Family Magazine

Losing A Child

By Wifessionals @wifessionals
Losing A ChildHello there! My name is Ashley and I blog over at Our Mitchell Moments.  I first was introduced to Kaitlyn when I heard about Cara Box. I immediately started following her sweet family on Instagram as well as her blog. When she first asked me to tell my story I was so humbled. I had worked extra hard for the past almost two years to always keep my story alive and to be able to write about it. I was thrilled. However, how different it all became just a couple weeks ago.

What you are about to read is my story, and what is now my life. Sometimes these sentences ramble on, but I wanted to show my true emotion and not hold back for the sake of grammar.

Where do I even begin...

When I was a little girl, I wasn't the one who dressed up as a bride for Halloween. I wasn't the girl obsessing over getting married. I was the little girl with a bunch of baby dolls playing mommy and I was the girl who just couldn't wait to become a mother.

That dream began to take shape when I met my husband in 2009. First as friends, but quickly fell in love. We were married November 1st, 2011 and both knew we wanted to start growing our family as soon as possible.We moved quick! One month after our wedding, we saw that positive plus sign on the pregnancy test. We were thrilled! I immediately thought about the nursery, names, all things baby! I was glowing. Literally, that pregnancy glow that everyone always says a woman gets when pregnant, I had it! I was working as a nanny at the time, all the while making plans for this little baby's future. The OCD planner in me immediately kicked into high gear after the 12 weeks "safe zone". I ordered nursery furniture, and had my husband get straight to work painting the nursery right after we found out it was a girl!!! I think it's every woman's wish to have a little girl to dress and be their best friend. I was on cloud nine! What I had wanted my entire life was happening and I was the happiest pregnant woman. Even the morning sickness couldn't bring me down! Around 20 weeks my OB gave us our anatomy scan that every woman gets right around the half way point. It was then we found out that my cervix was shortening. Nothing too bad but still something that he wanted us to get checked out by a specialist. To say I wasn't worried was an understatement. Everything was going great so far so how could this be? (Go back 5 years ago - I had a small part of my cervix removed when pre cancerous cells were found). After seeing our specialist, I was put on bed rest indefinitely until I delivered. So at 21 weeks I started bed rest. Only up to use the rest room and take a 5 minute shower. My happy pregnant world was shattered. However, the news of bed rest was nothing compared to what was about to happen three short weeks later.

Losing A Child
It was a Saturday morning when I awoke to some cramping. At this point I didn't really know what contractions felt like, nor did I know what the difference was between those and Braxton Hicks. Being on bed rest, I obviously took it easy that entire day. It lasted pretty much all day and after dinner I decided it was something I wasn't too sure about and wanted to call my doctor. Considering my cervix had shortened the few weeks before, my doctor instructed us to make our way to the hospital. He said they will just monitor me for a while, making sure it wasn't too serious and that I was probably just dehydrated. I'll be honest, the first thing that went through my head was, shoot I wasn't drinking enough water! At the hospital it was determined that I was in preterm labor. That cramping I had was actually contractions and after being in the hospital for a few hours they were becoming intense. I was given injections to try and calm the contractions down, along with an IV to help with my dehydration. When that didn't work I was given an IV of a stronger medicine that would hopefully work better in calming the contractions down. I went the whole night contracting every 2-4 minutes. By morning my cervix was dilated to a 2 and contractions were slowly fading away. Because I was dilated and only being a couple days shy of 24 weeks (which is viability), my hospital made the decision to transfer me to a hospital in the city with the best NICU in case of early delivery. Even at this point it never crossed my mind that my baby could possibly be born so early.

That Sunday I was transported to Rush University in downtown Chicago. Contractions had finally stopped and although I was stable, I was still dilated at a 2. Shortly after I was admitted, they found that I had an infection. The infection was what started my contractions in the beginning. I had no symptoms from the infection and I had felt fine. It was then that the hospital decided to keep me until it was safe to send me back to my regular hospital. My husband and I were told we would stay at Rush until I was 28 weeks and the hospital closer to home could provide care, should I deliver. So Monday night I was taken off of the L&D floor and given my "new" home for the next 4 weeks on the antepartum unit. Hospital bed rest. Sounds just as horrible as it was. However horrible it sounded, my husband and I had all the hope in the world. I was stable. Baby girl was kicking like crazy moving about, and all we needed was 28 days to get to 28 weeks. We were determined to keep her nice and safe in my belly for 4 weeks. Unfortunately, we would never see those 28 days...

After I had fallen asleep, I was quickly woken up by terrible night sweats. I didn't feel right, and needed to use the rest room. When I had gotten up it hit me that something was terribly wrong. What was this leaking down my leg? It couldn't be my water breaking, right? Every movie I saw showed it like a big waterfall. I immediately woke my husband and he called my nurse. From this moment on it is a blur. Things happened so quickly. They realized that, yes, my water had broken and that my infection had made it's way to my uterus. My world of hope ended just as quickly as it had began. My baby girl was going to be born today. At exactly 24 weeks. Even at this very moment, when the NICU doctor came back to talk to us about the delivery, it didn't cross my mind that there was a chance she wouldn't make it. They said there was a 50% chance she would live and a 90% chance of birth defects. At the time, a 50/50 chance to me was in our favor. We are good people and we have everything ready for her and her life, something bad wouldn't happen to us. I refused to think something bad was going to happen. I labored for 6 hours without an epidural because of the infection. Add the pitocin, and the excruciating pain from the infection, and my contractions were at a 20. I begged for something, anything. It wasn't until after I was only dilated to a 4 that they decided to go ahead with an epidural. After the epidural I was able to rest. 3 hours later my nurse came running in telling me to put my oxygen mask on immediately. My baby's heartbeat had gone down and was in distress. What I didn't know was that my daughter was making her way down the birth canal. I was delivering her without any doctors, and not in the OR which was closer to the NICU. I was instructed to do what I could to stop her from coming out. Stop pushing, they said. However strong I tried, I wasn't able to do anything but deliver.

