife it would take us about 25 or so minutes to get there.
I kept thinking to myself, why do I feel like I need so push so bad already? It’s only been a couple hours and only two hours since I’d REALLY been laboring with effort.
We jumped in the car and I knew another one was coming and it was so, so intense. I kept closing my legs together to resist that urge. I kept telling Dan to hurry, run the red lights, but don’t get pulled over!
I had three contractions that were the most intense feeling I’ve ever had in my life on the 20 minutes it took get to the parking lot. I breathed deep, moaned and probably yelled a bit that I just had to push.
As soon as I saw the birth center parking lot, I said to myself, “sh*%, the midwife isn’t here yet!” I was having my last contraction when Dan was putting the car in park and I just yelled out, “I have to push her out, she’s coming, she’s coming!” I felt my bag of water come out, break and then her head came right after and her body just slide right out. I tried to catch her in my hands, but she slipped right onto the floor between my legs.
Naomi Jane Dean was born at 3:49 am on Tuesday, July 10th, just two hours and 49 minutes after starting real labor. 37 weeks and 3 days.
Dan put the car in park, ran around to my side and she was already out. I told him to call 911 and screamed, “she’s not breathing, she’s not breathing!” I felt her neck and realized the cord was wrapped around twice, really tight. I didn’t want to break it, but just had to get it off, in case that made a difference in her survival.
Dan had a look of horror on his face and the dispatcher told him to give her breaths, but I knew she had already passed and for some reason, I knew that when I was birthing her and as soon as I was to look down, she would not be alive, I just knew it.
Our midwife showed up about 30 seconds to a minute after she came out and she started doing CPR, but I just knew by looking at her skin and the way it was already coming off and how purple she and the cord were that she had been gone for at least a couple days.
The paramedics arrived about just after our midwife.
It was chaos, panic and I was in shock. My adrenaline was running at an all time high from just delivering my own baby and realizing that now, I needed to make sure I was OK and also, I still needed to deliver the placenta. I told Dan to grab the camera right after she came out because I wanted to document this, even though I knew how bad she looked and knew she was not alive.
Naomi was in my arms this entire time and they never took her away while all the chaos in the car was happening.
My cramps were getting pretty bad and I asked to get the placenta out. Sarah, our midwife told me to push and I did, so hard trying to get it out. The cord ended up breaking off from the placenta while it was still inside of me, so she calmly told me to wait a bit and then we’d try again to get it out. A couple minutes passed and I pushed again, so hard and it came right out, thank goodness.
The paramedics were amazing and Sarah did an amazing job keeping Dan and me calm in any way we could through this devastation and unbelievable time.
I was worried about myself and what if I was bleeding a lot. I was just covered in wetness, fluid and blood, but I didn’t care. I kept looking at Dan, as he was in shock, crying and observing all of this and I kept looking at Naomi, just sobbing and sobbing.
Right after the placenta came out, we went in the ambulance to the hospital.
It was surreal.
Was this really happening to us? Why? I don’t understand?
I stood up out of the car and laid on the stretcher, all while the blood was dripping down my legs. I gave Naomi to Dan and he just held her so tight but gentle , sitting next to me in the ambulance.
It only took about 2 minutes to get to St. Marks and get inside.
I still couldn’t believe this was happening. So much adrenaline.
They staff was ready and waiting for us. They kept asking me questions while Dan was just sitting in the corner of the room in the chair holding her, sobbing in disbelief.
They had four nurses, an on-call OB, a chaplian and a couple other people all there to be with us.
The nurses and OB took a look at her and just kept telling us how sorry they were and told us that by the look of her, she had been gone for at least a couple days, if not more.
One of the nurses and the OB assured me that no matter where I would have delivered and no matter the care I got, the outcome would have been the same. There was just no way of knowing this was going to happen. We had heard her heartbeat six days prior and I was measuring right on track. I was so, so confused, so was Dan.
I hadn’t even been checked out yet by the OB and about 4:50-5am Ali, my sister came running in. I just lost it. LOST it. I was sobbing uncontrollably and didn’t even know how to handle myself. I was so glad she was there and I knew she had started to call my family and also let my Mom and John know to get there as soon as possible.
One of the most painful and uncomfortable parts of this whole thing was the next step. Llaying flat on my back, putting my legs up and the OB had to check for blood clots and see if I tore.
Birthing Naomi did not hurt, not one little bit. But this? Oh my word, this felt so painful and uncomfortable. The OB had to put his whole hand up by my cervix, as I had three or four clots that needed to come out. I felt the gushes of blood, all while these cramps were just awful, painful and so bad. He let me know I only tore just a tiny bit and it needed a stitch or two, just to be safe.
I kept asking how much she weighed, and no one would tell me. They kept saying they still had to weigh her. When they finally told me after I was sort of cleaned up and stitched, I was again shocked by how small she was, even though we had held her.
3 pounds 15 ounces.
My precious girl, so small...but why? I just kept asking myself why and how and when did she stop growing?
Ali sat in the corner just holding her, sobbing and sobbing. I felt so sad for all of us and kept sobbing on and off.
My Mom and John got there sometime after 6am and I just needed my Mom. I just needed her so bad. I cried so hard when she came in and hugged me. She held me so tight and I did the same. John also held me tight and just cried and cried for us.
The site of John holding her little body wrapped warmly in the blanket was such a tender moment, one I will never forget.
After lots of tears were shed with them, we had to talk to a detective, since this was technically an unattended birth. They had to take pictures of her and document a bunch of stuff and ask Dan and me questions. It was rough, really rough, but I was just running on pure adrenaline and still in shock, so I was able to pull talk OK for small amounts of time.
The nurses put her in a little dress, hat and wrapped her so snug.
