Thursday, August 28, 2014

Two Year Reflections of a Stillbirth Survivor

Two years already! It seems like just yesterday but then in the same blink it seems like an eternity. It feel's like it has to be further away than two years! The anxiety leading up to today was out of this world. It always seems to be the day's leading up to this day are a lot harder than this day is. There is an overwhelming calm today despite my hurting heart. Last night, at a support group meeting, I discovered I can no longer remember my days post birth. What did I do to occupy my time during the time I was deep in grief? It seems so foggy, so foggy that I literally cannot remember. Some women are very fresh in their losses at the group I go to, and hearing them talk takes me back to that time frame but in my mind it is blank. I am aware that your brain blocks things out to save your soul from the constant pain and flashbacks etc. but I want to go back to that place when I feel the need to go back to that place. Unfortunately, we do not get to go back and then also block it out when we want to. When you get pregnant after a loss your world has to shift from your loss to the baby inside of you. You worry every second of every day the whole entire pregnancy. It is nearly impossible to grieve while worrying so much about your live baby inside your womb. Then one day (November 9th to be exact) he was here. My rainbow baby. My live baby. Anyone that has a baby knows you don't even have time to shower most days. When was I going to have time to sit and reflect in my head on the grief of my stillborn daughter? I have an enormous guilt that rides on my shoulders basically everyday that I do not make enough time to grieve my precious first born. Having a baby after you have a loss changes everything so much. It is so healing for your heart to have this soul to love and that loves you, to nourish a baby from your body, to be able to physically touch your baby. It is normal to escape that deep sadness. It is very hard for me to relate to women that are still there with no life after loss because for me my grief completely changed when I had Brody. My grief has lessened a great deal and my guilt has heightened. I am so happy to have my son, and I have guilt for feeling happier than I ever thought that I would be able to when I was deep in grief.  As I look at my rainbow baby, I know that I am so beyond blessed to have him in my life. I can no longer imagine having Gia here with me, and I can not imagine not having Brody (and Tate of course). I am at peace with the fact that Gia was not meant for this earth, but that does not change that fact that I miss her soul deeply. I will always have this constant yearning for my baby girl.

Today, I am going to take some time to reflect on Gia. I want to open up those wounds that have been masked by time and new life. I plan to go through a lot of her stuff today, read through my journal that I wrote in those first day's and months, read cards people sent me and go through her unedited and raw pictures of that day. I am hoping going through this stuff will really help my mind ease into those days and get a grasp of the pain that Gia left behind when she left this place. Today that is what will heal my heart. Happy 2nd Birthday baby girl!!! Your family loves you so much.

***My love will find you, wherever you are.***

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

one year reflections.

