Ashley S’ Story

My husband and I have been together for 10 years now and have two daughters on Earth who are 7 (Samantha) and 3 (Savannah) years old.  In August 2021, my husband’s grandmother passed away very suddenly and about three weeks after her funeral we found out we were expecting our third child, with a due date of May 23, 2022.  We viewed this pregnancy as a sign from his grandma to process her death and to have some light in such a dark time for the family.  Our daughters were so excited when we announced that we were expecting a sibling for them.  

Everything about my pregnancy was normal in terms of testing and ultrasounds, outside of having more done due to hereditary situations and my age of being 35. I always enjoy the extra testing and ultrasounds because I thought it gave the reassurance that everything was going to be okay in the end.  I was so naïve to just how bad things could get when you think that you are in the clear and almost to the finish line of the pregnancy.  We did the early gender testing and found out we were expecting our third daughter and after so much discussion we decided to name her Sloane Isabella.  I did have an anterior placenta, which I never had before, so that was different since I was not feeling her move as much as our other daughters.  

Everything was moving right along, and I was about to transition to the weekly ultrasounds and then to the twice a week ultrasound as I was about 30 weeks.  There was a one-week delay in starting these ultrasounds due to a scheduling miscommunication.  On March 18th, at 30 weeks and 4 days, I woke up and started my workday as I work from home and our daughters were home for Spring Break.  I decided that I would start some dishes around 9:40 am but first I would go to the bathroom as we all know the instant you start that water you will need to use the restroom.  The moment I sat down I felt a gush that I thought was my water breaking but as soon as I looked in the toilet all I saw was red.  The blood was continuously flowing out of me as well.  I screamed for my husband and the three of them came running to the bathroom and everyone saw how bad I was bleeding.  We called my OB and was immediately told to either get to the hospital or call 911.  Since our kids were home, we decided to call 911 so they would not have to be brought to the hospital.  I stayed super calm and did not lead on to my husband just how bad this was because I did not want to scare my girls, I even changed clothing and brushed my teeth.  Which in hindsight I now think is just crazy, but I did not want to go to the hospital looking a mess.   

The ambulance arrived and they started checking me out and putting all the machines to me, off we went to the hospital that my OB delivers at.  I swear I felt Sloane move at one point in the ambulance but now looking back I honestly think it was just me wishing I did feel her.  Once we arrived at the hospital the ER staff were sort of nonchalant about the dire situation we were in and had me move from the gurney I was brought on to a chair that they would push up to L&D.  Once I was in L&D, things moved a lot faster due to the amount of blood I was still losing.  They tried two different methods to find her heartbeat and then brought in the ultrasound to verify.  At this time, it was determined that she had passed away, so the on-call OB called my husband to let him know what was going on.  My normal OB was out of town but thankfully the on-call one was from the same office.  While the OB was talking to my husband, he said that he could hear my screaming in the background, which I do not remember any of that.   

It was at this time that the OB determined that I would need an emergency C-Section due to the amount of blood that I was still losing.  I remember being wheeled into the operation room, briefly talking to the anesthesiologist, someone shaving me to prep me for surgery, and then the mask being placed over my mouth to knock me out.  

Sloane Isabella was born at 11:49 am on March 18th, weighing 3lbs 11oz and 17 inches long.  She had more hair then either of our other daughters and it was blonde just like them.   

I do not remember much following the surgery other than what I was told by others.  My sister and best friend were in the recovery room when I got out of the operating room.  They have told me that I was screaming a lot and repeating things as well.  It is very traumatizing even to this day that I cannot remember what happened during so much of the day.   

It was determined that I suffered a catastrophic complete placenta abruption, of which I never once had a single sign that it was going to happen.  I never spotted at all my entire pregnancy and the only blood loss that I experienced was that gush of blood that morning.  During the surgery they had a very hard time stopping the blood and I almost died as well, I am thankful that they were able to not only save my life but also not have to give me a hysterectomy.  

