An Ode to The Nurses of Speare Memorial Hospital – Part 2 (only a year late)

SpeareThings have been quiet on here – and by quiet I mean SILENT for almost a year.  I have felt guilty about this knowing that I owed this specific post to the amazing crew at Speare Memorial Hospital (for whom I have an even higher level of love and respect now more than ever).  I know I don’t have to give any explanations, but I hit a wall last fall.  Not a day has passed that I haven’t thought about missed memories with Isaac, how deeply I miss and love Isaac, Speare, and everything that happened last year.  However, there came a time in life after loss Isaac where I needed to find a way forward – to develop routines and traditions that didn’t constantly send me back to July of last summer.  This post continued to plague me over the last year.  I couldn’t get it just right, so I avoided it entirely.  It’s been sitting (substantially in the form you find it below) in my drafts since last year.

As I said in Part I, my experience with the nurses at Speare Memorial Hospital was amazing.  I wanted to take some time to recognize a few more of the incredible women who helped me, my husband and my family through what I hope will turn out to be the most difficult hospital stay of my life.  So, without further ado, here is Part 2.

I think that anyone who has ever had a hospital stay can relate to this sense of impending doom that you feel when it comes time for shift change.  When you like your nurse as much as we did, you end up scared of who will replace him/her for the next 12 hours.  Saturday morning was the first point in my stay at which I was coherent enough to be aware of the changing shifts.  When Meghan gently exited our room with our baby, Isaac, and did not return, I realized that I had no idea who would pop in next.  We had been through hell and back at that point, and I remember thinking that, with my luck, we’d be in for a difficult nurse.  I was wrong, and I am so glad that Laurel came through next.


Laurel was the perfect dose of emotional support, structure/practical support and cold hard facts.  Aside from being emotionally wrecked that morning, I realized that I had been in my hospital bed for a few days without showering or even brushing my teeth.  I had cut my hair a week before ending up in the hospital thinking it would be perfect ponytail length by the time we were supposed to deliver Isaac in September.  Having remained untamed for a few days straight, my crazy curls had become a horrifying snarled halo.  I realize that this was not a fashion show.  No one cared what I looked like, but I desperately needed to feel human again.  I was still on full bedrest, but Laurel sensed my discomfort and immediately endeavored to get me cleaned up.  She even managed to get the bulk of my hair into a ponytail holder.  For that alone, she should be considered a miracle worker.  She cleaned me up, changed my linens and made me as comfortable as I possibly could be after three days of not getting out of the bed.  She made me feel human.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I like to thoroughly research everything.  I like facts and statistics and I can always come up with more questions to ask.  I knew that Preeclampsia was a dangerous pregnancy-induced condition and of the general signs that I had overlooked, but I did not know much beyond that.  Honestly, the day and a half leading up to the morning we met Laurel was so foggy that I, personally, did not even know with any certainty that I had Preeclampsia.  I had no idea that I’d had HELLP Syndrome (or what that was).  Needless to say, even in my magnesium-induced stupor, I had A LOT of questions.  Fortunately, Laurel was training to be a Nurse Practitioner and had both endless patience and answers to my constant questions.  Her knowledge brought a feeling of safety to my upturned world and began painting a picture of what had happened.

We actually had Laurel as our nurse for two days, the day immediately following Isaac’s birth and the day after when I was ultimately discharged.  When Laurel arrived that last morning, I was pretty darn cranky.  My arms throbbed wherever there were IV lines, and something had gone amiss with my catheter (TMI perhaps, but when you have Preeclampsia/HELLP Syndrome and are on full bed rest, you get a catheter until you finish with the Magnesium IV drip).  I wanted the IVs out, my catheter out and I desperately wanted to be discharged. Laurel showed up and was supposed to immediately go into a shift change meeting where the last shift briefs the new shift.  At this point, I was so dreadfully uncomfortable that waiting out the meeting was completely impossible for me.  Laurel left her meeting to come remove the IVs and catheter.  She then patiently got me out of bed and to the restroom for a pretty horrifying bathroom experience and, FINALLY, a shower.  I remember bargaining with her.  I knew she had her meeting to get back to and I felt so bad, but I was also pretty desperate.  I told her she could leave me sitting in the bathroom and promised I would not move.  Somehow I negotiated my way into the shower and again promised I wouldn’t move.  It was perhaps the most I have ever needed a shower in my entire life, and I am so glad she did not make me wait a moment longer.  As promised, I remained sitting in the shower until her meeting ended.

