My Tiny Princess Calypso

At 9 weeks I started bleeding and they swore up and down I was losing the baby….. I didn’t. We breezed through the next few weeks easily until 18 weeks. I had been spotting. Went in for an ultrasound. Calypso’s amniotic fluid was at 1.5 (4.5 is critical) the u/s lady kept asking me if I had been leaking. I told her no, no I hadn’t. They scheduled me for a recheck in 2 weeks saying she probably just needed to pee.

At 20 weeks I saw them again. The ultrasound technician was very very quiet and told me that the baby still had no fluid and that my placenta looked ‘funny’ like it had ‘pits’ in it. She went to get my Dr. He came in looking teary eyed and told me I was at very very high risk for interuterine fetal demise and having a stillborn baby. They referred me to a high risk Dr. 50 minutes away in Indianapolis who I saw the following Monday.

I saw the High Risk Dr. at 21 weeks 2 days. He told me the baby looked ok and we were in a wait and see stage and I’d have every 2 week ultrasound. I never made it to my next appointment. On May 2nd at 23 weeks 5 days I woke up with blood soaking through my pants into my bed and freaked out. I called 911 and they took me away to our local hospital. They found Calypso’s heartbeat and transferred me up to IU Hospital in Indianapolis via ambulance.

There they diagnosed me as a placental abruption case. We had to sign papers telling them that if Calypso was born super early we wanted aggressive treatments to save her. I spent 6 weeks in the hospital bleeding off and on. When I hit 29 weeks I was so excited, if I had my baby she would live! I was so freaking happy. The nurses even let me put up a little sign on my door that said 29 weeks.

On June 14th at 1:30 am, I was 6 cm and they gave me an epidural. At 3 am I called my friend. At 3:15 I was feeling weird and the Dr’s. came in to check me. I told her I’d call her back. Calypso was born 5 minutes later in one push. She came out sunny side up and had her eyes open (I wish so badly I had seen her eyes, I never got to see them) she even tried to cry and sounded like a baby lamb. I wish I’d had my husband record her birth too. She was 3 lbs 1.9 oz and 13 inches long. They whisked her away to try and get her stable.

I got up about an hour later to go pee and started hemorrhaging. The Dr. started my IV with pitocin (I got 2 bags) and they put cyotec up my bum and he MANUALLY yanked clots out of my uterus while shoving on my stomach. Finally they got everything under control.

At 5:30 am they had Calypso stable enough to transfer her so Riley and I got to meet her briefly before they whisked her away to Riley which was attached to IU through a tunnel that goes under the road.

Calypso was doing good, she had some small problems but was doing great. Her kidneys didn’t function 100% but the doctors thought that might work itself out. So they monitored her intake and outtake. They weaned her off the the Oscillatory Ventilator and onto a regular vent. They started her on breast milk via a tube up her nose. One time we were in the NICU and the nurses asked if we wanted to watch them flip her over. OMG!! That is the creepiest thing EVER!! It took two nurses and they just flopped her over like a potato!! And she did not like that at all!! She cracked open an eye and GLOWERED at those ladies. She was all WTF you guys!! We couldn’t go up to the NICU often. I had a 3 year old and a 17 month old at home and no babysitter so we went every other day after DH got off work, this is something that people have called me heartless and a bitch for since she died. I should have been there NO MATTER WHAT! What was I supposed to do? Leave my young children at home alone?!?! I was able to spend one night at the hospital with her and I loved it.

It shocks me sometimes at how much influence that tiny little princess had on my life. I would have sold my soul to Satan himself for her. I loved to touch her little feet and hands. She was amazing and she had so much dark black hair! They wouldn’t let me hold her. I wish I had pushed for that and made them let me. They kept telling me ‘when she’s better’

Then it happened, the unthinkable and most dreaded word that any preemie parent will ever hear NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis) it’s a severe intestinal infection in preemies. It kills off the lining of the small intestines which causes it to become nothing but dead tissue. It causes all kinds of problems, including renal failure. I was still so freaking hopeful! Everyone kept promising me she’d come home. I admit the whole time she was there I kept thinking maybe maybe she’ll get to come home with me, but I wasn’t 100% for sure and hoping on it.

Here’s 2 of my journal entries leading up to her death.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 04, 2007 02:12 AM, CDT
A letter to God I wrote today

Dear God,
I know everything you do is for a purpose. And I KNOW it in my head but I can’t for the life of me understand in my heart WHY my baby girl has to go through this stuff. She’s so small but has already had stuff done to her that most adults haven’t had done to them.

