October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. In honor of this month we share Dani's story in the hope that other mothers who have experienced loss will know they are not alone.
I did everything right
I still couldn’t save him
Ellis Nolte Anderson
Sunday May 7, 2017
6 lbs 10 oz
19.5 inches long
Ellis was born an angel at 38 weeks and 5 days.
My pregnancy was seamless. I was measuring a bit big, so my doctor schedule a couple 3D ultrasounds. Baby was measuring right on time. My doctor schedule an induction date for me at 39 weeks.
My 38 week appointment came that Thursday May 4, 2017. Nothing had changed. I wasn’t any further dilated or effaced, and my induction date was still set for that following Tuesday May 9 at 8:00am. The doctor let me hear the heartbeat (strong and steady) and I was on my way. Little did I know, that was the last time I would hear my baby’s heartbeat.
Friday night, sitting at home, I started having some contractions. I was so tired, I decided to go to bed and if my contractions got stronger, I would wake up and we would head to the hospital. That didn’t happen. I slept fairly well and woke up Saturday morning with no contractions. I cleaned the entire house and our family went and ran errands and spent our last Saturday as a family of four.
That evening, we got the kids to bed and I finally sat on the couch to relax. I suddenly realized that I hadn’t felt the baby kick much that day, if at all. Being so far along, I didn’t think it was out of the norm to not feel as much movement. I called the on-call nurse just to be safe, and she told me to drink a sugary drink, lay on my side, and count the kicks for an hour and call her back. I laid on the couch for what felt like forever, chugging my sugary pop, and desperately waiting to feel my baby kick.
I called the nurse back after 20 minutes and she told us to come in to the hospital right away and they would check me out. The drive to the hospital was pretty quiet and I could feel this fog passing over me the closer we got to the hospital. The nurse brought us up to the labor and delivery floor, and for reasons I only know now, brought us all the way to the far corner of the floor, to the very last door on the right. Our nurse introduced herself and asked me what was going on. She put the doppler on my belly, and nothing. She moved the doppler around for what felt like forever and still nothing. She asked a few more questions, and said she was going to get the doctor in the room. At this point, it still hadn’t hit me that something was wrong. I still felt invincible. The on-call doctor for the night came in and pulled the ultrasound machine closer and put the wand on my belly. He moved it around a bit and suddenly, there it was. My baby’s heart, all four chambers were visible, but nothing was beating. I had a few ultrasounds before with my other children, so I knew what to look for. There should be breathing, the baby’s chest should be rising and falling, there should be movement, anything. There was nothing.
The next phrase I would hear would completely change my life. The doctor turned and looked at me, stuck out his bottom lip, and said, “Honey, it’s not good. There is no heartbeat.” I remember looking at him and saying, “I know.” I knew there was no heartbeat before he told me. I knew what to look for, and it wasn’t there. I realize now that the silence right before he told me the news was spent trying to gather his thoughts and figure out how to tell me that my baby was gone. The gravity of that moment and those words will forever be engraved in my mind. I will never forget his face or the sound of his voice when he told me there was no heartbeat.
I was so naive, I asked the doctor and nurse what we were going to do to get my baby out. My nurse looked at me and said I would have to deliver. I was in shock. I wasn’t expecting that answer. I was terrified to go through the process of labor and delivery all to not hear a cry and see any signs of life in the end.
The next 6 hours were a complete whirlwind of emotions and feelings leading up to Ellis’ birth. The hours went by very very quickly… too quickly… and I was not prepared for delivering. My nurse was absolutely wonderful, and allowed me almost an hour after I had fully dilated, to process that delivery was imminent and to help prepare me as much as possible.
At 4:57am, I delivered my sweet angel, Ellis.
He was so breathtakingly beautiful, even though he had bruising in his face, and his lips were crimson red in color. Everything about him was perfect, expect that his heart had stopped beating. The indent across his body and around his tiny little arm made it very apparent how his heart had stopped beating. We had been given a paper prior to delivery where we had to read through the terms and conditions of ordering an autopsy. The doctor said there could be a variety of reasons for our baby’s heart to stop. After delivering Ellis and seeing the white indents on his little body, we knew there was no way we could order an autopsy as we didn’t need further confirmation on the reason for his death. I will never understand why I didn’t know he was gone, or that something was happening, but I didn’t. I was later told that when a cord accident happens, it happens quickly and the baby doesn’t suffer or feel anything. That was one of the most difficult things to get past, was that Ellis was suffering in any sort of way while his little heart was slowing down, and eventually stopping.
Marcus and I were able to spend a few hours with Ellis, before his older brothers and my mom arrived at the hospital. Another nurse came in and took some pictures as well as foot and hand molds for us to take home with us. A silk outfit, made out of someone’s wedding dress, was brought in to put Ellis in for some pictures. The organization, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came in and took pictures for us that we will forever cherish and never forget their generosity. Our boys, Easton and Esley, were so incredibly proud of their baby brother and all they wanted to do was hold him. It was absolutely devastating to watch them with Ellis, knowing that we would never be able to take him home, and breathtakingly beautiful to see the immense pride in their eyes and smiles. Our pastor came up and baptized Ellis right there in the hospital. We stayed in the hospital until Sunday evening around 9:00pm. More family drove 6 to 7 hours to come and meet Ellis and hold him. I never knew the guilt I would feel for not having all of our family and very close friends come up to hold him and say hello and goodbye all in the same breath.
We then had to leave the hospital… without our baby…
If we would have had a cooling device, we would have been able to spend up to 3 days with Ellis, and more family and friends would have been able to meet him. We could have created more memories and been given the most precious gift of time. That time is something we will never get back, and that is a hard pill to swallow.
I did research on stillbirth a couple months Ellis died, and found information on cooling devices to keep the baby cool after death. I found a device called the Caring Cradle. After speaking with the hospital foundation, the decision was quickly made to raise funds for a Caring Cradle to give to the hospital for future families to use. We raised funds in 3 weeks, and dedicated the cradle this past July. Since it’s dedication, I have been told it has been used multiple times already. Hearing this, our family has decided to raise funds for a 2nd Cradle to donate to the hospital so other families can be given the “gift of time” we did not have.