Sunday, December 5, 2010

Our Story

As many of you visiting this site may know, Dave and I lost our son Everett Eric Ralich on August 10, 2010. He was delivered still on August 11, 2010 at 6:12am weighing in at 8 lbs, 1 oz and 22 inches long. Upon delivery it was discovered that Everett had a double nuchal cord (umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice) and it also had two true knots tied into it. We were told that he must have been very active early on in utero, and somehow got all tangled up in his umbilical cord. Maybe he was trying to be a runner like his daddy... I made it to 35 weeks and 6 days in my pregnancy at the point he died. This site is dedicated to our sons memory and the race we hope becomes an annual event to raise awareness about stillbirths.

As a former victim advocate, I feel the need to educate the public on this issue as it affects approximately 1 in 160 pregnancies according to the March of Dimes. This is higher than the incidence of many chromosomal abnormalities and birth defects. A stillbirth is categorized as any fetal death occurring after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Some of the causes of stillbirth vary, including birth defects, placental problems, poor fetal growth, infections, chronic health conditions in the pregnant woman, and umbilical cord accidents (which only occur in 2-4% of stillbirths).

Most women who experience a stillborn loss didn't have advanced testing in their pregnancy that could show something was wrong before it happened. This is why it's extremely important for all pregnant women to do kick counts starting at 24 weeks of pregnancy. This was not the case with us.

I started having non stress tests at 31 weeks (a little early) due to decreased baby movement. The very first test showed Everett's heart rate was not performing up to standards. A baby's heart rate in utero is supposed to fluctuate up to 15 beats above base line and back down and variate like this back and forth. During the majority of my non-stress tests Everett's heart would just stay at base line with some variation at times, but not up to the standards of the test. I ended up being in and out of the hospital a total of 8 times those last few weeks all with the same issues. I was admitted for a three day stay at 33.5 weeks with constant monitoring and injected with steroids to help develop Everett's lungs in case of an early delivery. I was sent home. Finally my OB stated I needed to be delivered and sent me to a high risk Dr. for a consult who stated our son's lungs weren't developed, without really knowing or checking, and that I shouldn't be delivered. I argued with her that I was very concerned about Everett and wasn't worried about the lung development issue, I just felt I needed to be delivered. More monitoring ensued, still unsatisfactory and getting worse, and I was again sent back to the high risk Dr. She finally agreed to do an amniocentesis to check lung maturity. Our results came back the best they had ever seen on August 10, 2010. I was finally going to be delivered. We were sent to check in at 5:30pm to the hospital that evening. I had a large movement in the lobby of the hospital. When we got up to my room the nurse put the Doppler on my belly and could not find a heart beat. She tried so hard to locate one and stay positive. I knew something was terribly wrong. My OB was called in and three ultrasounds later it was confirmed that Everett's heart was no longer beating. Words cannot describe the heart break and devastation we felt, and continue to feel.

In all the ultrasounds that we had, and there were a lot, it was never mentioned that our son's cord was wrapped around his neck, however this issue typically happens in 30% of all pregnancies and doesn't cause an issue. Research shows that a cord around the neck can be seen through ultrasound, but a cord knot can be obscured depending on where it is located on the cord. Research also shows that some stillbirths can be prevented. A lot of education still needs to be done within the medical community and public. A stillborn tragedy can happen to anyone!

Please stay tuned to future posts and updates on the progress of the race. We hope to have a date and location confirmed in the next few weeks.

2 comments:

  1. Its a wonderful, informative blog! I can't wait to see this race grow into a wonderful memorial for Everett.

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  2. Dear Ralich Family: I am Kate Carmichael's mom! I want you to personally know how truly sorry Kep and I are about the loss of your precious Everett. It is so painful and we know how heavy your hearts are at this time. He is beautiful and is blessed to have you as parents. We are honored you are doing a run in his memory and to help Kate Cares. We started KateCares out of our love of Kate and to help families just like you. We would be honored to attend the run in his memory if you can send us details. My personal email is carmich@indy.net. Thanks and please be in touch if you want or need to talk to me about anything.
    Sincerely
    Michelle Carmichael

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