I realize that I may not be able to see her grow to adult hood but I beg you with EVERYTHING in me to let her come home. Even if it’s just for a while. I want her to come home and be with her sisters and with me.

I want to hold her and rock her and actually be able to kiss her head. I want to sing to her and know she hears me. I want to see her eyes. I haven’t even been able to do that. I want to be able to put her in clothes that WE bought her. And take her on a car ride and a walk through the park.

I want her to go to MOPS with me and the girls and smile at me. I want her to sleep in her own crib and use the diapers we have for her.

Please Lord I don’t care if she’s on oxygen or a vent or has been trached. I don’t care if she’s on a feeding tube or what. I just want her home. I want to hold her in my arms and tell her how much I love her. Please God you’ve done things so much more complicated then this surely it’s not an unreasonable request?

In Jesus Name
Amen

and then on the day before she went to heaven I wrote this one:

FRIDAY, JULY 06, 2007 06:11 PM, CDT
Whoever says compassion and is dead and humanity is selfish needs to step back and re-evaluate their lives. The amount of support we’ve have for our baby girl is so staggering it brings tears to my eyes.

The fact that these people online who’ve never met me or my daughter are supporting her and praying for her without ceasing. My family members and friends who’ve never met her. It makes my heart swell with gratitude and love to know so many people are so involved with my angels life story.

We sat down and met with a team of Dr.’s today. They told us her kidneys still aren’t working BUT that her NEC is almost GONE!!!! They injected die into her stomach and watched it move through her body!!! Now we are simply waiting to see if her Kidney’s kick in. Dr Engles said that he’s seen babies in Kidney Failure up to 4 weeks and then BOOM one day they start peeing and don’t stop again. He also said the fact that she had a few days of pee and then nothing also could mean that they are Starting to function because sometimes they do that start and stop.

Baby girl is still in Critical Condition of course, but there is hope. He said if she starts acting like things are getting to hard on her they can try a medicine or try dialysis. This could be risky since her stomach and intestines ARE still healing BUT if she starts going down hill we’ll do anything possible to help her.

Right now, they are monitoring her fluid, electrolytes, and all that stuff. As well as her blood pressure and blood gasses. All those at the moment are stable.

Over all we’re playing the waiting game. Wait and see if she can do this or wait till God takes her home to be with him.

So Kind of the same news we already had with the one exception about the NEC being gone.

I know the news will spread quickly and wanted to remind you all of this. Humanity and Compassion are NEVER NEVER gone. Sometimes there is just so much junk to wade through that the compassion and caring gets over looked. Please take a moment out of your day to smile at someone and give them a bit of hope in the world. And Thank you All for giving us and our earthly angel this hope that the world hasn’t gone to hell in a hand basket.

The morning of the 7th the Nicu called me at noon and told me she was hurting bad and fighting the vents and her bp and oxygen levels weren’t doing well. and we needed to get up there ASAP. I started bawling, I knew what was happening. The day before we’d gone to see Calypso and then I’d had a doctors appointment and then Raeden did too and I was tired and DH went up to say Goodbye to Calypso and I didn’t. On the way home, I freaked out and told him if something happened I would hate myself for not telling her bye. Oh God I never told her bye and the next day she died.

We were 10 minutes out of Indianapolis nearing Riley when the NICU doctor called again, you could tell from his voice things were bad. He said to get the whole family up there. My husband hadn’t come up to the hospital with us. He had wanted to come later in the day. He kept telling me she’d be fine and they were over reacting. So I called him and told him to get up there NOW. I then called my mom and in hindsight I wish I hadn’t invited so many people up there.

At the hospital, I practically ran to the NICU and there was THE sign, that horrible horrible sign ‘The NICU is Temporarily Closed’ For any NICU mom they KNEW what this meant. A baby was passing or had passed away. I knew it was my baby. My sweet little girl. I went in to see my princess as we waited for my husband to get up there. I sang to her OUR lullaby. JUST ours Hine, E Hine.

My husband got there and we talked to the doctors — they told us her oxygen SATS had been below 60 for too long. There was too much fluid on her lungs and while they could TRY another procedure there was almost no chance of it working. So, we made the decision and we took her off the vent andnd I was a wreck. They didn’t even ask me NOW if I wanted to hold her, I had to beg them first. They did let my girls into the NICU though so that was wonderful.

