Lisa Grace Westbrook

June 21, 2018
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Kevin & Angela’s story of full term stillbirth.

Lisa Grace Westbrook

My husband, Kevin, and I went to high school together where we were both in the marching band. Our senior year, we started dating.

The following fall, I left to go to college, beginning a 5-year long distance relationship. During this time we got engaged and had planned to get married once I finished school. Life had other plans for us and we wound up postponing the wedding for 3 1/2 years.

When we finally got married, we decided to start trying to get pregnant right away. I was 27 at that time and ideally wanted 3 or 4 children before I turned 35.

After a year, we decided to see my doctor about fertility options (I have PCOS so we knew this might happen). Over the next 2 1/2 years, we both went through various doctor appointments, tests, and medications.

One morning, I was complaining to Kevin that my breasts were hurting and I felt real crampy and I just wish my period would start. He suggested I take a pregnancy test, just in case. I took the test, and knowing it would be negative, went about my morning routine getting ready for work. When I turned around, I glanced at the test to confirm that it was negative and there it was, clear as day, two lines!

We were both so shocked. After 3 1/2 years of longing and heartbreak, we were finally pregnant! I made my first prenatal appointment and they did an ultrasound and bloodwork. Everything looked great.

At my next appointment, my doctor told me that my bloodwork showed that I had developed diabetes. This wasn’t terribly surprising with my family history and the PCOS. It did put me at a slightly higher risk of miscarriage due to the placenta failing to deliver the nutrients that the baby needed toward the end of the pregnancy. To be on the safe side, he wanted to induce at 38 weeks, which would be far enough along that all of the vital organs would be developed, but hopefully before the placenta failed (this was a pretty small risk, but still nothing to ignore). He also wanted to monitor me pretty closely throughout the pregnancy.

I managed my diabetes pretty well (hard to do when first getting diagnosed and already pregnant since there is no controlled baseline) and saw the doctor frequently. I received lots of ultrasounds and later in the pregnancy frequent biophysical exams and non stress tests. Everything always looked perfect.

The pregnancy itself was very easy. I didn’t have any morning sickness. I didn’t have any swelling until the last three weeks. My blood pressure  was always perfect. I loved being pregnant!

As we got closer, my fluids were still where they should be and the placenta still looked very healthy. My doctor decided there was no need to induce early. The only slight concern was her abdomen was measuring larger than her head (a common occurrence with diabetic moms), so there was a possibility she might get stuck during delivery and we’d have to do a C Section, but overall, not a big concern.

We had an appointment on Wednesday, April 4th, and everything still looked great. We made our appointment for the following week and went on about our business. Never would we have thought that would be the last time we would hear our daughter’s heartbeat.

That Sunday, I realized I hadn’t felt her moving, but I hadn’t really been paying attention either. I tried thinking back. The day before, I had stayed tired, so I slept most of the day, which means I wasn’t aware of her movements. If I wasn’t sleeping, I was up and about and I usually didn’t feel her moving whenever I was active.

I tried drinking some orange juice and laying on my side, but I still wasn’t feeling her. I thought it was just because she was running out of room since I was 38+2. I woke Kevin up (he works nights) and we decided to go to the hospital just to be sure.

When they got me hooked up to the machine, the nurses were having a hard time finding her. I wasn’t too concerned because she had always been hard to find but once they did, she anyways had a good strong heartbeat. The nurse reassured me that it was a new machine and they were still learning how to use it and that my doctor happened to be at the hospital. He came in and looked and then said those words that will always be in my mind – “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat.”

Everything had looked perfect just 4 days before. We were devastated. I had to be put on oxygen because I had become hysterical and wasn’t breathing properly. Kevin held me and we cried together.

We were given the option to wait for my body to go into labor on my own or go ahead and induce. I knew I couldn’t handle waiting around knowing that my baby was no longer alive so we decided to induce. They got me started on cytotec to thin my cervix then got me started on pitocin once my water broke.

I reached 10 cm and it was time to push. I’m not sure how long I was pushing, but my baby was stuck. There were two options presented at this time. The doctor could either keep pushing and pulling to get her out since he couldn’t truly hurt her at this point or I could undergo a C section. I knew the best option in the long run under the circumstances was to let the doctor try to get her out vaginally. It reached a point, though, where I couldn’t handle it anymore. The doctor decided to put me under and remove the baby vaginally. We agreed and they took me back.

Lisa Grace was born on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 2:03 pm, weighing 9 pounds and measuring 21 inches long. It took a few hours for me to wake up and when I did, Lisa was with the photographer, so my nurse helped get me cleaned up.

Around 5:30, they brought her back to the room and I finally got to see my baby. The child that we had prayed for over the last 4 years. She was absolutely perfect in every way. She looked just like her Daddy. We got to keep her with us until around 10:30, loving on her and kissing her and crying over her. Our parents and a few loved ones got some time to hold her.

When I handed her to the nurse that night, that was probably the second hardest part (the first being learning there was no heartbeat). I still think back to that moment and just break down.

Throughout everything, we had so many people surrounding us with love. We had friends call out of work to be at the hospital with us. My parents drove down and spent 2 weeks with us. We had food brought to us almost every night for nearly 2 weeks. We were surrounded by so much love. Love for us and love for Lisa. It was very touching.

It’s been a little over two months and everyone (family, friends, and therapists) all say we seem to be handling everything well and we’re strong and they’re proud of us. I don’t feel that way. I feel like I want to hide under a rock most days. But I don’t. I get out of bed. I face the day. I even find a few things to laugh at with Kevin. As hard as it’s been, I know Kevin and I will face this new life together and one day we’ll see our precious angel once again.

Until then, we will continue talking about her, talking to her, celebrating her birthday, and when she gets sisters and brothers, they will know about their big sister in Heaven. We aren’t going to keep her a secret. That’s our daughter. She is a part of us and she will not be forgotten.

Lisa Grace Westbrook

One Comment

Your story is so eerily similar to ours. Our son who we tried for and did fertility for 3 years was stillborn at 38+6 . We went in two days prior and everything looked great. That was one year and 4 months ago. All my love and prayer to you.

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