Mom Meghan tells about her textbook pregnancy and the C-section birth story and with her first child, daughter Henley, who was stillborn. At her 36-week checkup, she and her husband Scott heard the words every parent hopes to never hear: I’m sorry. She has no heartbeat.
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In this stillbirth story podcast episode told from mom Meghan’s point of view:
- Time Stamp 3:03: Meghan has a textbook pregnancy and she was feeling great–they even went to Disneyland at 33 weeks.
- Time Stamp 5:44: Meghan and Scott get the news that Henley doesn’t have a heart beat.
- Time Stamp 10:17: She makes the decision to have a C-section.
- Time Stamp 17:52: Henley is delivered via C-section by Meghan’s doctor.
- Time Stamp 21:39: Meghan tells how Henley was moving and kicking erratically the night before.
- Time Stamp 28:46: How they chose Henley Ryan’s name.
- Time Stamp 35:00: They choose to have Henley cremated.
- Listen to Meghan’s advice of dealing with grief after Henley’s stillbirth here in Episode 30.
- Listen to Scott’s birth story of Henley who was stillborn here in Episode 31.
- Listen to Scott’s advice after Henley’s birth here in Episode 32.
We realized that her nose is exactly my nose, so the genetics carry strong.
Welcome to Still A Part of Us, a podcast where moms and dads share the story of their child who was stillborn or who died in infancy. I’m Winter Redd, and on this episode, Meghan is telling the story of her daughter Henley, who was stillborn at 36 weeks.
As a word of caution to our listeners, this story contains emotional triggers of stillbirth and infant loss. Please keep yourself emotionally and mentally healthy and seek help if needed. Also be aware that these birth stories may differ from his or her partner’s, as these accounts are told from their own perspective through the lens of trauma, heartache, and the passage of time. Please respect our moms and dads who are brave and gracious to share their children with us.
My name is Meghan. I’m 32. I had to think about for a second. My husband and I have been together since we were 19 years old, but we’ve been married for about six and a half years now. Henley was our first pregnancy, first child. I am a nanny by trade. I’ve been a nanny for seven years. We have two dogs: a chiuaua and a Border Collie-Pitbull mix.
Meghan, thank you so much for being on today. I’m excited to chat with you about your little Henley. And to give us a little bit of context, tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you? Where you guys at? Kind of just give us a little background of who you are.
Awesome. And what do you, what do you like to do in your free time?
We are Disneyland people you That is our thing. We have annual passes to Disneyland, we go about once every four to six weeks. It’s about a four-hour drive for us.
No way! That’s amazing!
Yeah, we love it. We were actually just there last Sunday and Monday.
Oh my goodness that it was crazy. Last Sunday and Monday, if I’m not mistaken.
It was a holiday weekend. And the opening weekend of a brand new ride. It was insane.
Did you end up on that brand new ride?
We did. We managed to get on.
That’s amazing. That’s, that’s very cool. You guys are based in Nevada…?
Yeah, we live in Las Vegas.
Okay, so that’s why you’re four hours away from Disneyland. Okay, well, that’s awesome. And then can you give us a little bit of context about when Henley was born?
She was born on October 3, 2019. So just under four months ago.
Yup. At the time of this recording, and this is very new for you, Meghan, so thank you for coming on. And how did your pregnancy go? Like, did you guys get pregnanat pretty quickly and everything?
It was a pretty much textbook pregnancy. We weren’t necessarily actively trying when we got pregnant, but we also weren’t preventing anything. So it kind of just happened on the time frame it happened. But the whole pregnancy was pretty textbook, pretty perfect. You know, I didn’t have gestational diabetes. I didn’t have any high blood pressure. I had only–by the time I had her–I’d only gained 25 pounds total and I had her at 36 weeks. Everything looked great. Everything was perfect. I was healthy, to the fact that at 35 weeks pregnant, my doctor cleared me and let me go to Disneyland for the last time. I did a Disney trip at 35 weeks.
At 35 weeks! Oh man, so everything was really good. Did anything cross your mind about anything being wrong?
