"A very interesting heart…"

by Kathy on June 24, 2008 · 15 comments

in Bob, CHD, Loss, Molly, Sean

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.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Fertilized June 24, 2008 at 9:16 pm

I am glad that you are surrounded by a great and supportive family that is helping you in all the ways that families should!

I know that report was not at all an easy read. I am sending you warm thoughts tonight


2 Silas Charles Kyne June 25, 2008 at 1:17 am

… An interesting heart that has touched so many other hearts. She is a precious little girl and absolutely beautiful. The water retention may have swollen her face, but you can see her perfect ceramic-doll skin and adorable button nose. And don’t even get me started about those kissable lips. She was here. She did matter. She does matter. Molly has touched people (including me) in ways so too deep to fathom. She is a perfect little angel who flitted to earth for only a brief moment and is now living her days in blissful eternity. I can’t wait to meet her there some day. I’m praying for you and your family for strength and comfort through the grief and rejoicing that you were honored with her presence, even though the pain of losing her is almost incomprehensible. I am encouraged in my own life as you share about your struggles and triumphs. Thank you for sharing your precious daughter and allowing us a glimpse of your life.



3 Kymberli June 25, 2008 at 8:00 am

Whenever I have read of babyloss mamas reading through autopsy reports, I have always thought of it of course as being incredibly heartwrenching, but never before have I thought of it as also bringing a certain level of comfort from the point of view of learning everything possible there was to know a beloved child who lived for too short a time. Thank you for once again giving me a different viewpoint to consider and appreciate. As always, I’m thinking of you…


4 familyoftwo98 June 25, 2008 at 1:23 pm

My heart is heavy for you and your loss. I hope that you are able to find some solace soon.

Your daughter was beautiful.


5 Tash June 25, 2008 at 2:53 pm

Maddy to me was defined by her problems, and her autopsy report to me was also strangely comforting (as long as I didn’t dwell too long on the overall picture of what was going on). I just wanted to know about HER. It was another piece of paper in the mail that validated, yes, I carried a baby and she was alive and here. Although Maddy’s problems were also rare and profound and have apparently been discussed at conferences, they have yet to figure out their cause. What broke me down was not that her nervous system was liquified, but that her “hair was in a clockwise swirl” and her exterior features were “unremarkable.” I always read between the lines there and think, “beautiful.” Molly was too. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss.


6 T-Mommy June 25, 2008 at 5:53 pm

Molly had an interesting heart because she had the most interesting and loving family. She was special because of the love and care she felt from you since the first moment.

Please, consider yourself part of that incredible little angel!

A big big hug for you!


7 Martha June 25, 2008 at 7:43 pm

“There is no end of things in the heart.” Sending you my sincere wishes for love and peace for your family. Your daughter is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.


8 Cibele June 25, 2008 at 10:29 pm

No mother should have to read theit baby’s authopsy report. I am glad it brought some confort and closure for you. She is a precious angel with a very interesting heart


9 Jen June 27, 2008 at 9:57 am

You continue to be in my thoughts. I think of you and your family and hope you are able to find some peace in reading Molly’s report and rest while sean is away. I don’t claim to know what you are going through, but my very dear friend experienced a similiar loss last year. I know it helped her to surround herself with family and friends.


10 Anonymous June 27, 2008 at 11:27 am

My one year old son is seen by a doctor at The Heart Institute in Oak Lawn. I was just there with him on Tuesday. I thought of you when we went on our visit. I wanted you to know that I don’t know you or your family but you are in my thoughts. Molly is beautiful and touches the lives of those who she never knew.


11 Katie June 28, 2008 at 12:05 am

Kathy, I am crying with you right now. I am glad that you found some comfort from Molly girl’s autopsy, although it must have been difficult to read as well.

I would say that Molly’s heart was not only interesting, but so precious and such a gift to all of us. Thank you again for sharing the miracle of her with us.


12 Carole June 30, 2008 at 3:04 pm

That is such a sweet picture of Molly. I can’t even imagine how hard it was to read that report.

I know that Molly heard you and felt you and knew how much she was loved through all of her time with you. I know she still feels it.

Thinking of you…


13 Portia P July 1, 2008 at 12:38 pm

G-d bless you.

Molly’s interesting heart has touched my heart. She was a cute little thing – thank you so much for sharing the photograph.

I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through this and i’m thinking of you.


14 Devon Rene July 14, 2008 at 6:33 pm

My heart breaks with you…My due date was June 29th and our sweet boys went to heaven on March 7th and 8th.

Thank you for sharing your heart.


15 Em April 24, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Oh, I get this. I SO get what you mean when you talk about wanting to know every little detail. When I miscarried at 19 weeks, we eventually found out that our son had Down syndrome. I was strangely thrilled to hear this because it gave me some details about him. I could picture his face a little better. I felt like I knew him a little more.

I’m so sorry for the loss of your sweet baby Molly. So, so sorry. I hope and pray that healing continues to come to you in big and small pieces throughout your life. Blessings on your family.
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