Hope's Stillbirth Story

I wanted to write down all the things I can remember, lest I forget any details.

Hope Elisabeth Skillman was born sleeping April 5th, 2018. I was 28 weeks pregnant. They thought based on her measurements, she passed around 24 weeks.

I found out I was pregnant October 2017. Her due date based on LMP would be June 30th 2018. I knew very early on I had conceived and even played around (hopeful guessing) it could be twins because I had obvious signs of implantation. Morning sickness came, I battled it with Kefir (my favorite was with lemon peel)  so my it was my first pregnancy not throwing up.

After the Babylon USA release July 2017 and visiting Temple Baptist monthly August, September, October, November, December. We knew we wanted to move our family down to Jacksonville and started viewing homes when we came down for church. I committed (put down a deposit) to use a midwife that Mrs. Shannon Johnson used.

At 18 weeks I was hoping to schedule my first prenatal visit and also find out the gender at the same time, to have as less appointments as possible. I went ahead and scheduled at a clinic near home (outside Raleigh).

The baby at that point was very active and kicking all the time. I still played around saying I could be having twins because of all the activity.

My husband drove me to the appointment, they did all the normal tests and finished up with an ultrasound. The technician wasn't able to tell gender, so I was disappointed I had to wait for another ultrasound.

After that appointment the the fetal movement stopped, and wouldn't return to normal for another week or two. I told my husband that night  how the baby all the sudden quit kicking and moving.

My next appointments I had were with the midwife. At 24 weeks was my scheduled ultrasound for anatomy scan. Prior to that appointment we viewed the house we now have purchased. The baby kicked me while standing in the dining room and I was looking at the two bedrooms I was planning one for girls and the other for boys. My hopes were that it was a baby girl (I have 1 daughter and 2 sons) and I was excited to soon find out.

I also felt her kicking and active on the drive to the appointment.

The scan went well, and it was a girl! I was very happy and thrilled to tell everyone.

On the drive home, I noticed I did not feel her kick anymore or move. I brought this to my husbands attention and my concern with the ultrasounds and how it directly correlated.

So that was Wednesday, my 24 week anatomy scan. I was scheduled my next appointment at 28 weeks, and they wanted another picture of her spine as it wasn't clear from the anatomy scan, but I did email the midwife my concerns for the ultrasound, but I believe she never got that email.

That following Sunday night (still 24 weeks) I had a 'panic attack" or what I believed what hypertension. I hadn't experienced that in any other pregnancies. I used to have situational panic attacks in my college days, but this was different. I posted for prayers in most the IFB facebook groups. I called for my mom to come over, to stay with my other 3 children who were all asleep, so my husband could take me to the ER. I felt like I couldn't breath unless I focused on my breathing. I didn't want to go in the ER right away so we drove up and down the highway near the hospital, hoping I would feel better. But the feeling never went away, so we went in.

This is the same hospital I went for all my other 3 pregnancies for ER visits, and they always took me upstairs to the L&D Triage if I was over 20 weeks. It was protocol. Well, not this time. They kept me in the ER department, and hooked me up to the IV and I felt immediately better. My fears went away and I assumed I was just dehydrated. The doctor said it could be the baby is growing so I felt harder to breath. So before they discharged me they had to get fetal heart tones.

They couldn't find her heartbeat....I remember laying there imagining if they were to give me the news that my baby had passed how I would take it right then and there. The one nurse explained she wasn't good at using a dopplar and they would get someone else to try. They probed and probed at me, with two different dopplars, 3 different nurses, over the course of 1 hour. Still no heartbeat. The doctor finally brought in an ultrasound machine which showed her heart flickering and she was alive. We were relieved. The doctor still couldn't find her heartbeat with the dopplar, so he used his wristwatch to guess her heartbeat based on watching it flicker on the screen. I had just had my anatomy scan the previous Wednesday and everything was fine so the doctor let us go, with no worries.

I never felt her move again. I would feel like some movement or twitching but just told myself she must be growing and it was a phase. I would tell my husband at night how I worried I wasn't really feeling her kick anymore. I explained to friends how her kicking had went away. 4 weeks passed and each day I would assure myself I could feel her move or roll over.

It was my 28 week glucose test and we drove 2 hrs for the appointment, my husband took off and we again went by the house (had an offer in at this point). At her office, there was a boardwalk by the ocean inlet so my husband would take the kids for a stroll along the short pier overlooking the water. I went in, hadn't eaten anything and started the glucose test. My worries of the ultrasound had passed and the ultrasound technician had me hop up in the seat for that quick picture of her spine.

I could tell something was wrong. The technician said she would be right back...and I just kept telling myself it wasn't the news I thought. But the midwife came back in with her to tell me the baby had passed.

I'm not emotional in front of people so I just accepted the news.

I got up and looked out the window to see my husband pushing the children in the stroller and my daughter Sara walking alongside. I didn't know how I would tell him, so the midwife went with me. We walked out together, reached where he was at.  I picked up my youngest, staring out over the water, the wind blowing strong in my hair.

It was a long ride back, we took the kids to my mother & grandmothers so we could go to Labor & Delivery. I was induced and gave birth naturally the next morning, Thursday, April 5th. We buried her Friday April 6th in Gethsemane Memorial Gardens in Zebulon, NC where my great aunt was buried a month prior.

On that 2 hour drive back home knowing my baby girl had died, a hymn stuck with me.
1 My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
2 When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
in ev'ry high and stormy gale
my anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
3 His oath, His covenant, His blood
support me in the 'whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
4 When He shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in Him be found,
dressed in His righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame (her fragile little body) but wholly lean on Jesus name.. In Ev'ry high and stormy gale my anchor holds within the veil. When all around my soul give way, He then is all my hope and stay. On Christ the solid rock i stand, all other ground is sinking sand (when I buried her) When he shall come with trumpet sound O may I then in Him be found (and see my baby again). . 

I hadn't settled on a name yet so I named her Hope Elisabeth because of this hymn. 

Sorrow not as those which have no hope. I have hope and a sweet baby Hope waiting for me in Heaven. 

Until then, 
Rebecca Skillman



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