December 5, 2011

Medical Records

Since my time in the Army is ending in the next few months (finally!), I recently went to request copies of all my medical records. All my appointments, labs, exams, deliveries, all of it. I received a massive file. Probably a quarter of it paperwork from my pregnancy with Finn which didn't surprise me - after all, I probably had close to fifty appointments during my pregnancy with him. But when going through that massive stack of papers I of course couldn't help but get very emotional when looking through all the records of my appointments with Cale. He was always the perfect baby -always growing right on track, healthy, and always (until the end) easy to hear on the doppler. I read through my last appointment - June 24, 2010. It was a routine appointment. No surprises. I was 2cm dilated, 80% effaced and had a healthy baby with a nice strong heartbeat. Four days later, the paperwork would tell another story. Four days later my hospital records would show nasty four-letter words like IUFD - intrauterine fetal demise. It gives me the chills to even see that word, much less type it. I sat looking through my medical records for a good thirty minutes. I read doctor's notes like "patient had previous stillbirth at 39 weeks," or "patient still grieving the loss of her son, but is physically healing well" or "Gravida - 2 (when I was pregnant with Finn), Living Children at home - 0" and it still feels surreal at times. Like I'm reading someone else's very sad, sad story. But it's my story, and my name all over the pages, and my baby who is referred to as a "loss," a "demise" and it breaks my heart every time.

I'm not really sure where this post is going. I think I'm just in a mood. I think I'm just missing my boy. I can't wait to go home and kiss his brother and squeeze him tight. I just wish I was going home to two little boys.

I've mentioned our friends the Hopes before. Their son Johnathan was stillborn three months to the day after we lost Cale. Greg (the dad) was in our wedding and one of Miles' good friends. Miles and Greg are really close with another guy, Kyle, from college who was also in our wedding. Our friend Kyle's wife gave birth via emergency c-section on Saturday. Their son Andy was born at 35 weeks and is doing well, but will be in the NICU for a little bit to help his lungs mature some more. His mom has HELLPS Syndrome and is in the ICU at another hospital. She hasn't even met her son yet. Kyle, who got back from deployment less than a week ago, is driving back and forth between two hospitals to check on his little family. And I just can't help but wonder what happened!? What happened to the world where people just got pregnant and had babies and lived happily ever after?! Was I really that naive to think, to hope, that it would work out that way? I guess so. Because in our small little circle of friends there has been too much loss and too much tribulation to bring babies into this world. Babies who are wanted and loved. We aren't a bunch of crack addicts. We aren't a bunch of child abusers. We are insured and educated and responsible people. So why us? Why any of us?

Our little Cale would have been 18 months at the end of this month. I'm sure he would have been adorable. He was adorable. He was so much more than my medical records convey. So, so much more.


  1. Caroline, I know how you feel. I hate that too--"IUFD." When I started seeing the obgyn a couple of months ago here in OK after moving, I mentioned to the nurse that my first baby was stillborn. She said, "Oh I know, you had a demised fetus." I was so angry and upset at the way she talked to me about it that I told the doctor I needed a nurse who would not refer to my dead child as a "demised fetus." Luckily, he was really great and got me a new nurse. I can't even bear to open all those medical records.

  2. :( I'm sorry lady. In a way I would love to have everything which ever involved Jack's care (including his NICU chart notes) just to have everything, and in another I'm thankful I have no access to it (I know I could request it...). Cale is so much more than any chart note could ever indicate. I'm so glad you have his beautiful brother to love on, but gosh this missing of our boys never seems to get easier, huh? :(

  3. Ah. I've neglected your blog. Totally unintentional, but I've been crazy. It's that time and I'm sorry.

    I know that boy of yours would've been the cutest 18 month old little guy running all around. I agree about the paperwork. Sometimes I wonder if it's just someone else's sad story-- but no. It's mine, too.

  4. Sweet Cale <3.

    I have had the same exact feeling reading back though my records about Harper's delivery. It breaks my heart all over again every time I see "APGAR at birth: 1; APGAR at 5 min: 0". So unfair and I so wish it didn't have to be anyone's story.

  5. I can't help but look at our medical records for all three of ours at times. It's so sad, but at one time, there was so much happiness and normalcy to the records and pregnancies. Yet seeing terms like fetal demise are so painful. I remember seeing Jake's records for the first time 3 years after we delivered him. Sitting there reading page by page just brought tears to my eyes. To think that is what we have of his labor and delivery, then to see the words written afterwards, etc. And to read the assessment by my OB of my mental condition after each loss -- a very sad story indeed. It always makes me wonder what a doctor thinks when they meet a patient for the first time and see something like what's written in mine, yours, or any other baby loss mama's records...

    Remembering Cale with you during this holiday season <3

  6. I remember when my OB used the word "fetal demise" to describe what happened to another doctor and my mouth fell open in shock. Those words seemed so dismissive of my baby and her life. Like you, I still have trouble believing sometimes that this is my story. And my husband's best friend from college also shares our grief. He and his wife had twins--a stillborn son and a daughter (who is now doing well)--two months to the day before we lost Eliza. After experiencing this, and witnessing my best friend's struggles with infertility and the expense of IVF treatments, it's really unbelievable that I always assumed everything would be fine.

    Remember your adorable boy Cale and wishing he were here with you this Christmas.

  7. Finally got to read the rest of this. I know how much sadness I felt when I had to write 'gravida 5, live births 2' so I can only imagine how incredibly difficult it is for you to see after a full, uncompicated pregnancy in which you could not bring your sweet boy home. But no matter how impersonal and detached the medical terms are from the truth, those who know Cale and have been blessed by his life know that he is not just a number or some insensitive acronym. He is a beautiful person with a beautiful soul and an AMAZING, beautiful family. It must have been so, so tough to relive it all but I hope it was in some way a bit healing too <3

  8. Caroline~The medical records...I have thought many times of getting and reading mine. It bothers me the thought I will always have a mismatch of math. 2 pregnancies, one living child...
    I don't have friends with all the problems surrounding birth, in some ways I feel like it is only my bad luck or my families bad luck, I am sorry that you have to cope with your grief and others grief as well, are you a comfort to eachother?