My name is Jenny, and my story starts on March 5th, 2013 when my second child was conceived. My pregnancy was a bit of a surprise, but I was over-the-moon excited! My daughter Hailey is from a previous relationship, so I couldn’t wait to see Justin be a father. I knew he would be amazing with our new baby.
As soon as I saw the two lines on the pregnancy test, I started to plan my child’s life. He or she would be hilarious and smart like her father, and beautiful like her sister. He or she would play soccer (this would not be up for discussion), preferably a midfielder but I guess any position would do. Everything was going to be perfect and I couldn’t wait to meet our new bundle of joy. I grew up with three sisters and two brothers, so I couldn’t wait for my ten-year-old Hailey to have a sibling—to understand what a blessing it is to always have a best friend.
My pregnancy was pretty textbook, except I felt pretty sick the entire time. I was constantly tired and had morning sickness all day long. I really struggled with all of the physical symptoms of pregnancy. I guess you could say that I was pretty obsessive about it, too. I read all the baby books several times and did lots of internet research on pregnancy. It’s pretty much all I thought about. Would it be a boy or a girl? Would the baby be small or big? Lots of hair or bald like her sister was? I just couldn’t wait! Our due date was set for November 25th, 2013. I started counting the days down until we would meet our new addition.
But throughout my pregnancy, I had a bad gut-feeling that something wasn’t right. I didn’t know what it was. I would envision going into labor all the time. I would picture in my head how I wanted things to go and then I would think “that’s not how this is going to happen.” I just had a bad feeling and chalked it up to being nervous and overly anxious, but Justin had the same bad feeling. Up to this point, all of my doctor’s appointments were perfect. I measured perfectly every single time. The baby’s heart rate was perfect every single time. My doctor did say that I would probably have a small baby but this really didn’t come to a surprise to me. Hailey was only 5lbs and 3oz and I delivered her four days past her due date. My doctor told me that some people just don’t have big babies. I was okay with this; I think smaller babies are cuter anyway.
The time came for our twenty-week ultrasound and Justin and I decided to find out the gender of our baby. I made the earliest appointment that I could. I was so excited!! At first I wanted a boy and then later changed my mind and wanted a girl, so Hailey could have a sister. I really didn’t care as long as the baby was healthy. I just wanted to know!! I never could understand how people waited until giving birth to find out the sex. The anticipation would drive me nuts. Well, we had our ultrasound and everything looked perfect. It seemed like forever until the ultrasound technician revealed the sex. We were having a girl!! I was so happy and the look on Justin’s face was priceless!! I will never forget that day. I could start shopping and picking names!!
I started working on my baby registry with the help of my wonderful sister, Betsi. I would have been lost without her. So many new things were on the market since I had Hailey ten years ago. I must have revised that registry fifty times. I wanted everything to be perfect. Everything had to be perfect for my perfect little girl. I may have gone a little overboard; it took me a week to pick out the perfect pack of socks. God bless Justin for putting up with me throughout my pregnancy. I admit my behavior was a little over-the-top. I just couldn’t resist. He gave me free reign to buy whatever I wanted. I may have been a bit controlling in what to purchase for the baby. I decided for owls to be the theme to our little girl’s nursery. I found the cutest owl clothing and blankets and everything you could think of. Justin, Hailey, and I decided to name our daughter Harper. I loved the name. I would sometimes call her Harps for short. I couldn’t wait to meet my sweet baby Harps.
Harper was extremely active in the womb. Every doctor’s appointment started with that question. “How’s the baby’s movement?” I would answer the same every time: “She is moving, alright!!” My pregnancy was coming to an end….FINALLY!! I felt like I was pregnant for years. I was thirty-eight weeks pregnant. In just a couple of weeks I would meet my little girl. I was ecstatic to see Justin with his firstborn. He was so nervous but also getting excited. It could be any day now that she would make her arrival.
