I realize we are well into November, but October knocked me on my behind. I have a few more blog posts to do for this project and am looking forward to sharing with you. This is Sarah's story.
It was August 18th, 2009 and I was 24 weeks pregnant. My then husband had just returned from 6 weeks of army training in Arizona and I discovered I was spotting. I called my OB office and they told me to keep an eye on things and call them back or go straight to the ER if it got worse. Around 4pm it did get worse so we drove to the ER. We waited in the waiting room for what seemed like forever before we were finally shown a room where we would be seen. The doctors checked me and had me do a urine test. I knew that something was terribly wrong when my urine sample was nothing but blood. When I went back to the room where I was being seen, they immediately decided that the baby was breech and her feet were coming into the birth canal so I needed to be transported to a hospital that would be better for the baby.
I was transferred to a bed that they could transport me in and I was loaded into the ambulance. My husband took care of finding someone who could keep our son (our landlord was the only person we could reach) and would follow me in our truck. I was not to have my baby this day. Not only was there a low chance for survival, but this day just happened to also be the anniversary of when my friends were killed in Iraq. I was not going to add another death to this day. I yelled at the ambulance worker, she probably thought I was crazy. She was comforting however and told me that my strength and determination was good. She knew I’d fight and do whatever was in my power to keep my baby safe.
I arrived at the hospital and was transferred to a regular bed. I met with several doctors and was put on many medications to stop labor, help with infection, and whatever else they felt was necessary. The decision was made that they would tilt the bed so that my feet were above my head. The doctors told us that sometimes this type of situation could heal itself or the baby would move back up and they could sew my cervix closed. Either way I was determined to hold on for the next 6 weeks or more to allow my baby the best chance for survival. We had many ultrasounds performed and decided that not knowing the gender of our baby didn’t matter anymore. We wanted to know all that we could about our child. I prayed more than I have ever prayed before and had many deep conversations with my daughter. I told her to be stubborn and strong like her mama and don’t give up. I told her stories, I sang to her, I did everything I could possibly do to calm myself and attempt to stop the labor and the pain.
On August 20th, I started to run a fever. We were told that we needed to make a choice regarding delivery of the baby or I’d be at risk. I remember the doctor telling me that if I decided to deliver naturally that her head would likely not deliver because of being breech and her head being so much bigger than her body. At that moment I couldn’t imagine not holding my baby for however long I had, despite the fact that this procedure would affect my ability to have more children. They took me in to do an emergency C-section. Professionals from the NICU were in the delivery room so that they could immediately take the baby and do what they could for her.
Abagail Lynne Hudson was delivered at 4:15pm at Tacoma General Hospital. She was 1 pound, 3.6 ounces, and was 11 ¾ inches long. She had a head full of hair and looked just like me. She had her daddy’s ears and feet though. She passed away 15 minutes later due to prematurity and the NICU breathing tube still being too large for her esophagus. I will never forget the NICU doctor handing her to my husband with tears in his eyes and saying, “there’s nothing more I can do”.
Our tragedy doesn’t end there however. Due to the military providing life insurance to our daughter since she was born alive, we had to provide a birth and death certificate to them to be able to receive the money to hold a funeral. We purchased 4 cemetery plots, transported her to Pennsylvania where she is buried, paid 2 funeral homes (one here and one in Pennsylvania) to care for and arrange all the transportation of our tiny girl to the place of her burial. This process took a month. When the time arrived to plan our travel to Pennsylvania the Army told my husband that he wasn’t allowed to travel. He was within the window of needing to deploy and they weren’t allowing him the time off. It took many phone calls, one of which was me getting the information to call a 4 star general who would not only make his travel back home happen but would handle the misconduct in the chain of command in this incident. Thankfully it didn’t come to that. He was allowed 5 days to travel and be at the funeral of our daughter. The day of the funeral we left the luncheon that was being held after the service before anyone else so that we could travel back here to WA for him to deploy to Iraq the next morning. There was no time to mourn, we laid out and packed his bags until 2 in the morning and he left the next evening for a year in Iraq.