Here’s my journal entry from that day

SATURDAY, JULY 07, 2007 06:18 PM, CDT
Calypso Paikea Rhyder got her angel wings today 7/7/07.
People say 777 is heaven’s number and today I truly believe that.

As we were on our way to the NICU this morning about 10 minutes outside of Indy the dr called and told us that her oxygen sats had been under 60 for 4 hours and we needed to hurry because we were loosing her.

When we got there I called my parents and we went in to see her and talked to the doctors. I could tell just by looking at her it was obvious she was already almost gone. The doctors said they could try another procedure that had little chance of working or take her off the vent. We chose to let her go. The hardest thing we’ve ever done in our life.

But doing the right thing is not always easy. As I held my angel today they baptized her and my girls got to come in and to see her. And my mom and my mil held her. Then we went to the other room and they were taking her off the vent and were going to bring her to us.

Oh Lord she fought! Even without the ventilator in my arms I could hear her gurgling and trying to breathe and I wanted to DIE. I was killing my baby and letting her die. My angel went to heaven in a room surrounded by my family and dh’s family. We don’t have an exact time of death because she died in our arms.

They dressed her in an outfit and wrapped her in a blanket and brought her back to us again to love on her. Before we left they gave us the clothes and the blanket she had been wearing as well as a lot of mementos. They did foot prints and hand prints and casts of her hands and feet which they will mail to us. We got a baptism certificate as well as a large teddy bear with a card that reads

‘I know that this little teddy bear could never heal your broken heart or replace your child but, it will give you something to hold on to.
These teddy bears were given in memory of children that were called back to Heaven far too soon.
This teddy bear was given in memory of Scottie Michael Mullenix with love from his family’

And it has a picture of an angel on it. We also got every blanket and hat and anything that Calypso had used in the NICU.
My soul is half missing and it will never be whole until the day I am reunited with my princess.

After they took her off the vent they brought her to me to die. The room was so full of people and was a small room. I had no where to lay her down, no where to just snuggle her. I wish I’d kicked everyone out, but I wasn’t thinking. I held her for an hour or so and none of the nurses came to help me clean her up. No one came to bring her clothes. She was in a diaper and blanket and there was blood. Oh God I never realized how traumatic this experience was to me until two years after her death and finding out how well some people had it. I’d not pumped since 9 am and it was now 3:30 pm and as my daughter lay in my arms gasping for air I had a let down. Oh fucking hell, that was agony, it was embarrassing and it HURT.

My mother-in-law went down to the gift shop and bought an outfit that was too big for my peanut. The hospital gave us a list of funeral homes to call and at that time the nurses go ‘Oh we have clothes but this works’ and they took her AWAY to clean her and bathe her! No one mentioned I could do it and dress her, no one offered. I didn’t know I was allowed.

They kept her away for 30 minutes. I got to spend another hour or so with her. All the family wanted to leave. I didn’t drive and I had no idea what to do. I couldn’t stay there and I had no where to lay her. The nurses kept popping in and I was so uncomfortable. We had to call the funeral home and arrange them to come pick up our baby. Ext so we gave her to the nurses who said they’d take photos for us and send them to us. Which they never did, no photos.

Her story is mostly over now. We had her cremated and had a memorial ceremony on July 13, 2007. The day to make her arrangements came and I had to go to the funeral home alone, so my mom came with me. The funeral home lady was amazing she told me how beautiful Calypso was and my mom kept asking if I was sure I wanted her cremated and at the time I was. The funeral home lady asked me if I wanted to come down and see Calypso in the morgue and my mom pressured me to say no. Only recently did I realize that at that point she would have had no swelling, I would have been able to see her features with no tubes and no swelling and I said no. I’m a fucking IDIOT and I hate myself for it.

I regret not having a funeral funeral. On Calypso’s 2nd birthday in 2009, we had her ashes interred in an urn vault and buried in the cement foundation of her new headstone.

There are so many things I wish I’d done differently. There’s so many things I wish I’d known and that I wish I’d been told and offered. We have no full body photos of Calypso in clothes, none of that.

On April 15, 2011 the remaining amount of Calypso’s ashes were scattered to sea off of Waiheke Island in New Zealand by a friend.

I miss her.

— Issy

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