Thursday, August 13, 2009

...addalyn's story...

This is a story I wasn't prepared to share, although I have exposed bits and pieces here and there. Lately it has come to my attention that because I am not completely detailed in my account of this experience people tend to 'fill in' the blanks.

I do not enjoy this.

You see, there are many people who would say that this really wasn't a big deal. That it was, 'for the best.' I'm going to tell you right now that the only person who is ever allowed to tell me those words is the good Lord Himself. I will not allow them from anyone else.


That being said, here is the full, correct account of my first pregnancy. Brace yourselves, this might be long. Oh, and by 'might be long' I mean, 'it will most definitely be long.'

Confession: I was that girl. Yes, I, Kenna, was that girl. I got pregnant right after I got married. I was prepared to give you the long-winded story about how I was on birth control (because I was) for 4 months prior to my marriage and that I took it religiously (because I did) but that won't do me any good. Point being: those pills are only like, 99% effective. When I spoke with my doctor after I found out I was pregnant he simply shrugged his shoulders and said, 'You aren't the first.'

Well huzzah, that's good to know.

I found out on Halloween of 2006. Now, I figured at this point I was only a month or so along. I have never had stable periods (sorry, TMI, but you had to know it was coming) so when I spotted in August and didn't have one in September I wasn't worried about it. Not. One. Bit. Come October, I was starting to feel sluggish and sick. The cranks in my head started turning, and so I took a pregnancy test.

Another confession: I took like 7 of them. Yet another confession: I cried a lot, and not because I was happy.

You see, I was SO. THAT. GIRL. I had no problem getting pregnant and I was a BRAT about it. It was a hard thing to digest, especially considering I had only been married for 3 months. Oh, and by the way, I was around 10 ish weeks along at this point.

Yup, we are talking honeymoon baby. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with having children quickly, getting knocked up on your honeymoon or anything like that. What I am saying is this was just not my style. This was not in my 5-year-plan. At all.

It was also disconcerting because I knew my pregnancy had the potential to hurt some people around me. I was the girl that infertility warriors love to hate. I tried so hard to be sensitive, loving and careful about what I said, how I said it, and who I said it to. Even before I knew I would struggle with infertility myself. I'd like to believe we are born with tact and awareness of others. Well, some maybe more than others. Let's be honest here.

I remember feeling so apprehensive about the pregnancy until I finally was able to see that little one on the screen and hear her heart beat. I fell in love. My fears started to ease and I was slowing working on modifying my 5-year-plan to include motherhood. Not easy, at least for me. This wasn't a roll that I was planning on fulfilling for years...and years.

Between Halloween and Christmas I was a complete mess. I was so sick. All the time. None of this 'morning sickness.' It was 'all day, all night, all encompassing' sickness. I really struggled and actually lost weight. It came to a point where I eventually had to be put in iv's to keep me and the little one healthy. Not only was I your basic 'pregnancy sick,' but I also found out I had kidney stones. Not bueno. I've felt some painful things in my life, and kidney stones ranks quite high. A few weeks into December I really did start to feel better. I was able to eat more that protein shakes, and I started gaining weight. I figured from here on out I would find some relief and end up with a darling little to call my own.

I get things wrong sometimes.

A few days before Christmas I was busy cleaning up the house. It was late, but those of you who know me know that I like to go to bed with a clean, tidy house. I felt slightly odd, a little more tired than usual, but hey, that's pregnancy, right? As I continued to pick up I started to get crampy. I set that aside too, as I read it was normal to cramp as well. In fact, my mom spotted and cramped during one of her pregnancies. The cramps got worse and worse, and eventually instead of slight spotting I was straight up bleeding continuously.

Studly rushed me to the ER. I was terrified. The thought of losing our little one was simply agonizing. We arrived and we waited. And waited. Um, and waited some more. By this point I was bleeding badly and was in insane amounts of pain. Eventually they took me back to a room (not after asking me a billion questions while I was doubled over in pain) and shot me up with some morp.hine. The doc came in and ordered and ultra sound to check on baby. I know I was anything but lucid but I do remember seeing the ultra sound screen. There she was. Our perfect little one. She was moving around a lot, obviously bothered by the fact that my uterus was having a tizzy fit. After the doctor examined me we were told that baby was fine and I would be too. The placenta had tore away from the uterine wall causing bleeding and agitation. I was sent home with strict orders to rest and follow up with my OB the following day.

I have never heaved such a sigh of relief.

