Friday, February 6, 2015

Our Story Part IV

The next morning, Thursday, February 6th, I slept for a while. People were in and out of my room but I was in a haze and not very aware of what was going on. Andy later told me that at some point while I was still asleep, Dr. Jones, my actual Ob showed up. Andy met with him in the hall so as not to wake me. Dr. Jones seemed distressed and kept saying that he didn't understand where things went wrong and what he could've done different. Andy expressed to him that he knew that I would appreciate being a part of this conversation with him so Dr. Jones offered to come back later when I was awake. We never saw or heard from him of his own free will again...

To be honest, the earlier part of that day seems like a blur and I can't remember much. Family and friends came and went, crying and hugging. I remember falling asleep mid conversation with some friends. I was so mentally and emotionally worn out that even though the Ambien had most likely worn off, I still couldn't keep my eyes open.

Once I was more alert, my thoughts were a mess. I was so scared and unsure of what I wanted to happen. The nurses warned us that after so many hours of being in fluids and no blood flow in her skin for so many hours, that she might not come out looking as we would hope. There was no guarantee that she was going to be easy to see. I went back and forth between feeling like I absolutely wanted to see and hold her, to, no, that sounds too scary and too hard. I didn't know how I would feel mentally, emotionally and physically in that moment. There was just too much unknown.

Looking back now, it may seem crazy to some that I was even considering not holding her, but, when you're in the position that I was in, you can never fully predict how you will feel or what thought processes you might have. You might think you know what you'd do, but I'm telling you right now, you don't. You're in total survival mode, overcome with grief and sadness, and those two things alone can do strange things to you.

Lying there, looking at my belly, knowing that the little life that had been so vibrant and full of personality for so many months inside me, was gone, was some of the hardest hours of my life. No more kicking, no more hiccupping. Our symbiotic union was over. I was having moments of denial where I thought I could feel her and that they had gotten everything wrong. That feeling continued for weeks after I gave birth where I would have a sudden feeling that Indira was just at the hospital and that they got it all wrong, she really was alive and that I could just go pick her up. But in the same instant that I had that feeling, I would realize the truth. Torture.

At this point in the day, word had spread among our friends about our situation. A friend of mine sent me a text telling me about her friend that is a photographer, whom she had told of our story and someone that I had never met, and she was willing and would be honored to come document Indira's birth story for us. I was hesitant to invite a stranger into our room with a camera that would obviously be in our faces, documenting our grief and a very delicate situation. Andy is a very private person yet some how we agreed to it and I will never regret inviting Ashley Thalman and her talent of capturing our little family, into our lives that day.

Around 2pm I was really starting to progress quickly and contractions were coming on harder and faster. The doctor, Dr. Cloward who was on call for Legacy OBGYN, stepped in to inform me that she would be delivering my baby. She was in and out in less than five minutes and I didn't see her again until about 2 and half hours later.

I wasn't prepared for labor, I had no idea what I was doing. You think you can read and do all the research in the world but you can't really know until you're in it. Luckily, I had Andy, my mom and dad, and my sister in the room with me. I also had my grandma and brother in the room next door waiting patiently. Pushing was long and hard. I put absolutely everything I had in me to bring her mortal body into this world as her sweet spirit strengthened us from the other side. Andy stood by my side, holding my leg and counting to ten with every push. Patiently and lovingly encouraging me with absolutely everything he had inside of him. I ended up pushing for 2 1/2 hours total. In the middle of my pushing, I threw up and almost passed out from too much epidural. I was given a shot of adrenalin when I could no longer form any words or keep my eyes open. A half hour went by and when the adrenalin kicked in, I remembered feeling on top of the world and I literally yelled, "Let's do this!" to everyone's surprise. Still, Indira was not coming as fast as we had all hoped.

People had mixed opinions for us on whether or not the baby being alive helps with the birthing process. Some said that without her being alive, it would be much more difficult since we would have no help from the baby's instincts. Others said, it made no difference at all in labor if the baby was alive or not, that the woman's body is the only control factor of what happens or doesn't happen. Well, combined with my moment of throwing up, passing out, and coming back to life, it took a total of 3 hours for Indira Usha Earl to enter this little world at 4:57pm.