Somehow, Laurel was also juggling things behind the scenes.  I know she worked with our doctor and my father to arrange for terribly difficult but necessary things, like a funeral home and autopsy.  She made sure that our baby boy would be treated with the utmost care and respect.  She answered my father’s questions.  She brought us the remembrance box with the only mementos of our son we will ever have.  She helped us by taking my husband’s and my bracelets from our honeymoon in Thailand and tying them to our baby boy’s wrist so that he would always have something of ours with him.  She even gave my family tips on where to find decent food in the area.  She was everything that we all needed.

Finally, I feel that I have to share my favorite mental image of Laurel.  Thanks to Preeclampsia, I needed my blood pressure checked pretty frequently.  Laurel would regularly check my blood pressure an make the funniest scrunched up face when she would see my less than ideal blood pressure readings.  I still think of that face every time I get a blood pressure check.


Amy was perhaps the biggest character that we encountered at Speare, but she was not actually my nurse.  She was the other nurse on shift with Laurel (and perhaps at some other times).  To this day, I imagine that Amy is the kind of nurse who could do her job in the middle of winter, in an isolated log cabin, with no electricity or medical supplies.  The woman has chutzpah in the most flattering way possible.  She has this traditional New England tough charm that you only get in that part of the country.  I have no doubt that Amy did a thousand things for us while we were at Speare, but I have to share the story of the “Amy Maneuver”.

As a brief and incomplete introduction to the biological part of things, when a woman gives birth there are a thousand tiny little changes triggered in the mother’s body.  When there is not a squirmy little baby involved postpartum, certain signals that help in recovery go missing.  For example, the uterus has just had the stretch of a lifetime and needs to contract back into a tight little ball really quickly to stop bleeding in the mother.  In a normal experience, the process of breastfeeding a baby provides a hormonal signal that makes the uterus contract.

After Isaac, my uterus was missing the memo to contract.  Thanks to the magnesium drip and a relatively traumatic birth experience, I already felt like I had been hit by a car, and to make things more fun, Laurel had to poke at my uterus regularly.  During one such check, she found that my uterus had softened back up again.  She paused and then told me she was going to grab Amy, who was “brutal but effective.”  Amy came in and proceeded to dig her impressively strong fist into my abdomen before twisting like her life depended on it.  Warren reacted by telling me to breathe, which would typically make sense.  You’re supposed to breathe through the pain – right?  Yet in this one instance, there wasn’t a chance in hell I could have gotten even a gasp of air.  Amy turned to Warren with the most serious expression on her face and said, “Telling your wife to breathe right now would be like me grabbing you by your *man bits*, pulling, twisting and then telling you to breathe.”  I never thought I’d look back fondly on a memory from such a tragically terrible experience, but this memory still makes me smile.

All I know is that if there is an apocalypse, I want Amy on my team.  She is one badass lady (pardon the language, but I speak the truth).


Brenda was our nurse on our final evening at Speare.  She was soothing and gentle and tolerated me at my most emotional and miserable points.  She’s the one who brought Isaac in for us to say a final heartbreaking goodbye.  She’s the one who had to push the bassinet out of the room as I wailed helplessly from my bed.  I remember being so impressed by the knowing look in her eye as she comforted me and knew exactly what to say.  She didn’t lie about the difficult road ahead or act like this was something I would get over eventually.  I didn’t know it at the time, but Brenda was a loss mom herself.  If memory serves, she had lost both of her adult sons in a single car accident.  My heart still aches at the thought of what she must have gone through.  I think it is magical that she continues to help new mothers despite the fact that it must constantly remind her of what she herself has lost.  As I mentioned before, I see a grief therapist who specializes in baby loss.  Brenda was really my first calm, but firm, introduction to my life as a loss mother.  Though I hardly knew her, she will forever remain a role model for the type of person I want to be.


I don’t know how to close this post in any way, but to say THANK YOU a thousand times over to these women.  Speare Memorial Hospital has a world-class team of nurses hidden away in the middle of nowhere, and I will never ever forget what they did for me, Warren, Isaac and my whole family.