The follow up with my doc revealed nothing out of the ordinary. Baby was healthy. I was healthy, but tired, still cramping slightly as the tear healed. Just to make sure I healed properly my doc ordered me to bed rest for a couple weeks. Everything would be fine.

Christmas came and went. I was exhausted, but happy. Many of my gifts were maternity clothes and baby items. I admit I was starting to feel excitement to meet my little one.

On New Year's Eve I became very ill. I could not stop throwing up. I couldn't sleep. I was in so much pain. My head was trying to pound out of my skull. Being it was a holiday, I had to wait until the 2nd to get in with the doctor. I left a frantic call on my doctor's machine in which he promptly returned, and I was rushed into the clinic that Tuesday morning. (New Year's Eve was on a Sunday) Because I was throwing up everything I put into my mouth, my doc put me on some iv's. Baby checked out, as did I, and we chalked it up to the flu. I left the clinic feeling better and not worried.

On Wednesday I became even more ill. I can honestly say I have never experienced a headache like the one I had that night. (This is when Tubby was in his finest form apparently, as cancer cells, albeit they were benign, thrive on estrogen. He was growing & growing which means more and more damage) I remember vividly a phone conversation I had with one of my friends, Stephanie. I started sobbing. I told Stephanie that I was so scared about losing my child. That with all the issues I've been having that it was becoming more and more likely that something was going to go wrong. What a perfect friend she is. Stephanie is so calm, and has the ability to transfer those feelings. She calmed me down, and I went to sleep.

I woke up ill. So ill. More sick than I had ever been.

I knew.

I called the doc. He couldn't find the heartbeat. He scheduled an ultrasound. The wonderful nurse who did my ultra sound couldn't find a heartbeat either. I remember her promptly turning the screen so I couldn't see. I didn't need to see the screen. I could see it in her face. She promptly called my doc and confirmed that our little one was no longer alive.

The next 24 hours are hazy.

I was told I could not be admitted right away. I had to wait. I begged my doctor to pull some strings. To get me into the hospital as soon as possible.  I wouldn't hear back from my doctor until later that evening, in which I was told I would be admitted the next morning. I did not sleep that night. I hugged my belly and cried.

My mom came to pick me up the next morning to drive me to the hospital. Josh had classes and I was not about to drive myself to the hospital to deliver my dead child. It seemed so wrong. I stared out the window in complete shock. You don't go to the hospital to have a dead baby, you go to have a live baby. To take home. To love. To raise. It wasn't suppose to end like this.

I arrived at the hospital and was admitted to the labor and delivery level. To me it seemed like a cruel joke. All around me women were having babies, lives were changing, happy husbands were calling family to tell them the good news. I was not.

Iv's were started and drugs were administered to induce labor. I started my first round about noon. I was in labor for almost 12 hours. At first I figured I was just a pansy. Then I was informed by my nurse that while my baby was obviously not that big that the contractions were the same as if the baby was full term. I was not allowed to get an epidural, stipulations, and the morp.hine and fent.anyl were NOT enough. Especially when one can only administer it every 45 minutes. It was horrible. It was painful. I was miserable.

At 11:50pm on January 5, 2007 I delivered a tiny, perfect little baby girl whom we named Addalyn Leise Shumway. I do not know the exact stats, but she measured from the tip of the nurses middle finger to her wrist. (Yes, hold out your hand. Look. She fit perfectly, right there. Head at the tip of your fingers, toes at your wrists.) She was perfect. Everything was where it should have been. Ten fingers. Ten Toes. Two ears, two eyes, a little nose, to little arms, two little legs.

I was so medicated that I don't remember everything, but I do remember feeling my heart being ripped out when they took her away.

It was over.

I was kept at the hospital. Studly had to go to work that Saturday morning, so Stephanie came and took care of me. She came to my room at six o'clock in the morning and took over as Studly left. I was released later that day, and Steph took me home. She urged me to take a shower, she did my dishes, and when I started to shed what would be the first of many, many tears, she was there. She placed her hand on my back and let me cry. I felt dead inside. I was walking away with nothing. NOTHING.

Unless a broken heart counts.

It has been 2.5 years since this occurred. The pain has eased significantly, but that doesn't make it one bit easier. I still feel a lot of sorrow about what happened. It was simply a horrible life experience.

You see, I am telling you this story because it is important to me. I have a child, a daughter, and she is as important to me as any child is to a parent. When the story becomes misconstrued I struggle. This is REAL LIFE for me. It has been a defining life experience for me and for Studly.