One year. Over a year since I last felt her. Over a year since she was ALIVE. Sometimes I cannot believe it has been so long and other times I can't believe it has only been a year. 365 days. If I want to get exact I have a counter on my phone that I look at everyday with exactly how long since her body left my womb. 364 days 13hours 52minutes and 43 seconds ago. Thats 8,749 hours. Or 524,993 minutes. 31,499,626 seconds. The only thing that doesn't stop is that time. The difference just keeps getting bigger. The space between her and I's physical encounter keeps running further and further away.
 My daughters short life has taught me so much about the way I perceive things, the way I handle things, and the way I go about things. Her death has brought me so close to some and has yet pushed me so far away from others. You really can learn in the darkest of days who is really there for you and who isn't. Friends I thought would be there forever have faded into just memories. I wouldn't change the way some of my friendships have ended as I realized some may have been toxic anyways. Some of my closest friends that I've met after Gia are other mama's whose babies had the same fate as mine. We call ourselves survivors, angel moms, grieving mothers. We all share this bond that no one can understand. No one unless you too have lost your child. I hope that no one that I know will ever share this bond with me. However I'm so grateful to find the ones I did. They are my rocks. I always like to think our babies have somehow connected us to each other.
Looking back right when I heard the words that told me my baby wasn't coming home like everyone else. I felt so alone. How could this have happened to me? After I had to finally let go and say goodbye to all my hopes and dreams for my child and also the physical body of Gia I was desperate. Desperate to find someone like me. Desperate to find as many as I could in my shoes. Desperate to talk about her. I needed to hear other women's story's. I needed to know that I wasn't completely isolated. I needed to know that everything I was feeling was normal. I needed reassurance from women that were further along in this grief journey to tell me it's going to get easier. The pain isn't always as raw as it is now. YOU WILL STOP CRYING EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY HOUR OF EVERYDAY. YOU WILL BE HAPPY AGAIN SOMEDAY. I needed a support system beyond the people in my life who had no idea what it felt like to lose a child. I became obsessed with trying to find that. I stumbled onto a bunch of facebook groups, sharing my story wherever I could and reading as many as I could. I put my story on and met a lot of amazing mamas. Some lost their baby's way earlier than I lost G, some way after birth and some around the same time. No matter how they lost their child one thing was for sure, I knew her pain. I knew what she was going through. I knew what it was like to be missing one.
Somehow a lady in the town below mine found my story, I think on faces of loss. She e-mailed me and told me about the SHARE support group that happens EVERY month NO MATTER WHAT. I was beyond thrilled but so scared to take that step. I went and haven't looked back since. The women there have been my biggest support, encouragement and glimpse into what my future could be like. All the women at the time I started were years out from their loss. It was refreshing to see these women with more children, to see that they have been able to push forward with their lives while keeping their baby's so close to their hearts.
In the early days of loss you really don't think there is any possible way to survive this and come out alive. I couldn't eat for months. I couldn't sleep either. I was so tired but I was SO scared to fall asleep. Almost as if sleep was to peaceful for me to be there. I needed to be aware. Aware of this tragedy that was laid out in front of me. Now a year later I would not ever call it a tragedy. I can finally smile when I look back on things with her. I would have never changed anything that happened and I wouldn't have done anything differently. Her life was beautiful, she is beautiful. All Gia ever knew was love. She knew all my love. She is my daughter and this is all I have of her. I treasure whatever I can get my hands on or my thoughts in with her, for her.
I can remember hearing this quote that was something like "it doesn't get easier after you lose a child things just get different." and I have to disagree. The pain DOES get easier. YOU WILL FIND HAPPINESS AGAIN. Things are always going to be different than they were before but would anyone that has experienced such loss ever want to be the same person they walked into it as? I know I wouldn't. I see everything different now. Some things in a new light, and some things may be tougher now.
 The best advice I can give to someone who is newly grieving the loss of their child is you will make it out. You will survive and make it out better than you ever thought you would. Honor your baby in every way that you can and the more you talk about your child the easier it gets to talk about them. Hang up your baby's pictures in your house. They are your child. I know it's so hard to look at them at first but I promise it does get easier. It becomes NORMAL to see them everyday and then after a time you start to realize that if they were ever taken down THAT would be harder than them being up. Sometimes your mind tries to shield you from pain. Sometimes you need to stand up to it and tell yourself that YOU ARE STRONG ENOUGH TO HANDLE THIS. You can and you will do this, and just like that with a little bit of time it will happen.
Happy 1st birthday to the first love of my life. My precious baby, there's not a day that goes by that mama doesn't talk about you, think about you and love you.
Keep your mama and your nana feeling at peace today and watch over your little brother Gia. We love you!!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gia's Story.

  I was 21. I was a single girl just living life. I wasn't trying to conceive, in fact, I was trying to avoid getting pregnant. I found out I might be pregnant on January 7, 2012 when I realized my period was late. On January 8th I went to Gia's dad's house and we got a pregnancy test. Before I even peed on it I knew I was pregnant. I knew something wasn't right in my body. I could tell things were different. I remember in the week before and until I took the pregnancy test I had this queasy, uneasy feeling in my stomach. As soon as I saw the + on the pregnancy test the feeling in my stomach went away. I had figured it out, I was pregnant. I immediately had to leave Jeff's house and go see my mom. I got home and ran into her room, I was scared to tell her. "Mom, I think I might be pregnant." "Jenna, are you serious? When was your last period? We have to go get a pregnancy test." I told her I had already taken one and it was positive. We left to go to the beach and on our way we picked up 4 tests. We walked down the beach with the dogs and talked, it was then and there that I knew I was going to keep the baby. It was the beginning of the rest of my life. I was going to be a mom!