This Is Us

I know I still haven’t posted Part 2 of my thoughts on the nurses at Speare Memorial Hospital.  There are just so many feelings involved when I work on that story and I can only do so much at a time.  I also just want it to be as good as these ladies deserve – so, be patient.  I also have a post in the works about our trip back to New Hampshire (where we were when we lost Isaac) and the plaque with Isaac’s name that now hangs in Labor and Delivery at Speare.  There is a lot to catch up on, but I want to do it all justice and decided not to rush something out just for the sake of posting something on a blog with an extremely limited audience.


This Is Us - Season Pilot

Today, I wanted to talk about the new NBC show, This Is Us I am certainly late to the party on this one, as every loss mommy blog I follow has already offered up some valuable commentary on this show that takes our experiences into the limelight.  For those of you who have not yet seen the show and plan to, SPOILER ALERT. Go watch and then come back to this post (or not).  When we lost Isaac, I didn’t think I was connected to anyone else who had lost a child in the last trimester of pregnancy.  I was wrong, and people came out of the woodwork with painful stories.  I was wrong because people don’t tend to talk about this horrible possibility.  The subject matter seems to have become taboo at some point in the history of motherhood and pregnancy.

This Is Us directly addresses stillbirth, and it seems to be a major part of the show’s premise.  Mandy Moore’s character, who interestingly is also named Rebecca, loses one of her triplets during childbirth.  She and her husband ultimately end up adopting a third baby, who was abandoned in the hospital the same day that the baby was lost.  The doctor who delivers the babies is perfectly played by Gerald McRaney.  As Milo Ventimiglia (the husband) sits in the hallway, heartbroken and concerned about the stability of his wife, the doctor delivers a touching pep talk.  He shares that his wife lost a baby at the end of pregnancy and how it affected them and then drops a line that loss mommies everywhere now love:

I like to think that one day you’ll be an old man like me talkin’ a young man’s ear off explainin’ to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade. If you can do that, then maybe you will still be taking three babies home from this hospital, just maybe not the way you planned.

It’s a great line that definitely speaks to women like me, who have lost a baby.  Losing a child is certainly the sourest lemon that life has to offer, and while we can’t just move on and go back to life as we planned (what I imagine would be perfectly blended lemonade in this analogy) we can do our best and turn that sour lemon into something resembling lemonade.  I think that “something resembling lemonade” means the best life we can given the circumstances – it’s our new normal.

Look – I think This Is Us is a great show, and I love the speech that the doctor gives, but I’m just not as convinced as some others that this is a fair portrayal of what it is like to lose a baby.  I realize that, in this case, two babies survive, and I honestly do not know if that somehow makes it easier to cope.  However, as good a story as it makes, I can’t see someone being able to take a different baby home and move on with life as effectively as these characters do.  Sure, there is a plot line where Mandy Moore struggles with the “replacement baby,” but that plot line is neatly wrapped up when she acknowledges that the baby is not the baby she lost and gives him his own name.  The show misses out on so much of what people experience when they lose a baby.  They don’t show the spontaneous tears that plague you for weeks after the loss (and beyond) and they don’t show waking up in a panic from nightmares about a child you will never know.  They don’t show agonizing over what to do with your child’s remains or how hard it is to find the right urn.  They don’t show the desire to memorialize your baby’s life in any way you can.  They don’t show the endless “what ifs” that inevitably plague you.  I know these parents are being distracted by three newborn babies, but I just think the show misses out on the chance to really dig into the emotional part of losing a baby.

I am so glad that this show has at least chosen to address stillbirth as a potential outcome of pregnancy, I only wish that it did a little more to show the world what that experience is actually like.  I hope that this ends up being a good first step.  Perhaps the world isn’t ready to see all the brutal details of baby loss on primetime television, and maybe this is just an initial introduction.  I also hope that this doesn’t end up trivializing something that, for those who experience it, is the most difficult thing that we will ever face.

An Ode to The Nurses of Speare Memorial Hospital – Part 1

From the moment I found out that I was pregnant, I had a lot of ideas about what Isaac’s birth would be like.  I was scared about all of the different birth scenarios that ran through my head, but none of those scenarios involved giving birth to Isaac, stillborn,  in a 25-bed hospital in Plymouth, New Hampshire at 32 weeks gestation.  We had chosen Chester County Hospital in West Chester, Pennsylvania.  For the sake of comparison, Chester County has 245 beds, a level 3 NICU (the highest level of care available for sick babies) and a brand new maternity ward.  I’m not saying there is anything wrong with a small hospital, but I am saying that Speare was the exact opposite of what we had planned.