Andy and I had planned for him to catch her as she came out but things were happening too fast. Indi was immediately whisked away from me, umbilical cord cut, and wrapped in a blanket then handed to Andy. Dr. Cloward suddenly became serious and I could see that her "game time" face had replaced her "normal delivery" face. She became so focused and honed in. She told me that I was hemorrhaging and my after birth and placenta was not coming out on its own. Andy recalls the sound of blood pouring out of me into a bag they had place beneath me accompanied by the intense smell of iron and feeling very scared in that moment. I immediately went into shock. I started shaking and shivering uncontrollably so they brought me some heated blankets and I didn't move from under those for about an hour. I don't remember at what point the shaking stopped.

Dr. Cloward told me that she needed to go in manually and pull the rest of it out, otherwise I would need a d&c which would be more painful than what she was about to do. I've never had a d&c but I can't imagine it being more painful than what she ended up doing. I told her to go ahead and the next thing I know, she is elbow deep inside of me clawing at my insides while simultaneously using her other hand from the outside to push down from the top of my abdomen to the bottom to try and push everything out as well. That's when I felt like the real pain had kicked in. In my mind I was screaming out in pain, praying for it to be over, but in Andy's words, I was "barely even moaning."

And just like that, she was done, I was stitched up, Indira was in my arms and I never wanted to let her go. She hadn't been cleaned yet but she was incredibly beautiful. Her lips were crimson red, she had her daddy's dimple in her chin, my nose and a head full of dark brown hair. In that first moment of holding her, I felt so many endorphins that I felt no grief or sadness. Just joy that she was finally here, that I was finally seeing the little human I had been so anxious to meet. You wonder and wonder for so long what your child will look like and finally laying eyes on her was heaven for me. Immediately, the spirit in the room changed to what I termed, "the love bubble." The moment I left the room the next evening to go home, I felt a change. Her little spirit was so near.

 Heather, an angel of a woman who is a volunteer to help families through infant loss, bathed, weighed and measured her and brought her to us to be dressed. 6lbs and 20in. of the most wonderful baby I've ever beheld. Her skin was soft but there was a slight tinge of purple to it. As the nurses had warned us, her skin had formed blisters where some had popped and the skin had started to slough off. Dressing her was beautiful but difficult. She was so limp and fragile and her skin was slipping off in little areas around her arms as I touched her.

Andy had gone home earlier in the day to pick up a few things for Indi. We didn't have any onesies yet, so someone in my family had to go buy some. I asked Andy to grab a pair of grey and white striped little pants I got from Gap for her, a few blankets to wrap her up in, and a little beanie. How do you choose the one and only outfit your child will ever wear?

After several hours, I decided I needed a shower. After a while, I felt so much better and opened the bathroom door to find a VERY full room. Slightly overwhelming but it was nice to finally have all of Andy's family there. Andy's brother Todd, had arrived a little after I gave birth and when I walked out of the bathroom, Andy's parent's had arrived from Colorado, his sister and her husband, and his brother and his wife had arrive around the same time.

It's strange because, for the rest of the evening, I felt fairly happy, calm and so excited to introduce my little one to anyone that would bat an eyelash near her. I think the adrenaline was still pumping through my veins leading me to just feel happy. The rest of the evening was a steady stream of family and close friends. Phone calls from family far away and texts continued to stream in. So many people were reaching out and giving us strength to get through the greatest trial of our lives.

Giving Indria a name and a blessing, an LDS tradition for all new babies, was not even on my radar because most babies receive this when they are weeks or months or even years older and are also obviously, living breathing little souls in a mortal body. Heather, asked if we were LDS and said that she had brought a blessing gown as a gift if we would like to bless her right here in the hospital. As soon as she brought this to my attention, the only thought I had was, "duh! of course!" So we dressed her in a beautiful sparkly white gown and every worthy priesthood holder in the room encircled Andy and Indira with their right hands underneath her tiny body to hold her up and their left hands on each others right shoulders to complete the circle. Andy blessed her little soul and gave her a name to be known in the heavens for eternity.

Later in the evening, after everyone had left, the room was quiet, the lights were dim and it was just the three of us. For the first and one of the last times, it was just us. We cuddled her sweet little body together and cried together. Andy gave Indi to me and let me cuddle her until I fell asleep. I don't know how to try and describe that moment. It was peace, it was comfort, it was real, it was mine. In that moment I felt nothing but absolute love and nothing but pure joy. The only words I could say: "This is the best thing ever."

