A mother looks back at her daughter’s postdates death


Hindsight is especially painful for loss mothers.

Heather at The Destiny Manifest:

Our daughter was stillborn at 42 weeks 3 days. She never opened her blue eyes. She never cried. She never nursed at my breast or grabbed her daddy’s finger with her chubby hand, but she was still born, and she deserves to be remembered forever.

Why was she born at 42 weeks and 3 days? Because her mother wanted to avoid another C-section after 2 previous C-sections (including one with an inverted T incision). She knew women who had given birth at 43 and 44 weeks and those babies were fine.

She started labor at 42 weeks and 1 day. Over the next 2 days she continued to have contractions intermittently.

I woke up on Sunday in real pain. It didn’t feel like the labor I’d been having, and it didn’t feel like the way countless books and birth stories and friends have described labor. It was pain and it was harsh. I couldn’t sit, couldn’t stand, couldn’t lay down, couldn’t make it to the bathroom without help and I felt like “if this is what labor really feels like, I give up”. I told David that something felt wrong, that it hurt too much and I needed to go to the hospital NOW.

At the hospital she was examined and found to be dilated 5cm.

David was sitting by my head, holding my hand, both of us as excited as children at Christmas. We were about to have a baby! The nurses were using a handheld doppler to find the heartbeat, and it seemed odd that it was taking so long. They said that “maybe it’s because she’s so far down in your pelvis” and brought in an ultrasound machine and tech. A couple minutes went by and the tech said (very cheerfully), “we’re going to have the doctor come take a look”…

The doctor came in and began the ultrasound. After a couple more minutes, David and I looked at each other and the realization that there was a problem began to dawn. I said, “can you not find her heartbeat?” and the doctor said “no, here is her rib cage and there is no heartbeat there”.

Heather was devastated:

Time seemed to slow to a crawl. I felt cold, lost in some surreal nightmare. David ran to the bathroom and collapsed to the floor, sobbing. The nurses and tech disappeared from our room. The doctor said “I’m so sorry”. David asked if he could possibly be wrong, that maybe he made a mistake. The doctor said that there are no guarantees in life and that there was a chance he was wrong. I asked “how quickly can you get her out?” and he answered “with a cesarean, we can get her out right now”. I said, “then do it, get her out now”.

All thoughts of my much coveted vaginal birth after cesarean were gone from my mind. If a cesarean can save my daughter, do it and do it immediately. Cut me from stem to stern if that’s what it takes for my baby to be okay. But of course, I realized later that the doctor must have known he wasn’t wrong, that our baby was already gone.

During the surgery:

The smell of infection filled the room when our doctor opened my uterus. David stood and watched as the doctor pulled our daughter from my body…

I began to sob in earnest and the anesthesiologist, with tears running down his own face, gave me “something for anxiety”. The nurse called David over and handed him our beautiful daughter, Clara Edith…

Heather is honest about her regrets:

I did not intentionally put my daughter’s life in danger by going two weeks overdue. I would never have chosen to attempt a natural labor and childbirth if I had known that my daughter was going to die…

I allowed my fear, and my absolute belief that I could have a natural childbirth like so many other mothers do, to color my decisions. I assessed risks, but unwittingly I was only looking at one side of the coin. I worried, questioned myself, asked questions and looked for reassurance on natural childbirth message boards. I was told about women who had gone many weeks postdates, women whose babies had no ill effects from passing meconium, women who had breech babies at home with only their husbands in attendance. I believed, completely and absolutely, that I was doing the right thing by avoiding induction and staying home until I was ready to give birth. I allowed popular birth culture to color my decisions.

And she demonstrates tremendous insight:

The natural childbirth community is full of wonderful people, who mean to empower women into trusting their bodies and allowing their babies to be born into the world peacefully. They don’t mean any harm by advocating these beliefs, but unfortunately, it is all too easy for a pregnant and hormonal mother to become hypnotized by the adrenaline high of other women’s experiences. Too often, the risks are skimmed over, with much focus given to staying positive and avoiding negativity…

The risks of meconium aspiration, postmaturity, uterine rupture, maternal mortality and stillbirth are real, and need to be discussed as openly as the benefits and risks of episiotomy, amniotomy and epidurals are. The feeling that pregnant mamas shouldn’t worry themselves that their babies could die, because it stresses them out unnecessarily, is misplaced. Mothers need to know that it can happen to them, because it does happen to mothers just like them every day, so that they can make informed decisions regarding their health care providers, their birthing facilities and their births.

Her conclusion is incredibly powerful:

If in doubt, get to a hospital and make sure that your baby is fine. Don’t hesitate. Above all else, be safe.

No soapbox or belief is worth the life of your baby. Believe me, I know.

(Please, share this post with anyone you know who is pregnant or trying to conceive. Help get the word out to mamas to be aware of the benefits and the risks of the choices that they make regarding their pregnancies and births. If we can help just one mama to make choices that prevent the death of a baby, than we have made all the difference in the world.)

You will never know who it is and how it happened, Heather, but by sharing your story you will prevents deaths and make all the difference in the world.