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The Stillbirth Story of Baby Kendall

The Stillbirth Story of Baby Kendall

I have finally written my birth story… Although it has been 30 years, it is the very first time I have done this. It was really a good experience. This happened so many years ago that I have forgotten and healed from many of the painful emotions I had. This made it much more difficult to recall them and describe on paper. This, however, is a testament to how tragedies can happen in our lives and with God’s healing power we can move forward, remembering the good memories and not letting our lives be devastated or held back by painful ones. Even when reliving these events, there were no tears or pain and I realize just how transformed I am from that young girl, 30 years ago, having her first baby. Now I cry and feel pain for other moms who lose their babies. It has changed from hurt for me to compassion for others…..such a gift! – Linda Walker

It was my first pregnancy, and after 8 years of marriage, my husband and I were quite ready for this. A new phase in our lives was upon us and we could not have been happier! My pregnancy was great… a little morning sickness that lasted most of the day for the first 3 months, but then sweet relief arrived with my second trimester.  I remember feeling my baby first move in my 17thweek.  It was so surreal and simultaneously made the pregnancy very real to me. My pregnancy progressed with no issues (other than me gaining more weight than I should have).  It was a glorious time of pure joy and excitement filled with hours of daydreaming about what this baby would bring into our lives. We had all the hopes and anticipation of a life spent with this precious child.

It was a Tuesday, during my 38th week, at my weekly appointment with my doctor… All was going very well; I was already 3cm dilated and he even predicted from the heart rate that I was having a baby girl (I did not know the gender and had always wanted a girl) and that the baby could come at any time. This was my dream!

Wednesday evening I was talking on the phone to a girlfriend when the baby moved so extremely that I thought it was turning breech or something similar in my belly. It was a very intense almost violent movement. I commented on it to my husband because it was so severe, but it stopped after several seconds so I did not think anything more about it.

Thursday was a busy day. We were having new friends over for Friday dinner so I was busy cleaning, shopping and preparing food for that.  By 5pm I was very tired and sat down to finally get off my feet and rest some. It was then that I realized that I could not remember the last time I had felt the baby move. That evening my husband and I were to attend our final birth class at the hospital, so we decided to talk to a nurse about the lack of movement after class.  Of course I had heard many stories about how babies get less active just before delivery, so was somewhat assured that this was likely the case with my quiet baby.

We finished the class and at the end called a nurse over to tell her about the lack of movement recently. She gently tried to move and probe the baby around with her hands on my belly to get a response. When none came, she suggested we go for an ultrasound since we were at the hospital anyway. The nurse came in the room where I was laying on the bed and started to do the ultrasound. She was getting more and more irritated and finally said “this stupid machine is not working properly” then left to get someone to help her. She returned with a doctor and he proceeded with the ultrasound again in search of the heartbeat. He continued for about 1 minute then suddenly turned the machine off and said, I’m sorry, the baby is not alive anymore; there is no heartbeat.”

My heart broke and I was in disbelief… How could this be?!? I was just at the doctor’s and everything was fine.  

So many emotions engulfed my husband and me at that moment!  How, what, why, when???  It just didn’t seem possible.

My next reaction was, please just give me a C-Section immediately and remove the baby.  I could not even think of having my baby dead in my body. It was an honest reaction but that’s what I felt.  The doctor said to go home until I went into labor… WHAT! What???? I can’t leave this hospital knowing that my baby has died (and I still look and feel pregnant.) I was desperate to just take the baby out by C-Section so I did not have to cope with the delivery and labor. They did not want to do a C-Section on me because of future births I may have and the complications associated with that.

They decided to keep me in the hospital that night and induce labor the next day, Friday.  The next few days are still a bit of a blur.  They put me on drugs to induce labor. I was hooked up to them all of Friday and by Saturday I was in full-blown labor. My doctor was out of town so another doctor that I did not know had to deliver my baby. My doctor later told me he was so shocked when he heard what happened and wished he had been able to be there for me.

Kendall Angela Walker was stillborn on Saturday, March 17, 1984 at 9:30pm. She weighed 5 pounds. Her weight was less than it would have been, because she had lost most of her blood as a result of the maternal/fetal hemorrhage she had sustained. She bled to death through a small hole in my placenta. I had never heard of this happening before and could not grasp the fact that she was perfect in every way, and yet had died inside my body. Isn’t that supposed to be the safest place in the world for a growing baby? It went against all common sense for me!

In the aftermath, the doctors and nurses continued to ask me if I had any bleeding before this happened.  (Which I hadn’t.)  This would have been a significant warning sign and it could have saved Kendall’s life.

She was beautiful!  So small and perfect!!  Except that she was gone… and now I was a Mom without a child… with all the same maternal hormones surging though me.  My arms physically ached to hold my living baby!

Before delivering Kendall, I was given Demerol for pain. It was good in that it helped with the pain, but it also numbed all my emotions and I was in a dreamlike state after the birth. In that moment I was not emotionally present enough to want to hold my baby after she was born. It didn’t seem like something I had to do. They brought her to me and I looked at her sweet little face, but I did not hold her. This has been one of the biggest regrets in my life.  They had sent social workers and grief counselors to talk to me earlier that day, but no one told me…”Hold your baby when she is born or you might have real regrets”.  I was just too scared to hold her knowing she was not alive; but with some encouragement I know I would have.

The next day, my family had arranged a memorial service in the hospital chapel.  Kendall was only 38 weeks old when she died and we needed to celebrate her short life and mourn the fact that we had lost her.

The months following Kendall’s birth were very dark and sad. Friends and family tried to be there for me, but I was lost in my own world of grief. I prayed to God for peace and another baby. I felt like I was in a state of oblivion…nothing seemed real.  I had many tears and questions about why I had to lose my precious baby girl.

In September of that same year, I was still struggling with my grief and I cried out to God yet again! I asked Him to take all my heartbreak and grief and give me peace in exchange. God answered my prayer that time and I experienced a warm soft presence deep in my soul. I was finally at peace with my situation. I was still sad and mourning Kendall’s death, but now I could cope and begin to move forward. It was a great God moment! 

The next month I got pregnant again! We were once again excited but this time extremely apprehensive about the pregnancy. This time, unlike my first pregnancy with Kendall, I had issues with my pregnancy. I had to have a cervical stitch at 22 weeks because I started to dilate. I developed gestational diabetes and had to go on a diabetic program and diet. Most women are anxious until after the first trimester of their pregnancies when the risk of miscarriage reduces, but with me I was scared my entire pregnancy until I knew my baby was born safe and in my arms.

Sixteen months after losing Kendall, by beautiful baby boy was born healthy and strong. The pain of losing Kendall still remained but as with pain and suffering, time heals with God’s help. Every year on her birthday I seriously reflect on who she might have been. What would she look like? What would her career be? Would she be married or have children of her own? What would it be like to have her in my life? 

Fast track 30 years later… my husband and I have 3 amazing sons! They are all grown up now and I love them dearly!! They have brought so much joy to us and we are so grateful. I will always miss not having Kendall in my life on earth, but I am so profoundly grateful for the joy she brought me when she was with me. I loved her, dreamed about life with her and it was an amazingly beautiful time in my life being pregnant with her. It has always given me great comfort knowing that Kendall is in a better place. Just think of it, the first face she ever saw was God’s! She never had to endure sickness, pain, suffering or sorrows. Above all, I take great comfort knowing I will be reunited with her again one day in heaven.

Linda & her husband
Their 3 sons

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Snap Mom Recommended Read:

I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy

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