On July 1, 2019, my husband and I found out the devastating news that our baby’s heart had stopped beating just that day, when the baby was 8 weeks and 2 days old. As the ultrasound tech was doing the sonogram, I could see the baby’s head and body very clearly. It was devastating to watch our baby, unmoving, on the screen. I had seen our baby alive during an ultrasound weeks earlier, when the baby was only 5 weeks and 5 days old, and even at that early stage, our baby had a heartbeat.
I left the ultrasound in a state of shock, and went to see our midwives, who work at a very prominent and well known hospital (ranked in the top 20 hospitals in the U.S.). They were very kind and acted sympathetic to me during my appointment; however, I found it very confusing that they kept referring to my baby as “tissue.”
I explained that I wanted to find a solution to this miscarriage that would result in our having our baby’s tiny body to bury or cremate. I did not want to accidently flush the baby down the toilet, or do a procedure that would result in my child being thrown into the trash. They said there really wasn’t a body, just “tissue,” but I could have that if I wanted it. They spoke as though I wanted to bury blood clots or something equally as disgusting. I kept trying to figure out why my baby might not have a body upon birth. The baby had just died and clearly had a body! I was totally confused.
They told me I only had three options, since this was a first trimester miscarriage. I could have a procedure (like a D&C), wait until the baby delivered naturally, or take medication to deliver my baby’s body sooner. Both of the latter options would be done by myself, at home. That thought alone was terrifying.
I had hoped for care from my trusted medical professionals, but there was none to be had. They were a phone call away, they said, but the only thing they would do is tell me when to go to the ER. This is the common practice in America for first trimester miscarriages. You don’t get to birth at the hospital. You birth at home. By yourself. I was honestly very hurt and shocked by this. I had no idea how this would all play out, and no idea how to find the baby when it did, because I had zero information about the baby.
The medication did not work. We were on a time crunch because my husband was about to leave for a military commitment and I needed to deliver the baby before he left. I didn’t know what to do since the medication didn’t work, and they had said my only other option was a procedure. So throughout the course of the almost two weeks it took for me to give birth, I had appointments and spoke on the phone with both midwives and nurses, and even met with an OB-GYN. I told every single person my deep desire to have my baby’s body, and every single person said it was just tissue, so really nothing to be had.
I just kept saying that I really don’t want a procedure because I want my baby’s body, so please help me to give birth!! They said they would give me more of the same medication to try. I tried it three separate times and it just wasn’t working. Finally, by the grace of God, after the last dose of medication was supposed to have worn off, the baby was suddenly delivered. The whole process only took about 20 minutes.
No one had told me how to go through this process and all I could think of was getting into the bathtub so we could try to find the baby. Because no one told me how the baby would appear, I was searching through blood clots and tissue, thinking my baby was somewhere in there, and I didn’t want to overlook my baby’s body. But suddenly my husband pointed out the sac. I couldn’t see anything through it, but he said he could tell the baby was in there. He gently cut the sac open and there was our perfectly formed, absolutely incredibly detailed, tiny baby—cord and all. No one had told me the baby was inside the sac and wouldn’t come out like a full-term baby.
I had spoken with so many people and even been adamant about my desire to have this baby to hold, and to bury/cremate, yet not one person told me this incredibly important piece of information: The baby is hidden in the sac. If you don’t know that, you won’t find your baby.
Our baby had a mouth that could open, eyes, a nose, legs, arms, and a tummy with a tiny cord.
Several days after the delivery, I went to see the midwives to show them my baby’s picture and to tell them, face to face, the great need to tell women the truth about their babies so that they can make informed decisions about what to do with their babies’ bodies during a miscarriage.
I saw a midwife I had seen before and wasn’t excited to see again, because she was the oldest, most veteran midwife of the clinic. She had repeatedly told me that I wouldn’t see a baby, only tissue. But this midwife, when shown my baby’s picture, was noticeably shocked. What surprised me even more, was that she actually started to cry.
From this point on, my baby was no longer referred to as “tissue.” The midwife said she would present all that I had said at their meeting later that day.
I want to impart two more things I wish I had been told. The first is that you can request the sac after a procedure done to complete a miscarriage, and manual vacuum aspiration (not suction aspiration) may leave the baby’s remains more intact than a D&C. The second thing I wish I had been told is that many funeral homes will cremate your baby’s body for free. You simply buy the urn you want (if you want one). Or if you want to bury your baby, you would buy the casket and plot, but the funeral home’s service is often free.
We named our baby Evangeline Catherine. We didn’t know if she was a girl or boy, but we just both felt she was a girl and chose accordingly.
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