A mother’s heart: 3 stories of pregnancy & infant loss

October 15, 2018 | 3:09 am

Updated October 15, 2018 | 1:17 pm

Meet Ashley, Sarah and Kristi, three mothers who have felt the excitement of pregnancy, only to be utterly devastated by the loss of a child. Ashley and Sarah both experienced miscarriages, while Kristi’s newborn daughter, Jordan, died before reaching four months of age.

With Monday, Oct. 15 marking Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, they each agreed to share their heartfelt stories and talk about how their experiences changed their lives.
Ashley became pregnant in 2012 after one year of marriage.

“We knew starting a family was something we always wanted,” said Ashley. “We weren’t exactly trying to get pregnant, but we also weren’t preventing it.”

She found out she was expecting about four weeks into her pregnancy and only had one doctor’s appointment before her joy turned to heartbreak.

Around seven weeks she started spotting, but it soon went away. Three and a half weeks later, the bleeding returned.

“I called the doctor,” Ashley said, “and she basically said in the nicest way possible, ‘if this is going to happen, it’s going to happen, and we can’t do anything to prevent it.’”

Her miscarriage took about three days.

“It was the most amount of blood I have ever seen,” Ashley said. “It was scary. I didn’t know anybody who had miscarried before. I had no idea what was going on with my body.”

Ashley had a unique situation with her miscarriage. While many women have a procedure called a D&C to clear the uterine lining after a miscarriage, she went through something different. Her doctor said her body broke everything down and then cleaned it out on its own.

“That was very painful to hear,” she said. “I felt betrayed by my own body. I went through a period of time where I was disgusted with myself and my body and the fact that it could do something like that.”

At 11.5 weeks, the doctors confirmed she was no longer pregnant.

“They took so many (ultrasound) pictures,” she said. “I remember the pictures just falling on the floor. I tried to look at them because I had to see for myself that there was nothing left.”

Ashley said that even though she didn’t have the support of someone who could relate to her suffering, her husband was really supportive during and after the miscarriage.

“He was worried about my health and my mental state,” Ashley said. “He didn’t really have time to grieve at first. I don’t think he really grieved until I was almost out of my suffering. All of this was so new to us — the pregnancy, the miscarriage.”

Ashley said her doctor Suzanne Rashidian was compassionate and explained that miscarriages are common in the first trimester, especially for first-time pregnancies.

Before trying again for a baby, Ashley and her husband decided to take a bit of a break to grieve.

“Losing our first baby really solidified for us that we wanted to start a family,” she said. “But I went through a lot of different emotions after losing our first. One day there would be so much anger and the next would be filled with confusion.”

In 2014, Ashley became pregnant again.

“I don’t really think I let out a sigh of relief until he was a year old,” she said. “I had lost my pregnancy innocence. The first trimester was pins and needles. If I didn’t feel him move every so often, I would start to get worried. Miscarriage was always in the back of my mind.”
Sarah and Patrick Clouse also experienced a miscarriage like Ashley and her husband.

A few days after Sarah announced her pregnancy to family and friends, her circumstances took a turn for the worse.

“I tested positive for the flu,” she said. “I felt bad, but it didn’t seem to phase me that something would happen to the baby. The doctors assured me I would be okay. The next day I began bleeding. I was so, so scared.”

Sarah said she called her husband, who came home and rushed her to the doctor’s office, reassuring her that everything would be okay.

“The doctor gave me an ultrasound and much to our relief, we saw our baby with a strong heartbeat,” she said. “We even saw the baby wiggling around. My heart soared — we were going to be okay, I thought.”

Sarah’s doctor told her she had a small subchorionic hemorrhage, which is basically a blood blister on the uterus. He put her on bed rest and told her this would pass.

“I continued bleeding through the night and into the next day,” she said. “I told my husband that something didn’t feel right. I told him I didn’t feel connected to the baby anymore and that I wanted to go to the ER.”

Sarah was having a miscarriage.

“We were devastated,” she said. “I don’t think I have ever cried so hard in my life. My baby was gone and there was nothing I could do.”

Sarah said she and her husband decided to give their baby a gender-neutral name — Alex.

“Most people don’t know that we buried our baby,” she said. “It was the hardest, most painful thing I’ve ever been through. We hadn’t even met our baby, yet we were having to say goodbye.”
In 2012, Owensboro teachers Kristi and Neil Hayden were expecting their second child, a daughter they named Jordan. Everything was going fine until 32 weeks into her pregnancy.

“My (obstetrician) couldn’t get a full anatomy scan at our regular appointment, so we tried again at our next appointment,” she said. “At that point, we were referred to a specialist who then diagnosed her with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.”

Kristi said they prayed often once they got the diagnosis and tried to prepare for the unknown.

Kristi was then scheduled to be induced at Norton Children’s Hospital on March 20, 2012, where she said the delivery went perfectly.

“We thought we knew the extent of her condition, but when she was born, we found out there was more,” Kristi said. “Her atrial septum was intact. That meant she was getting a backflow of blood into her developing lungs. She was immediately put on the ventilator and taken to the cath lab to put a stent into her septum, so blood could go between the chambers.

Kristi said this completely changed their game plan.

“We were now dealing with highly underdeveloped lungs along with the half of a heart,” she said. “Kids can live with HLHS after their three major surgeries to make their unique heart anatomy work for them, but the lungs were her biggest problem.”

Jordan Hayden | Photo courtesy of Kristi Hayden

Jordan did well with her initial surgery, was taken off the ventilator and her parents were hopeful about taking her home.

“The lungs never could sustain her,” Kristi said. “Being in the hospital led to many complications that made it seem like after every step forward there came three steps backward.”

In the midst of everything, they also had a 2-year-old daughter, Riley.

“We made it work,” she said. “We took turns getting to the hospital for early morning rounds and stayed there all day. We had lots of help with Riley from our parents and staff at the hospital.”

After 114 days, Jordan died. To keep her memory alive, the Haydens talk about her regularly.

“We have stayed in touch with many of the wonderful people that took care of her at Norton Children’s Hospital,” Kristi said. “We keep pictures of her around the house. We celebrate her birthday and anniversary of her death. We change out the flowers at her gravesite on major holidays. We thank God for the time He gave us with her. We felt God’s love and grace in more ways during that time than we could ever even explain.”
Ashley encourages others to know they are not alone.

“There are other women out there who have gone through it or are currently going through it,” she said. “Find a support group, find your people or a therapist and talk with someone. Don’t bottle it all in.”

For those suffering from the loss of a child, a support group for grieving parents meets the first Thursday of every month at Glenn Funeral Home.

October 15, 2018 | 3:09 am

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