At our 34-week ultrasound, we found out that she was still breech, which was okay. I mean, we were eventually getting to the point where we were going to have to have the talk about having a C-section, just because she wasn’t turning. But we also found out she was measuring in the 10th percentile, so she was measuring small. So the intent was, at my 36-week checkup two weeks later, she was going to schedule for another growth ultrasound to just kind of see if that was a fluke, because they were kind of having a hard time getting measurements on her just via position. And I have a very short torso, so they’re just between my bones, there wasn’t a lot of space to get the measurement on her bones.
So they were going to send me for another ultrasound ,just to check and see if if it was a fluke, or if she really was measuring small, but we didn’t make it that far.
Yeah. Did that worry you at all that he was maybe possibly measuring in the 10th percentile?
A little, but the ultrasound tech that did it, had such a hard time getting a measurement on her thigh bone, and that’s the one that they use the most for measurement. So I was just kind of like, you know, it’s probably just the fact that she couldn’t get a true accurate measurement. Like, my belly is measuring normal. Everything else has been fine. I don’t think there’s an issue.
Okay. So kind of brushed it off as a possible, like, It’ll be, it’ll be fine…?
We’ll find out. And if she’s still measuring small in two weeks, well, then we’ll talk about maybe delivering early and, you know, she’ll be small, it’ll be fine.
Yeah. Okay. Well, then, can you tell us a little bit more about what happened? So you, you went to that the 34-week ultrasound, and then you were planning on coming in for a 36-week ultrasound…and I’m assuming you got checked at 35-weeks. She was fine….?
Oh you didn’t!
I didn’t have an appointment between 34 and 36 weeks. I came back in at 36 weeks for just my regular checkup with my OB, and my husband had come with me, because he was going to get the Tdap shot and at my doctor, if he came with me, they would do it for free. The insurance would cover the whole cost.
So he had only come to very few appointments just due to work. It wasn’t easy for him to take off to come. But this was one that he made it to, because he needed to get that vaccine, and so it just made sense. So we went in for the appointment. You know, they took my weight and I had lost almost a whole pound over the course of two weeks, which seemed a little off to me, but I was like, I just spent like three days at Disneyland walking like crazy. So it’s probably fine. It was probably just that I was more active than I had been. Blood pressure was fine. They give him the shot. And then my doctor as he’s about to rush out to leave to go to work, because he couldn’t stay for the whole appointment, my doctor goes, Hold on! Wait wait! Let’s just, let’s have, let’s do the heartbeat and let daddy listen to the heartbeat real quick.
And we don’t know why she decided to do this, but she did. So she gets out the Doppler. She puts it on my stomach. And I can tell that it’s taking longer than it should to find a heartbeat. Obviously, he wasn’t aware, because he hadn’t really been there for all the appointments to know how long it should take her to find it. And so she’s searching and searching and she keeps moving it around. And 30 seconds go by and nothing. And then almost a full minute goes by, and she can’t find anything. And she goes I’m having a hard time finding her heartbeat. I’m going to go grab the ultrasound machine. Comes back in with the ultrasound, puts it on my stomach. Starts at her head, you see her skull, you see her head. Goes down, and as soon as she gets on the chest, I could see that her heart wasn’t beating. I mean, by that point, you’ve seen enough ultrasounds, you know what you’re looking for. You know what it’s going to look like.
And I think it took a minute for my husband to catch up and realize that nothing was moving. And from that point, you know, my doctor said the words nobody wants to hear: I’m so sorry. She has no heartbeat. And I kind of just went into the mode that I’ve gone into with every other tragic event in my life, because my life has been a little intense from 2016 to now. I, in 2016, I lost my grandmother in April and my dad in December. So there’s been a lot of loss in the past couple of years.
Yeah, there really has been.
So I went into this mode of just–the same thing I did when they passed away–just needing to get through the logistics. What, what do we do next? What do we do now? What’s the next thing that has to happen? So I didn’t, there was no initial tears, there was just like, Okay, now what?
So she sent us to the hospital. She had already called Labor and Delivery at the hospital and told them to expect us. So when we got there, we go up to Labor and Delivery. They put us in a room and we think, Okay, you know, somebody’s going to come in fairly quickly and do another ultrasound. They’ve got to want to be absolutely sure, because the ultrasound she used in the office was like, you know, it’s a terrible office-quality ultrasound. So, then it’s an hour, almost an hour and a half later, before an ultrasound tech finally comes in.
