Casey is the reason this web site exists. I
was a high school teacher when I got pregnant. My baby was due at the beginning
of the next school year, so I resigned my job, knowing I would not be able to
return. Unfortunately, four weeks before school let out, we found out he had
died. I found myself that summer with no job, no baby, and no idea of what to do
next. So I learned HTML and put up a dedication page to my baby. As the days
wore on, I added pages, expanding the site. More and more women found the pages
and wrote me. The web site gave me a purpose and maintaining it is still my way
of keeping Casey close.
This story that follows was written as it
happened. It is very sad, a little long, and quite graphic in its details. Be
sure you are ready for it.
Tuesday, April 28, 1998
Today we learned our baby died.
20 weeks after we created it, our much-wanted child went to
heaven, without stopping to greet us.
The nightmare unfolded much as I envisioned it could. The
doctor pulled up the sonogram and peered for too long and didnít talk for
lengthy moments. I could see on the screen a small head, way too small for a
baby that should have doubled in size since our last visit. The doctor pushed
harder on my stomach with the sonogram paddle and asked if I had a full bladder.
I told him I had emptied it already.
He moved the paddle around some more on my stomach, then
said softly, "Thereís no heartbeat." For a moment I thought he had
said, "Thereís the heartbeat," and my own pulse raced in hope. But
then he set down the paddle and said, "Iím sorry."
The sense that my fears were now a reality was so awkward
that I couldnít process it intellectually, but somewhere other parts of me
already knew and were crying loudly. I sat up and hugged my husband John.
The doctor sat on the stool in front of me. We also hugged.
I remember feeling bad when I saw a huge mascara smear on his pink shirt. He
kept saying he was sorry, perhaps mentioning something about how there often
wasnít a clear reason for late miscarriages. The baby had measured out smaller
than he had been at the last visit, so he must have died soon after. I thought
of that sonogram. The heartbeat. The shifting of the shoulders that I had
replayed over and over on the VCR at home. That movement! It was so clear that I
finally had accepted it and really knew that the baby was alive and going to
join us soon.
I thought of the job I had already resigned from. There was
no going back to that. So many people to tell. I felt swamped with all there was
to do. And we hadnít even dealt with what to do with the baby itself.
"So what do we do next?" I asked.
He explained our options. Induced labor and delivery, which
could be lengthy and painful, like normal delivery. Or a D&E, where I was
knocked out and the baby removed from my uterus.
He couldnít do the D&E on a baby so large, but he
would recommend us to someone who could. I agreed that that sounded like the
wiser option. I couldnít imagine, laboring and pushing, knowing how it all
would end. This way I got knocked out, and I woke up when it was over.
I thought I was in control when we walked out into the
hallway, but there were too many pregnant women, and I turned and sobbed loudly
on my husbandís chest. A nurse escorted us out the back way. I resented this,
a little. I felt I deserved an unsettling display of public grief.
We had an hour to pass before the appointment with the new
doctor, so we went to a park near the courthouse. There I felt my grief give
way. How dare the sky be so intensely blue and puffy cloud filled? The trees
were too green and too many flowers flourished.
Lawyers in suits and ties and legal assistants in their
jewel-toned acetate dresses slipped past as John and I lay on a blanket on the
grass, hugging and sobbing. My mind raced with all the things that had to be
When we entered the new doctorís office, the sobbing
started again. I didnít want to go into the waiting room. I knew all too well
what it meant. A couple was already there. I couldnít fill out the paperwork,
so I left it to John. I sat down and cried even more loudly when I saw the
coupleís sleeping child on the sofa. They tried to avoid looking my way. John
brought a history to fill out. "I donít know the answers to these
questions," he said.
I began on them. Last menstrual period. Family history. Etc.
Etc. A young woman walked uncertainly out of the doctorís office, leaning on
her boyfriend. They were in their late teens. She sat down awkwardly and smiled
a laughing gas grin. I wondered why she was there. "What kind of doctor is
this?" I asked. "It said GYN on the door," John answered.
No OB. She had had an abortion. This shocked me out of my
sobs. She had elected to give up a baby while we had lost ours. I knew she
probably also had a story. But her boyfriend seemed too comfortable, too
relieved. I hated them deeply.