I am grateful for what I have learned although I wouldn't say I am grateful for the trial. I'm not there yet. I probably won't be for a long time.

Then again, we all have something to work on, don't we?

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Ashley Cooper said...

Oh Kenna, how my heart hurts for you right now. I wish I knew how to ease your pain and sorrow. All I know how to do is pray and tell you that I love you! Thank you for sharing such a painful experience. (It was beautifully written, as always.)


The Dahle's said...

kenna thank you so much for sharing this tender story. you are so brave and so strong and such a good writer. seriously you need to write a book. the words you use just intrigue everyone and tug at the heart strings. i appreciate how honest and open you are on your blog and know that it is not easy. i can't understand what you went through because I haven't but imagining it is pretty hard. you really are amazing though :)

Harmony said...

I wish I was as good with words and writing as you are so that I could offer great words of comfort. Just know that even though I can't get the words to flow as you do, you are in my prayers!! Thanks for sharing such a painful story that is very close to your heart.

Kellie Knapp said...

Thank you for sharing this story. I love you, and I love Addalyn.

Shannon said...

Tears. No words. Just love.

Jen Nelson said...

Thank you for sharing the story of your sweet Addalyn. I can only imagine how hard it was to write that. You did an amazing job. Oh, how I wish I could have been there for you!
I hope this helps with dealing with some people that are less than understanding.

Love you so much!

Leslie said...

I'm sure that took a lot of guts to share, and I'm glad you did it. Brave people like you help the rest of society realize that the loss of a baby during pregnancy is the LOSS OF A PERSON. It's not an almost-baby or a would-have-been-person. It's tragic and miserable and confusing, just like the death of any other loved one.

This morning I read a post on a NY Times blog about this very subject, and a lot of the comments offered great advice about how to respond and reach out (and how NOT to) to people who are going through the loss of an unborn child (this refers to the loss of a full-term pregnancy, but it applies to a loss at any point of pregnancy, I think). Pretty illuminating for people who don't know what to say or what to do (probably all of us fit into that category at one time or another). It sounds like your friend Stephanie is a great example of how to be a good friend during such a hard time.

P.S. Sorry for the novel of a comment.

P.P.S. I love you.

Erin said...

Addalyn has a beautiful mom and awesome dad. We love you Shumheads.

Maranda said...

Your strength and courage amazes me. I don't know what your pain is like, so I can't say I understand in the least, all I can say is... I honestly don't know what to say. I'm so sorry.

Eric & Jodi Eames said...

Kenna, you seriously are such a strong person. I'm not sure why things happen the way they do I often wonder why and I know God is the only one that can illuminate those things for us and make them for our good. Sometimes it's just hard to believe that when your heart is breaking and life just didn't turn out the way you planned it. I know I haven't been there in ways you might have needed...thank goodness for friends like Stephanie that can rise above challenges and pull people out. I hope to be that for someone someday. I love you!

Lance and Jewls said...

Oh Kenna, of course I'm bawling. I'm so sorry. And I love you.

Wright Bunch said...

Oh Kenna... My heart is breaking for you. I remember when I heard the news of the loss of your little one, mine was a month earlier.. I know that nothing I could ever say eases the pain but ONE THING I DO KNOW-- That baby is yours forever! You will raise that little one and she will be as perfect then as she was the last time you saw her here in this mortal life. LOves girl- you are an example evryone could use in their lives.

Jamie said...

That story made me choke up. It's so hard. No, I don't understand exactly how you feel, but I know it's hard. I can feel the pain in the words that you write. You are way stronger than just about anyone else I know. Thank you for your honesty. I love you, Kenna.

Trent and Janel Lyman said...

i cry

Emily Shaw said...

I know we weren't more than acquaintances while we lived on the circle, but I heard a little about what you've been's funny how experiences you hear about touch your life and make you more sensitive and aware of the struggles of others. That is what your experience has done to me. I am sorry that you had to feel such an immense lost. I'm grateful you shared about Addalyn. What a beautiful reunion it will be when you are reunited.

chrisandlaura96 said...