From the moment they wheeled me into Speare, I spent my entire stay in one room.  I actually didn’t get out of my bed a single time from the moment I first laid down on Thursday until Sunday morning.  I didn’t realize that I had not moved rooms at all until my husband and family told me.

The most surprising thing about this tiny hospital in New England was the nursing care I received.  It may sound cliché to say that nurses don’t get enough credit, but this experience showed me that it is undeniably true.  They could not possibly be getting enough credit.  The nurses at Speare were incredible.  I can’t imagine I would have received quite such personalized care had I been at a bigger hospital.  I had several nurses, but each one of them provided exactly what I needed at some crucial point in time.  They were so amazing that I’ve decided I need to share some of these stories and thank them.  I’ll start at the beginning.  For the sake of anyone reading this, I am going to split this into two parts.  Yes – these women were that amazing.

When I arrived at the hospital I was in denial.  I think that deep down I knew Isaac was gone hours before being told as much.  I simply couldn’t wrap my head around it for another few hours (maybe I still can’t wrap my head around it).  I had called Speare’s Labor & Delivery Department on my way in and spoke to a nurse, Kathy.  She was expecting me when I arrived, quickly got me changed and set to work looking for Isaac’s heartbeat.  She kept me calm, repeatedly reminding me not to panic.  She could find no heartbeat and the first doctor came in for his own attempt.  Fast forward a bit, the doctor has just said, “I don’t see any cardiac activity.”  My husband and I are crying and confused, and, eventually, I have to send my husband to call my parents to have them come to the hospital.  I remember laying there in shock and repeating over and over, “I knew it.”  Kathy swooped in quickly with her unfogettable barbie pink glasses and comforted me.  She reminded me that despite any fears I had previously, I couldn’t possibly have known something like this would happen.  She told me how sorry she was and held on to me as I cried.  I know there was much more to our story that I can’t remember.  Shock will do that to you.  The last time I saw Kathy was at the end of her shift.  She told me I was about to get a new doctor.  She knew I wasn’t particularly comfortable with our first doctor and the last thing I remember was her telling me I was getting a new doctor and she thought I might like him more.  It provided a glimmer of hope to my otherwise bleak outlook.  I didn’t realize I wasn’t going to see her again.  I never got to thank her for her kindness at the most heartbreaking moment of my life.  Kathy, you are a gem.  Thank you so much.

Things happened quickly after we found out Isaac was gone.  I didn’t realize what was wrong with me (Preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome), but I was immediately put on an IV bolus of Magnesium that had me really uncomfortable and sick.  That was followed by something to reduce my anxiety and some pain medication.  I was totally out of it and drifted in and out of consciousness for the 12 hours or so of Janice’s shift.  I remember Janice, but the bulk of what I know about her comes from my family.  I know she let my parents and three younger sisters stay in the room with my husband even though it was certainly more people than I was supposed to have there.  She knew I needed them.

Days later, I learned that I cracked jokes throughout the hospital stay.  At some point, someone in the room said some now unknown thing.  It doesn’t matter what it was, but it must have been about food.  As I prepared to blurt out one of my go to lines of the summer in response, Janice beat me to it and said, “The snozzberries taste like snozzberries.”  It was exactly what I had been about to say.  She even nailed the voice. I still can’t believe that of all the funny lines to drop, she dropped my favorite one.  It’s like she was in my head.  I also have a vague recollection of her telling me not to fight her as she repeatedly tried to check my reflexes.  I know Janice sat at the little table at the end of my bed and kept an eye on my vitals as the hours slowly passed.  Janice is another nurse I don’t remember leaving at the end of her shift.  So – thank you, Janice.  Thank you for putting up with my large and loud family, and for knowing that I needed them there.  Thank you for keeping a sense of humor on the longest day of my life.  Finally, I swear I wasn’t trying to fight you as you checked my reflexes.