The next 7 months were amazing. I never felt better in my life! I never had morning sickness, my blood pressure was always perfect, never had swollen feet and even my back felt great. Mentally I felt just as good, I embraced every feeling and every emotion that this pregnancy brought me! All of my doctor’s appointments went perfect, her heartbeat always so strong. I measured perfect every appointment and towards the end she was head down, ready to go!
Gia, my mom and I

I decided pretty early on in my pregnancy that I wanted a completely natural birth. By that I don't mean just a vaginal delivery. I didn't want to be induced and I didn't want pain medicine. I wanted to give Gia the most natural and easy transition earth side as I could. I didn't want her umbilical cord cut right away, and I wanted to breastfeed as soon as I could. At first I was seeing an OBGYN and was planning to have her in the hospital. When I was around 33wks I went over some of my birth plans with my OB and immediately realized that the things I wanted for MY birth were not going to be met with my doctor. I had a nightmare about my birth with the doctor pushing lots of drugs on me and not following any of my wishes. It was then that I knew I wanted to switch to a midwife. I decided to go to Baby Love Birth Center and finish the rest of my pregnancy and birth in the water with control over my baby's birth. At 36wks I had my first appointment at the birth center, I couldn't have been happier with my decisions.
I had my 39wk appointment on August 22 and opted to get checked to see if I was progressing at all yet, I was about 50% effaced and 1cm dilated. Her heartbeat was strong as usual and I was feeling good. Hurricane Isaac was in the gulf and expected to hit SWFL sometime that week. I was a little nervous that I would go into labor in the middle of a hurricane and not be able to make it to the birth center. My midwife assured me everything would be alright. My nesting was in over drive and I was ready for my baby to be here! We were told the hurricane would hit on Sunday night so on Saturday I went to the grocery store to stock up on water and food. I was pretty busy all day doing things and getting ready for Gia's arrival. I decided to take a bath around 10:00pm and just relax. I realized while in the bathtub that I hadn't felt Gia move in a while. I got out of the bathtub but wasn't really worried. I called my brother and told him that I hadn't felt her move and asked if he thought I should go to the hospital. He told me if I thought I should go then I should go. I said she was probably just sleeping and I was tired myself so I went to bed. My mom got home in the morning before I was awake and she came into my room. I told her, still half asleep, that I didn't think Gia had moved in a while. She told me to e-mail my midwife. I labeled the subject as "movement" and e-mailed her this:
"Hey Sam its Jenna, I’m not sure I felt my baby move in a while. I noticed last night and then I ended up falling asleep and didn’t feel her at all. Is there anything I should do to get her moving to ease my mind?"
Then I fell back asleep. I woke up again and drank a cold Gatorade. when I got her e-mail back she said "Hopefully she is already moving, but a cold drink usually does it." Immediately I messaged her back saying "Should my mom be able to hear her heartbeat through a stethoscope? I drank Gatorade and I still haven't really felt anything. Should I be worried?" She then told me to meet her at the birth center and we'll check her out. I rushed in the car and headed there. I wasn't really worried at that point but I knew I didn't feel right. Little did I know what I was going to find out there was going to change me for the rest of my life.
My mom and I got to the birth center and Sam (my midwife) arrived a few minutes later. We walked inside and I told her that I still hadn't felt her move. I'll never forget what happened next. I laid down on the table and before she put the doppler to my belly I was smiling and said "this has never happened to me before." Right when she put the doppler on to my belly, I knew. I didn't want to believe it, and I couldn't believe it, but I knew. There was no swishy sounds that I had grown to love so much, and there was no heartbeat. It was silent, almost empty sounding. I heard Sam's voice, "oh Jenna, oh no Jenna." She ran into the other room to turn the ultrasound machine on. I couldn't process what was going on. I was blank. My mind felt empty. Could this really be happening? Sam came back in and tried the doppler again, still silent. Sam said, "Oh shit. I'm so sorry. So so sorry." That was the first out of hundreds of "I’m sorry's" that i've heard. We went into the ultrasound room just to make sure her heart really isn't beating anymore. I sat down and Sam checked with the ultrasound. Her heart was still. Sam called her husband, who is an OB, to come over just to triple check but we all knew. My mom called my dad, then her friend Brenda, who lived across the street to come to the birth center. While we were waiting for Dr. George my friend Shannon text me, "are you in labor yet dude?" She would ask me every day. I called her and the words came out of my mouth. "My baby's dead." Tears started rolling down my face. Dr. George arrived and checked again on the ultrasound. She had no heartbeat. He thought he saw the cord wrapped around neck. I was given the option to go to the hospital and get induced right away or I could go home and go to the hospital whenever I was ready. I chose the latter. We were supposed to have a hurricane that night and I didn't want my dogs to be alone. I was also not ready to let go. I figured out later that I was never going to be ready to let go and it was just something I had to do. I went home and Brenda came with us. The rest of that day is kind of blurry. I know a few people were in and out of my house. I was scared, devastated and confused. I remember feeling so empty inside. I could feel that her soul had left us. My belly wasn't as hard anymore. So many thoughts were going through my head. My body had failed my baby. I was supposed to keep her alive and I failed. My brother booked a plane ticket as soon as he heard and he would be arriving Monday night. My dad also got a plane ticket and he was arriving Tuesday morning. I needed my dad here to hold his first grandbaby. I was told it could take up to 3 days after induction for her to actually be birthed. I decided that the best time to get everything started was Monday night.
My dad, Gia and I
 I got to the hospital at 10pm. The hospital put me in a big room, away from all the mothers who were birthing their live babies. I came to the hospital with the same bags that I had packed for weeks. I got changed into my pajamas and the nurse drew some blood and got my heplock put in. At about 11pm Sam inserted cervidil inside of me to ripen my cervix. Cervidil is a 12hr medication and Sam was going to come back in the morning to see if I needed another dose or if we could then start the pitocin to start my contractions. My brother arrived to the hospital around 11:30pm and brought me Denny's. I could barely eat. A woman from a local "crunchy" facebook group i'm on brought us fruits, veggies, teas and a blanket that her kids were wrapped in when they were babies. I was able to eat lots of the fruit. I ended up falling asleep sometime after that. I woke up at 8am to my water breaking. The contractions started right away. My body was ready, it was working. I didn't need pitocin or anymore cervidil. I tried to get to that place of relaxation, from my hypnobirthing, where I found such peace for the last few months. It was so dark. All my thoughts, hopes and dreams have been shattered and my baby is dead. Why wouldn't it be dark? I was very uncomfortable and I couldn't find a place where I felt good. The nurse gave me a little bit of morphine and it was terrible. It didn't ease my pain at all, just made my eyes close and my head fall. I wanted that feeling to go away and luckily it wore off pretty quick. I denied any more. I kept leaking fluid and it felt like I was peeing myself, that made me constantly tense. My mom finally rolled up a towel and put it in my underwear. That was the first step to my comfort. Then it gets blurry again. Next thing I know my dad and my good friend Angie are there with me. I'm not sure if Sam got there before or after Angie or my dad. I finally just laid down on the bed and there is where I stayed until around 2a.m. My contractions continued to get more intense and they would hit me two in a row and then I would get a break. The second one was always less intense than the first. I was finally able to get into my "hypno-birthing" state of mind. I was on the bed and my dad was on one side, holding my hand. Angie was on the other side of the bed, she was holding my hand as well. She talked me through every contraction and she knew when each one started and when it finished. If it wasn't for Angie I’m sure I would have never made it how I did.
Brenda, Mom, Angie, Nurse Jori and Gia
Mama n Gia

