Lily Belle Tankersley
We were super excited to be pregnant. We wanted to document everything from the second we found out! We found out we were pregnant with Lily when we were in New Orleans. We had been visiting my family in Louisiana and decided to spend a few days in New Orleans before we headed home. I was crazy nauseas and not feeling like myself so we got a few tests and went back to the hotel where we were staying. They were positive!! We were so excited!! The hotel we were staying in used to be an old orphanage. I thought it was beautiful, thinking about the little spirits there seeing us so excited for our little one.
I had always been slightly terrified of the idea of giving birth, but my love for Steven helped me overcome that. I knew that knowledge eliminates fear so I began to study as much as I could. I wanted to be the best mom and be the most prepared. The more research I did, the more I felt I wanted to have a home birth. It felt right to me and it seemed to be the most peaceful way for her to enter into this world. I was very public about my excitement for our home birth and my passion for natural methods and natural medicines. Most people will assume my stillbirth was a home birth gone wrong, but it wasn’t. We never had a chance to have a home birth.
We had been planning a home birth, but she was breech. We were still hoping she would flip, but we were coming to terms with the fact that we were probably going to be having a hospital birth. She and I were both super healthy right up until the moment my water broke.
I was laying down on the couch resting after we went on a little night drive. We were super anxious for our little girls arrival. I was 39 weeks and 5 days, two days until her due date. We talked about how she would be here anytime. Steven rubbed my belly and talked to her as we drove. It was a perfect drive. I’ll always remember it. Our last family drive.
I started feeling contractions once we got home but they were over 15 minutes apart so I decided to rest more on the couch and save my energy. I knew we had a long way to go if contractions were that far apart.
I woke up around 12:30am to what I thought was her kicking me really hard in the crotch. I got up to go to the bathroom and I saw blood. I instantly got excited thinking SHE’S COMING!! I yelled for Steven to come. He got excited too! I told him to text our midwife. While he was texting, I reached down and felt something coming out of me. I asked Steven to look. He said it looked like cord. My heart sank. I had never read about this happening. I didn’t know what to do. Steven called our midwife and she had me get on the floor with my shoulders down and my butt up to relieve any pressure on the cord. I don’t think she thought it was cord, I think she thought we were mistaken because its so rare but she had me go into position anyway to be safe. She was there in minutes (she lives in our neighborhood) She checked for a heartbeat and couldn’t find one. We headed to the hospital which is 2 minutes away. They put me on a gurney with my butt still in the air and wheeled me in. I kept hearing everyone yelling “Cord Prolapse” Something I had never heard until that night but will haunt me for the rest of my life.
Cord Prolapse is a very rare situation where the cord comes out of the mom first and the pressure of the baby pushing against the cord cuts off the nutrients and oxygen to the baby. Once I got in, I could hear talking but I was on all fours and having pretty frequent contractions now. All I could see was my hair. I could feel them putting jelly on my belly to check the baby.
After another contraction, I rolled over to ask them about her safety. I asked “Is she ok?” The doctor looked at my midwife, my midwife looked at me, and shook her head no. She told me they couldn’t find a heart beat. My heart sank. This was my worst nightmare. I had honestly not even imagined this scenario. My heart broke into a million pieces. As soon as she told me, I went into another contraction/surge so I went back onto all fours. I heard the doctor and my midwife talking about letting me have her naturally. The doctor said “We would do a c-section if there was a chance to save the baby but since she’s passed I wont submit her to that.. we will let her give birth.” I was heartbroken but thankful for that.
I had been studying hypnobirthing throughout my pregnancy. I felt confident in my ability to relax myself since I did so much yoga and meditation, it was natural for me to pay attention to my breath and calm myself pretty easily. I knew there would be a point when I felt like I couldn’t do it. That's when transition starts. Transition is when the baby is about to come but the pain is so intense for that moment that you can almost be sure that thought will cross your mind. I told myself, when that happened I would remind myself that she’s almost here and my excitement would give me a second wind to get through the last bit. Hearing that I had lost her took all that motivation away. I wouldn’t have her cries and beautiful eyes greeting me after this was done. I still had a tiny hope that it wasn’t true and she would be fine, So I pushed through.
I watch a lot of birth videos and read a lot of birth stories when I was pregnant. ALOT. I always cried at the part when the baby meets the mama. Such a beautiful moment! I couldn’t wait. I felt like I cried because it was so beautiful or because I couldn’t wait to feel that but now I think I cried because deep down inside my subconscious knew I wouldn’t get that. At least not this time..
Steven held my hand and cried while I went through surge after surge. I kept wanting to comfort him but my body was busy. I kept trying to lay on my side and hug him in between surges but as soon as I’d lay down, another one would come. I kept hoping it wasn’t true. That once I got her out, she would be fine. I kept having surges and then I started feeling the need to push. I was holding back until they told me it was time. I was almost dilated enough but since she was breech I had to make sure to be fully dilated before I started pushing. I wanted to push so bad! My doulas words of encouragement being whispered in my ear really helped me make it through this part. Finally, they let me push. They flipped me on my back once things were getting closer to happening. I pushed for an hour or so and there she was. Born at 6:08am on October 28th 2017. She was 5lb 9 oz. and 17 inches long. She was perfect. So precious. Ill never forget how beautiful she looked. Chubby cheeks and belly, red eyelashes like her daddy, the softest skin I’ve ever felt, the perfect mixture of Steven and I.
I felt so strong! I had delivered our baby naturally and breech. They gave me some pain meds via IV after they told me I lost her but no epidural! I felt like a warrior but also so weak and helpless because I couldn’t save her. I couldn’t breathe life back into her. She looked so peaceful. I kept hoping she would just open her sweet little eyes.
We got to spend around 7 hours with her. The most beautiful little girl that I will never forget. We got to love on her and cuddle her and take a little nap as a family. We bathed her together.. It was beautiful. Letting her go was the hardest thing Ive ever done.
After I had a few days to come out of the shock of it all, I started to feel foolish for documenting my pregnancy so much and assuming everything would have a happy ending. The more I thought about it, the more that changed. I’m happy I documented our time with her. I’m glad everyone saw how much we loved her and how excited we were for her. I’m glad everyone got to know her name and her sweet soul as much as possible. I will cherish every photo I have of her and our pregnancy. She is our first born daughter and will forever be celebrated.
I feel the same way about documenting her death. Not a lot of people talk about losing a baby. Society makes you feel broken or that something is wrong with you. Like you’re a constant reminder to others of this awful thing that can happen. I know I was healthy and so was my baby. There was nothing we could do to prevent this. Rare situations are rare but still do happen. I was that pregnant lady that avoided stillbirth stories or any sad/scary baby stories. Now I want to inspire women to talk about their angels and feel less alone. The stories we’ve read and heard about other parents going through this have helped us so much. Sharing her story and bringing awareness about cord prolapse helps me feel like she’s making a difference even if she isn’t here in her little body.
As sad as I am about not getting to do all the mommy stuff, I don’t feel like I lost her. I feel her spirit close to me all the time. She does little things to let us know she’s still here. She brought our families together. She brought her father and I even closer than I ever imagined. We’re even more in love now that we’ve literally been through hell together. Lily did that! She brought so many people together. So many people made friends at her baby shower and her blessing way. She is so loved. She showed us how blessed we are with friends and family that picked us up when we fell. We’re forever grateful to everyone who came together to help us get through the darkest time. She made us face so many fears. She taught us so much. We are forever changed because of her love.