October, among many things, is known as “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.” This month recognizes the painful reality that many families face every year. Pregnancy and infant loss are agonizing situations for all involved and while no one wishes for this reality, it happens, often closer to home than many may think. Master Sgt. Samantha Maghamez has recently experienced a personal loss and wants to share her story in order to help others in similar situations realize that they do not have to grieve in solitude. There are resources available to help the unthinkable grief of families who have gone through these heartaches. She hopes her story will inspire others to share their joy and grief and work toward healing after a pregnancy or infant loss. Here is Samantha’s story:
At 34 weeks, I went in for an ultrasound with my high-risk OB because my ultrasound on Friday had shown that Isabella had an interval development of a fluid-filled dilated proximal small bowel, duodenum, and stomach. The dilated bowel measured up to 27 mm in diameter. Overall, the pattern suggested interval development of a small bowel obstruction. Friday her growth, heartbeat and weight were perfect. My amniotic fluid level was at an AFI of 27 cm, which was an interval development of polyhydramnios. During the ultrasound the tech started taking measurements; I noticed that Bella was not moving much, and I thought that was weird because she was always so active during them. The tech said to another person in the room, “can you go get Doctor Tobiasz?” I heard her say “try it from another angle” to the tech and “try one more time.” I went into shock; I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but she has no heartbeat.” I started crying and very vaguely remember grabbing my things and moving to another room to talk with Doctor Tobiasz. She was heartbroken and said she didn’t understand what had happened from Friday to Monday. I told her that Isabella had been active over the weekend.
Rene and I were on video chat around 11-12 on Sunday and [the baby] was very active. I had no bleeding or signs of anything, and the last time I felt her move was before bed on Sunday. She told me that what was found on Friday would typically not cause fetal death, so she truly didn’t have an answer for me. She told me that Doctor Johnson wanted me to go to the ER as soon as possible. As I left the clinic, the walk to my truck was one of the loneliest things I have ever experienced. I wanted to drop to my knees in the parking lot and scream at God. I sat in my truck and cried. I was so angry; I questioned everything. I kept shaking and beating the steering wheel. I didn’t want to call anyone; I didn’t want them to feel what I was feeling. The pain and heartbreak were unreal. I drove home with my mom on the phone with me, still in shock and disbelief over what had just happened. I couldn’t comprehend anything and vaguely remember our conversation. When I pulled up in the driveway, my only thought was booking her a flight so I could get her in before the blizzard. Rene was on the way to El Paso, and I knew in my heart no matter how hard we tried he would more than likely not make it here to be with me, and that broke my heart even more. I couldn’t go through this alone.
Rene had messaged me asking me how the appointment went. I knew that I had to call him and tell him the heartbreaking news. He was in a truck with three other co-workers and the music was extremely loud. He asked me how the appointment went, and I broke down and started crying. The only thing I could say was “she is gone” and he replied with “are you messing with me right now?” and I said, “No Hun I’m not, she had no heartbeat at the ultrasound.” There was so much silence on the phone. I told him I was able to book my mom a flight and that she would be coming in late that night. I told him we needed to start looking at flights so we could try to get him here once he got to El Paso.
When we got off the phone, my heart hurt so much. I had failed again as a woman to carry a child full term, and this was our second loss. As I walked in my house, I had the realization that the beautiful moment that I had envisioned of us as a family and bringing Bella home from the hospital was gone. I sat on the stairs and cried; I didn’t want to go to the hospital. I wanted to go back to sleep and wake up from this nightmare. To feel her move inside my belly again, to hear her heartbeat. It took everything I had left in me to call a dear friend and have her take me to the hospital. She was amazing and stayed with me until my mom could get here. So many people showed up in the moments that mattered the most, and I will always be so grateful for that.
My labor was induced Monday evening due to health concerns. The doctor told me it was not reasonable to expect to find out what had happened and that I could do genetic testing but often there are just no answers. I told God that I would accept the loss of Isabella, but I told Him to have mercy on me. I couldn’t bear the agony of living my life wondering if I had done something wrong or could have somehow prevented this from happening. As a mom, you always feel like you want to look after your children, and I kind of felt like I might have failed her somehow.
God’s grace over the next 24 hours to get me through my worst nightmare was astounding. The care I received from the midwives, nurses and the doctor were just beyond my ability to describe. It was like God had handpicked each person to give me exactly what I needed at exactly every moment during labor and delivery. I could feel a peace that only comes from God. Tuesday morning, Isabella’s earthly body was born at 10:37 a.m. What I thought would be the most agonizing moment of my life was the most beautiful thing I have ever encountered. There is no way to explain it. It was just one of those holy moments where heaven touches earth. Isabella was greeted with honor and dignity and with the weeping eyes of a nurse and a doctor who were sharing our pain and crying with us.
She was beautiful and perfect. I was blessed to be able to hold Isabella…to look at all the features that God had delicately crafted into her face and her feet, her hands and her everything. I praised God for all the details that He’d knit into her. She looked like a perfect version of her mom and dad. One of the nurses at the hospital bathed Isabella. This nurse held our precious baby and washed her as though she was the most special child in the world. She made so many beautiful keepsakes of our angel that we know that God was present in every moment. Chaplain Harris blessed our beautiful angel, and she was baptized in my arms with her daddy on video. My mom was also by my side and was a part of this moment we will cherish forever. Me and Rene had our time with Isabella. We talked about her having his beautiful hair, my blue eyes, my nose, cheeks, chin, a combination of our lips, my beautiful fair skin, my hands, very long legs, and his feet & toes. She was beautiful and perfect in every way.