"Some people only dream of angels; we held one in our arms."

Below you will find Austin's story in multiple parts in order to tell the full story of my pregnancy, his birth, funeral and the months following.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Austin's Story: Part Two: The First Hospital Stay

I had to get rushed to the hospital via ambulance, and it was the weirdest feeling to be in an ambulance all by myself. I was pretty calm when I was in there; I was nervous because they couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat, but they tried to reassure me to say that 50% of the time, they couldn’t find it. Needless to say, that wasn’t very reassuring. We finally made it to the hospital, and I was taken to labor and delivery. For some reason, when you are at 20 weeks, you go there instead of the emergency room. Immediately, they found the heartbeat (a huge relief) and they hooked me up to the contraction monitor. It was shift change, and I don’t think they were paying very close attention to it. I think they figured that once they found the heartbeat, I would continue to bleed, and there was nothing they could do. I remember thinking as they checked me out within two hours that something was wrong. I felt like I was bleeding more, but who was I to question the doctor. As soon as I got home and was walking to the front door, I felt what would be the first of numerous clots that I would pass that night. I went to the bathroom where I found a clot the size of my palm, and I continued to bleed heavily. I was exhausted and very weak; I hadn’t eaten all day, but by this point I had no appetite. Aaron went out to get something to eat, and I continued to pass about ten clots that night. It was the scariest night up until this point, and I was really beginning to wonder what was wrong with me, and if I was ever going to be admitted to the hospital for good. (Here, I think I should have been admitted for good, but I don’t think they realized how much blood I was having). I was bleeding through the heaviest pads possible, and often more than one an hour. I was literally exhausted, but I think I had become immune to it, and was simply thinking, I have to get to 24 weeks.

At this point, I was on permanent bedrest. I stayed in bed all day, and got up several times to go to the bathroom. I was so bored and knew that this could possibly be the longest week of my life. I was trying to drink a lot of water, but that made me have to get up several times. I couldn’t do anything, and wasn’t even leaving my bedroom. I would maybe walk downstairs once a day, but that was a huge maybe. It was hard because the girls wanted to be with me when they got home, and I couldn’t even get out of bed. At week 21, I went to the doctor again because of the bleeding, but again, the baby was fine. At this point, I was feeling very weak; I think I was so used to feeling this way, that I probably didn’t speak up to my doctors as much as I should have. After all, they couldn’t tell that I was feeling as bad as I was. At this point, as long as they heard the heart beat, then they were satisfied and felt there was nothing that could be done.

With that being said, I bled that entire week, and finally that weekend, I was almost 22 weeks. It was a really bad weekend; I was so weak and had a hard time even making it to the bathroom. I remember that Sunday wanting to go to the hospital, but so weak that I didn’t even want to get there. I tried to shower and made it all of three minutes before I had to collapse on the bed. All night, I was having contractions, but I was so physically tired, I just didn’t want to go. Finally, that morning, I called my sister, Colleen, and told her I needed to go get checked out. I was so tired of going to the regular doctor’s office to get the same answer every time. I went to the hospital because I couldn’t stand long enough to shower. (One of the doctors said that should have been a huge indication that I was feeling really bad, but again, how was I to know?)

They checked me in, and found that my blood levels were extremely low. I checked in on a Monday morning (6/8). I was going into labor at this point too, but thankfully the contractions stopped later that night. Normal blood levels are between 12-16, and I was at a 7.5. They decided to admit me for what they hoped would be the remainder of the pregnancy. They wanted me to make it to 24 weeks, in which the baby would have a better chance of making it. When I was admitted that night, I had to receive two blood transfusions, which the doctors were baffled by. They said they had never had someone have to receive transfusions due to a SCH. Again, the baby was fine. However, this was the first night, I began to worry about my life. The doctor explained to me that there was a possibility of bleeding out, which could end up risking my life. This was the first night that I actually understood (or maybe even was told) that the only way for the bleed to stop was when the baby was delivered. For the first time, I considered delivering this little one. I was so scared; I wanted to be okay for Aaron; I wanted to be okay for my girls; I wanted to make sure I was okay for myself. I was so scared that something horrible was going to happen, and we seriously considered inducing the baby that night via c-section. I was a wreck; Aaron and I sobbed about the chance of possibly delivering and ending this nightmare.