 Since my birth plan was no longer necessary, I didn't want to feel my body working to get my baby out but the hospital had other plans. They took my blood pretty early in the morning to check my clotting factors, a necessary procedure before receiving an epidural. By the time the blood work came back and I had recieved enough IV fluids, the anesthesiologist must have been having complications in another room because it took hours for him to get to me. I finally got the epidural around 4:45pm. That was the first time I could open my eyes in hours. I got a catheter put in and Sam checked me, I was already 8cm dilated. I was able to talk again and be part of conversation in the room. Brenda, Sean, Angie, mom and dad were all still there. Another woman came to the hospital to drop off baked ziti and another came later and brought subs and chips. I was hungry. I snuck and ate some baked ziti and fruit even though I wasn't supposed to eat anything after receiving the epidural. The epidural never fully took the contractions away and within no time I was already not able to talk through them again. Sam called the anesthesiologist but this time a different one came and gave me more. He told me he was giving me extra and that he was so sorry about what happened. I wanted extra, I liked that doctor. I was so numb that I couldn't feel anything and I couldn't move one leg. Around 6:45 Sam checked me again, this time I was ready to push. I asked her if I had to right now. She said no, but she's coming so I needed to soon. My brother and Brenda opted to leave while I pushed. I didn't want them to but I didn't want anyone to feel uncomfortable. My brother came back in the room a few minutes later very teary eyed. He said he wanted to stay with me. I was very happy to have my brother there. He was holding my right hand sitting on one side of the bed, my dad was on the other side and holding my left hand. My mom and Angie each held one of my legs. It felt so good to have people I love supporting me. I started pushing around 7pm but was so numb that I couldn't feel anything and couldn't really push well. It was going to take hours with how numb I was to get her out so the staff decided to use the vacuum to help her. At 7:29, with the help of a vacuum, Gia Elizabeth made her way out. There was no cord around her neck and no signs that it ever was.
Mama's hand and Gia

