My Story

“Still Born, Still Loved”
November 30, 2004

On November 29th, 2004 I was 9 months pregnant with my second child.

Ten days before my due date, I went to my regularly scheduled weekly appointment.

The Nurse Practitioner went to check my baby’s heart rate. All we could hear was the static of the Doppler Machine. She quickly asked me when was the last time that I felt my baby move. I couldn’t remember the exact day and time. Maybe yesterday…or maybe it was the day before??

She rushed me down the hall to a room that had a more intensive Doppler Machine and once again she couldn’t find the heartbeat. She left me alone in the room, while she ran across the hall to get the Ultrasound Tech to clear the room for me to be tested. The only thing I remember thinking was, “Stay calm, this isn’t really happening, everything’s okay, it’s just a mistake!” And I even kept thinking loudly in my head, “No God! No God!” Over and over and over again…

At this time, the Nurse came back in the room to get me and rushed me over to the Ultrasound room. The Nurse, the Ultrasound Tech and an Assistant had me lay down on the exam table.

The entire exam I kept my eyes glued shut and had my arms draped over my head while the Ultrasound Tech looked frantically to locate my baby’s heart. I still wasn’t believing that this was really happening and “No God! No God!” kept resonating through my head.

All of a sudden, I heard the Nurse say my name, “Lori,” twice. I thought the tone of her voice sounded very hopeful, so when I opened my eyes I was really expecting for her to say; “Sorry it was just a mistake, we found your baby’s heart beating and everything is just fine.” But instead when I opened my eyes and looked at the Nurse she was just standing there shaking her head back and forth as her way of saying your baby is dead.

I was in shock and numb. Everyone in the room was choked up and my Nurse expressed to me how very sorry she was. She also asked me if I wanted her to call my Husband, Toby. I said I would do it myself. I tried calling my Husband twice at his work, but he was away from his desk and couldn’t be located. I finally agreed to have the Nurse take over calling until she reached him. In the mean time, the Nurse had me stay in a private room by myself sitting in shock.

The Nurse eventually came back in the room and she had the phone in her hand with my Husband on it. She had already told him about our baby, so when I got on the phone he was very upset and I couldn’t bring myself to say much, so we just agreed to meet at home.

My Nurse told me to go home and pack a bag and then head straight to Tampa General Hospital to be induced for delivery. I drove home just feeling numb and like a zombie…it’s a miracle I didn’t get in a car accident on the drive home.

As I drove, I couldn’t even bring myself to look down at my stomach; I just kept my eyes looking straight ahead. I drove by some runners on Bayshore Boulevard and I remember wishing that I could just break free of this nightmare and just run, run, run… I am still, to this day, very surprised that the Nurse let me drive home by myself.

When I got home my Husband wasn’t there yet. I made two phone calls. One call was to get a babysitter to watch our 2 year old son, Makai, for the night. The other call was to my friend, Toni, who had gone through a stillbirth delivery just a year prior to my situation.

Through tears I told Toni what was going on and that I needed her to tell me what to do! I knew she had vaginally delivered, named, held and took pictures of her stillborn son, Henry. When she went through her situation, a year prior to me, she told me that she had held her dead baby and named him. At that time, I was surprised that she did those things and thought how disturbing it must have been for her. I also thought that I would never be able to do what she did if I were in her shoes and how brave she was for having done these things. Little did I know that I was going to have to go through the same thing just one year later.

So knowing that my friend, Toni, had done these things with her stillborn baby is why I called desperately wanting her advice on how to handle my current horrific situation. I wanted to specifically know if she regretted having held him and taken pictures. I also remember wanting to know if she had any reoccurring nightmares now because of doing those things.

Toni was great with me, she cried, and even though she was crying she kept talking and told me exactly what to do. She told me that this is my baby and that I have to name it (at this point I didn’t know the sex of our baby.) She told me to do everything that the Nurses offer me to do with my baby. She said name the baby, hold it, take pictures, do the feet and hand prints and get a lock of hair. She also said to talk to my baby and express my love.

Shortly after my conversation with Toni, my Husband came home. We hugged and I told him that I was supposed to get to the hospital as soon as possible for delivery. We didn’t say much, didn’t cry much, we had stone faces and were totally on auto pilot.

When we checked into Tampa General I let my Husband do the talking at the check in desk. I just stood against the wall and starred away from the Hospital staff’s eyes.

After a short while, we went to a private labor/delivery room and the Nurse told me to undress and get into a hospital gown. She went on to say that the Dr. would be in soon.

When the Dr. eventually came in she explained to us how my delivery was supposed take place. I can not remember the Dr.’s name. She seemed to be no more than 30 years old. Her facial expressions showed that she was very uncomfortable and stressed by the situation. She also seemed to be focusing on just trying to be professional and not show us any emotion. I would have preferred to have seen some emotion to validate our loss.

Since I was so close to my due date and already 3 centimeters dilated, the Dr. told us that they were going to only strip my membranes and not use any Pitocin. She also said that it could take up to three days to deliver my baby. This horrified me!

We waited for 5 hours in our room before they finally came in to strip my membranes and give me an epidural. It was now 10pm. After my membranes were stripped, The Dr. told me that it could take quite a while for labor to kick in and that I should try to get some sleep. She then turned down the lights and everyone left the room.

Labor actually kicked in much quicker than expected, I think it was just a couple of hours after having had my membranes stripped. Even though I had an epidural, I was still having a lot of pain. The pain distracted me from the fact that I was going to be delivering my dead baby soon.

My Husband was asleep in a chair next to my bed. As the pain got worse, I called the nurse on the intercom, and told her the epidural wasn’t working very well. She said she would be in shortly.