Thankfully, our doctor thought about it a lot with her team of nurses and decided that we should wait it out and see what happens. At this point, she didn’t think that my life was in danger, and she knew that we would never wait until that point. I was on edge; she gave me something to sleep that night to ease my emotional and physical pain, and said that we needed to sleep on it, so that we weren’t as exhausted. I am so grateful that she was there that night, as she was the calming energy that we needed. She was so professional; yet so compassionate, as she knew we were facing some extremely difficult circumstances and decisions. I don’t regret not acting rash that night, and I am glad we put it in God’s hands to see what was going to happen. At this point in the game, we all were optimistic that this was going to be okay, and we were in it for the long haul.

The next day (Tuesday), I was moved to the ante-partum unit of the Women’s Health Center. They told me that I would be here for the remainder of the pregnancy, and to make my room like home. I immediately had pictures of the girls and Aaron in there, and it was like my little home. I began to know the nurses and I was as comfortable as I could be. Most of my day was spent getting my vital signs and the nurses checking to see how much blood I would have on a given day. If it was a significant amount of blood, I would be rushed to labor and delivery. Most days, it was average; I was bleeding less than I had been. I still wasn’t allowed to get out of bed; I had a catheter the first two days, which made life easy. Although, that was an issue in itself; at least I wasn’t having to move around too much. The next day, they took me off of that, and told me I would have to use a bed pan…. Hmmm… not the most favorable situation. I was exhausted, so even this was a lot of work for me. I quickly learned humility that day, as well as overcoming my fear of caring what people thought about me (looks wise, that is!) I will admit though, I never did get used to people having to help me do everything: go to the bathroom, clean up, help me bathe, make my bed, etc. It did give me a whole new perspective on the nursing profession, and patients that are in the hospital.

Throughout the week, I still bled the whole time. Some days were better than others. My days were spent visiting with the nurses, hanging out with Aaron, enjoying several phone calls and texts from family and friends, as well as visits. I also spent a lot of quiet time in prayer and reflection. We watched a lot of the NBA finals that week, and they actually were all pretty good games. I slept okay during that week, although I usually had to have them give me something to go to sleep. I also needed to overcome my fear of medicine, and realize that it was okay to take things to help you feel better. Most of the days, Aaron would leave for a little while and spend some time with the girls, or just have some time to himself. He never wanted to leave for too long, in case something would happen. Almost every night, the girls came to visit me, which was the highlight of my day. Alyssa loved going to the nursery to see the babies; at this time, she was in a major baby obsession. Hayley was much more reserved and quiet when she was in there; I think she missed me and was scared. I always managed to keep it together in front of them, although it was really hard. While it was good to have them come visit me, it was also extremely hard, as I couldn’t do anything, and I know they wondered what was going on.

That Friday night (6/12), I went into labor again. I started bleeding pretty heavy, and was starting to have contractions around 5:00. They decided to bring me back to labor and delivery, where I once again thought we were going to deliver. It was an agonizing ride back to the labor and delivery room, where again I met with the anestegiolist, as I thought we were going to be soon going into surgery. The same doctor was on call (thank God), and once again, it was a shift change, so nurses were in and out of the room. All of them were so wonderful and had tears in their eyes, as they explained the situation and saw me go through the intense emotions that came with the prospect of delivering so near. Again, they decided to hook me up to two IV’s in preparation for what was about to happen. By this point, my veins had been stuck several times, so they were having a hard time getting veins. They had to get a nurse from the ER, who was good at catching veins to put the other IV in. At this point, I was hooked up to two IV’s, as they wanted to make sure I was getting enough fluids. We were all ready to go, when the contractions somewhat slowed. Again, we waited the contractions out; I was dilated 1 cm, but again, the contractions stopped. Thus, began one of the longest nights. They decided to give me morphine to relieve some pain and the anxiety; I was to hit the button when I needed relief. Again, this scared me, as all I could think about was Ms. Dubose from To Kill a Mockingbird because she was a morphine addict. The thought of getting morphine seemed scary to me; needless to say, I only hit the button a few times. I didn’t sleep at all that night; I was scared. I prayed a lot, and was comforted knowing that my mom and Aaron were there. Aaron passed out for a little while, and I was definitely envious that he was able to sleep. I was just too scared to let my eyes shut.