Gosh – where to begin.  Meghan and her pink scrubs had me for my most intense moments in the hospital.  She was there with me my second night in the hospital when I suspect I was the most difficult, but she never lost her cool.  She had me for five terrifying hours of epidural free labor.*  She had me as I refused to breathe through contractions and as my BP skyrocketed into the 200s.  I can’t imagine I was particularly charming after finding out my son had died before I ever met him and 24 hours of labor.  I vaguely remember cervix checks and being intensely frustrated when I found out I hadn’t progressed much at all.  Then things escalated . . . quickly.  I went from 3cm to 10cm dilated in less than an hour.  I guess I didn’t realize that the doctor wasn’t at the hospital anymore, but he was not.  Things had been moving very slowly and it was really late.  Despite the doctor’s absence, at some point, it became clear that Isaac was on his way whether we were ready or not.  I said that I felt like I needed to push and I know Meghan told me not to.  I couldn’t have stopped myself even if I had wanted to.  Meghan delivered Isaac at 12:06 AM.  The doctor arrived at some point soon after.  I know she cleaned Isaac off and let me hold him, despite my ongoing inability to remain conscious.  I know she took pictures of my husband, Isaac and I.  They aren’t the pictures of his birth I had imagined, but considering the circumstances, I love them.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up at dawn.  I was comfortable and didn’t realize what had happened at first.  Meghan came in at some point and gently explained that she had our son in the nursery.  She brought him to me as my husband lay sleeping and I had the only moments alone with my son that I will ever have.  When it became too much for me, she woke my husband.  We spent some time alone and at some point she gently took him away.  I never saw her again after that and was initially disappointed.  I found out a few days later that Meghan had been exhausted (rightfully so) and, at the end of her shift, had gone home and passed out.  Then she woke up and called in tears.  She was so upset that she hadn’t said goodbye to us.  I’ll never forget Meghan or how grateful I am for her.  She delivered our son under scary and unusual circumstances without ever skipping a beat, and that’s remarkable.  I needed to be kept calm, and that’s exactly what she did. Thank you, Meghan.  You handled an incredible difficult situation with such patience, compassion, and composure.  I can’t imagine a way that it could have been done any better.

*I didn’t want to change my own recollection of things, but my husband has pointed out that Meghan was also my nurse during my first night at the hospital.  My father has also told me that he remembers Meghan having quiet and peaceful conversations with me to manage my anxiety and confusion.  I clearly do not remember either of those things, but am grateful all the same.

There is more to come on the amazing nurses at Speare, but I do want to recognize that I can’t cover every single nurse that helped me during my hospital stay.  I know a lot of patient nurses and technicians made their way in and out of our room.  Heck – there was even a lovely nurse who got down on the ground next to my bed to take blood from my fingertips when my veins refused to cooperate.  I can’t remember each and every one of these amazing people.  However, I am endlessly grateful for all of their help.

There’s No Name for Us

I know I’ve slowed down considerably on the posts lately, but I’ve been taking the distraction approach to surviving this week that was supposed to mark Isaac’s much-awaited arrival.  It’s easy to find myself drowning in thoughts of what we should have been doing at any given moment in time.  I still look at my photos of Isaac daily, and I still find ways to talk about him and remember him.  I simply needed to divert my often obsessive mind a bit and be more present.  I’ve been helping my youngest sister get ready for college (while trying not to feel ancient in the process).  I’ve been re-setting up our desk so that I can keep on top of the office construction project I am managing.  I’ve been playing with our puppy and enjoying these lingering summer days to the best of my ability.  You know . . . life.  For some reason, it just keeps chugging forward.

My new reality in this post-Isaac world has had me thinking a lot about something my grief therapist said (sidenote: I will continue to recommend a grief specialist to anyone who loses their child).  At the end of my most recent appointment, she said, “When you lose your parents, you’re an orphan. When you lose your husband you are a widow. When you lose your wife you’re a widower.  But when you lose your child, there is no name for you, because the world can’t contemplate something so terribly out of the natural order.”  I know that the community of parents who have suffered through such a loss have come up with some obvious names.  I’ve seen loss mommies and bereaved parents.  One that makes me cringe a bit is childless parents. I suppose that’s exactly what we are at this point.  I feel like a parent and mother, but there just isn’t a baby to hold and love and nurture.  Regardless, there just isn’t an entry in the dictionary that begins to describe what my husband and I became that terrible day in July.

I guess it makes sense.  Everyone dreads it, but they realize that someday they will lose their parents.  Sadly, one spouse almost always leaves this world before the other.  These are the types of losses that we hear about or see first hand on a routine basis.  No one expects to lose their baby.  No one sees the extra line on the pregnancy test and thinks that they might give birth to a baby that will never cry.  In part, this is because we live in a world that just doesn’t talk about this stuff.  Maybe it’s time that changed.  There are roughly 23,600 stillbirths in the US alone every single year.  That means that 47,200 men and women become a part of this nameless club that we never asked to become a part of.  Maybe we should have a name.