Are you kidding me?
At that point, we’ve both gone, Well, they obviously think there’s no hope of anything. So, I guess we give up. The ultrasound tech comes in, does the ultrasound and obviously they can’t tell you anything.
Yeah, it’s not in their purview.
But this ultrasound tech–and I think she did it as a kind of merciful gesture almost–she did not turn the screen away, when she was typing out her findings to send in the report. So she left it where I could see it when she typed, you know, Breech presentation. No fetal heart tones. Consistent with intrauterine fetal demise. She left it where I could see that this is what it is. And everybody that I’ve talked to seems to think that was terrible, but personally for me, I think she was doing it so that we wouldn’t be sitting, left waiting in limbo longer and longer and longer.
Yeah, you’d already been there for an hour.
Yeah. So, at that point, they came back. The on-call OB came in, who this is obviously someone I’ve never met. And, you know, he tells us what we already knew. I’m so sorry. She has no heartbeat. Here’s your next options. And so she was, Henley was breech and she had her head pretty far up under my left ribs to the point that even still to this day, my rib cage is bowed out on the left side. Like visibly people can tell that my ribs look different on one side than the other.
Yeah, I have a really, really short torso, so there just wasn’t a whole lot of space. And so my rib cage I, most doctors, I’ve asked and they’re like, Honestly, we don’t ever think it’s going to go back. So that’s like one of the permanent reminders of her.
So he comes in and he tells me, Okay, well, you could be induced, but here’s all of these possible risks confounded, you know, not just the normal risks of being induced with a stillborn baby, but to add to the fact that she’s completely breach. You know, so they went through all the things that could have happened, that I could have tried to be induced, and they could have delivered everything but her head and she could have gotten stuck. All these scary risks, and a lot of them were risks to my ability to have future children. Then they read me the list of risks for going through with a C-section. Those were far less intense. So without really any discussion with anybody, I just kind of sat there and went, Yep, I will have a C-section. No question about it. That’s what we’re going to do.
But then the waiting kind of began for the day. So that was at about nine, like 10:30, 10:30, 11 in the morning–
That I finally decided, Okay, I’m gonna have a C-secion. This is what I’m going to do. And I had talked to the on call ob, and he said, okay, but I’m going to call your ob first and just kind of have a discussion with her, tell her what’s going on. A little while later, I get a phone call on the hospital phone in my room, my OB has called me. And she’s talking to me about the situation telling me, you know…I mean, my doctor was fantastic. She, she when she had to tell us that she had no heartbeat, she was crying even though we weren’t. She’s been wonderful throughout the whole thing. So she calls in between patients in clinic she calls and says, You know, I can’t be there right now, but I can be there late tonight. I can come at like 11 o’clock tonight to do your C-section. I have something going on when I leave the office today, because she has a family and children, so it’s understandable, but she says I can come in at 11 o’clock tonight and do it for you if you would rather wait for me.
So that’s what I ended up doing, because I wanted to be with someone I was comfortable with. It’s the person I saw the whole pregnancy. And I felt like having her deliver was more comforting, because she was the one there when we found out. So we kind of just spent the whole day sitting in the waiting–in the hospital room, waiting around.
Oh you did?
I did find out, so since I decided to wait until she came in late at night, I hadn’t eaten anything at this point that day because I didn’t have breakfast before my doctor’s appointment. My doctor’s appointment at eight o’clock in the morning. I’m like, we’re going to go in this is gonna be a 30-minute appointment, and then I’ll just go get something to eat afterward.
And so by that point, it was almost noon and I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink. So when I decided that I was going to wait for my doctor, she told me, you know, If you want to eat, you’re allowed to eat until, you know, 12 hours before when she’s going to do the C-section. So I had an hour and a half or so where I can, like, get some food and, and… You know, I had a friend there with me and my husband, and they both thought it was strange that I wanted to eat, and I’m like, But I’m going to feel so terrible if I continue to go the whole rest of this time and don’t eat anything. Like I have to try and eat.
