Birth Diaries: ‘My Husband Died When I Was 6 Months Pregnant’

(Photo: HuffPost UK)

In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Ashley Buggee shares her story. If you’d like to share yours, email amy.packham@huffpost.com.

Brian and I found out we were expecting our third baby on Christmas Day 2017. We’d been trying to conceive a child for nearly a year, but had suffered two devastating miscarriages. On Christmas morning though, it felt different. After opening presents with the kids I went upstairs and took a test just to see.

It came back positive. Brian came upstairs shortly after and I told him I had one more present for him; I grabbed the positive test and showed it to him. We hugged, holding each other, daydreaming about our baby.  

I was six months pregnant when my husband passed away in a scuba diving accident. He was an officer in the US navy and we were living our dream life in Hawaii, 3,000 miles away from our friends and family.

We had a one- and three-year-old at home, and here we were, pregnant with our rainbow baby, when he died. Giving birth to her was the hardest and most rewarding experience of my entire life.

HuckleberryCloudPhotography (Photo: HuffPost UK)

Fast forward to June 2018. After Brian passed away, I’d made the decision to move off the island to live with his sister and her family. But within a week of arriving in Idaho, my body started to shut down. I wasn’t feeling well. The grief had caused me to lose my appetite, I couldn’t fall asleep without medication and even then my Fitbit was registering three hours max sleep a night.

I knew I had to get our daughter to at least 35 weeks to give her a fighting chance at avoiding NICU, but I could feel I wouldn’t be able to maintain the pregnancy for much longer.

At 34 weeks, I went into the hospital one evening for a test, thinking I’d be sent home to continue bed rest, but they found protein in my urine signifying my kidneys weren’t functioning properly. When they saw my high blood pressure, they told me I wouldn’t be going home until I had this baby.

I was terrified, but relieved. I knew my body couldn’t carry her any longer, and I was emotionally drained. After Brian’s death, my pregnancy was the last little thing I had feeling connected to him, like he might still come back to me. I wasn’t ready to start the next chapter of life raising this newborn baby who’d never meet her dad, along with her brother and sister – but I also couldn’t handle being pregnant with this baby anymore. It was such a mix of emotions.

Brian’s sister, Nikki, stayed with me, and we were moved into a room down the hall. I was hooked up on monitors and settled in for the evening, still not sure what the plan was. They gave me medicine to bring my blood pressure down and let me know it was going to be a waiting game.

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It worsened throughout the day. I started to get nauseous and a few hours later, my blood pressure was back up, despite the medication. The doctor was back in our room within three minutes and said this was it – they were going to induce me. They wheeled my big belly and me into another room and I was given magnesium, as well as Pitocin to start the induction. I slept on and off through the night while Nikki rested (and snored) next to me. By early morning, my contractions were pretty steady and I was dilated 2cm.

The hospital offered complimentary acupuncture during labour, so I thought ‘what the heck’, but quickly regretted this decision as I sat through an hour of them sticking needles into my hands and feet and felt no different at the end of it. It did give Nikki and I a good laugh, though, so it was worth it for that alone. Having her there for me throughout is something I will forever cherish.

I was dilated 4cm after that and ready for my epidural – which was a debacle, as they missed a few times and I nearly passed out. However, my doctor and nurse staff knew my circumstances and went out of their way to make me as comfortable as could be, ending up calling a co-worker who moved down my spine a couple of vertebrae and got it on his first try.

Still, emotionally I was distraught. Even with the epidural in place, I had restless leg syndrome – a painful nuisance I couldn’t stop. And then I became nauseous again and couldn’t stop shaking. My sister-in-law held a green bag to my face and pushed the hair from my eyes as I was sick again and again.

It wasn’t long later, perhaps 20 minutes, that I said to the nurse, “the baby is coming, not right this minute, but I can feel her moving down and she’s coming”. Sure enough I was 10cm dilated. Adeline was ready to be born.

HuckleberryCloudPhotography (Photo: HuffPost UK)

I held a photo of Brian in my hand, concentrating on his image and the love we had shared together as I was about to bring his daughter into the world.

Through excruciating tears I looked up at one point to see every single person in the room (my doctor, two nurses and Nikki) all in tears with me as they helped me through the delivery. I only pushed for maybe three or four minutes. Two big pushes and a half push and I was able to reach down and grab my daughter by her shoulders, pulling her the rest of the way out and up onto my chest. I held the scissors in my hand, then, and cut her umbilical cord as we both wept. 

Physically, it was the easiest labour and delivery I’ve been through, but it’s nearly impossible to separate the physical experience from the emotional experience of giving birth to Adeline – so connected in every way, but such different experiences. The birth was a special moment we were all a part of, welcoming this baby who had helped save me in more ways than one over the months prior – and who would now be the newest member of my family. 

Adeline Makai Bugge was born five weeks early on 31 July 2018. She weighed 6 pounds 15 ounces, perfectly healthy. My miracle. 

My birth advice?

Enjoy and savour the experience as much as possible. These are once in a lifetime moments you’ll look back in forever, so focus on yourself and your baby.

Follow Ashley’s journey on Facebook, Instagram, or on her blog

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HuckleberryCloudPhotography (Photo: HuffPost UK)

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.