Going through pregnancy I was always counting down the days until my next pregnancy related doctor’s appointment.  While I always got anxious that something would be wrong at the next appointment, this approach made time pass.  I think this is because it was a goal-oriented approach.  Instead of counting down to the ultimate goal (having a baby), I broke it into mini targets.  Sometimes I only had to make it a few days, but it was never more than 4 weeks at a time.  For some reason, making it to 4 weeks ten times was a lot more manageable than making it to forty weeks once.  Yes – they are both the same thing in the end, but time feels more manageable when broken down into smaller segments.

I didn’t make it to the ultimate goal in this case (that date will hit in about 12 days and I am intensely aware of it looming over me).  Now we find ourselves starting over.  We’re starting over with an unknown timeline.  We don’t know when we could be expecting to have another baby.  No one can promise a certain date at which we will be pregnant again.  We still miss Isaac and we are still coming to terms with our loss and our grief.  However, my husband and I agree that the thing that lets us keep going every day is that we are going to try again.  We have the diapers, the crib, and the cute little outfits along with every other trendy baby gadget.  We just don’t have our baby.  If we wait for our grief to end to start trying again, we will be waiting our entire lives.  Losing Isaac will hurt forever.

So, to pass the time faster, we are already starting the never-ending schedule of doctors’ appointments that will lead up to trying again.  We have a ton of information flowing in about our loss.  In terms of a future pregnancy (both getting pregnant and being pregnant), we have a ton of concerns to manage including Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, blood clotting genes, an autoimmune disease, and now Preeclampsia/HELLP Syndrome.  Because we lost Isaac, we need a plan to manage all of this before we even begin trying to get pregnant.   This Thursday we are going to see our fertility specialist.  In a few weeks, when we have our final pathology report from Dartmouth, we’ll hopefully meet with a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist.  Then we’ll find a high-risk OB to help come up with a treatment plan for a future pregnancy.  Once all of that happens, it will be almost time to try again.  I hope.

Truth be told, I am terrified.  I am scared that someone is going to tell me that we have to wait longer than we’re expecting (4 months or so).  I am scared we won’t get pregnant nearly as quickly as we did the first time (first round of treatment).  I am scared that we won’t get pregnant at all.  I am scared that something will go wrong again.  However, I know Isaac would have wanted a sibling – lots of siblings. We want him to have siblings.  Being scared or paralyzed by our grief isn’t going to make that a reality.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

While pregnant, I belonged to a Facebook group for women expecting babies in September.  It was a place we needed to deal with all of those pregnancy anxieties, to vent away the hormone induced frustrations.  Well, that’s how it started.  It became a group of over a hundred friends, brought together by similar circumstances.  We laughed together, comforted each other, and supported one another.  I can’t say enough how much I recommend a group like that.  Support from others is crucial during a time like this when your world feels like it is caving in on you, but it is just as helpful when you are excited, nervous, and looking forward to something so major in your life.

As soon as we lost Isaac, I felt like those women should know.  However, my husband deactivated our Facebook accounts so that we wouldn’t have to deal with letting that huge network know why I was suddenly not pregnant – why there was no baby.  The deactivation didn’t bother me, but it nagged at me over the next few weeks that this group of women didn’t know what had happened.  On Monday, in a moment of panic, I reactivated Facebook to make sure that I remembered the newly reset password (I had set it while still on A LOT of medication).  I took the chance to let the women know what had happened and promptly deactivated my account again.

Not long after, the group’s administrator, Jennifer, reached out to me.  She was hugely supportive and knew just what I needed to hear.  We talked for most of the day and into the evening.  Yesterday afternoon, it briefly occurred to me that I was surprised I hadn’t heard from Jennifer again.  However, she was looking forward to the birth of her sweet baby, and I hoped she was focussing on the “happy” instead of our loss.  Last night, another group leader reached out to me.  Wednesday, Jennifer lost her baby, Ariel.  Physically she is alright, but Ariel, her sweet and beautiful baby girl, is gone.

Jennifer did not deserve this.  No one deserves this. I had been writing something else for today, something about being out in the world.  Then a bad thing happened to a good person, and suddenly whatever I was writing didn’t seem important anymore.  Hopefully, I can be of some help to her in this terrible time.