Dr. Hansen was an older man, a few years from retirement and
no longer delivering live babies. I wondered how someone could see so many dead
ones, watch so much trauma unfold. He was tall and solid with a shock of
white-gray hair and one deaf ear, so he always cocked his head to listen. He was
in turns sympathetic and business like. I felt comfortable with them taking care
of me. He did another sonogram and carefully turned the screen away. I cried
They showed me the stick of seaweed that would dilate my
cervix. He explained that the baby would be taken away and cremated. I asked if
the baby would come out in pieces and he looked sad at this question and
answered that it would. It would be difficult to dilate me enough to get it out
The only way I could do what the books said to do, to hold
the baby and say goodbye, would be to endure the full-blown labor and delivery.
I wouldnít. I was in shock and trying to get detached. I asked to postpone the
procedure a day or two until we got better adjusted and had talked to our
parents. He agreed.
I went home and threw every possible
reminder of the baby in a box. All the congratulation cards, the little photo
album, the sonograms, the first little package of newborn Huggies, and the baby
books. I decided to grab my maternity clothes patterns and unsewn dress and
threw them in as well. Hopefully I could lose enough weight in the next week to
be out of the maternity clothes and could pack them separately. There would be a
time later that I would want to look at all these things, but not now.
Wednesday, April 29, 1998
I didnít finish last nightís story. I was too tired, too
I worked in the garden today. Two of my iris bulbs were
growing backward and dying. The roots were pushing through the dirt and
spreading madly. I dug them up and carefully turned them over to replant. It was
so easy to fix them. Now they could grow.
We called a lot of people last night. First I called school
to arrange for a long-term substitute teacher. The receptionist began repeating,
"Iím sorry, Iím so sorry," and it sickened me.
I thought of the baby shower that was to be held next week
at school. We had registered at Target last weekend, shaking toys, holding up
tiny onesies, debating over car seats
John called work as well to take off with me. He was
strong-voiced and unfazed on the telephone. He was going to stay with me the
whole two weeks; he didnít need to save his vacation days now.
I called my mother. Dad wasnít home. She was giggly and
excited. We were supposed to have found out the babyís sex. I told her to call
us back when Dad got home.
They called an hour or so later. They were both happy and
laughing. I could scarcely get them to stop joking with each other to listen to
me. "Guys, guys, I need to talk to you." Finally they stopped.
"This is going to be hard," I told them. "But the baby has
"What?" my dad asked, that heavy panting quality
in his voice I knew from somewhere, but I couldnít think at the time when it
"The baby died, probably about two weeks ago," I
said. I broke then, again, and I could hear my mom begin to cry. This was to be
their first grandchild. They had shown copies of the sonograms to everyone.
I told them I would deliver the baby sometime in the next
few days. They asked if we wanted them to come down. I wasnít sure how I was
going to feel about company, but they could come.
Johnís conversation with his parents was similar, although
his voice again had that solid calmness. They were mostly silent. They would
come visit Thursday.
John and I spent the evening mostly lying on the bed, not
talking. We watched some television and called a couple of close friends. We
went to the drugstore and got my prescriptions for the doctor visits as well as
some drugs to help me sleep.
We decided to name the baby. Since we didnít know the sex,
we chose a name that could go either way, Casey Shay. After all the months of
debating the name, this one came quite easily.
The sleeping pills didnít work, and we
got up at 4 a.m. and I drafted the e-mail to our friends.
Friday, May 1, 1998
I didnít write yesterday, so the things that happened
Wednesday and Thursday are still missing. Family has been here, and nothing
could help me yesterday, with all the drugs and the baby now gone.
Tuesday night we slept another hour or so after drafting the
e-mail, then got up at 8:00 and read over it and sent it. I called the new
doctor and set up the appointments for the birth then called my parents and they
got ready to come.