Dan was in and out of the room calling and texting family and friends. I just feel so bad for the fact that he was sitting on the side, observing all of the chaos and could not do one thing to help or make it better. It’s something I think about a lot and will have to try and get over.
This is our new life.
This is our new normal.
This, is devastating.
They let us know we could stay as long as we wanted and that Naomi would not leave us and we could say our goodbye’s anytime, no rush. They sent a photographer in to get some beautiful pictures of her. I put her in a little cute outfit and bow I had packed. My Mom and I dressed and undressed her tiny, fragile body. We tried not to tear her skin even more, it was just so delicate.
Her lips were getting deeper and deeper purple, almost black. Her skin was cold and she did not smell of fresh, new baby. I kept sobbing, “poor Sam, poor Sam, he does not get to meet her today.” I was just so sad that we had to somehow tell him and explain to him that she didn’t come home with us.
As the hours went by, I was feeling better physically and Dan was tired, really tired and worn out. He had a hard time looking at anything but her hands, as they were the parts of her body that looked the best at this point.
I held her, a lot. I let her lay at my feet on the bed while I just looked at her, talked to her and wished so badly that she were alive.
I kept thinking to myself in those hours that I just knew she wasn’t going to make it. I just knew it when I was pushing her out. It’s a weird, scary and somehow calming feeling all at the same time.
Ali stayed with us for a long time until it was time to go be with Sam. She left about 7:30-8am. My Mom and John stayed almost the entire time with us.
My sister Jenn came and met Naomi and sat there and cried with us for a while.
I was so glad she made it.
Mom and John graciously went and took our car to get cleaned and detailed so that we didn’t have to deal with it. Mom my had already started contacting the mortuary where my Grandma Naomi and Grandpa John are buried. They took care of everything.
I was feeling physically OK, but emotionally and mentally Dan and I were tired, so tired. We needed peace and quiet and a nap. I took a shower, as I still had dried blood on my legs and feet. As soon as I showered, we got our stuff together and we had to say goodbye. I kept Noami in the little dress and booties they put on her, as it already had her blood on it from where her skin had come off. That is what I wanted her to be laid to rest in. I was calm and OK with that.
She was laying on the table and I sobbed, talking to her and making sure I told her I loved her and how special she is to us, even though we didn’t get to know her. I wanted to kiss her sweet skin, but it was so cold and already smelling that I just kissed her little hat and laid my hand on her chest.
Goodbye my daughter, goodbye my sweet Naomi. I love you, I love you and we walked out.
As we walked to the doors to get in the car, I didn’t even have my shoes on, but it was clear I had just been through hell and I could tell people were looking at me... and that was OK.
I felt a sense of calmness in the hospital room and even in the chaos of being in the car, as it was very clear that she was gone right when she came out.
We didn’t ask for an autopsy in the hospital, as she had already passed in the womb and I thought it was probably the tightness of the cord around her neck.
I’m so glad we actually ended up doing an autopsy.
Ali let her brother-in-law Steve (her OB/GYN and my previous OB) know what had happened and he strongly urged her to tell us to get an autopsy, as he was almost sure the cord wasn’t the single cause of her death.
My Mom and Jenn scrambled to get everything in order to get this done before the funeral at the University Hospital where Dave, Jenn’s husband is a Geneticist. I was terrified now and felt a huge urge to get it done. I knew that it would give us more answers, but I also knew that if it couldn’t get done, we would just have to be OK with not fully knowing what happened.
The autopsy did happen, thankfully. We don’t have the report back yet, but Dave gave us a few of his observations...
She had probably passed about 6 days prior, meaning after I heard her heartbeat on that Tuesday, she passed shortly after (even though I could have sworn I felt her moving).
Her lower limbs looked like she did not have enough room to grow. Possible low fluid issues and not getting enough nutrients. He doesn’t think it was because of the cord.
As hard as it is to hear this and it will be hard to read the report when it comes, it’s comforting to to know these issues...for more answers. It calms and helps us move on.
Her tiny hands in oursHer precious feet
Last week was the hardest week of our lives, especially trying to tell Sam and remind him where she is and that she didn’t get to come home with us. (adding in Sam and Dan being really sick and Sam ending up at the hospital for fluids on Friday night).
It was pure hell and I hope to never, ever go through that again.
I am SO very thankful, even though it’s devastating that she’s gone, that she was so small, so that physically birthing her and my recovery was and has been amazingly easy. Almost too easy- to the point where I was just up all week and had to make sure to rest and still need to be sure that I rest and take care of myself.
My body feels so good.
I’m sad, mad, happy, crying and smiling all at the same time it seems.
It’s the hardest time of our lives, but I know we will get through it and we are getting through it day by day. We have an overwhelming amount of support from family and friends. It makes me cry to know how much people love us.
I don’t know what I would do without my family and Dan’s family.
We would be lost.
I am also so thankful to be a Mom. It’s my job. I love it.
I have a crazy, energetic, incredibly smart and athletic on-the-go son, who keeps me from crying all day. It’s impossible to be so sad all the time with him around.
We are blessed beyond measures that we have him. He is PURE joy!
I feel lonely for my daughter and I know Dan does too. Our plans for starting this new adventure in our life at the end of July did not turn out the way we thought, but there are so many opportunities waiting for us and fun times to be had, despite her passing.
I feel her so close and I cry at random times each day. I have a hard time sleeping, but it’s getting better.
My marriage has gotten stronger and jumped leaps and bounds the past 12 days.
I love my husband.
He is my best friend and the best father, to two beautiful children.
Our new normal is tough right now and I know I still have a lot of feelings, crying and grieving to work through, but I will get through it and I will be stronger...much stronger since Naomi came and passed into our lives.
Love you little girl. Love you.
Mark Thackeray for his amazing photos of the funeral.