On May 22, 2012 at 6:32pm, Sloane Elise Mitchell was born. They rushed her out of my room and ran down the hall to attempt to get her to breathe. I didn't hear a cry. I knew I wouldn't because the doctor mentioned that her little lungs were so tiny that it probably wouldn't happen. The next 15 minutes I laid there, ecstatic that my baby girl was here! I was a mom. I had a daughter. The nursing staff got to work instructing me it was time to deliver my placenta and that they also wanted me to start pumping. It was then that the NICU doctor walked in with Sloane in her arms. How could that be. I know they said that she would be hooked up to a lot of machines and that I'd have to go see her myself. Why was she holding her? Then I knew when I looked into her eyes. Tears rolling down her face as she looked at me and said, "I am so sorry, we did everything we could. Her tiny lungs just weren't strong enough."

At that moment everything inside of me just exploded and I screamed. My world, my dreams, my hope, had all just crashed in a matter of seconds. I wanted to throw up but something inside me told everyone to stop crying. I even stopped crying. Sloane's little heart was still beating and it occurred to me that this was what she would remember, so I wanted it as calm as it could be. My husband, mother, and father spent the next two hours holding, kissing, and talking to Sloane. This was the only chance we would get with her. I remember telling her that we loved her, and that mommy and daddy wanted her more than anything. We had a priest come and baptize Sloane before she passed away 1 hour and 30 minutes later.

Losing A Child
The next two months are a blur. I wouldn't speak to anyone, I wouldn't see anyone. I sat in the same spot on my couch either alone or with my husband. I went into shock at first. Then a deep depression. My husband and I fought a lot. I had heard that burying a child either brings a couple closer or tears them apart, and that's what it was doing, tearing us apart. We grieved differently and just couldn't understand one another. It wasn't until we had a memorial service with friends and family that I finally allowed others back into my life. I celebrated every month of her birth day with my husband. We sent off a balloon each month, just so Sloane knew we were thinking of her.

On what was Sloane's due date, September 11th, we were given hope. We had fallen pregnant again. The hope of another child. The hope of becoming a mother...again. The next 9 months were nothing short of terrifying. We took every precaution we could. Progesterone during the weeks of 6-12. Then a cerclage was placed at 14 weeks. Starting at 16 weeks, weekly injections to calm my uterus, and bed rest from week 14 all the way to week 37. I laid in bed for 6 months. It was all worth it because on April 29, 2013, Collins Elise Mitchell was born a healthy 6lbs 7oz.

Losing A Child

Two weeks ago, when Kaitlyn asked me to blog about my experience, this would have ended on a happy note. Sloane blessed us with not only her sister, but a mere 3 months after Collins was born, we had become pregnant again! This time a baby boy.
Losing A Child

Things were going great, I was over halfway through my pregnancy, we were doing everything we did with Collins, and our son was growing a week ahead! It was such a blessing because my husband and I weren't even sure if we wanted to have anymore children because of all we had to go through - but here was this baby boy inside me, kicking like crazy. I had immediately fallen in love.
Losing A Child

On January 11th I had woken up that morning just not feeling right. I had usually felt the baby kick
Losing A Child
each morning during breakfast. To calm my nerves we used our fetal doppler to find his heartbeat which we did, 133bpm. Later that day I started cramping, and contractions started around 4pm. By 6pm contractions were 2-4 minutes apart, it was time to call the Dr. and go to the hospital. Being through this before, I knew two things: I wasn't bleeding so my cerclage wasn't being stretched, and these contractions could be caused by an infection. (I am prone to infection because of the cerclage placed to keep my cervix closed). It was happening all over again, but never in my wildest dreams did I think about what was about to happen. After finding out I did indeed have an infection, I looked at my husband and said, "That's ok, we will just get an antibiotic and we can take care of it. This is our little scare that God has given us to slow down, make this our last baby." That wasn't the case. God had something else planned for us. It wasn't until our ultrasound that we found out that our son had no heartbeat. He had died in the womb and I would now have to deliver my dead son. At 12:53am on January 12, 2014, Knox Thomas Mitchell was born into this world stillborn. Again, this has happened, however not the same way as Sloane. Something completely different.
Losing A Child
I would be lying if I told you that as I write this I am not completely dead inside. I am lost. I am not a good wife, friend, and right now not a very good mother. People keep telling me, you need to be strong, Collins depends on you. That doesn't bring my son back, nor make this experience for the second time any easier. To be honest, this time seems to be a lot harder. Its been almost 2 weeks since Knox was born, and everyday is a roller coaster. Waking up is the hardest, because it is just a reminder of a new day with this new life. I am doing my best to be strong for Collins, and I am working hard at getting her to nurse again. When I got pregnant with Knox my supply dried up and I was unable to breastfeed. After Knox was born I immediately began pumping, knowing that he would want me to give his milk to his sister if anything else.

So here I am, taking it day by day. I've been down the road of grief before so I know how things will go over the next few months. I just pray that somewhere along this road, God gives us hope. It is what got us through Sloane's passing and I am praying that we receive that hope after Knox. It takes time, but that doesn't mean I don't love Sloane and Knox more than anything in this world, and I will do whatever I can to keep their memories alive. I am their mother, Marty is their father, and Collins is their sister and we will forever think about them through memory and pictures.

The first thing I am going to do when I get to heaven is find both Sloane and Knox and never let them go.

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