I wanted the staff to take her to another room and clean her off and dress her before I saw her. They did, and everyone else saw her first. A photographer came and took lots of pictures of my beautiful daughter and my family. When I was finally ready to meet her, my mom brought her in to me wrapped in blankets I had picked out for her and a head band we got months before. I could no longer be strong. I broke down. My perfect, gorgeous, 7lb 4oz baby looked so peaceful. I smelled her and kissed her on the cheek. She had so much black hair. I put my finger in her hand and her limp little fingers fell perfectly on mine like I had always imagined they would. Gia Elizabeth Godar was born a day before her due date. The nurses brought in a warmer so she could stay with me until I left the hospital. Everyone eventually left except my mom. I held my baby for a very long time and finally put her in the warmer. It was very hard to fall asleep because I knew this was the only night for the rest of my life that I will be able to sleep next to my daughter. The next morning I woke up pretty early and was ready to go home. We said our goodbye's to my baby and a nurse took her away. I'm so thankful I got to spend that time with Gia and I'm so happy my mom said to keep her in the room with us all night. I will cherish the few memories I got the chance to make with my baby girl forever.
 Now I’m left here, a month later trying to put the pieces of my life back together. We still don't have any answers as to what happened to my Gia. I've come a long way in just a month but my journey has still just begun. I'm trying to find my way to a new normal and be able to have a smile on my face again. The day Gia died is the day a big piece of me died too. My life will never be the way it once was, but I can't give up. I have hope for my future and I have hope to see my daughter someday again too.

For all of my friends that are reading this and clueless on stillbirth(like I was before I became a statistic) I wanted to add some statistics of stillbirth in the United States.
Stillbirth is the term health care providers use to describe the loss of a pregnancy due to natural causes after the 20th week of gestation. About one in every 160 pregnancies in the U.S. ends in a stillbirth, which adds up to about 26,000 each year nationwide. In at least half of all cases, health care providers can find no cause for the pregnancy loss.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Well my first blog! I'm not really sure how to start one of these, so I guess i'll start off by saying I just moved to Florida 11 months ago from NW Ohio. All my roots, family and friends are back up north. I was ready for a change and sick of the same ol' thing so I packed all the stuff I could fit in my car and headed south! Okay, so i'm going to fast forward to now because I don't really want to get into the details of what has happened since I moved here right now. Maybe I will in other posts someday. I'm 23wks and 2days pregnant with a baby girl! Her name will be Gia Elizabeth(after my grandma) I'm going in this as a single mother and I couldn't be happier about it. Its been pretty crazy and i've been learning so much about babies in this very short amount of time! I stay busy getting stuff ready for her big arrival. Her nursery is pretty much done and I LOVE buying clothes. :)
A lot of things in my life that I had planned never went according to plan. I always thought i'd be married and settled down before getting pregnant. I never thought i'd be pregnant at 21yrs old either. What i've realized in all of this is not everything goes according to a plan. I sometimes question whether having a drawn out life plan is ever a good thing. Everything has a purpose and whats meant to be will find a way. I was confused at first and so scared but i knew this was what was supposed to happen. I could do this. 17 weeks later and i'm as excited as ever! There are definitely fears and worry's but I know that i'm ready to be the best mom to my little girl that I can be!