An hour later no one came. I was in worse pain and feeling tremendous pressure in my lower area. I called again for the nurse. I told her I thought my baby was coming. Once again, no one came. I finally woke up my Husband and told him what was going on and that no nurse would come.

The pressure below got even stronger and I reached between my legs to counter act the pressure and felt something firm. In shock, I told my Husband I think the baby is coming out.

I dealt with the pain a little longer when all of a sudden I felt a jolt between my legs and yelled for my Husband to call the Nurse. I knew my baby was really coming out now.

Finally the Nurse came in our dimly lit room and peaked under my sheet. She seemed shocked to find that our baby was really here and quickly turned all of the lights on. All of a sudden the room was swarming with medical staff.

My Husband stood behind my bed and caressed my head, there was a Nurse that held my hand for moral support (she cried, which I really appreciated.) The Dr. was in front of the bed to help guide my baby’s body.

As I pushed my child out, I vacillated between crying and then just staring at the ceiling lights like a zombie. Eventually my baby came all of the way out.

Now that my baby was here, the room suddenly turned very still and most of the medical staff started to leave. I was assigned a Nurse and that was about all of the staff that was left in my room now.

The Nurse told me that we had a beautiful baby boy and that she was going to clean him up before letting us see him. My Nurse was very nice and friendly, but her mannerism was disturbing me a little. She seemed too perky/happy, acting as if our son was alive. Or at least that was my perception at the time.

Now I was terrified and bracing myself for what I was going to be seeing.

When I finally saw my son, he was wrapped in a blanket with a beanie on. The Nurse offered me to hold him. I was scared and asked her to help me hold his body. He was perfectly formed and weighed just about 6 pounds. His skin was grayish, pinkish, reddish-purplish.

He had a little raw mark on his umbilical cord, one eye lid area, one nostril area and one area on the scrotum. The Nurse said that this deterioration was an indication that he had been dead for at least a couple of days.

Later, the Dr. ran blood tests on both me and my baby to see if there was any indication of an infection that could explain why this had happened. None was found.

So nobody could tell us why our baby had died at this time. (One month later, the autopsy would reveal that our Son was a perfectly normal and healthy baby, the only reason he died was because the Placenta had detached prematurely, which cut off his oxygen supply. This was extremely hard news to live with!)

At this point, the Nurse asked us all of the things that my friend, Toni, had prepared me for. She asked us if we wanted to name him. We named him Bryce Neily Martini. We did everything that the Nurse offered us to do with Bryce. We let the Nurse take Polaroid pictures, we did feet print (clay & ink,) took a lock of hair, agreed to having the professional Hospital pictures be taken and spent time with him and talked to him.

During this, I felt at times morbid for doing these things. But I trusted my friend, Toni, who had advised me to do these things and I did them despite my feelings of not wanting to. And I am so very glad now that I did!

These keepsakes have helped me in my healing process and they are so precious to me and my family now. Bryce’s picture is on my dresser and he is forever a part of our family.

My Mother and Father eventually came to see us at the hospital. Before they came though, I talked to my Mom on the phone. She requested that they don’t take Bryce away before she gets a chance to see and hold him. I was and am still very impressed by her fore thought to do this and her bravery to do this.

When my parents came my Mother did exactly what she said she wanted to do. She held him and talked to him and asked that the Nurse take a picture of her holding Bryce. My Father was offered to hold Bryce as well, but he was too uncomfortable to do so.

We spent approximately 3 hours with Bryce before we said our final goodbyes.
I was offered to be put on a different floor, away from other babies, but I was also told that I probably wouldn’t receive as good attention on a different floor. I ultimately chose to stay on the maternity floor, but got a private room.

I was treated nicely by the medical staff at the hospital. There were only a few things that happened that bothered me during our time at Tampa General.

The first thing was not having anyone in the room to support me when my labor was in full swing.

Secondly, after delivery, I had a nurse come in twice trying to give me a free baby bag. I finally had to tell her that our baby didn’t make it. She apologized and was very embarrassed.

In addition, the hospital social worker came to see us after Bryce was born, but all she did was bring us the phone book so that we could find a company to make burial arrangements. This was not very comforting at all.

Finally, we had several people ask us if we wanted the hospital Chaplin to come see us and each time we declined. The Chaplin ended up coming to see us anyways, it didn’t really bother me, but it did bother my Husband that they didn’t respect our wishes.

Regrets that I have about what I didn’t do with our baby:

  1. I didn’t kiss him. The reason I didn’t do this is that for some reason I had it in my head that if I kissed him his skin might come off on my lips. Even though he looked perfectly healthy and normal, this was what was going through my head at the time.
  2. I didn’t explore his body very much. I was too afraid to handle his body…I think if my caregivers would have explained the WHYs behind me spending time with Bryce. And if they would have explained what other bereaved parents (from the past) had done to cherish their time with their babies, I just may have had much less fear in spending time with my precious Bryce.
  3. I never got to see his backside.
  4. I didn’t get enough pictures, I have only 4. (No family group pictures either.)
  5. We didn’t take any pictures with my husband or son holding Bryce.
  6. I didn’t get any nude pictures.
  7. We didn’t take any videos or pictures with our own camera.
  8. I wish I spent more time with him.
  9. I didn’t get any hand prints (clay or ink.)
  10. I wish I had bathed Bryce and brought a special outfit from home for him to wear in his pictures.
  11. I wish we had a memorial service and invited all of our family & friends to come.
  12. We didn’t see what color his eyes were.

In loving memory of Bryce Neily Martini
(Full-Term & Stillborn on November 30, 2004; due to Placental Abruption)
“Forever a part of our Family, Forever our Son, Forever Loved”
Lori & Toby Martini