We spent the morning on
the Internet looking at pregnancy loss sites. Some of the stories were so sad
and full of regret. I knew some regret too, the stress of my job, the migraines
and the prescribed codeine to relieve them. I am fairly positive that the baby
died on one of those really bad migraine days. I remember that I couldnít feel
him move anymore and thought the drug might have affected him. I couldnít bear
the pain though, the throwing up and not sleeping, and my doctor had given me
this prescription to take. I had even researched it, and found that mice and
rats had some respiratory problems in their offspring but all the other tested
animals had come out okay.
So perhaps none of that is the reason Casey died. It is Godís
own secret. Last night, as we cried again, I first began to think of the baby as
Casey, as a little person. Before, the name had not rung true and it seemed a
waste to call it a name at all. I was following the advice of the books I had
read. Now I am glad to have done it. At first you want to detach yourself from
it, but I see a new stage coming, where I want to cling.
Last night, as this change came over me, this realization of
Casey as a person, I began to see little flashes of light, every once in a
while, in the blackened room. John said he saw stuff too, little sparkles. We
decided not to question it, but just accept it as a sign that Casey was out
there after all, and knew who we were.
As I thought again about our birth options, I wondered again if I shouldnít endure the delivery to get a
chance to see Casey in person. I felt a strong urge come over me to do it, to
see him at least once. John and I talked about it. He said, "Nothing is
final until you do something." A few hours later the fear struck again, and
remembering both the doctorsí negative reactions to the idea of regular birth,
I decided to simply do the D&E.
We went to our appointment at 2:30 Wednesday. The nurses
were kind and hugging again. Dr. Hansen put the dilator sticks inside. It hurt
some, more of a heavy discomfort than a pain. But it was only a few moments. I
caught another glimpse of the sonogram he had taken the previous day. I stared
at it hard but saw nothing that resembled the 16-week old baby who had shrugged
his shoulders at us in the monitor a few weeks before. He was a formless white
blob. I was glad after all not to try and deliver. I thought of the baby as a
tiny, silent, but perfect pink infant. Thatís not what I would have seen.
Dr. Hansen had been sympathetic, but businesslike throughout
the two exams. I sat up on the table when he left and was about to get down to
change when he came back in, sat on the table next to me and hugged me
surprisingly hard. "Thereís another girl in here today," he said,
and his cracking voice made me start to cry immediately, "whoís lost her
baby at 24 weeks." He sighed in a broken gush of breath, then left again.
When we got back to our house, my parents were waiting. They
hugged each of us, and I sat on the sofa, a little dazed. Some flowers had
arrived; others came as the day progressed. They were nice to look at, a
distraction of beauty. But I kept thinking about how they were little
compensation. I would have gotten flowers when the baby came anyway.
Dr. Uribe called to check on me, from his home. He said he
thought about us all night and prayed for us. His voice was heavy and I was glad
he had not seen too much sadness that he could not feel it. I told him I had
some slight cramping with the dilation, and his voice took on a quality of
business. He seemed more comfortable in this role as he explained that all this
was normal and what I could take. I told him I liked Dr. Hansen, and he replied
that he was one of the best.
As we went to bed, I took several Tylenol PM tablets, as Dr.
Hansen as suggested. Fear was creeping over me. They were giving me
tranquilizers, IV anesthesia, a local, and laughing gas. Would it be too much?
Was it possible I wouldnít even wake up? I imagined Dr. Hansen calling the
ambulance from his office, unable to control the bleeding or without a crash
cart as my pulse slowed to a stop. I shook it off, remembering how my last
nightmare had played out. I ran my hands over my round belly; they were going to
take our baby away. It was our last night with him.
The drugs worked incredibly well, and even though I was
sitting up on Johnís lap, I was too heavy to hold myself up. I slept easily
until I saw John by the bathroom mirror, dressed and brushing his hair the next
The day went by in foggy patches of awareness. Dr. Hansen
said the drugs would have an amnesia effect. I believe it. I have put together
what happened from those hazy recollections and what my mother and John told me.
I took two round white pills at 6 a.m. A big one and a
little one. The big one was hard to swallow. I went back to bed again. I had
already made a pile of the clothes I would wear by the bed, in case I couldnít
think for myself when I got dressed. I especially worried in the old-fashioned
way about the underwear, knowing that someone else would likely be putting them
I donít remember getting dressed or riding to the doctorís
office. At least one of the two pills must have been the tranquilizer. I have
the fuzziest feeling of being giddy although I was dimly aware that I shouldnít
be at all.