Sometime a few hours later, a nurse came and took Indira to keep her in a cooler over night. Not the nursery with other crying babies, but the cooler, to keep her preserved as long as we could.


The next morning Andy and I had some time alone again. A nurse brought her wrapped in two warm blankets so as not to shock us as to how cold she was. She was so much more stiff and her color had changed so much. Her lips were no longer crimson red, but a darker deep red color. 

Family and friends trickled in and out for the whole day. Again, I seemed to be the more calm collected one as Andy grieved and grieved. (That would change a day or so after we returned home.)
The day was long and hard, but so filled with the Spirit and her spirit. I could see it in the eyes of every person that held her. 

Throughout our two days there, a social worker and nurses had talked to us about our time in the hospital. We couldn't stay there forever, putting Indira in a cooler every night to keep her around, and at some point we had to decide if we would want an autopsy done and also make funeral plans if we wanted one. Every minute we had there seemed to become more and more precious as we realized our time would be coming to an end very shortly. We would have to go back to our normal lives where everything had changed, but everything was exactly the same. I would have to recover from pregnancy and giving birth with no baby in my arms. Going home was not something that I had thought through fully. As reality settled in more and more, home was not an enticing place. 

We were told that we would be able to stay two nights after I gave birth. One night had already come and gone and simultaneously I felt like it had been an eternity in that one room but also as if I had just stepped into the hospital. In the end, we decided that we would not spend another night, Indira was physically changing so quickly and that an autopsy and cremation were what was best for our family. 
Arrangements were made for a man to come down from Primary Children's Hospital to collect her little body and take her for the autopsy at 9pm that evening. 

Our family had to start saying their goodbyes. One of the hardest things I've ever had to witness. 

By about 8:30pm we had said our last goodbyes to our family and were left alone one last time just the three of us. We spent the time with Indira lying on the bed as we kneeled beside her looking over her hands, her feet, every inch of her. Andy took our last photos of her that I will cherish forever. The time went by too quickly and before we knew it, our nurse was in the room telling us that the courier had arrived for Indira. These were our last minutes and seconds with her and I suddenly became anxious and panic stricken. We decided to keep her in the onesie she was in but kept the hat, socks, and pants she had been in. The nurse laid out a blanket that I remember had Disney characters all over it. That blanket will forever be engrained in my mind. The stark contrast of the happy cartoon characters against my lifeless beautiful daughter and the hardest moment of my life. We placed Indira in it and swaddled her up. I handed her to the nurse with the full knowledge that I would never see her earthly body again for the rest of my mortal life. The nurse turned quickly and I tried to follow her out the door but she shut it quickly behind her. Not in a rude disrespectful way, but in a way that would make it quick. Like pulling a band aid off quickly. 

And just like that, she was gone.


  1. Oh Neena. I know that was hard to write and I'm proud that you did it. That little soul had a power in her.

  2. So beautifully written Neena. We love you both and love Indira. I'm sorry we didn't have the opportunity to know her in this life. I'm sure she is lovely and precious. We look forward to knowing her someday.

  3. Wow. Neena this is absolutely the most beautifully written story. You made images come to mind and stirred such real emotion and spirit. I cannot imagine how difficult this must have been to write and recount for all of us to be touched by reading it. You have a gift. Indira is so blessed to have you and Andy. You three are INSPIRING. Thank you for sharing some of the deepest parts of your heart and soul... And goodness you are a deep and wise soul.

  4. Neena, just saw your picture on Ashley Thalman's IG and had to come see. It was such a beautiful photo and already my heart was broken. Reading this is so devastating. I am sure the pain is too much. Just hope that you know there are people out there, like me, who are still grieving for you and mourning with you. I'm so sorry for the pain you've endured and will endure.