So we kind of just spent the whole day sitting in a hospital room, watching TV, talking. Basically kind of ignoring, I mean, personally for me, I was kind of ignoring the situation. It was like, I have all this weird limbo time that I have to sit in now. And I just can’t think about it. Now, meanwhile, my body knew what was going on. I had started having, you know, mild contractions, like my body had figured it out. I opted not to say anything to the nurses about the fact that I was contracting at all, because I didn’t want to accelerate the process in any way. I wanted to wait for my doctor, so I just didn’t say anything. And it wasn’t like bad enough that like, there was any concern of like imminently going into actual labor.
Right. It was just very starting, starting contraction.
My body was definitely starting to figure it out, but it wasn’t very intense or anything. So we kind of spent the whole day just talking and sitting in the room and waiting. And–
So Meghan really quickly: so Scott is there. He’s not really been there in for your doctor’s appointments. Not a ton of them it sounds like. So he’s probably shocked, I suspect.
Yeah, we actually had driven two separate cars to my doctor’s appointment, cuz like I said he was supposed to leave and go directly to work. Yeah. We ended up taking just one car from the doctor’s office to the hospital because I was like, I can’t drive, like, it’s not something I can handle right now. And, you know, he just kind of was sitting there, and he just kind of let me decide what was going to happen. He’s like, you know, he’s obviously devastated, but he, I think he felt like whatever I decided to do from that point, was my choice of how it was going to happen. So I didn’t even really discuss my choice to have a C-section with him. I just kind of looked at him and went, This is what I’m doing. And he went, Okay.
Well, it’s yes, it does put you in a little bit better position medically.
I feel like, you know, from all the women that I’ve talked to, you know, I’ve met several other parents who have lost their children, even one in town that I’m friends with now, and everybody says the same thing that it’s it’s very unusual that I got the situation I did, where I got to choose that I wanted to have a C-section and I got to choose whether I wanted my doctor to do it or not. Most people don’t have this time where they can just kind of make these decisions.
Yeah. That is pretty unique. And so you were sitting in your room just hanging out You say that you were ignoring, kind of ignoring the situation, in a sense. Did you–?
We tried to talk about anything that wasn’t what was happening.
So did you contact any family members or anything?
We did. After I made the decision that I was going to wait for my doctor and I was, you know, gonna have a C-section, we kind of called and told some people. I didn’t really call anyone. I kind of left it up to Scott. He called my mom and stepdad, who actually were in California at the time. They had gone on, you know, they were going to, they were going for a weekend away, and they figured it would be the last weekend away before I went into labor. So they were like, We’re going to go now. And you know, they were just going to stay at some hotel. Well, he called them and immediately they drop everything, pack up, and start driving back. So they’ve got a five-hour drive back, which is part of the reason probably that it was good that I decided to wait until later that night, because they got me there.
And then you know, we’ve let some other family members know, some friends. I have one friend that actually, we let her know right away what was going on. She found out just after we had gotten to the hospital, before we even had the ultrasound. At the hospital, we had told her, and she dropped everything, had her husband come pick up her daughter and showed up at the hospital and sat there with us all day. She and her husband went and got Scott’s car from the doctor’s office and drove it back to our house. And then she eventually went home, because we told her, Look, we’re going to be here a long time. We want you to go home. You know, put your daughter to bed. You know, you have things you have to do. And she ended up coming back, which I didn’t know until later. She came back while I was, right before I went into surgery, and was there until like three o’clock in the morning when I finally was like you have to go home. Your baby’s gonna be up in like three hours.
Wow, what a friend. That is–that’s awesome. So you waited. Your surgery was planned at 11 o’clock at night.
Well, my doctor got to the hospital about 11 o’clock that night. And they started the prep for surgery and everything. The anesthesia, anesthesiologist came in and talk to me. Kind of did the whole thing. I think we ended up in the actual OR closer to midnight. And then you know, it’s the whole process of them actually numbing you and getting prepped and all of that. And Henley was born at 12:49am on October 3. So we found out the morning of October 2 that she was gone. I had her very early on October 3rd.
How was the surgery? Was it okay?
It was fine. I had every reaction to the anesthesia that they say is normal. So the immediate things they warn you about is, you could have a really, really itchy nose. Yup, felt like I wanted to rip my nose off my face. And then because your blood pressure is going to dip, you also probably will get nauseous. Literally, they put the medicine in, laid me down, and like 10 seconds later, I’m like, I feel like I’m gonna throw up. So they had to pump anti-nausea medicine in. And I mean, I obviously had never been through anything like that, so the sensation of just like not being able to feel anything from your rib cage down was very strange.