Morning came, and I was feeling okay. I was finally able to eat something, and I ate a little bit of cereal. I knew I needed the energy, and forced myself to eat, even though I wasn’t hungry. Once again, I had to give blood to see where my levels were. They discovered that I was back down to 6. Ugh, I dreaded doing that procedure again. There was something about the blood dripping that just scared me so much. I just wanted it to be over. I said a prayer to myself right before they would start the transfusion and just prayed for the strength to get through it, and for the blood to be normal. I had to receive two more blood transfusions that night. That night, the girls came, and I knew I was about to get blood… the first round wasn’t even going to start until 9:00, and I was just in a bad mood. I cried when I saw Hayley; I just was so sick of dealing with this, and this was one of the first and only times I broke down in the hospital. I just missed them so much, and was so worried about what the future held. I had remained so positive this whole time, but I just needed to break that night. I was so overtired and so drained that I just needed to cry. I was able to pull myself together; after all, I had to. I needed to be strong for everything that was going to happen; I think in a way this was God’s way of preparing me for the long haul ahead.

I finally got some sleep, after the second transfusion finished around 1. I remember being woken up several times that night; I was so tired, but thankfully, I was able to go right back to sleep. The next day, Sunday, I felt better, and the hospital was working to get me into a higher level hospital, that would be better equipped to handle babies born at such a young age. I was hopeful, but also had gotten used to the excellent care and treatment I was receiving at this hospital. The nurses warned me what the chances looked like. My doctor came to visit me that day, and continued to hold out hope that our little Austin would make it through, and that we were all going to be okay. Sunday was an uneventful day; I rested a lot, and had a couple of visitors. I was exhausted from the previous day, and just tired to rest as much as I could.

Monday 6/15, I went into labor again in the morning. It was early morning, and I was having a lot of bleeding again… I was really sad that I was being wheeled down to labor and delivery again. I remember feeling so frustrated that this was happening again; couldn’t I make it one more week? Couldn’t I just hold out a little bit longer and at least make it to where the chances for survival were greater? Again, I was hooked to the contraction machine; I was so sick of this machine. Again, I was pricked with what little veins I had left, to yet another IV. Again, I had the awful pit in my stomach that this was it, and that I was going to deliver today. Again, the contractions stopped, and I received good news, I would get to go to the higher level hospital the next day. I was relieved, but also nervous for what the future held for me. After the contractions stopped that morning, I was moved back to my room… it felt good to be back. I loved the feel of my little room. I had a lot of visitors that day, and all of my sisters came that night, which was a relief. I needed to keep my mind off of everything, and it was a much needed distraction for the anticipation and angst I was feeling for the next day. Despite the anxiety, there was a feeling of excitement and hope, as I was really thinking the move to the next hospital was going to be a great help.

I remained hopeful that I could make it through another week to give this baby a chance. I was so sad to leave the hospital, yet I awoke with such hope. I put on makeup and straightened my hair (this is big considering that is something that means a lot to me… it felt good to actually look good, instead of the pale white that everyone had grown accustomed to seeing.) My nurse that morning was actually a graduate of Chantilly, and she recognized me as a Chapman. Of course, it was comforting to know someone by association. She took great care of me and made sure everything when smoothly to prepare for the arrival of the Physician’s Transport Ambulance. As I was wheeled onto the stretcher (such a weird feeling being transferred from a bed to another stretcher… they didn’t even get me out of bed; they transferred me over with the sheets), I said goodbye to many of the nurses. Some of the nurses wrote me cards of good luck and inspiration. They made a blanket and little booty socks for the baby, and they truly were so hopeful for my future. They all were in the hallway saying goodbye as I was wheeled out of the hospital. It was so sweet, and I truly felt so cared for while I was there. They were all so genuine and I was so appreciative of all they had done for me.

The ride over was much different than my last ambulance ride, which was filled with fear and sadness. This time, I was relieved and hopeful that I would be going to be okay. While I was scared and nervous about being in a new environment, I was so appreciative that Fairfax had taken me as a patient.


  1. Meredith, Thank you for sharing this with me. It was so hard to read for several reasons; one feeling your heartache and rollercoaster of emotions from "maybe my baby will be okay" to realizing he wasn't going to make it. It was also hard to read because for much of it, you described exactly what I was going through. Hopefully our baby boys have found each other in heaven.

  2. Oh wow, I didn't realize that it would connect to my blogspot. When I was bleeding, I wrote a blog-nothing as well put together as yours-to try to help ease anxiety.