  5. Hi Neena:) I found you through Instagram. Thank you for being so brave and putting your story out into the world for women like me to find. I'm sorry, that kind of pain and loss seems too much to bare. I also lost my first baby. Reading your story brought back all those emotions. I remember the devastation, the fear, the denial, the emptiness. After 6 years and 3 children, it's still so raw. But it also brought back the overwhelming peace that my baby is mine forever. Thank you for sharing in such a detailed beautiful way. I've never been a writer or had that gift, you have, of putting such feelings into the right words. Only another mother who's been through this can give that kind of validation.Thank you Thank you Thank you! Reading this made me feel extra close to my eric today. Indira is yours forever. They've tied us to heaven in a way nothing else can.

  6. Neena, I learned of your story through Instagram and my heart broke as I read through these posts. I'm so sorry for your loss. I recently went through a miscarriage during my very first pregnancy. After it was all over, I was so scared. Scared to keep going and to try again because the pain is almost unbearable. The pain of losing a child is the hardest thing I've ever had to endure and I can't even imagine your own pain.
    I know we don't know each other, but I want you to know that you are amazing. You are inspirational. You have given me hope and faith to keep going; to try again. Because those little ones need me. They need you. They can't wait to meet me and I thank you for that hope. I thank you for being brave enough to share your story because it means so much to me. I would love to talk more with you. My email is :) xoxo

  7. Neena- I came across your Instagram account a couple of months ago after seeing that one of my friends had liked a post of yours. The post was a black and white picture of you looking at some baby clothes. The look on your face was gut wrenching. I clicked on the post to read more. It reminded me so much of my older sister who lost her little boy 1 hour after he was born 2 years ago. I wanted to read more about your story. I stayed up late into the night reading about your sweet baby Indira and the sadness of your story had me in tears as I read every post. I am a nurse that works for a family practice doctor in Springville. He has delivered hundreds of babies for over 18 years and I have worked for him for 12 of those years. I could not recall in all of those years a single OB patient with cholestasis. The next day at work during some down time, I shared your story with the doctor that I work for. He was saddened to hear about your loss and told me that although he knew about cholestasis, he had never had an OB patient with it. We talked about how your story is a good reminder of how we need to be better at listening to patients concerns and not passing them off. Although, I would like to believe that I am always kind to patients and take time to listen to their concerns, I'm certain that this is not always the case. I told myself that I was going to make an effort to listen more and make sure that patients' concerns were being heard. No more than 2 weeks later, I was looking through our messages for the day and came across one that said, "Patient is 34 weeks pregnant and is having severe itching on her hands and feet. Do you think that she needs to be seen or can this wait until her next OB appointment?" I couldn't believe it. I immediately thought of you and your story.

  8. I picked up the phone right away and called the patient. We were completely booked for the day, but I wanted her to be seen just in case it was something serious. I told her to come right down and the doctor would see her and discuss options. She came in about an hour later. I pulled her back to a room and asked her about her symptoms. She said that she had been having severe itching on her hands and feet for about 2 weeks and it was making her crazy because she couldn't sleep at night. I told her that the doctor would be right in to talk to her. I went out and told the doctor why she was here. I asked him if it could possibly be cholestasis. He said it was very possible and that he was going to get blood work right away. He went in and talked to her about this and the labs were drawn and sent to be done. The next day her lab results came back and her levels were extremely elevated. The doctor that I work for reviewed her labs and immediately called perinatology. They fit her in the very next morning. The perinatologist called the doctor back the next day to confirm that she did in fact have cholestatis. The perinatologist and the doctor that I work for discussed what needed to be done. They decided that they would do weekly NSTs and induce the patient at 37 weeks. The weekly NSTs looked great each week and the patient was induced at 37 weeks as planned. The baby is here and safe. She was delivered just about 2 weeks ago. I share this story with you because it was because of your blog and story that we acted so quickly to this patient. The doctor that I work with said to me after the baby was born that it was divine intervention that I read your blog and shared the story with him. He had never had a patient with cholestasis until 2 weeks after I shared your story with him. I cannot comprehend the loss that you have gone through and although I do not know you, my heart aches for you and the loss of your sweet baby girl. I cannot imagine how vulnerable it made you feel to write about your pregnancy and loss of Indira, but I am very grateful that you did. By doing so, you and your Indira saved another baby's life. I know that the doctors acted quickly and did what they felt was right for this mom and baby, but ultimately we may not have acted the way that we did if I had not read your blog. Thank you with all of my heart for sharing your story. God bless you and your family.