It is very strange. I agree.
But overall, I mean, it wasn’t bad. Just the same terrible situation of any C-section where the baby’s not alive. It’s everybody’s talking, the doctors are talking. There’s all kinds of noise. And then you can tell they get to a point where they’re pulling her out and the room goes silent. No one says anything. It’s just deafeningly silent.
They…I mean…the silence was followed up with, you know, She’s beautiful. I’m so sorry. But it was hard. Sorry.
So neither one of us looked at her initially. They kind of took her. Cleaned her up. They sewed me up and took me back to the room. And then got me all situated. And then they brought her in to us. They kind of they gave us the choice on what we wanted to do. I mean, before we even went into surgery, they had like a long list of things of: Do you want this? Do you want that? You know, do you want us to take pictures? Do you have an outfit you want to her put in? Is there any one specific you want to be here? All the different things that we could have done.
We ended up–Scott had gone home and gotten stuff for us earlier in the day, because obviously, we didn’t even have a hospital bag packed at this point. I still thought I had four weeks to go and it was my first baby. So I’m like, if I even go into labor by then… Like, I wasn’t–everything else was ready–but we hadn’t packed a bag. So he went home with all the stuff and I had him bring an outfit for Henley. And we had a stuffed animal that he brought that he specifically wanted with her. It’s a little Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy.
It was the first thing that he had bought specifically for her. So they bring us back to the room and they had already taken her and cleaned her up and taken pictures of her for us.
Oh, they did! Okay…
And changed her clothes, which we were given all the options, if we wanted to do these things ourselves, but I just, I was mostly afraid of what she was going to look like, that I didn’t know that I wanted to. So I knew I wanted to see her. I knew I wanted to hold her ,but I didn’t know if I wanted to dress her, because I just wasn’t sure, you know, exactly what was going to be. And I mean, we had a pretty good idea of how long she’d been gone at that point.
What did they say?
Because the night before I went to the doctor, I was laying on the couch and about 9pm and my placenta was in the front, so we couldn’t usually like see her kicks like from across the room or anything. But there were these intense crazy kicks that Scott could see from across the couch. And it was crazy. That’s the last time I for sure know she moved. Well come to find out the thing that doctors don’t tell everyone, is that erratic and extra intense movements, can be a sign of distress. And had I known this and gone to the hospital immediately, we may have had a different outcome in the end. So this is something that I pass on to every woman I know that’s pregnant now. Like, your doctor is not going to tell you this and I don’t mean to sound scary, but you need to know this.
Yeah. Yeah. So you think it was the night before basically on the 1st?
Sometime between 10, 10:30pm on October 1. And when we went to the doctor at 8am on October 2. So she had only been gone at most like a day and a half by the time I had her. And because, you know, I know after the fact now that because I had a C section she came out looking a lot more perfect than had I delivered her naturally. I mean, there’s just ,there’s less trauma, if they go through that way.
So they brought her in and had her all dressed up and I held her. And you know, the first thing we noticed is that, like I said, we had noticed in an ultrasound, because we’d had a 3D 4D ultrasound at like 30 weeks, but immediately everybody, you know, my, my husband and me both are like, It’s my nose. My nose…my nose is very turned up. And it’s from my dad’s side. Apparently, it’s a very, very strong genetic trait, because my dad had it. I have it. My half-brother has it. And it passed right on to Henley.
And, you know, we took, we took a little bit of time. I held her. Scott just…I asked him if he wanted to hold her and he just couldn’t. He just didn’t feel like he could. I did be slightly pushy and I made him come in next to me and have a picture taken, so that we at least had one or two pictures of the three of us. Even Now I regret that I didn’t call Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep to come take really great quality photos, it just wasn’t something that was like, my mind was able to process that I should have done at that point in time. They had given me the paper with their phone number. But in that whole thing happening, you don’t really think about that. I honestly never would have even thought to bring her clothes, except for my friend that was there with us–it’s actually her neighbor, that has also lost a child–and she had actually, when she found out, she had immediately called her neighbor and gone, What do I need to tell her to do?
