Our son, Baruch was born Wednesday, February 10 at 9:13 pm. He had passed away inside me about 36 hours before, 5 days past his due date.
We discovered that our baby was dead the morning before at a routine doctor appointment. There was no warning or signs that anything was wrong. No test had ever indicated any problems. I had not even yet noticed that he'd stopped moving. When we were taken in for the appointment, they did the standard check for a heartbeat and did not find one. That was followed by an ultrasound confirming that his heart was not beating and that he was not moving. The results of the ultrasound indicated that he'd been gone for only a few hours. But it was clearly too late for emergency life saving measures.
At that time we were given the choice to wait a few days to absorb the news, or to go to the maternity ward straight away for labor induction. We chose to move forward immediately with the induction and were taken to a private suite to start the procedure. At that time we also called a few loved ones and asked them to inform our family and friends of what was happening.
I was admitted to the hospital right away and was prepared for the procedure of forcing my body into labor and childbirth. Elijah called the doula (private birth attendant) we'd hired to be with me through my entire labor, and she came to the hospital right away. I was given epidural anesthesia to numb me below my waist and the first round of medicine to start labor by early afternoon. Later in the afternoon I was started on stronger medicine to bring on contractions.
The labor progressed very slowly from my point of view, as it was not coming on through my body's own natural means. I also had an unpleasant but not dangerous reaction to one of the medicines I was given, but was switched to another. The doctors also gave me an antihistamine on a regular basis that made me drowsy and occasionally able to doze. I was not in any physical pain, but as the hours went by the situation became more and more emotionally painful for both me and Elijah as reality that we would not go home with a baby became real.
I have to say that we had great people working with us at the hospital. Ursula, our doula, stayed in the room with us and took turns with Elijah napping and sitting with me. The doctors and nurses changed every several hours, but were very kind, gentle, and concerned with keeping me as comfortable as possible. One doctor from the anesthesia department even came down just to visit us because he had lost a daughter under nearly identical circumstances three years ago. Our rabbi also came to visit us in the hospital to speak to us. Elijah was wonderful, even at the lowest times when we both thought that neither of could handle the protracted ordeal or the grief that would come later.
By Wednesday evening, we were exhausted. The medicine that is supposed to bring on childbirth was not working well, I had not eaten a meal in two days, and neither Elijah nor I had slept in any restful way. The doctors decided that they had to turn off that medicine for a while and then start again to see if it would work better after some rest. I also was feeling very strange and was in my exhausted state feeling confused over the fact that over half of my body was completely numb. At that time I also asked the doctors to turn off my anesthesia pump so I could regain sensation and control over my body.
Very shortly after stopping the medications, I started being able to feel and move my lower body again. Within two hours, I felt the need to start pushing the baby out. I guess at some point, my body needed to take over the birth process and had been rejecting the medicine. It took only about a half hour to bring the baby out. Besides coaching from the doula and hospital staff, I needed no more interventions. Baruch was born rather easily and with little discomfort, even though I did not have pain medication anymore.
When Baruch was born, the Navy Corpsman took him aside right away to clean him up while the doctors examined my body. I had come through the birth with basically no trauma or complication. It is expected that I will heal very quickly and be able to have another baby whenever Elijah and I want to. They had dressed him and put him in a blanket. The doctors had also examined him and learned that there was no sign of what had gone wrong. There was no visible injury or birth defect and no sign that anything had gone wrong with the umbilical cord.
After my exam was over, they brought the back to us and told us we'd had a son. Elijah and I immediately named him Baruch (Bah - rook), which means "blessing" in Hebrew. It had not been the planned name for a baby, as we had wanted to honor our families had the baby been born alive.. In the nine months he lived with us, he brought such joy to our lives and enriched our marriage in ways we cannot begin to express. We chose to honor him with the name.
Our son was beautiful and perfect. He was born 7 lbs, 11 oz, a normal full term weight for a baby. He had a little silky black hair, and very fair skin. He also looked shockingly like his daddy, with a few facial features that resembled me. We spent about an hour with him, looking him over, touching him, and telling him we loved in and were sorry he could not come home with us. After that, we asked them to take him away and told him goodbye. Pictures were taken. However, we do not know if we will be releasing any for viewing because Baruch experienced lividity after death that made his face appear badly bruised.
I was released from the hospital at my request 12 hours after the birth so we could rest in our own home. Given how well my body fared in the birth, my request was honored without reservation. So we are at home now.
Elijah and I are experiencing grief that we hadn't imagined existed. To us, we lost a living child whom we'd gotten to know and expected to meet any second up until the moment we learned of his death.
I would like to publicly thank several people for their help. First, Elijah, I love you. Thank you for being such a source of love an support throughout my pregnancy and the birth. Ursula, our doula, who provided months of education before the birth and unwavering support and comfort during the most difficult time of my life. The doctors, nurses, and staff at National Naval Medical Center who provided the highest quality of care to us with utmost compassion. The entire maternity staff at the hospital whom paid our son the respect of witnessing his birth regardless of whether we were their patients. Thanks to Rabbi Landman and the HTAA congregation for their chesed during this difficult time. Finally, thank you to our little son, Baruch, for blessing our lives and marriage for nine months. We love you so much and will think of you always.
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