My Little Cammie

I lost my daughter Cammie, at 20 weeks on May 11, 2012. I was 23 years old. My husband and I both enlisted in the Army and went through Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training. We were separated from June 2011 to April 2012. It was extremely hard on both of us, we'd only been married about six months by the time we shipped out. One of the highlights of training was being able to spend our first anniversary, December 18th, together over the holidays. We got two weeks and then it was back to our respective bases to finish our job training. When we found out we were being sent to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii I ran my butt over to the clinic to get my Typhoid shot. I was shocked to learn that the routine pregnancy test had come back positive, twice. And so had the blood test. When I spoke with the nurse, we calculated that I must have concieved during the last few days of the two weeks I spent with my husband, and I was about three weeks along. I called my husband and he cried over the phone, reportedly running around the barracks and sharing the news with all his battle buddies.
When I informed my chain of command about my pregnancy, I was immediately reprimanded for not taking the necessary precautions to prevent it. I was in training, and pregnancy was a no go. I was told I may not be able to graduate from my classes or see my husband until after I delivered the baby. It was a great source of stress for me. However, my wonderful commander pulled through and after spending nearly 15 weeks being pregnant in the barracks and graduating my classes, I was put on a plane for Hawaii. Seeing my husband again was bittersweet- it was nice to finally have him there, sharing in the pregnancy with me. Yet at the same time, the distance and stress had taken its toll on the marriage so there was constant bickering initially. It took us nearly two months to get a house on post and at the same time, my new chain of command turned out to be a$$holes. They kept trying to get me to participate in training (weapons qualifications, wearing body armour, etc.) that were dangerous for my pregnancy and they didn't seem to care that I had specific orders from a doctor. My workplace was downright hostile half the time. They even had me working 12 hour night shifts (5 pm-5 am) at the communications site I was attached to. My mother, who is also in the Army, told me to expect things like this since, "If the Army had intended for you to have a baby, they would've issued you one. They'll expect you to be a soldier first." How right she was.
The day before I hit my 20 week, halfway point with my baby, I started to feel sort of funny. She'd been kicking rigorously for 2 weeks by then and I was used to her moving around. Her movement noticeably decreased, and that night while we were at the movies I experienced some nagging cramps. They were nothing painful, just sort of uncomfortable. My husband and I wrote it off as Braxton Hicks and sat through our movie. The next day there was no movement at all, and I started to panic. I called my parents (both registered nurses) and the hospital and was told I probably hadn't felt her kicking that early on and to simply wait a few more days til my next appointment at the clinic. So I waited, feeling the whole time that something was most definitely wrong. My husband kept telling me I was overreacting, that everything was fine.
The day we went in for our appointment, and she put that monitor on my belly, I knew. I stared at the screen, trying to find her little flashing heartbeat. I waited for her to move, to kick like she did on every other appointment. The nurse left and returned with a doctor. When he told us there was no heartbeat and gave us options for induction, I broke down. I knew she'd been dead inside me for at least 5 days. I knew there had been something wrong. I was induced that afternoon at the hospital and 12 hours later, we held our baby girl. We took as many pictures as we could, kissed her, had a chaplain pray with us...It was the most surreal experience of my life. 4 hours later they wheeled her out to have an autopsy. They took 10 vials of blood from me, did an amniocentesis, and had the autopsy results a couple weeks later: nothing. Everything was normal.
It's been seven months and although it gets easier talking about her to coworkers and I don't obsessively think about her night and day, it's been this nagging hole inside my heart the entire time. I feel like I've lost a purpose in life, like I'm being punished for something I did. I question God constantly, about why he would take my Precious One. The one who'd been with me through the stress and hard times when Daddy was so far away. The one I talked to every night, my little buddy I took with me everywhere. My one source of happiness for nearly five months. I still don't feel I've gotten my answers. I wonder everyday if it was the stress of my job, if I should have been much more careful to not get pregnant during training. I blame myself for the most part. My husband has often told me he just felt completely helpless throughout the situation. In some ways this experience has brought him and I closer together, we've been each other's support. But not a moment goes by that he and I don't wish we could have died in her place, that we could have her back.
JackieDiane JackieDiane
22-25, F
1 Response Dec 5, 2012

First off ~ I would like to say how sorry I am to hear of the loss of your precious baby. It is surely the most devastating situation to have to endure and there are no words to ease the pain. The path becomes a little less rocky as time goes on but the valleys and peaks remind us of the long soulful journey we all must make. Although there are several causes for stillbirth to occur, my first Granddaughter was born still at 36.6 weeks due to torsion of the umbilical cord ~ not a true knot or nuchal cord but delivers the same devastation and heartache.

Please do not blame yourself. I think how you are feeling is very normal after enduring such a loss. If our own doctors, the experts, cannot predict a stillbirth - how are we to? When you think about it, at one time people had a heart attack and died. That was it - no intervention, it wasn't developed and no one knew the warning signs. Now if you have chest pain and go to the emergency room, the measures taken are incredible. The same is true with a mammogram. Every woman who goes for one knows what the findings may be - but it is better to know why we are going and the importance of the check and deal with the findings - than to be oblivious to the challenge.

All parents to be, as well as, medical personnel should be educated to the possibility and undeniable consequences of a stillbirth. With 26,000+ stillbirths a year in the USA, it is imperative women are given the facts by their doctors. Once knowledgeable, they can decide their course of action, seek ultrasounds and be proactive for their baby before it is too late.

My brother was killed by a drunk driver when he was 12 back in 1967. I don't think my father ever got over the loss. My mother was amazing. Of course she was filled with grief, but she gathered up the pieces and made our lives as children wonderful. She didn't skip a beat. She laughed, cheered her baseball team on the TV and life went on. I want it to be that way for me, for Danielle and Bob, for everyone who experiences the birth of a precious sleeping one. I don't want the grief to consume us. I want us to be able to smile when we hear the name, Roberta Rae.

Perhaps my sweet stillbirth mom, Kristina, said it best on Facebook, "You don't get over it, you just get through it. You don't get by it, because you can't get around it. It doesn't get better, it just gets different. Everyday...Grief puts on a new face."

I know there is a joy lying ahead for you ~ and ~ you will be able to grasp it. I wish it could be in your possession today ~ but sometimes "really wonderful" things take time.

In June of 2010 and May 2012, I became "Grammy" to Jacks, Roberta Rae's little brother, and Trent Oscar, Roberta Rae's baby cousin. Joy is returning into my life now as I continue nurturing Roberta Rae's legacy ~ and every baby born still ~ by empowering all expectant moms through education, proactivity and vigilance...xo