That’s awesome. That was so smart.
Her neighbor lost a baby at 34 weeks, and it was about a year and a half ago. So she, still fresh, but like was able to tell her, Okay, you’re gonna want to tell her to take all the pictures, to bring an outfit for her to…you know, all these things that you don’t think about in the moment, and she didn’t think about in the moment, but she’s basing them off things she regrets or things that somebody else told her, that I’m so grateful that somebody told me, you know. It’s so helpful to have somebody that can actually be like, No, I’ve been there. And this is what you need to know.
Let’s try…yeah, you will, you’ll want this. Yeah.
So we only had Henley in our room for probably 20 or 30 minutes. We actually gave the opportunity for my mom and stepdad, who were the only other–I had the one friend at the hospital and my mom and stepdad were there–we gave the opportunity for them to meet her, but I didn’t want them to meet her in the room with me. I just didn’t know how I would do seeing that. So they had another room right next to me that they could have brought Henley into, and my mom and stepdad could’ve met her in there. My mom and stepdad actually chose not to. I haven’t really asked the reasoning behind that. It was their choice I left to them.
It was their choice. Yeah.
So, the nurses eventually, you know, we decided, Okay, you know, we’re ready to let her go. You know, gave her a final kiss and they took her. After that point, they actually took her in the other room. And we know now, that they took hand and footprints. They did them, you know, in ink. They did them into clay that was then given back to us later. And we have these really special things that, I guess we’re one of the first from the hospital that they’re actually started doing it, they’re three-dimensional molds of her hand and her foot.
So, you know, you can see every detail, and her little hand is curved, so like you could put your finger in. And they took a bunch of pictures. And so we have all that stuff now. And then I was actually given the option to leave the hospital that night, the night of the third.
So very quickly. I chose to stay overnight. Just because I didn’t want to go home at night. I was like, I’d rather go home–we have a roommate–and I decided I’d rather go home while he’s at work. I’d rather transition back into being at home while he’s not there. So waited and stayed one more night. And then the process of getting discharged was a little iffy, because they have to get your vitals in a certain area to be able to discharge you. Well, obviously, my blood pressure was high, because hi, traumatic experience. And then they kept having problems getting my oxygen level to be good. Well, they keep coming in, they’re trying to take my oxygen level, after somebody had said something that sent me crying. Well, clearly, I’m not breathing properly, because I’m crying.
So eventually, we got everything. Okay. And I went home that Friday at about 11am. So I was only in the hospital from Wednesday at like 930 in the morning till Friday at 11am.
But it’s a C-section. Holy cow. I can’t believe they. They’re like, You can go home.
Yeah, I was impressed that they would let me go home that soon.
Yeah, I–usually it’s a little bit longer than that.
I was up walking, probably four hours after the C-section. They had me up and walking and so they were, you know, I had ticked off all the boxes of the things they need you to be able to do before you can go home.
Were you feeling okay?
I was sore, but overall, yeah, I was okay. We found out through this process that I can’t have toradol, because that makes my nose itch terribly. So two doses of that, I went, No more! So, you know, I mean, I left the hospital on just ibuprofen, you know, 800 milligram ibuprofen, but ibuprofen nonetheless. And I mean, the recovery wasn’t horrible. I think part of that is, you know, it’s much easier to recover from a C-section when you’re not taking care of somebody else.
Yeah, yes. Yeah, that’s so true. Now, Meghan, can you tell me a little bit about Henley’s name? How did you choose her name?
So her first name was picked out before she ever even was a thought. Scott I had watched a movie called “Now You See Me” and the main character that’s female, her name is Henley. And we both had just looked at each other, and we’re like, That’s what we’re naming a baby!
We hadn’t even talked about having children at this point. But that’s what it was. And so we chose her name then. And as soon as we found out, we were pregnant, I was like, I know it’s a girl. I know it’s a girl. And everybody’s like, Okay. We had an ultrasound at just before 15 weeks. We paid for one, because I was too eager to know.l I could not wait. And we found out she was a girl. And so immediately, she had a first name, she did not have a middle name until she was born. I had wanted her middle name to be Ryan. But I spent a lot of time bothered by the fact that like her first name is kind of gender-neutral. And so if I give her a boy’s name as a middle name, is she going to be that kid in school where they’re reading the attendance list, and nobody’s going to know if that’s a boy or a girl. So then I thought about spelling Ryan differently. I thought about spelling it with R-Y-A-N-N, so that screamed female, but I didn’t really love that. So after everything happened, we knew that all of my fears weren’t going to be a factor about her name. I said forget it. I made me here what I want and just went with it. So her middle name is just spelled just like any other Ryan.
