On April 2, 2007, I had a doctor's appointment as usual. After a usual exam, the doctor couldn't find the heartbeat with a dopplar. We upgraded to a scan and heard that sweet heartbeat. The heartrate was unusually slow so we went to the ultrasound room, where I watched that precious beat stop. Those were the last beats of Keely Rae's heart on this earth. Sam and I were beyond devastated and struggled to believe it. We prayed and prayed until our follow up ultrasound the next day, but the miracle we needed wasn't found. Our angel measured 22 weeks 3 days along and was total perfection. Everything looked perfect so no answers were easy. We waited to induce. We wanted to plan the funeral, just right for our little girl. I felt the irrepressable urge to oversee every detail. With the help of some angels here on earth, we were able to plan for one of the worst and most beautiful days of our lives.
On April 11, 2007, we began an induction just as we would've with a live birth. I had to be given three times the strength of a normal induction because my body wasn't ready to give Keely up- and neither was I. Around noon, the contractions became intense, but I stayed with our plan to give Keely the medfree birth we'd been planning. Boston was amazing; he napped with me in my hospital bed and kept our spirits alive. What an incredible little soul. He nursed at 5:30, a little earlier than usual because I was afraid we wouldn't get the chance later. Soon after, I began having intense contractions and was purely terrified. I've never been so scared in my life. It was nothing like the medfree birth with Boston. I honestly thought I might die. The intense pain my body was feeling was nothing compared to my heart breaking. I read the 23rd Psalm several hundred times, along with Psalm 139:13-18, the verses we'd chosen to be read (among others) at the funeral. Sam was amazing. He held my hand and kept me strong when I know he was dying inside. We talked of our little angel watching over us, knowing we are so limited in our understanding of time on earth and she knows we'll be together again soon- in the blink of Heaven's eye. We had them do one last ultrasound just before the induction; just to make sure. That's when they told us we had a daughter. We were shocked. So much for mother's intuition. I would've bet anything on our second child being a boy. Keely Rae it would be; named for my sisters. I began bleeding severely around 6:15 and the nurses felt sure we'd have a baby before 7 pm. I've never in my life seen so much blood. It was pouring out; nothing like Boston's birth. Everyone left the room except for Sam and I as we waited to see our daughter's earthly body. It was different from a live birth. They just leave you in there unattended, no nurses watching what was happening, no doctors on call. Just you and your sadness. 7:30 pm rolled around and the nurse began to become concerned about the severity of my bleeding. She called my doctor, who said she was on her way. Sam told me later that he was terrified, seeing how much blood I had lost. He feared I'd have to have a transfusion. That was pain like I've never experienced in my life. A million times worse than a live birth, as if you can feel part of you dying along with your child. The adrenaline rush as with a live birth is absent because I just wanted to keep her with me; I didn't want to give her up. Pure hell. Despite the pain, Sam kept me strong and I declined pain meds of any kind. Somehow, that last hour, Sam and I found a peace about us that had eluded us so far. We both felt like she was okay; that she was with us and that we were going to be okay. She was already better than okay.
At 8:55 pm on April 11, 2007, Keely Rae was born sleeping, already in Heaven. She was pure beauty. She had her daddy's jawline (same as big brother), along with Daddy's lips. She had huge, beautiful eyes and a pointy little nose. Her little feet were pointy and long; like she would've been a ballerina. She was stunning. Sam and I fell for her (as if we hadn't already). She looked absolutely perfect. No visible problems, with her or with the cord or the placenta. I got to hold her for a minute and then the doctor told me they were going to have to extract the placenta because it had broken up inside (part of it came out before the baby). Still, I declined meds and my doctor said she didn't recommend that but that it was my decision. I knew I'd regret it if I couldn't at least give Keely the birth we'd planned. Sam kept me strong. The doctor used her hand to scrape the lining of the uterus to extract any remaining placenta. That pain was hell. Pure, complete hell. They didn't expect that I'd have to fully dilate, but I did, just as a live birth. Within the hour, Keely was cleaned up and we had prints made of her tiny hands and feet. She fit in the palms of her daddy's hands. The photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came and did a photo shoot with me, Sam, Boston and his little sister Keely. How precious those photos are to us; of our angel. The hospital also took some photos and gave us a tiny pink outfit for Keely to wear. It's beautiful. Unfortunately, there was another family down the hall who lost their baby about the same gestational age as Keely. My heart broke for them. I felt awful knowing another family was facing this pain. Every once in awhile, over the loud speaker, they'd chime a lullaby. That was a sign that a new baby was born safe and sound. We were in the maternity ward with all of the babies, but had no baby to take home. Somehow, we found a bit of solace in knowing we weren't the only ones, but I wouldn't wish this pain on my worst enemy. We had to stay until about 10 oclock the next morning so they could observe me. During that time, Keely stayed in our room and I just stared and her and wept while I held my sleeping baby in my arms. I'll never forget her beautiful face. The next morning, we left empty armed.
Saturday was the funeral. I didn't know I could produce so many tears. I didn't know I could actually, physically feel my heart breaking. I didn't ever think I'd be laying a child to rest. I never even thought I'd have a daughter, let alone bury one. The funeral home was packed. It amazed me that our little angel baby could touch so many people without her feet touching the earth. I didn't leave her side during the visitation; I wanted every second near her that I could have. Before people started coming in, Sam, Boston and I went in to see her one last time. Her little earthly body needed so badly to rest, to be laid next to her great grandmother in peace since her soul was already soaring. Boston had carefully picked out a blanket for her, which we swaddled her in. On her head, a tiny pink bow from my mom and dad. Also buried with her was a stuffed angel big brother wanted to give her that said "God bless baby", a letter from me, Sam and Boston, an "I Love You" taggie book that we bought just after our bfp and she was wrapped in her delicate pink outfit. We also put a pink "my first" dolly in there with her and kept an identical one for her memory trunk. We closed the casket after our final look and final kiss. The room was filled with flowers, angels and friends. My father (a preacher) said the most eloquent, perfect eulogy for our angel baby girl. He read the verses we chose and beautifully told of the life that, though brief, would never be forgotten and made her mark on our world without breathing its air. Sam carried the tiny casket, a lone pallbearer. He said I carried her for her life and he'd carry her for her death. He was so strong and I was so proud. What an amazing man I married. Boston was cordial throughout the visitation and slept throughout the funeral. We laid her to rest next to my Marney amid a light mist and a dark sky. It was one of the hardest days of my life, but it was very important to us that she have a proper goodbye. Her emerald, angel shaped headstone was up by Memorial day. It has Psalm 139:13-18 on the back and the front has her name, angel date, and "our beloved angel". I can't begin to express how broken my heart is and I know that will never go away. We have to find a new normal and move on, while taking our angel and her memory with us.
written by mama with love in the weeks following