We must have gotten out of the car, ridden up the elevator,
and walked through the office, but none of this is at all in my memory. I have a
vague picture of Dr. Hansen in blue surgical garb and a nurse I had not met
before. She told me I could leave on my bra and socks and John says he stayed
with me to help me change. We were in a big room that I canít really picture
except for a stack of glass jars with odd mouths. I had a horrible vision of
baby parts in those jars and couldnít imagine them being clear. This thought
was suddenly hilarious, but I donít think I laughed.
John was still in the room as they laid me on the table. He
stood at my shoulder as the nurse arranged my legs on the clear stirrups made to
go under your knees instead of for your feet. I had seen these stirrups in birth
pictures and thought it terribly unfair that I should see them here instead. The
feeling passed. John told me later that Dr. Hansen came in and instructed him to
sit in a chair, out of the way. As we had discussed, he instead went to sit in
the waiting room with my parents.
The nurse put the rubbery gas mask on my nose and I was
surprised to find I could still talk. We did, in fact, have a long, seemingly
intense conversation on some subject. John says the nurse told him later that
she had discovered she lived in the same neighborhood as we did, so we must have
discussed that. I hazily recollect only two sensations during the surgery. The
pinch of the needle that must have been the local anesthetic and a ghastly
sucking feeling way up in my stomach near the bottom of my rib cage. I didnít
know you could go that high. I think the nurse noticed me paying attention and
distracted me immediately. I think I was about to cry, despite the warnings that
it would interfere with the anesthesia. I donít think I actually did.
Later I remember the nurse spraying me with water and
saying, "I guess thereís no use for modesty, now!" Then she put
several thick pads on me and put on my underwear (fear realized.) We walked down
the hall, me pushing the IV stand, and I concentrated on the rattling sound it
made. I lay down on a bed in the recovery room and apparently slept for a couple
of hours, although it seemed to me that no time passed at all. John came in and
I recall his presence, and my parents came in briefly, crowding the room. I
talked to them and gave some unsavory details, my mother later said. Then I
That part was over.
Saturday, May 2, 1998
Today the grief is duller but the overall depression has set
in firmly. I painted some flower boxes that John and my dad had built because I
wanted more flowers around. It did not go well. I used newspapers and painted on
the front porch. The newspapers got soggy and fell apart, getting paint all over
the porch and leaving a rim of gooey newsprint all over the boxes. I felt like a
failure all over again. I couldnít keep the baby alive; I couldnít even
paint some damn flower boxes. Some tribute to Casey.
I went upstairs and organized all of Caseyís things, what
few there were. I labeled all the sonogram pictures and videos. I carefully
placed all the cards in two piles, the happy congratulation cards, and the
sympathy ones. The little pregnancy test stick with its vibrant purple line went
in as well. I touched everything so gently, as if it were the baby itself. I
caught myself cradling a picture and closed the box, astonished at my
Later I read through the date book I had kept as a journal,
looking for clues. I think the baby died the week before Easter, despite my
adamant notes that I had felt him move for weeks afterward.
I read in my miscarriage book that sometimes a chromosome
test canít be taken if the baby has been dead too long. So itís possible
that we will not find out Caseyís sex. Iím still pretty sure he was a boy.
And we may never know for sure what went wrong.
I still havenít heard from any of my pregnant friends. I
wonder if they are too upset, in thinking about their own babies, to write back.
Or perhaps they think itís bad luck to know someone who lost her baby. Maybe
they just donít know what to say.
I look forward to getting my bracelet. I want to carry
around that little heart with Caseyís name engraved on it. Iím not sure why
it is so important, but it is.
1 week later, Friday, May 8, 1998
Today I am alone with my sadness. I donít recommend it.
Without distractions around you, even other sad ones, the heaviness settles on
you like a woolen cloak in summer, hot and unhappy.