I don’t know exactly what I believe about heaven, just that there must be something.  Whatever and wherever we go, at least Isaac and Ariel have each other.

Day 19

Agust 5, 2016

Dearest Isaac,

Your Daddy went back to work today.  I missed him so much even though it was not a whole day.  I did OKAY.  I woke up, I took care of Mowgli and I even took my medicine.  TI took me 4 hours, but I eventually ate my breakfast (and lunch).  I didn’t feel like doing anything, so I watched TV.  I never realized how many TV episodes have pregnancy, birth or baby loss in them.  One episode featured the birth of twins.  I thought I was fine.  I thought that if I could watch, I’d get closer to being able to go places.  When the babies gave their first cries, I totally lost it.  I knew I was missing out on cuddling you, nurturing and loving you. I didn’t realize how much it hurt that you were silent and still when you were born nearly 3 weeks ago.  I guess it didn’t hit me because I was so out of it that night.  I don’t even remember what it felt like to push.  I just remember how you felt coming out (it was nothing compared to the contractions, though).  We were robbed of that happy moment when the baby finally comes out and cries.  At least it was peaceful, I suppose.

Your grandpa reached out to CHOP to help us find the best medical care for the future.  We ended up speaking to one of their doctors. She was nice as can be.  She can’t treat me, but she can help get us the right team. She already had someone in mind for us to contact.  She basically confirmed my suspicion that you and I didn’t have sufficient medical care.  I am so sorry I did not realize it sooner.  She did, however, put some hope back in Daddy’s and my life.  She said we CAN try again.  She also suggested that trying could commence at 4 months instead of the 6-12 months we heard previously.  It would still be risky.  Now that I have had HELLP Syndrome, there is a 1 in 4 chance it will happen again and it would likely happen earlier.  BUT if it happens, they would catch it sooner.  Things didn’t have to end that way and, hopefully, they never will again.  Mommy couldn’t bear it.

I am so broken over losing you, but now I have a spot of hope on the distant horizon.  I have to get healthy, to eat well and to exercise.  It’s what I know you would want and what must happen for the sake of your future sibling.  I will still count the days and weeks from your birth, still count down the days until your due date, until we could have taken you home.  But now I can also count the days until we can try again.  To be fair, “trying again” seems wrong.  We succeeded, the first time.  We made a wonderfully beautiful miracle named Isaac.  Nothing can ever change that.

Love you to pieces,


Day 14

July 31, 2016

Dearest Isaac,

Today we went home.  Every second of it felt wrong.  I know you are with me and Daddy always, but it still felt like saying goodbye.  Bringing you home in a tiny box, containing an even tinier red velvet bag, felt so wrong.  Traffic was brutal, I cried until I was sick, and both Mowgli and Cali ended up sick.  Daddy held you in his lap the whole ride home.  It’s not a  ride in a car seat back from the hospital, but it is the best we will ever have.

This house feels like a prison of memories.  Seeing the nursery returned to a guestroom brought me to my knees.  Thank goodness your Daddy was there to catch me.  I found the package of positive pregnancy tests I had saved.  The so comforted me once, proving that you really existed.  I couldn’t believe we could be so lucky and so I proved it to myself every single morning.  I’ll never part with them – my concrete proof that this wasn’t just a terrible dream.

Daddy keeps trying to comfort me, saying there will be another baby.  While I so want a baby, there will never be another Isaac Immel.

Unfortunately, I’ve become a bit obsessed over what happened to you.  I know my body failed you, but I can’t help wondering if there was something else we missed.  Maybe your toes, while perfect to me, might not have been normal?  For all I know you were genetically perfect – I mean you were perfect and we love every millimeter of you.  I just want to know why I am not laying here cuddling you.  What did we miss?  Could we have prevented it?

The doctor in New Hampshire said we would have results in a few months.  I need answers now.  The wondering is eating me alive.

Mommy’s are supposed to be strong and I promise I am trying.  I will be better for you.  I just need more time.

Your Grandpa almost finished your signed for me today.  He sanded it down and hammered on a gorgeous copper border.  It still needs varnish, but it came out better than I imagined.  I am certainly going to make one for home.  We also got a letter from Grandpa’s friends.  They’re going to get us a pin oak for home too.  I can’t wait.  We want to have a physical place to feel close to you.  We will put a bench under it and it will be lovely.  This isn’t how it was supposed to be, but we will try to make the best of it.

