Chapter One: "The Day"
It was spring, 2004. I was 36-weeks pregnant and felt good as I headed to my doctor. When the nurse did the scan for the heartbeat, a concerned look took over her face. I tried my very best to convince myself that everything was fine, things like this didn't happen to people like me. I’m sure it was a desperate attempt from my brain to try and keep myself from losing it. The doctor came in and scanned - there was not a sound. I was in shock, knowing what was happening but not being able to process it. With tears in his eyes he said "I’m sorry but we have lost her." I desperately asked if they were sure there was no heartbeat, and the tech solemnly nodded yes.
With all the shock and confusion, I realized I still had not contacted my husband. Only then did it hit me the gravity of the message I was about to deliver. All I could say over and over was "She is gone, Abby is gone." How could I have not known something was wrong?' The doctor kindly explained our options: we could leave now for the hospital and deliver Abby that day or wait until later that evening to give us time to notify family. We waited but seeing the heartbreak over and over with every new person that was notified was almost too much to bear. It felt like hearing the news again myself for the first time over and over.
Chapter Two: "The Delivery"
It was a 12-hour delivery. Abigail Elizabeth Glover was 7 pounds, 8 ounces and was 22 inches long - she looked just like her father. As the doctor placed Abby on my stomach, I kept looking at her wanting a miracle so bad - just a gasp of breath from her tiny body. She looked perfect, nothing physically wrong, so maybe the doctors were wrong. The room was overly quiet except for one nurse crying. I could hear every sniff, every cry and every beep from the machines, all at once. A quiet delivery room must be the saddest sound ever. I know this because Abby is my second child. At least 50 people waiting on his sweet soul roared outside our room when he first cried - it was so powerful. But not this time. Only me, my husband and my Mom were there for the delivery. We let everyone hold her and say their goodbyes.
After everyone left I held her until my arms gave out until the nurses knew we were ready for them to take her. They wrapped her in a little pink blanket and hat, and made us prints of her sweet hands and feet. A nurse took sweet and tasteful pictures of her. They put us on a surgical floor so we wouldn't be subject to all the flowers and cries of joy for babies arriving to this world.
Chapter Three: "Going Home Without Abby"
Heading home the next morning, I saw a group of turkeys in a field and excitedly pointed them out to my husband. He was an avid hunter and I took pride when I could spot a turkey or deer. He smiled and said it was nice to see me smile. I immediately felt a sense of dread and guilt. I couldn't believe I was smiling. My daughter just died. What kind of mother was I? I sunk back in my seat and let my mourning swallow me.
Once home, I walked down our hall and couldn't help but gravitate to the pink glow coming from under Abby's door. I drenched her room in pink as I was so excited for a girl. I just wanted to open the door and lay in her floor but I could feel everyone's eyes on me and I didn't want to appear as though I was losing it, even though I was already so very lost.
Chapter Four: "The Funeral"
The next few days were a blur between funeral planning, friends and family coming in...it was overwhelming. I picked out her Easter dress for her to be buried in. We went with a small angel on her tombstone and a inscription from the children’s book "I'll Love You Forever". Her stone read "We'll love you forever, we'll like you for always, as long as we're living our baby you'll be".
I kept telling myself days leading up to her funeral, just get through the planning, the funeral and all the thank you cards and you'll be fine, but I was far from fine.
There were probably over 100 people the day of Abby's funeral. I was okay until we pulled up to the funeral home - I could see her small yellow coffin adorned with flowers. It was only the second time to be around her and we were about to put her in the ground.
After the funeral everyone met for dinner. Every time the doorbell rang it was like someone took my heart and twisted it. I honestly didn't want to see anyone. I wanted to lay in bed and cry. I didn't want to hear how the service was beautiful or how God needed another angel. I either wanted my baby or everyone to leave me alone. I truly appreciate how many people wanted to be there for us because they loved us, but the pain was taking over. I was so angry and broken on the inside but trying desperately to be gracious on the outside.
Chapter Five: "The Depression"
I got lost in my grief over the next year - it was so hard to function. I honestly don't think I can put it into words. I was falling hard and had nowhere soft to land. I had a life to get back to but couldn't see a life without Abby. Getting up every morning physically hurt. I doubt most knew of how hard I struggled. I've always been the funny one, the strong one, the caretaker. I broke a few times in front of people and could tell how uncomfortable it made them. It’s hard to know what to do when the caretaker needs taken care of. I hated that. I just wanted to let my guard down, to scream "I'm not ok!", but I couldn't let myself burden others. I remember writing letters to my husband, my son and my mom. They were letters letting them know why I could no longer go on. I had given myself permission to end my own life if one day I decided I could no longer bear the pain.
Then by the grace of God a moment of clarity hit me and I got help. I realized a lot during my counseling. Before I got help I was going to her grave probably everyday because I thought if I didn't, I was forgetting her. Through counseling I discovered it was okay to let go of the pain, and that letting go of the pain didn't mean I was letting go of her.
Chapter Six: "Pregnancy after Abby"
I'm not going to lie - it was hard and nerve racking the first time. My experience with Abby did somewhat rob me of the innocence of being pregnant. Every doctor’s appointment there was a small voice in the back of my mind preparing me for the worse as I hoped for the best. But my experience with Abby did teach me not to let fear of the unknown rule my life choices, which I'm very grateful for.
Chapter Seven: "People's Reactions"
It's hard to this day dealing with people's reaction to Abby's story. In regards to my current pregnancy, many people refer to it as my third, in fear of bringing Abby up. No it's my fourth, I tell them. I have four children and I love them all dearly. A stillbirth is not something to feel shame over or never to be spoken of again. These stories need to be brought out of the dark and not hidden away. They are our children. It may not be the typical mother child relationship but it is still a relationship just the same. I think Dr. Seuss said it best "A person is a person no matter how small."
My best advice for people who know someone going through the loss of a child is be there, watch and listen. Take your cues from them, if they're okay talking about their child, then talk about it. Provide a safe place for them to express their feelings. It will do both your hearts good.
Chapter Eight: "For the Parents"
The biggest thing is to take care of each other. It's so easy to get lost in your own pain you don’t realize the pain of your partner. Be each others safe place. You will need each other more than ever at this time. Also keeps tabs on yourself and be honest with yourself about how you're dealing with your ever changing feelings during probably one of the most difficult times in your life. Know there is nothing to be ashamed of and this was not your fault. Focusing too much on the past will cause more pain and will disrupt healing. Get counseling, focus on healing, the present and the future!
Update on Erin's Story
So where am I at now? Well, I'm currently remarried and just gave birth to my fourth child! Mr. Cotton Renè arrived on 10/30/15 (grandma's birthday), at 12:04 am. He weighed 9.6 lbs doing very well!