On the 19th of every month I plan to share our story of Prudence. Today, September 19th, marks four months since Prudence’s day of life.
It’s been four months since I was induced unexpectedly and had Prudence a month and a few days early. In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago, and other days I still can’t believe we have already met her and that she’s gone. Funny how grief makes time do weird things, isn’t it?
I have been trying to figure out what to say today, what part of our story to share, and how I was going to do it. And I couldn’t figure it out. So here I am, typing away as I drink my morning coffee, not knowing where this post is going to go.
Let’s start from the beginning. That is one thing that I think ended up being a blessing for us. We were able to sort of grieve throughout the entire pregnancy, because we found out at about 10 weeks that we weren’t likely to have a healthy baby. When I went to the doctor and expressed my concerns I talk about below, we ended up getting an ultrasound that led to us getting an immediate referral to Iowa City, putting us in the right hands to deal with whatever was coming at us in the best possible way. I am sincerely grateful for our Midwife and the nurses that day, who not only handled me with care, but let me go, so that I could get the help I needed elsewhere.
Here’s what I wrote in March on my Caringbridge site, about when we first discovered something was wrong in our pregnancy.
I knew I wanted a safe place to share our journey with you, but I haven’t really known where to start. I was looking over these sonagram pictures today, and decided I would start on this day. The day we found out something wasn’t quite right.
We found out we were pregnant on October 15th, the day of Jude’s one year photo shoot, and 3 days before my grandma passed away. We didn’t share with anyone for a while, deciding rather to keep this good news to ourselves, and share once some of the grieving with family over grandma had subsided a bit. As far as we knew, we were pregnant with a healthy baby, I was healthy, and this was a joyous announcement that we couldn’t wait to share with family and friends!
From the very beginning of this pregnancy, things were different for me than how I had felt during my pregnancy with Jude. I was always sick to my stomach, and I just didn’t want to get out as much – we thought maybe we were having a girl! Even though I was often feeling sick, I was working out a lot, and feeling pretty proud of myself for doing so… until I started bleeding. I was terrified. I called my doctor’s office more than once and they kept assuring me it was normal, but it didn’t seem normal to me. I quit my intense workouts, and the bleeding stopped. That was the week of Thanksgiving. We ended up announcing our pregnancy as planned when we visited family, even though at that point I was afraid something was wrong.
When we went to our next doctor’s appointment, we were scared and just wanted to hear the baby’s heartbeat. They couldn’t find it with the fetal monitor, which they said was normal due to the tilt in my cervix, so they did an internal ultrasound. We saw the baby, and we were so excited to hear her strong heartbeat, see her cute little wave for the camera, and be assured she was safe and sound. That is, until the midwife came in to talk about the ultrasound. And that is when our whole world shifted.
Our midwife said that they noticed a growth, called a cystic hygroma, which typically means there’s something wrong with the baby. She ordered a blood panel for genetic testing, and referred us to Iowa City. The nurse had tears in her eyes and both her and the midwife hugged me. At that point I knew something was terribly wrong.
So where am I at today? Well, I am doing my best. “Doing my best” is the most authentic, meaningful way to express myself without having to go into a lot of detail when I’m either unable or unwilling to share. And it’s true. In our home we have pictures from the hospital of Prudence, one with each of us, some on the mantle and on the bureau. We were gifted some beautiful pieces that we display lovingly that remind us of Prudence: canvas prints of a couple of photos, framed song lyrics to Dear Prudence, a wind chime, several angels, a hand-painted watercolor, and more. Those things are spread around our home and yard as beautiful reminders of our time with our little girl.
I visit her grave often. She doesn’t have a marker yet, but she will have a lovely one right under my dad’s at some point. I actually just put this hanging basket of mums out there this week. I don’t know how long they will last, but it makes me feel good to switch out the flowers occasionally. I think it sends a message (maybe just to me) that I’m still caring for her or attending to her, in some strange way. I find myself driving past often, even if I don’t stop. Probably my mother’s instinct coming through, I suppose. She’s buried with my dad, and near several other family members, so I feel some comfort in that. I hope to be buried near her someday. That’s something I hadn’t really thought of much before, but now I am sure of my desire to have a plot near my baby.