We all have a story to tell. Our stories usually tell of our experiences. Some stories of experience help change the way we handle ourselves, or approach difficult situations in the future, and some stories of experience are happy and some are sad. Some stories of experience rock the core of our very being. The story that we are about to tell you has done all of that, and more.
So, where do we begin? It was a normal pregnancy, through the very hot summer months of 1999. We knew that we were having a little girl in June, 1999. We were so happy. I never realized how much I wanted a daughter. I always said, just give me a healthy baby because at my age, I cannot push my luck. Dan, he was happy that we were having another child and that she was healthy. But, when I found out that I was having a little girl, I began to plan. I thought about what she looked like, what kind of clothes I would have her in, what her bedroom would look like, and of course, was she going to have the same temperament as me!!! I figured her to be a little girl with a feisty temperament. She was constantly moving. In fact, I felt her moving at 11 weeks. She did not stop moving until that fateful day, when our lives turned upside, forever.
I saw the doctor for my weekly routine visit on September 30, 1999. All was fine. I was 36.5 weeks pregnant but felt about 45 weeks pregnant. I wanted to deliver that day. We were all prepared at home. The house had been cleaned top to bottom. Olivia?s room was in order. Her clothes were washed and ironed and hanging in the closet. Dan and myself were ready.
I woke up at 7:10 AM on Saturday, October 2, 1999. I did not feel her moving. I lay in bed for 5 minutes. Frankie woke up, and as Dan and I were waiting for his protests to get a little stronger, I told Dan, ?I don?t feel her moving.? I lay there a little while longer and still did not feel her move. I had to get my haircut that day. So assuming Olivia was getting too big to move as freely, but still concerned, I got up and cleaned myself up. Throughout the next three hours, I concentrated on her movements. I did not feel them!! I went home after my haircut, choosing not to run errands. I ate a bowl of cereal with sugar on it, thinking that it would increase her movements. I lay down to count the kicks. After 15 minutes, I felt no movements, so I called the doctor. He asked me to come in to be checked. His demeanor was such that I thought perhaps I was over reacting but it was better to be safe than sorry. We had lunch and brought Frankie with us to the hospital.
I walked in to the Labor and Delivery unit feeling stupid. The nurses knew to expect me. One nurse placed me in a small room and promptly placed me on the external fetal monitor. Quickly finding Olivia?s heartbeat, at 120 beats a minute, my immediate response was, ?okay, I can go home now.? The nurses? response was, ?not so fast.? Dr. Mallinger came in and reviewed the non-stress test monitor. He told me that her heart rate was non-reactive. I had no idea what that meant. All I knew is that she had a heartbeat. That is what mattered to me, but obviously not him. They explained that her heart rate was not fluctuating up and down as she moves. So, a sonogram was done. Sound waves were bounced through my belly, and Olivia did not move in response to the sound waves. I was still clueless, like nothing was wrong!! The plan from this point was to put me in a more comfortable bed and watch Olivia more closely. If she did not move in the next 20 minutes, I was to have a stress test with a Pitocin drip and possibly deliver her that day. I got up from the table and followed the nurse. While doing so, the external monitor slipped out of place. I got back in to bed, and the nurse placed the probe on my belly. At first at I thought that she could not find Olivia?s heart rate. I was getting ?pissy? because I thought that she did not know what she was doing. She called in another nurse who found a heart rate, at 80 beats a minute. At first they thought that it was mine. A sonographer brought in his sonogram machine and placed it on my abdomen. Olivia?s heart was only beating 80 beats a minute!!!!! All of a sudden, cords were ripped off of my belly; the bed cord was ripped out of the wall and down the hall I flew in the bed with nurses and doctors at my side. I always said if one more person was at my side, I would have been airborne. I went down the hall screaming out Dan?s name. He had left to call my parents to come down to the hospital. We needed them!!! Oh yes, Frankie was with us the whole time!!!
It was at this point that I felt as though I was having an out of body experience. I was placed on the operating table where several people approached me. I heard, ?Susan, I am going to start an IV, Susan, I am going to put a catheter in your bladder, Susan, I am going to put a blood pressure cuff on this arm, Susan, I am going to put an oxygen mask on you.? Then I felt a wet solution on my belly, and at the same time, I heard, ?Susan, you are going to feel a cold solution on your belly.? Through all of this, my obstetrician, Dr. Mallinger said, ?Susan, your baby needs to come out now.? They let Dan in because I kept screaming his name. When he did come in, I couldn?t talk. I just wanted to see him, to know that he was there, and all I managed to eek out, was ?call my parents.? I was scared to death. The last thing I remember was hearing the anesthetist, ?Susan, you are going to go to sleep now. Take a deep breath in.? As I lay on the table falling asleep, I kept saying over and over, ?GOD, please let me baby be okay, please let my baby be okay.? Olivia was born at 2:09 PM.
I awoke two hours later to the sound of the neonatologist talking in my left ear and Dan on my right. I opened my eyes and immediately heard, ?it is not a good situation.? I heard the words, ?anemic,? ?very low blood pH,? ?we need to make a decision.? I immediately cried out. I wanted to see her. They wheeled me on the stretcher to the Intensive Care Nursery, where I saw Olivia for the very first time. There were monitors, lines and tubes everywhere. She was on a ventilator and a nurse was beside her pushing blood from a large syringe in to her umbilical IV line. Through all of this, I saw the most beautiful little baby girl I had ever seen. I saw her black, curly hair, her long delicate fingers and hands and long skinny feet. She had olive-colored skin and her eyes were slightly opened. I kept thinking, ?they have made a mistake, this is not my baby. My baby is okay.? The neonatologist explained in detail what happened, what her lab tests were like and what was the expected outcome. ?This is not a good situation,? she kept saying over and over. She was gently telling me that Olivia was not going to survive and that her medical condition was going to become worse. She then suggested that if we pull the tubes and the IVs, they would dress Olivia and bring her to us and then take pictures. We could hold her for as long as we wanted. Dan and I agreed to stop all heroic measures. But before we discontinued everything, I wanted her baptized. Olivia?s nurse knew that we were Catholic. She attempted to find a Catholic priest on call in the hospital or one that was available from the church across the street. No priest was available, and the hospital chaplain was one hour away. A respiratory therapist working in the ICN knew of a Catholic priest recovering from open-heart surgery in the hospital. He was medically stable and was getting ready to go home soon. The therapist went down to his room and brought him up. Olivia was baptized, and it was then that she was named Olivia Anne Bevevino, after her maternal great-grandmother.
Olivia was dressed and brought to me. Ironically, I brought an outfit from home for her, just in case. They brought her to me wrapped in a quilt donated by the hospital staff. She was still alive when I first held her. She opened her eyes as I spoke to her, then she closed them. I gazed down at her beautiful face. She looked like Dan. I marveled at every feature. Held her little tiny hand, and admired perfectly formed nail beds. Her hands were so feminine!! She took a few breaths and then stopped. She quietly slipped away at 5:58 PM in my arms.
The next two days were a blur. I kept thinking that this was a dream and I was going to wake up. I could not believe that it was happening. Did this really happen? There I sat in my hospital bed wondering what happened, why did it happen, and where do I go from here? Where is she? Is she really with GOD? Is she watching us? Can she come back to us one more time? Did she know that I loved her with all of my being? What did I do to her?
You see, when Olivia died, a part of us died with her. Here we are three years later, and two children more, and we still struggle with her death, our loss. The depth of the pain is unbelievable. We still cannot believe that it has happened to us. There are good days and there are bad days. What else in the future will hurt us this deeply? We miss her so much. We would do anything to hold her, and see that sweet little face again. Life is so, so precious.