On November 13th, we had a little scare. Less than two weeks from my due date, I thought I was leaking amniotic fluid. My doctor told me to go to Labor and Delivery to get checked out. Everything was fine. I was fine, and Harper was perfect. I was sent home. Five days later, on November 18th, I was at home watching a movie with Justin and Hailey. I didn’t feel too well, so I went to bed early. I woke up the next day and drove Hailey to school. Harper wasn’t moving, but I always read that towards the end of my pregnancy that movement decreases because the baby runs out of room. I didn’t have a good feeling. I called my sister and she told me to drink some juice and then lie down and count my kicks. She was the first person to tell me this. My doctor didn’t mention it with this pregnancy or when I was pregnant with Hailey. I counted and got nothing. I knew something was wrong but didn’t want to believe it. I was just at the hospital five days earlier and everything was fine. I called my doctor and once again was told to go to Labor and Delivery. We grabbed our bags and the car seat and headed over. I kept trying to lie to myself and say that I was having a baby today!! I don’t remember much about the drive, except that I ate peanut M&Ms on the way.
We arrived at Christ Hospital. The nurses brought in the Doppler and couldn’t find Harper’s heartbeat. They grabbed another Doppler and nothing. The nurse said she was going to get the ultrasound machine. Silent tears began to roll down my face. I just knew she was gone. Justin knew she was gone. The nurses knew she was gone. I told the nurses to get my doctor. I wanted my doctor. He was on the way. The nurses told me they “couldn’t find what they were looking for” on the ultrasound. I didn’t want to believe it. I needed to hear it from my doctor. He arrived very quickly and sat on my bed next to me and told me how sorry he was.
I just remember looking at Justin and really not knowing what to say or do. How could this happen? I was only six days away from my due date. It just didn’t make sense. I was told that there was a very good chance that I would never know why and that sometimes these things just happen. I was terrified. I was heartbroken. I can’t really explain in words the pain that I felt. I could barely even speak. Justin called our families to break the news. I was induced and delivered Harper the next day on November 20th, 2013 at 2:47 pm. As soon as I delivered Harper I heard the doctor say, “It’s the cord.” I could see him making the motion of unraveling the cord from around her neck. It was wrapped around her neck two times, then her arm, and back around her neck again. An umbilical cord accident caused her death. The doctor placed her on my chest and she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She was so tiny and had a head full of hair. I think she looked a lot like Justin and I could definitely see a little bit of Hailey as well. She was absolutely perfect in every single way, except she wasn’t alive. I knew we wouldn’t have much time. Our families came to see her for the first and last time. I wanted to hold her forever. I wanted to take her home. I wanted this to be a nightmare, but it wasn’t. It was reality. Our baby had died. I just held her and kissed her and told her I loved her over and over again. I didn’t know what else to do. It came time to say goodbye. Justin and I handed her over to the nurse and left the hospital without our baby. That was the hardest moment of my life. We went home to a house full of baby stuff—with no baby.
We had an overwhelming amount of support from our family. We received more support than we knew what to do with, but no advice on how to cope with our loss. I wasn’t sure I would make it. I thought I would definitely die of heartache. The pain was unbearable. Within a day or two, Stacey Gripshover of Raising BLUE contacted us. I don’t think I responded to her for a week or so; but when I did, my new life had changed. She had also lost a baby and she understood my pain. She understood our loss. She saved my life and showed me a new way to live. I have met several grieving mothers along the way, which has been crucial to my coping and recovery. Nobody can really understand the pain of losing a child unless they have experienced it themselves. Justin and I have become involved in the Raising BLUE charity and it has given us a purpose.
There is one thing that Stacey has taught me, for which I will never be able to repay her. She has taught me that even though Harper isn’t here on earth, it doesn’t mean that I can’t raise her. I keep Harper in my everyday life and she is all around me. I will raise Harper, just like Stacey is Raising BLUE.
I am determined to help in spreading awareness about stillbirth to prevent this from happening so often. I also want to help other grieving mothers that have lost a child, and show them that they can survive and thrive. They can keep their baby in their lives even though they aren’t physically here.
We love and miss you, Harper. You are with us every second of every day.
Harper Marie Robbins ~ November 20th, 2013