This afternoon I got a call from one of the nurses at our OB’s office that “our little angel’s” (as she referred to Molly) autopsy report had arrived at their office. She said that our OB wanted to know if we would like for them to fax or send us a copy. I said yes and so she proceeded to fax it to Bob at work and he in turn emailed it to me. I was anxious to read it and quickly printed it out, so I could sit comfortably and digest it. There are a lot of medical terms in it that I don’t completely understand and will have to look up at some point. However, overall I found it helpful to read.
A quick note: this photograph was taken of Molly a few minutes after she was born. Over the past two months it has become one of my favorites, as I really like knowing that she was still alive in the picture.
One of the sentences that struck me was the last sentence in the first section of the report, that detailed the condition and state of Molly’s heart. The pathologist wrote: “This is a very interesting heart and should be studied in a research fashion.” For some reason that sentence made me both extremely sad and strangely proud of my daughter. Molly will never receive, and thus we will never see, a report card from school for her and so reading in this report that her heart was “very interesting” touched me. Of course more than anything I wish that Molly’s heart had not been so interesting and rather had developed and functioned as it was supposed to. In that case I would be holding our baby girl in my arms right now, instead of just in my heart and my memory.
Most of the other details in Molly’s autopsy were observations that we mostly expected, especially in regards to her how her heart and spleen had formed abnormally and then had begun to fail towards the end of her life (including her heart being enlarged and a large amount of fluid having accumulated in her abdomen and massive facial edema). Her stomach, along with her heart, was on the right side of her body (instead of her left where they should have been). Her intestines were also malrotated, which is common with dextrocardia. She also had a true knot in her umbilical cord, which from what we understand makes it all the more incredible that Molly made it to and through her birth alive.
Some of the highlights, if there can be such a thing in an autopsy report, for me were reading about the parts of Molly’s sweet little body that were “normal” and had actually formed correctly including her thymus, esophagus, pancreas, kidneys, adrenal glands and genital system. I was also pleased to read that her brain showed “no diagnostic abnormalities.” I find some comfort in believing that since her brain was okay that hopefully she was able to process (through her senses), as much as any fetus/pre-term infant could, the time she spent with us inside of me and then in Bob’s arms until she died.
There was also a section of Molly’s autopsy report called “clinical history” that I appreciated reading. It gave the most detail, that I am aware of to date, about the initial moments after Molly was delivered:
At delivery the infant was noted to have massive facial edema, ascites and heart rate was measured in the 40s with rare breaths noted. The infant measured 39.4 cm. in length, 30 cm. head circumference, 34 cm. abdominal circumference and 32.5 cm. chest circumference and weighed 2085 grams. APGAR scores were 2 at one minute and 1 at five minutes. The infant was held by the parents and no pulse was palpated in the umbilical cord 13 minutes after delivery. No heartbeat was auscultated and no respiratory effort made and the infant expired at 13:11.
I bawled the whole time I was reading Molly’s autopsy report. I really wanted to know everything I could about her sweet little body and why she died, but I also found it heart wrenching to think about how sick our baby girl was and so sad to realize all the things that weren’t right with her organs and development. I feel like I have been doing really well lately in my healing and grieving. However, receiving the autopsy report today definitely has taken a lot out of me.
With Molly’s original estimated due date of June 28 approaching this Saturday, I am certainly feeling sadness for what might have been. If Molly had been healthier and survived to full term, I would have already delivered her via a scheduled repeat c-section, probably sometime last week, if not earlier. I do continue to be grateful though for what was and what is, in terms of the time we had with our daughter and baby sister and our belief that she is healed and at peace now watching over us from Heaven.
This week Sean is in Michigan at Bob’s parents’ summer home spending time with his cousins and paternal grandparents. Though I miss Sean a lot, I so appreciate having some time to myself and with Bob, especially to catch up around the house on cleaning and organizing. I know that he is having a wonderful time and I am grateful to my mother-in-law for offering this opportunity for Sean to be with her, my father-in-law and his beloved cousins and for me to have a sort of “break.” I know that Sean is having an awesome time there. This afternoon when I received Molly’s autopsy report, not having Sean here, was also probably a good thing, as it allowed me to grieve as I needed to while I read it.
As in the past, sharing with all of you, through this writing has been therapeutic for me and as they say at my perinatal support group meetings, “every time you share your story and experience with the child you lost, it helps you to know and remember that she was real, as well as to heal.” So thank you for continuing to walk this journey with Bob, Sean and me and for helping us to honor Molly’s memory and know that our daughter was real and was here for a short but very precious time on earth before she went to Heaven.
Take care and may God continue to bless you and your loved ones.