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Tatum's Story


My husband and I have been trying for two years to have children.  When we found out we were expecting we couldn't wait to spread the news.  My first trimester was awful.  Nothing but morning sickness.  Luckily my second and third trimesters went much better.  That is, until I reached 34 weeks gestation.

I had a regular doctor appointment on Wednesday 9/10. It was my last two-week visit. I was getting ready to start weekly visits. It felt like a normal day for me except that I was battling a headache that had lasted 2 days and tylenol would only dull the pain for a few hours. I took some tylenol before heading to lunch and then to my appointment. At the doctor's office they did the usual urine specimen then took me to the exam room. While sitting there waiting for the doctor I noticed that my hands looked splotchy (red and white). When the doctor came in I asked her about it and she said it was nothing to worry about. She proceeded to take my blood pressure, which was fine, and asked if I had felt the baby move that day, which I had. She then got out her heart monitor and listened for the heartbeat, which she got immediately and she said it sounded good. I left the doctor's office at 1:40 pm and returned to work.

As the day went on my dulled headache was making a come-back so I took more tylenol and mentioned to my boss that my headache was getting worse.  A co-worker of mine said she could tell I had a migraine because my eyes looked different. I figured the headache was due to the weird weather we were having. I sometimes get sinus headaches that are hard to get rid of.

I went home after work and laid on the couch. As the night went on, my headache got worse. I noticed that my cat, who would normally lay on my stomach all evening and give the baby a massage with his paws, wouldn't get on my lap. I figured it was because cats know when people don't feel good. He just sat on the floor by my feet staring at me. Eventually I asked my husband if we could go to the pharmacy to get me an eye patch because the light was hurting one of my eyes. While at the pharmacy I asked the pharmacist if there was anything besides tylenol that I could take safely and he said that I needed to ask my doctor. So, I went home, put on my eye patch and called my boss at home to tell her that I would be late in the morning because I wanted to call my doctor and see if they could prescribe something for my headache. As the night went on my headache finally went away (I assumed because of the eyepatch).  The headache had worn me out so I decided to go to bed.

In the morning I was going to go ahead and go into work, but for some reason I decided to call my doctor to get a prescription in case the headache came back. While waiting for the doctor to call me back (I had to leave a message) I was telling my husband about how my cat (the one that wouldn't get on my belly the night before) was acting weird in the middle of the night. I had woken up about 4 am to find my cat wasn't sleeping in his usual spot, he was sitting on my dresser which was right in front of my face if laying on my side, and the cat was just staring at me. I told my husband that it was kinda creepy.

When my doctor called back they asked me to come to the office to check my urine and blood pressure. I told them I had just been in there the day before and everything was fine. I was then told that the protein in my urine had been a little high the day before and was asked if I had mentioned the headache to the doctor I saw for the appointment. I said that I didn't mention the headache because it was dull at the time and I didn't really notice it and think to mention it. The doctor really wanted to see me, so I went in. Again, everything was routine. They took a urine specimen and then took me to an exam room. The nurse checked my blood pressure and said it was a little high, but nothing to really worry about. She then asked the standard "have you felt the baby move today" question. I told her no, but it was still kinda early and not unusual for me not to have felt movement that early in the morning. I told her that I felt the baby moving the day before and that the doctor heard the heartbeat the day before. The nurse went ahead and got out the heart monitor, again, routine, or so I thought. The nurse tried for 5 minutes to find the heartbeat. We thought we heard it faintly a few times and figured the baby was turned around. She brought in another nurse...same thing. I told both nurses that it was unusual not to pick up Tatum's heartbeat immediately. They brought in a third nurse. By this time, I knew Tate was gone and that the faint heartbeat that we would hear briefly was my own and not Tate's. Finally, they brought in my doctor who hooked up the ultrasound to look at Tate's chest cavity. It was not moving. There was no heartbeat. Sometime between 1:40 pm when I left the doctor's office the day before and 10:00 am that morning, Tatum had died. I was hysterical while the nurse called my husband to come and take me to the hospital. I was going to have to deliver my baby. At the hospital my labor was induced and I delivered Tatum on Friday 9/12 as a stillborn. He was 4 lbs 9 oz and 18 inches long. He was beautiful. Perfect in every way.  We got to spend several hours with Tate.  We invited family members into our hospital room to hold Tate and take pictures.  This bonding time was too short, but very special.

An autopsy was conducted but everything looked fine.  There are two theories as to what happened.  The first theory is that I had developed severe pre-eclampsia (toximia) which is why I had the headache, elevated blood pressure and elevated protein in my urine.  It came on so suddenly though that the doctor isn't sure that is what caused our loss.  The more likely cause is that he got a kink in his umbilical cord which cut off his blood and oxygen supply.  We know the cord was wrapped around his foot so this is a very real possibility.  What bothers me the most is that we will never know for certain.

The nurses that cared for me were incredible.  In particular, the nurse that was on duty the day I gave birth.  She made 3-D plaster casts of Tate's hand and feet.  She also took over 100 photos and put them into an album then presented it to my husband and I.  We kept the blanket that was used in the photos and I keep it close to me at all times.  It is Tate's blanket that inspired me to make blankets for other parents experiencing the same loss that my husband and I have experienced.



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