This is my friend, Katie’s story about her daughter Lenna. Katie was kind enough to allow me to share her story of Pregnancy Loss on She’s Becoming Domestic. We hope that by sharing her words, it will reach someone who might be suffering in silence. You are not walking this path alone. Katie’s baby…your baby… is #NeverForgotten.
This is Lenna’s Story.
“There’s no heartbeat, is there?”
I watched as our OB/GYN moved the ultrasound wand over my 28-week belly to where our daughter’s tiny body was. I knew, before the wand hovered over her, she was already gone.
“I’m so sorry, Katie,” our OB/GYN said as she removed the wand from my belly, her eyes wet.
I looked straight at my husband’s tear-filled eyes and watched them as they stared blankly at the ultrasound screen.
After 28 weeks of carrying, loving, fighting for our daughter, she was lifeless on the small screen. After 9 weeks of bed rest, countless doctors appointments, prayers and well wishes from friends and family all over the world, we knew…at that moment, that our daughter was never going to be in our arms.
We learned at our anatomy scan that our daughter’s placenta was shaped like the state of Florida instead of a disc, and that she had a Velamentous Cord Insertion. Meaning, her umbilical cord was entering into the membrane of the skinny part (panhandle) of Florida versus the fat, juicy center. She was receiving a fraction of the blood flow and nutrients she needed.
After this appointment, we came home and named our daughter Lenna Scarlett. Lenna means “lion’s strength” and Scarlett is my middle name. We wanted our daughter’s name to have a special meaning: something like strength, fighter, grace, etc. My husband found the name Lenna and it stuck: our strong fighter.
Our goal was to get Lenna to one pound, and we would be able to make the call when to deliver. Lenna never made it to one pound.
Derek looked back at me and our eyes met, full of pain and exhaustion, and we held each other and sobbed.
“I’ll just give you a moment,” our Doctor said. This time, her face completely red with tears streaming down.
I’m not sure how long she was out of the room – time stood still. Derek and I stayed intertwined, me crying and apologizing, and Derek holding me, until I pulled away.
“Now what?” I asked him.
“Now we fight for our son,” he replied.
Not only was I pregnant with our daughter, Lenna, but I was also pregnant with her twin brother, Calvin.
Usually a stillbirth would result in an induction and delivery of the baby. For us, it meant carrying Cal, and his sister, until Cal was ready for delivery.
A few minutes later, our Doctor returned to the room. Because she knows me so well, she gave us a game plan of what would happen next.
“I just got off the phone with Dr. Rink (our High Risk Maternal Fetal Medicine Doctor), she will see you across the street at the hospital and they are going to admit you to monitor you and Cal for 48 hours. Based on what I can see, it looks like your daughter has been gone for a couple of days already. Now, you and Cal are at highest risk for infection for the next 48-72 hours. We also want to give you a steroid shot just in case this pushes your body into early labor.”
“Okay,” I whispered. “Dr. Friday, how am I supposed to be excited about Cal when I’m so shattered about losing Lenna? How is a parent supposed to go through this?”
“I… I don’t know, Katie. All I can tell you is the day you hold that baby boy, the hole, as big as it feels right now, will feel just a little bit smaller. She will always have a place in your heart, and you will always mourn her, but your love for Cal will make you feel just a little bit better.”
We left Dr. Friday’s office and drove across the street to the hospital. After a quick appointment with Dr. Rink at MFM, we were admitted to the L&D floor. They knew we were coming. The floor felt quiet. Our interactions with the L&D staff felt hushed and somber.
The nurses were incredible our entire stay. They treated us like family, and everyone offered their condolences at the start and the end of their shifts. No L&D nurse goes into this field for these moments.
On our last day as we were packing up to head home, our nurse, Val, brought us in a little gift. I’m not sure if it hit me so hard because I was caught off guard, or because of what we had gone through during the last 48 hours, but I literally lost the ability to bear weight in my legs. I sat on the bed and opened this beautifully packaged gift bag.
A pink baby blanket.
A pink crocheted angel.
A card from the nurses on the floor.
“We want you to know how deeply sorry we are for your loss,” Val started. “I know exactly what you’re going through. I lost a baby 27 years ago and it took the life out of me for awhile. That’s why I went into this field 26 years ago. And every day since then, I think of that baby when a new one comes into the world. I just want you to know you’re not alone.”
We hugged and cried, and I couldn’t help feeling like the universe, or maybe even Lenna, put Val into our lives for this exact reason at that exact time. Even though Derek never left my side, and even though we had family in and out of the hospital, in that moment…I didn’t feel alone.
We welcomed our son, Calvin Arthur, 8 weeks and 4 days later. And the next day, on May 4th, we signed Lenna’s death certificate.
We never saw Lenna, per the guidance of our OB/GYN, and honestly, I’m happy for that. Our OB/GYN later told me she no longer resembled a baby, only her placenta remained.
When I think of Lenna – I imagine her little face the way we saw it every week at Maternal Fetal Medicine.
Her tiny little nose.
Her sweet little lips.
I imagine her looking just like her brother – with blonde hair and light eyes and a smile that lights up the world. I imagine her with a feisty attitude but a sweet soul.
She will always be a part of our family and our story and, although we never got to physically hold her, we will forever hold her… in our hearts.
You can find Katie on Instagram here. She is also working on her own Blog about Infertility, Bedrest, Pregnancy loss, NICU and L&D (coming soon!) Again, thank you Katie for allowing me to share Lenna’s beautiful story.