By the time I became pregnant with Isabelle, I had been taking prenatal vitamins for months. She had been very much planned down to the month she was conceived. We were overjoyed when I woke up early one morning in November 2013 and had a positive pregnancy test. From then on, Matt and I devoted ourselves to a healthy pregnancy. I ate all the right foods and avoided anything with even the slightest risk. We attended weeks and weeks of birth classes. I didn’t take so much as a Tylenol during my pregnancy. I battled through the nausea, exhaustion, Carpel Tunnel, heartburn, and restless nights. I religiously got on the treadmill and walked for 30 minutes everyday after work. I had a very healthy low-risk pregnancy and we treasured every kick and ultrasound.
Isabelle was quite content in my belly. At 41 weeks, an induction was scheduled. On July 24, 2014 with the house completely clean, food stocked up, and a beautiful nursery ready to go, Matt and I loaded our bags into the car and headed to the hospital. We were incredibly excited about the journey ahead of us. We had read all the books, taken all the classes, saved money and planned for our baby girl’s arrival. We were living the American dream and were completely thrilled about it.
The night that we arrived at the hospital, a huge storm blew through the area. With it seemed to bring a wave of laboring women. Since I was a scheduled induction, paperwork was filled out, tests were run, and since everything looks great, I was sent to a room in pediatrics to sleep until a room became available for the induction.
A few hours later, I woke up with cramping that eventually developed into contractions. At first I was excited that things had progressed naturally and that an induction would not be necessary. In a matter of minutes though, everything changed. The pain became severe and I began to bleed. The nurse struggled with finding Isabelle’s heartbeat and called the doctor. Minutes later I was rushed to the operating room and given general anesthesia. Isabelle Clare was born at 4:59 am on July 25. She was 9 pounds 14 ounces and 21 inches long. She beat her mommy’s birth weight by 1 ounce. I woke up a few hours later with the doctor and a group of nurses hovering over me. I was foggy and slowly began to piece together what had happened: placental abruption, my daughter was resuscitated after 15 minutes, lack of oxygen, brain damage, uncertainty – These words rung in my head as the doctor spoke. Was this really happening to us? We did everything right!
Isabelle was transferred to another hospital by ambulance a few hours later. Before she left, our parish priest baptized her, and I was able to hold her for the first time. She was hooked up to dozens of wires and a breathing tube. My heart completely broke.
That afternoon, I was transported by ambulance to join her at the other hospital. It was the longest two hours of my life. Not only was I in pain from the surgery earlier that morning, but the uncertainty of Isabelle’s future also plagued my mind. I relived the previous evening over and over. I began to play the “what if” game, wondering what I could have done differently to prevent this. I was terrified of losing my beautiful daughter.
That evening and the next morning were a complete blur. I visited Isabelle as often as my body would allow. Very early on July 26, it became apparent that Isabelle was not going to make it. Devastation does not even begin to describe the pain we felt. Our beautiful daughter, Isabelle Clare, died in my arms the morning of July 26. Shock and pain radiated through my whole being. I was completely numb to the world and everything around me for days.
Isabelle’s funeral was held at our local parish on August 1, 2014. It is by the grace of God that we were able to put one foot in front of the other the day of the funeral. My incredibly strong husband spoke at the end. It was beautiful and heartfelt. I know that Isabelle was looking down on us proud that Matt is her father. We were surrounded by love and support. Family and friends flew in from all over the world. Our work families were also present. A huge number of teachers and Marines in uniform filled the church.
The massive showing of support still couldn’t seem to alleviate the pain and sadness that consumed me. Moving forward seemed impossible. I wanted to wake up only to realize that this was all a terrible dream. Unfortunately, this nightmare was my new reality. I still couldn’t believe that this had happened to us. I longed to be a mother, to hold my daughter, to live the life that we had planned so long for, but each morning I would wake up and be reminded that she was gone.
Be sure to check out Isabelle’s Rainbows.