I had the most amazing nurses in the recovery room that were just so compassionate with their care and their words.  I will always remember them and be grateful that they were the ones by my side ensuring that we would not forget Sloane.  I ended up spending four days in the hospital because I needed to have a blood transfusion as well.  The nurses that cared for me during those days were also beyond amazing.   

My sister helped our family plan Sloane’s funeral on March 28th.  The immense amount of pain of having to bury your child who should have been alive at almost 31 weeks’ gestation is just unimaginable.  I am only able to get up every day because of our two other daughters. My husband and I were the pallbearers, with our oldest daughters walking in front of us.  This was the only time that all five us were together after Sloane was born, as my husband and daughters did not come to the hospital after she was born.  For the 6 weeks of recovery after I stayed on the couch recliner almost 24/7, including sleeping out there.  Which resulted in me suffering from a pulmonary embolism on April 7th, where we had to call 911 again due to amount of pain, I was in.  This time I was in the hospital for two days.  I am now slowly recovering from that as well.   

It is so hard to have all these medical issues where I have always been healthy prior to loosing Sloane.  Being told by my OB not to get pregnant for at least a year due to the c-section is so hard on me mentally as well.  I am now on blood thinners for three months, and then any future pregnancies I will have to be on them as well for the duration.   I was told by my MFM that we could start trying for another pregnancy at a minimum of six months after Sloane’s death.  Following my 4 month follow up with my hematologist I was placed on a different type of blood thinners since there is a possibility of getting pregnant soon, which I am now on the shot version that I do two times a day.

I immediately started seeing two different individual therapists and now I am in two different support groups as well.  I have thrown myself into meeting other loss moms, so I am able to talk to other’s who have experienced this pain.  With all the therapy and groups, I do think that it has helped me be more open with the grief, trauma, and just overall severe anxiety/depression over what happened to our family.  When I am having hard days, I go visit Sloane at the cemetery, our oldest also joins me sometimes as well.   

In August 2022 I reached out to Dr. Kliman with Yale to have our placenta slides examined as well as the medical records reviewed by him as he studies placenta issues resulting in death and other issues.  Within his findings it was determined the Sloane’s placenta was only in the 11th percentile for her gestation and she was also a ratio of 6.8 to 1 in size of it as well.  I am still waiting on my video conference with Dr. Kliman to further review these findings.  But after researching more and with his research the measuring of placenta is not something that is done in a normal pregnancy, but it is a cause of stillbirths. There is an organization that is trying to raise awareness to this called Measure the Placenta, and Dr. Kliman is part of this as well in raising further awareness.  Going forward I will advocate for myself and ensure that this measurement is done to at least start checking boxes in a potential future pregnancy.

My husband and I think that we will start trying to have our fourth child in the September to December time frame, which would be the 6 to 9-month mark from Sloane passing away.  It has always been about a year after we start trying to get pregnant.  I really pray that 2023 will bring us a better year with no heartbreaking situations.   

My goal in the next year or so is to start an organization that provides support to children within families who experience a pregnancy or infant loss. I really felt that our two daughters were sort of forgotten about in the process and how they truly grieve along side us.  The only part is that they do not have the skills to fully voice this to us and others around them due to being just children themselves. 

I’ve started Sloanes_Sunshine on Instagram as a way to connect with other loss moms and trying to provide a place for loss moms with living children to connect to one another.

Ashley wears a black top and lays on the ground against the rainbow skirt.

Ashley holds a brown teddy bear.  The bear wears a purple bow and has the name Sloane on it.

Ashley wears a black top and lays on the rainbow skirt.

Ashley wears a black top and the rainbow skirt.  She is leaning against a rock with hills in the background.

Ashley wears a black top and the rainbow skirt.

Ashley wears a black top and the rainbow skirt.  She is holding the brown teddy bear with a purple bow.

Ashley wears a black top and the rainbow skirt.  She is sitting on the ground and smiling.

Photos taken by Memories by Candace.

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