Okay, that’s awesome. I was wondering, I was like that’s just kind of a unique name so… Yeah, it’s always tricky, right, names? So you…
You kind of immediately go to: Okay, what are they going to get teased about with this name?
Yep, that’s exactly right.
Or you don’t want to be me, who my name is Meghan. But it’s not spelled exactly the way everyone else spells it and you have to spell your name for everyone forever.
Yes, forever. It is what it is, right? I have a name “Winter” and everybody’s like, What? Yes, like the season. So you guys headed home, and did you end up having an autopsy? Was there any sort of conclusion about what happened?
They gave us the option for an autopsy, which initially we wanted to, but then we found out that insurance doesn’t cover it. It would have cost us $3,000. So we decided, you know, I talked to my doctor, and she said, Realistically with everything I’ve seen after looking at her, after looking at the placenta, I don’t think there’s a high likelihood that an autopsy is going to give you an answer. And at that point, we were just like, Well, then it’s not–we’re not going to spend the money on it.
So even just the visual, the first, I mean, just basically looking at her once over, looking at the placenta, they didn’t have any conclusions either there?
The only thing she came up with initially, is that she had a very, very short umbilical cord. So when they did the C-section, they pulled Henley out, she barely had enough cord to put her onto my stomach before she delivered the placenta. Her record was really, really short, and it wasn’t coiled as much as it should have been, because it was so short. So realistically the best guess on what we think happened, is that as she was trying to turn from breach, she was compressing her umbilical cord, because it was so short and that’s why she was measuring small. And I guess I should mention that in the end when she was born at 36 weeks, she was 18 and a half inches long, which is pretty normal for that gestation, but she was only four pounds 10 ounces. So she was almost two pounds too small.
Yeah. For being thirty…36 weeks. Yeah.
So they think that as she was trying to turn, she was compressing the cord, and that’s why she had started measuring small, because she had compressed it somewhat, but was still getting some blood flow. And they think that just that night when after I felt her move last they think she just compressed it completely…
So much. Yeah. Oh. Okay. So that’s what they think happened.
After the fact now, I’ve actually gone to see a genetic counselor and a high-risk specialist, just to prepare for the next time, to know, you know, what, what, what can we do if there’s anything different. Is there anything I should be doing, shouldn’t be doing. And they’ve labeled it as intrauterine growth restriction, cuz she was so small and they’ve labeled it as partially, a placental insufficiency. They think that my placenta was just starting to kind of crap out too early. But they didn’t really test anything. So they’re not positive.
We’re also running…we, they ran some blood tests on me in the hospital for clotting disorders, and I came back negative for all of those. But currently, I actually went for bloodwork yesterday. They’re running just like the huge panel of all the things just to see. And we’re also running genetic carrier screening, just to make sure. The genetic counselor, the high-risk doctor, and my doctor don’t think we’re going to find anything. And they do not think there was a genetic component to anything. You know, basically my doctor just said, as horrible as this is, it’s just a random, terrible occurrence. Nothing to be done to prevent it, nothing to be done to change it. It’s just like, you know, crappy luck, actually. So they’re running all these things, but they don’t, they don’t think they’re gonna find anything. It’s more just for peace of mind to know that, like, we’ve checked off all the boxes. Everything comes back normal.
Yeah. Did you have any genetic testing but done beforehand?
I did not.
Okay. Okay. So this will be kind of the–
I had opted not to during pregnancy. At the beginning, you know they offer you to do the early genetic testing, and I kind of had the mindset, you know, to me, it’s not going to matter what they find, so I’m just not going to do it. It’s not going to change what’s going on for me. Now, the next time I get pregnant, all the tests, all the time!
All of it, we’re doing it all.
Anything you wanna do, do it!
