Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cora's Story

In the weeks after my daughter's birth and subsequent death I have found solace in reading the blogs of other mother's. I hope this record of my journey can be therapeutic for me and comforting to any other mothers in similar situations.

On September 21, 2008 I awoke feeling really bad back pain. I hadn't felt "right" for a week and had noticed a little more discharge than normal; but what was normal to a girl that was preggers for the first time? The back pain was a little concerning but it felt like the sciatica I have battled for years. As the day progressed the pain became worse and finally began wrapping around my abdomen. I was just about to call to my husband when I noticed some leaking fluid- had I peed without knowing? It couldn't be.

We rushed to the hospital and I was taken to labor and delivery immediately. The doctors informed me that my water had broken and I would be admitted until I delivered. The problem they told me was that most women deliver within 48 hours of their membranes rupturing because of the risk of infection. At just shy of 24 weeks a delivery this early was not a good sign. The plan? Stop the contractions (back pain= contractions? How could I not know?) by delivering magnesium intravenously, speed the development of Cora's lungs by taking steroids and go on antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection- that risk being extremely high as my cervix was already opening.

The NICU doctor came to talk to us to tell us all of the risks associated with delivering a 24 weeker- cerbral palsy, mental retardation, blindness and death. The hope was that the uterus would remain free from infection so that we could keep Cora in for as long as possible. However, that was not to be. By Tuesday morning almost all of the amniotic fluid was gone and I was in full labor. Cora was hardly moving as we looked at her on the ultrasound and the doctors informed me that there was definately an infection of some sort. The infection would kill her in my womb if we didn't deliver. Her best chances were in the NICU.

Cora was born on September 23, 2008 at 10:53 a.m. via emergency c-section. It was so quiet in the operating room that neither my husband nor I realized that she has been delivered and moved to the NICU until the nurse mentioned it. 30 minutes later the NICU doctor was telling me, while I was being sewn back together, that they were not able to intubate her. She asked for our permission to stop manual rescusitation- she had no real oxygen delivered to her brain for over a half hour. We understood the prognosis and agreed to let her go. It was so surreal that I couldn't even cry. I just laid there waiting for them to put my body back together.

Afterwards, they brought her to us. She was so tiny- only 1lb 3 oz. Her eyes were fused shut so she looked like she was just sleeping. I held her for a few minutes and so did my mother and husband. Then she was gone. Just like that.

We found out that I ended up with an e.coli infection in my uterus which had caused the pre-term labor and the loss of my daughter. My recovery was extended a bit as I had to fight off the infection myself. Even as I type the words now I can still hardly believe it. E. coli? After researching e. coli I found that it is the most common cause of bladder/urinary tract infections. It's funny because I never thought about what causes a UTI. Our doctors informed us that we carry e.coli on our skin and in our bowels but when there's an opportunity (like an open uterus) it will spread and develop. E. coli. Go figure.

We had a small funeral for Cora this past Saturday. During the days leading to the funeral I felt like I couldn't breath- like someone had sucked all the air from the room. Preperations seemed so wrong- like I was breaking the law. It can't be legal to buy a dress for your baby's funeral. Can it? Surprisingly, the day was the most healing moment we have had yet. We invited only our immediate family and I asked everyone to wear something pink- which they did. Spending that precious time together in honor of Cora suddenly felt so right. This was the last thing I could do for the daughter I would never throw a birthday party for, dress for the prom or see on her wedding day.

And now here I am. I am a mother without a baby. I long to hold my daughter. I want to smell her hair. I crave that sweet, soft skin. I will never have her here. But I will always remember her. This is my story. This is Cora's story.