Your Birth Story – Part 1

Pure Joy 

January 31, 2017

Dear Bella,

We learned Mommy was pregnant with you on Sunday, May 29, 2016, while we were at a family wedding in California. It was early in the morning, and we hadn’t slept much the night before because your big brother was very jet-lagged from the flight out on Saturday. But seeing that little white strip turn pink woke us right up!  We were so excited to return to New Haven, Connecticut, for Mommy’s first ultrasound. We couldn’t wait to see you!

Back home, I remember the details from the first trip to the doctor so vividly: listening to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody on the drive to the doctor’s office with Mommy and your big brother; the absurdly complicated parking meter system once we arrived; Big Brother jumping up and down on the temporary plastic construction mats lining the hallways; the number of times I changed his diaper during a 30-minute appointment (twice); the midwife’s sleeves of tattoos; Big Brother having a blast playing in the examination rooms while the doctors, midwives, and nurses ran tests on you and Mommy.  

Finally, they told us that you were due on Friday, January 27, just two days after Big Brother’s birthday!  I’m probably conflating multiple visits in my mind, but whatever the case, we were so excited to finally see your first pictures. You are beautiful! We compared your first ultrasound photos with Big Brother’s.  As siblings, you look alike, of course, but we could tell you are unique.

Unlike Mommy’s pregnancy with Big Brother, she got morning sickness a few times during the first trimester with you. Otherwise, Mommy said it was a very easy pregnancy – you were the best baby! Mommy had little back pain until the very end (whereas she was in a ton of pain throughout most of her pregnancy with Big Brother).  This meant that she was able to sleep through the night most nights. You were super active during the day, though. I had never seen a baby kick and stretch so much. I was convinced that you were, in fact, a little girl – a firecracker, like your mother. We wanted your gender to be a surprise, though, so we didn’t find out until you were born.

I told people all the time that your pregnancy was flying by compared to Big Brother’s, but would also readily admit that I wasn’t the one actually carrying you, so Mommy may have felt differently.  It was probably because our family experienced so much change over the course of those short months from April 2016, when you were conceived, until January 2017, when you were born.  I accepted a new position at a firm in Portland, Maine at the end of April, graduated from business school at the end of May, and – just a week later – we found out Mommy was pregnant with you!  We spent the summer traveling around New England to see family and friends from Downeast Maine to Cape Cod, across Connecticut and Rhode Island. Between weddings and family gatherings, we looked at apartments in Portland, ME – your first home!  We finally moved from New Haven to Portland on August 1, 2016. We didn’t start telling people Mommy was pregnant with you until around that time. We were so excited for everyone to meet you!

Mommy had to travel to Hawaii, South Africa, and London during the fall.  She said you were the best travel buddy! She didn’t really start showing until around mid-September.

The holidays flew by – you grew so fast between Thanksgiving and January.  

Your due date came and went, with no signs of any progress that weekend.  Despite the cold weather, Mommy wanted to get some exercise outside, so we all went to Crescent Beach State Park on the Sunday before you were born. We were hoping all that walking would get the labor started. Unfortunately, that didn’t work.

On Monday, January 30, Mommy went to her doctor’s in Portland for her regular weekly check up.  Mommy sent me the following texts that morning:

9:55AM:  Sounds like my water maybe broke? Need to have ultrasound so waiting around until they have time.

10:40AM: Plenty of fluid (my water didn’t break) but baby’s heart rate low so doing a stress test

I responded:

10:41AM: Ok. How are you doing? What does that mean? Is that a problem?

Mommy replied:

11:07AM: It’s low but fine. I have to come back at 3. Gonna go get something to eat. 

I responded:

11:39AM: ok, good. Let me know if you need anything, my love.

Mommy went grocery shopping and got acupuncture for her back pain. She fell asleep for an hour during the appointment.  She went back to the doctor; everything was fine around 3:35 p.m. when she texted me with an update. She was so excited for you to come that she almost asked the ultrasound technician to tell her if you were a girl or a boy, but she managed to be patient.

Our good friends, Rob and T, dropped off dinner for us that night. I was home at 5:30 p.m. 

Around 7:00 p.m., while Mommy and Big Brother were bathing with you and then again when she was reading you both bedtime stories, Mommy noticed that you weren’t moving as much as usual.  You were typically very active during Big Brother’s bedtime routine. Mommy was worried, but I told her that you were probably just getting into position in the birth canal. Mommy slept very well that night.

In retrospect, you had likely passed away already.

The next morning, Tuesday, January 31, Mommy still didn’t feel any movement when she woke up.  Again, I assured her that you were probably in position, but suggested that we call the doctor at 9:00 a.m. to check in.  In the meantime, we played with Big Brother – he insisted on wearing his Halloween costume – a lion outfit – for the first time since October.  We had a great time playing in his cardboard box fort – the byproduct of a new nursing chair we got for you and Mommy. While we were playing, Mommy took a shower.

At 8:30 a.m., while she was reading Big Brother a book in our bed, Mommy’s water broke.  We were so excited! We began packing up and I brought all of our bags – with clothes for us and for you, of course, as well as pillows and blankets, some oranges and other snacks, and enough Gatorade to hydrate the New England Patriots – down the four flights of stairs to the car.  Mommy called the doctor’s office and told the nurse that her water broke, but then mentioned that there wasn’t any “fetal movement”. I vividly remember her using that term. It was so technical and incongruous with the joy we were feeling. I was a little nervous, but mostly excited. I could tell Mommy was anxious – she knew she hadn’t felt you move in more than 12 hours. I kept saying that you probably moved during the night when Mommy was sleeping and that you were just already in position. “Big Brother didn’t move that much,” I kept repeating. Nanna, your nanny, arrived a little before 9:00 a.m. We told her we were going to the doctor’s office and would update her once we knew more.

At 9:09 a.m., I sent my coworkers the following email:

From: Jay Tansey <>

Date: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at 9:09 AM

To: CompanyXYX

Subject: At doctor’s with Elly…

I’ll keep you posted!

Less than 30 minutes later, I replied all:

On Jan 31, 2017, at 9:37 AM, Jay <> wrote:

The baby passed away. Please cancel my meetings.



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