John is at a meeting today. I am at home, trying to work on
my resume and answer job classifieds, but I canít focus. I feel foolish for
resigning my job for a baby that is never coming. Now itís too late to go
I watched the video this morning, the 16-week one. His
little head moved so carefully! His shoulders shifted in perfect control! I canít
imagine a chromosome or neural disorder that would have let him get so far only
to cause his death. I donít know.
Yesterday morning was probably the most traumatic moment of
this whole ordeal. We had stayed in Galveston all week and actually had a very
nice time. The beach was quiet and beautiful. We ate at our favorite restaurants
and went to a comedy show.
Then we had a nasty scare. Things had been going all right,
the bleeding was normal and all and had even stopped for two days. I figured it
was all over until yesterday morning when I woke up in severe pain. I got up and
took a prescription painkiller that got rid of it, but woke up a little later in
even more pain. I automatically started a huffy sort of breathing to get through
the cramps. I went to the bathroom and it felt as though I were going to the
bathroom except from the wrong place. The stuff that came out was long and slimy
and covered with blood, and I caught it in my hand. It was horribly morbid; I
kept looking for little hands or feet, but I'm sure it was really more like part
of the placenta or the amniotic sac. I was hysterical, crouched in the pristine
white tiled bathroom, spilling blood everywhere, this horrible stretchy red blob
in my hands. John ran into the bathroom, but I donít remember what he said or
did. I knew I probably ought to keep it, but I wasnít at home. So I memorized
its texture, thick and stretchy. It was shaped sort of like a piece of balloon
when itís been popped. Then I dropped it back in the toilet and flushed it.
John brought me a washcloth.
I called my doctor immediately and the nurse was wonderful;
she explained that it was normal and that the bleeding had been stopped by the
tissue. Now that it was out, I should go back to regular bleeding. She
recommended that I stay put for a few hours and make sure it was all out. So we
stayed a few hours more but the pain was completely gone and the bleeding was
back to normal again, so we drove home. It was definitely the most traumatic
moment of my life, more so than last week because there was the nightmare, real
and all over my hands and no doctor around and not even in my own home. I could
never wish any of this on anyone; I'm still not sure exactly how to handle it
Today the bleeding has stopped again and I am terribly
paranoid about it all starting again. How long will all this go on?
On our first night in Galveston, the lead story on the news
was a baby who had been abandoned by her mother shortly after she gave birth to
it in the hospital. They showed the baby, wiggling on a white blanket, so
totally unaware. I wanted to go get it. It was so terribly unfair that she could
have a normal happy baby and just leave it.
Rats. Now Iím making myself cry. We went to the gym last
night and I weigh exactly what I did at the doctor on my last visit. I canít
believe it. 20 pounds overweight and no baby.
John and I got in several fights on the trip. We never
fight, so it was terribly frightening. I felt like my world was cracking around
the edges and falling away in dry, crumbled pieces.
4 weeks later, May 27, 1998
I have survived so much now that I can only feel stronger
and more assured that I can handle disaster. It has been a month since Casey
I returned to school for the last two weeks of my job, and
the high school kids acted so normal, so utterly like they were told to do that
I was amazed. While I had difficulty concentrating and holding in emotion, they
made my transition easier. The only bad moment was during my last class, when a
particularly whiny boy repeatedly complained about having to make up work he had
missed while I was gone. He felt it wasnít fair that I was gone and the
substitutes had been unclear about the assignments and that he should have to do
the work. I lost it then, emotionally, and said, sadly, hardly at a whisper,
"Let me be the first to tell you that lifeís a bitch, so deal with
A long silence ensued; several girls cried. The boy kept his
head hung and didnít bring up the subject again. In the regret I felt for
having said those things, I realized that I had turned another corner. I no
longer believed that life was going to go the way I planned; I had lost a
certain innocent optimism. I had no idea how Iíd be able to face another
School is out now and yesterday I said goodbye to all my
friends and the students I had taught over the years. I feel as though I have
deserted them after all Ė that I had no good reason to leave them. But I canít
face another year of the same old stresses and long hours with another
pregnancy. I will do something else, something simpler, and know that next time
I am doing everything I possibly can to help Caseyís little brother or sister
join us in the world, alive and healthy. Life must go on.
Deanna's 2nd Pregnancy