Hi Kenna. It's me, Laura, Shelly's friend. Your blog is great! Thanks for sharing about Addalyn. I can totally relate to not liking it when people tell you it was for the best. Our baby was stillborn at 34 weeks last summer, and we have found that a lot of people don't understand. It's hard for me to share enough info with them to help them understand because I feel like it's so sacred to me and I'm so very emotional about it all. In our case people have a really hard time understanding because our baby wasn't growing inside of me, he was a baby we were going to adopt. He was going to be MINE though. I was bonded to his birth mom, we spent months getting to know her, we were there when he was born, we were going to be his earthy parents, we were there for his funeral. He was going to be mine. A year later it is still really, really hard for me. I will always feel like a part of our family is missing and no other child will ever replace him. People have made comments to me like, "I didn't realize how much you loved that baby. I think it's really sweet." Well, of course I love(d) him, parents feel that way about their children. Some people, even my father in law, told me that it was better that he died and that this way his birthmom wouldn't have to go through the "regret of giving her child away". Anyway, so thanks for sharing your story because the more people who understand the better it is! (And I know it's hard to share, so thanks.)

The Corbetts said...

You are a very strong and beautiful person Kenna. Thanks for sharing your story. It brought tears to my eyes. And i don't know what to say. Your truly an amazing person and Josh to. miss seeing you

Kara and Tyler said...

Kenna- You are so beautiful in EVERY way. I'm so sorry for your loss. I know your sweet Addalyn is one of Heavenly Father's dearest little angels, and I have no doubt that ever since her spirit left her body she has been watching over you and josh.

Steve and Hailey said...

I just didn't know...thanks Mckenna for telling all the details. I can't imagine how difficult just typing this was. Friends like Stephanie are amazing. I often feel awkward in helping others especially with mourning, but I have a few friends who just know what to say and how to do things.

The other day I looked at the lds adoption site and they have videos of mothers who chose to give up their children. One mother was saying that babies are never a mistake and she talked about how she realized that another family needed her child. The videos are heartbreaking, but hopeful too. We just keep praying for your future little.

Ashley said...

I did hold out my hand. And I did imagine what she looked like, tiny and perfect. Beautiful and terrible imagery all at once Kenna.

I hope that in some sense, doing this is at least cathartic for you. I think you help a lot of people articulate what they are otherwise incapable of expressing themselves; and you help those who don't understand it come closer to genuine empathy.

Chad & Angela Nuttall said...

Thank you Kenna! You know how I feel about you but I'll tell you again...YOU ARE AMAZING!! Thank you for your honesty, kindness, and your example of strength! Thank you, thank you!!!

Skyler and Chelsea said...

Kenna I am so glad you wrote about this. It really touched me - Thank you.


Josh and Kandice said...

Kenna, I found your blog on my cousin's blog, Jessie Larson. I've been stalking you for a while because of you infertility problems as my husband and I are STILL having infertility problems, too (5 years). I'm bawling after this post, I can't imagine what that would have been like. My miscarriage was horrible but your's sounds like hell. I miscarried at 7 weeks. Thank you so much for sharing such a private, emotional experience. Some of my best friends still don't know what happened during my miscarriage. You're amazing and I love your blog.

Kent and Leisy said...

it's amazing that you can share your story. keep helping others along the rotten path you have to take. it blesses many I'm sure!

lauren said...

i am glad that i have a friend who is so strong and so brave. to share this painful and poignant moment in your life takes courage. i am so proud to be your friend.

shiloh said...

I held out my hand too, to imagine just how she looked. Thanks for sharing your story, Kenna.

Wahines in Bikinis said...

do you miss me? or virtual me?

You're awesome. Let's get together yeah yeah yeah..

Kristin said...

I hope it helped you to write through this. I don't know if you'd ever done it before, but I hope it helped. Thanks for sharing. It's a beautiful post. And you're completely right about Addalyn being a part of your eternal family. My miscarriage didn't go as far as yours (no sex, no name), but I still think about it sometimes and I still have the only sonogram stapled in my journal.

Anonymous said...

we don't know each other but i cry for your precious daughter. she is beautiful and so are you for being strong and brave-whether you feel like it or not. you will see her again. {{hugs}}


Holly & Kasey said...

you are so brave. thank you for sharing. i'm working on my story for your book and just writing what we went through has been so hard for me so i can't imagine what you must have been feeling writing your story. what an incrediable example you are to so many!!

Bec said...

Oh honey. I've never read your story in full before, and it just breaks my heart. I am following your adoption blog too and praying that your 'little' one is not far away.
Sending you my love and thoughts xxx

Mary (MEM) said...

Thank you for sharing about Addalyn. {tears and hugs}

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