Chronicling Abigail's Story
Sunday August 23, 2015, was a typical Sunday. Gary got up woke up the kids, encouraged me to get out of bed and headed for the shower. I as usual drug around, only getting up at the last possible moment, to get the kids dressed and ready. We loaded up and pulled out of the driveway at the usual time on the way to Church. Bro. Jonathan had a good message, on "Before and After", following up on some of the points he had preached on a few Sundays before. After Church there was alot of visiting, some hanging out at the preachers house, before making the long trip back home. Back at home the kids got to watch a movie, while Gary and I snuck off to our room, to stretch out on the bed, crank up the A/C and finish reading our book we had started. After getting the kids in bed that night, I asked him one last time if this baby was a boy or a girl, and tried to get him to play the name game, before Monday's gender ultrasound. He resolutely refused, and said prayer before we went to sleep. We had no idea it was our last night of blissful ignorance.
Monday, August 24, dawned bright and sunny. We got ready. I can distinctly remember picking up the new green and white maternity shirt that I was wearing sometimes twice a week to put on. It was so soft and comfy, a really nice looking shirt too. I remember putting it back down, and thinking I'll wait and wear this one later on in pregnancy for a picture, it doesn't show off my baby bump well enough yet. Instead I picked up a grey and black striped shirt that Sis. Hazel had found and put in a bag of maternity stuff for me, just the week before. I wanted to get a good picture to post with the blog that I had already started drafting for that afternoon. I remember picking out nice clothes for each of the kids, because as always they were coming with us, for their first glimpse at our new baby.
We loaded up in the car, and headed out. On the way "Be Still My Soul" came up on the tape we had playing. It was a pretty arrangement, I hadn't heard it before. I remember commenting to Gary that I had always liked it, that it always made me a little emotional, something about the music seemed sad and longing, but beautiful. I had this odd fleeting feeling that I was going to need that song, but pushed it out of my mind. I often have my mind run off with odd tragic scenarios, that never have any basis in reality. What would happen if the car suddenly was hit, and it rolled down the side of that mountain? We had a little trouble finding the place, but got right in. As I was filling out the paperwork with the lady behind the desk, Britt came up and told her all about how he hoped this baby would be a new brother. We were anxiously looking forward to finding out if Britt was finally getting a brother, or if we'd have another little girl to dress up and spoil. Unfortunately we instead became a member of that club that no one wants to join.
We went back for the ultrasound, and reminded the kids that they had to be still and quiet or they wouldn't be allowed to stay in the room. My biggest fear was that they wouldn't behave, and Gary would have to take them out and miss out on the ultrasound. After all at that point he hadn't been to any doctor's appointments. He hadn't heard the heartbeat. And the initial dating ultrasound I went to alone, so he hadn't seen our child wiggle and kick and move. He had only been able to feel our baby roll across my stomach once. The baby was very still, but I didn't think much off it, and our technician had to work to get some spinal shots. It wasn't until she clicked the heartbeat button and there was nothing but straight lines, and no sound that I started to get confused. Then she immediately tried to get head measurements. I saw 16 weeks, 6 days pop up. We were 2 days shy of 22 weeks. I said in a level voice. "That's not a good sign is it?" She replied, "No, I haven't seen the baby move, and I can't find a heartbeat." I don't recall that she told us that our baby had died, she did say she'd give us a few minutes while she called the doctor. We told the kids, Britt was the only one that really understood it. Gary took the kids to the car, and I sat there. When she came back I asked if our baby was a boy or a girl, and she wouldn't guess the position made it too hard to tell. I asked how long, and she said it had been at least 2 weeks, maybe as many as 5. I had to go back to the waiting room, and try not to fall apart in front of a bunch of strangers while we waited for our midwives to call back. Thankfully after about 5 or 10 minutes, they agreed to let me go home, and call with instructions.
On Tuesday, I had to be induced, since my body didn't get the memo. The term missed miscarriage was used, as was stillbirth. It was a long day, but at least they mostly left us alone, and didn't bother us. Abigail Miriam Cunningham was born at 9:40 pm. While it was obvious that she was gone and had been for some time, there was also something very beautiful about her. I still am amazed to think back to how perfectly formed her hands were. It was both very joyful to see and hold her, and excruciatingly painful to no longer be pregnant. I was ready by the time she was born, but it also made it undeniably plain that she was gone. Since that time I have seen the term, "born into Heaven" used to describe a still birth. I think I like it.
Much of the rest of the week in making burial arrangements and preparing to leave for Florida is a blur. The service itself was beautiful in it's own way. It was comforting. Picking out a stone, as with most of this journey so far was hard, but also strangely there was something peaceful about designing a stone for the daughter, I loved but never knew. That was the last tangible thing there was to do for Abigail, since that time I have tried to come to terms with the shattered dreams, and shredded heart this experience has left behind. As I have struggled with finding a new normal and healing, I have found writing to be therapedic, and have recorded most of the experience here on our blogspot.