Love you,


Day 14

July 30, 2016

Dearest Isaac,

Happy two-week birthday-versary.  It seems today was our last day in New Hampshire.  I say “it seems” because I won’t believe it until Daddy has managed to drag me out of here kicking and screaming.  I know we have our physical pieces of you, but I can’t help but feel like I am leaving you behind.  We brought you here a bouncing baby in my belly, who we absolutely could not wait to meet.  We leave with a tiny (impossibly tiny) bag, broken hearts, and lonely belly.  This is the last place we were together as a family, the last place I felt you rolling around inside me.  This is the place where we lost you, the place I had to live on without you, the place I labored, and the place I delivered you with Daddy firmly by my side.  The is the place where we held you, cried for you and played “Crazy Love”, our first wedding dance song, while cherishing our final moments with you.  This is the place your Daddy worked so hard to help me heal physically and emotionally.  This is the place where I realized how strongly I could love (both you and Daddy).  This just feels like our place and I don’t want to leave it.

Home will be empty without you and lonely without my parents.  Home means life is one step closer to a new normal that I so desperately want to avoid.  Home means seeing your nursery returned to an unassuming guest room.  Home means pretending all of this didn’t happen if I want to function.  I love home – I do.  But it feels like I am leaving part of my soul in New Hampshire.

I hope you will follow me home.  Everyone says that you will, but I struggle to believe that you won’t feel a bit more distant.

On a different note, I finally carved your sign with your Grandpa’s help.  We didn’t have some of the finishing tools, so your Grandpa is going to sand, varnish and frame it for us.  It should come as no shock that your Daddy picked red paint for the lettering.

Speare Memorial Hospital is naming our room there after you.  Hopefully, we can return Columbus Day to see it.  Your Grandpa gave a beautiful toast during our chili dinner tonight.  There were a number of tears shed.  There were no jokes, just kind complimenting words.  He told us we were parents now because of you and that nothing can change that.  It is so very true.  I am so proud and honored to be your mommy, no matter the pain.

I love you so dearly,


Day 11

July 27, 2016

Dearest Isaac,

Today was a busy day.  Dadd and I went to my second blood pressure check.  My medicine is working and my blood pressure has finally returned to a normal level.  I also had to get some blood work.  I was so scared after the difficulty they had when I was having you.  The nurse was the one who had to get down on the floor to draw blood from my fingertips.  She could not believe how different I looked.  Retrospectively, my face was SO swollen.  The nurse told me her sister-in-law went through the same thing we’re going through with her first and went on to have three normal pregnancies.  Daddy and I would love to give you three healthy little brothers or sisters.  I promise to tell them all about their handsome big brother.

On the way to the doctor, we stopped and got a new dress for me at a totally out of place boutique in Ashland.  We are going out to dinner with my family and I no longer have any clothes that fit since I have lost at least 25 pounds since I had you.  We also stopped at two hardware stores to find the right sized Dremel bit for making signs.  I’m determined to make your signs perfect.  Your daddy found his favorite southern soda, big Red.  We even stopped for ice cream before heading to Speare.

When we finally got home, we found out that 23 people donated to Speare’s Labor & Delivery Department in your memory.  It’s amazing to see how much you affected people and also oddly relieving to know that your passing can help other families somehow.  If we can’t have you, at least we can help someone else.

I practiced writing your name with the Dremel and have moderately improved.  I didn’t have a ton of time because I took the 13 foot Whaler out while you Daddy practiced rowing in a single for the first time.  He looked great, he didn’t flip, and his smile melted my sad heart.  I bet you would have had a smile just like him.

Lisa made Shepherd’s Pie tonight.  It’s such an amazing comfort food and I really needed it after such a (comparatively) busy day.  As I finish with the day’s distractions and get tired, my mind wanders to “what-ifs” and anger, and fixates on losing you.  I’m supposed to be almost 34 weeks pregnant with you rolling around in my belly.  I’m supposed to be finishing your nursery.  Daddy and I are supposed to be waiting for you and looking forward to meeting you.  Instead, we are heartbroken and missing you.  An actual piece of me is gone.  I actually slapped myself earlier to make sure I wouldn’t wake up and realize this was all a terrible dream.  I’m trying to tell that I miss you, I love you, and that I would do ANYTHING to have you back where you belong.

Love you to the moon and back,