Well, I was going to say, yeah, I was gonna say now that you’ve had the stillbirth and it’s…yeah, it puts you in a different category now and so you’re gonna check all the things!
The wonders of I am immediately a high-risk patient the next time I’m pregnant.
First pregnancy and now every subsequent will be considered high risk.
When you get home then, how was being home? Did you guys start planning any funeral services or memorial services?
We decided not to have any kind of a funeral, just not something that either of us really wanted. We had her cremated, which that process was more dramatic than it needed to be with the funeral home. It took an excessively long amount of time, and there were issues where, you know, I called and called and called, trying to get information.. Nobody gave me information. It was just a whole mess. It took like three and a half weeks before we got her back. And actually, I found out from the certificate of cremation, that she had been cremated five days prior to the day they finally told me that we could go pick her up. It was a mess.
Oh. Did you, do…so you… no funeral services. You had her cremated. You did get her back though.
And she just at home and with you guys?
We actually just–yeah, I mean, we got…when we got her back, they just kind of had given the urn that they give for free, because the funeral home we went through is one locally that does things, that any baby under the age of two, they’ll cremate for just the state fee. So the $10 or whatever you have to pay for the state. They don’t charge for it, which is why we went through them because after this whole experience, it’s, I mean, it’s a lot of money that you didn’t expect to be spending
Yes, it’s so, it’s so..it’s like a rude wake up. It’s like what?! I have to–what?!
We went from expecting $1,000 copay for a delivery to $4,000 in copays for a C-section and it happening four weeks earlier than we anticipated.
So, it was kind of crazy. So she came home in the urn they gave us, which we didn’t really love so we eventually purchased another one and it’s shaped like a castle. My husband picked it, because it makes him think of Disneyland.
Yeah. I love that.
So her earn And you know, all of her hand and footprints and molds and everything are just kind of on the dresser in her nursery. Because I was 36-weeks pregnant. We had an entire room ready. You know, clothes washed and put in the dresser, diapers out, everything totally ready. So that just seemed like the right place for her to be. Eventually I’m sure we will do something else, because we’re very hopeful that there will be another baby to actually use that nursery. But for now, that’s just what feels right.
Do you go hang out in her nursery?
I do. I actually sit in her rocking chair in there ,and I have a little journal that I write letters to her and it’s just…you know, about nothingness. Just about what’s happening that day or whatever, but makes me feel close to her. Cuz you know, the chair that I bought with the intention of–well it was purchased for me–but with the intention of getting to rock her, and we don’t get to. So that’s what is comforting. We also have a weighted teddy bear that’s weighted to her birth weight and sometimes I’ll just sit in there with that. But otherwise, we keep the door shut. You know, it’s the one room in the house. we keep the dogs out of.
It’s kind of a special area.
Yeah, this is her room. This is her room.
It’s actually connected to the room I’m sitting in currently by a bathroom. So it’s just the other side of the bathroom next to me.
Well, thank you for sharing that story. I can’t imagine.
Thanks for letting me talk about her.
Well, we always want to talk about are our kids, right? I mean, I always want to talk about my son, so… Is there anything else you want to say to remember about her?
I mean, just that, we just like everybody else, we wish things could have been different. But we’re so thankful for the time that we did have. You know, I got 36 weeks of having her with me, which is something that I would never trade. Even though the end was horrible, I would never trade getting that time with her.
Yeah. Thank you so much, Meghan.
So many thanks to Meghan for being vulnerable and sharing your beautiful story of Henley with us. Head over to our website StillAPartofUs.com, where you can find the show notes including a full transcript of this interview and any resources that were mentioned, where you can sign up for our short and helpful email newsletter, where you can learn how you can become a patron and support the work it takes to produce this show for just a few dollars a month, and lastly, where you can find out how to get in touch with us if you want to share your child’s story on the show.
The show is produced and edited by Winter and Lee Redd. Thanks to Josh Woodward for letting us use his song “Flickering Flame”. You can find them at JoshWoodward.com. Lastly, subscribe to this podcast and share it with their friends that might need it and tell them to subscribe. Why? Because people need to know that even though our babies are no longer with us, they’re still a part of us.
My opinions may have changed, but not the fact that I am right. Ashleigh Brilliant
Transcribed by https://otter.ai