Francesca Joy Molitierno: Part 1
I am staring to write this account of the past couple of days just one day after birthing our beautiful baby, Francesca Joy. Frankie was too beautiful for this earth, but I am blessed to have had her live and feel her spunky spirit inside of me for 27 weeks. I had envisioned the spirit of this child as I grew to know her (we didn’t know her gender until we found out she had passed) & I loved the way she brought us all so much joy, even though we never got to see her sweet face until her soul had carried on. I hope I can do her story justice, but feel fully inclined to start her story in reverse while the past few days and experiences are the most fresh in my mind. By writing this, I hope to bring some joy, peace, and calmness to other parents who may have to deal with this type of grief and loss in the future. I haven’t even begun to experience half of mine, but already know I am going to need help and stories to guide me through. So, here is ours. The story of Francesca Joy Molitierno from the perspective of her mother.
September 20th, 2016.
It was Tuesday morning. I woke up just like any other morning. My husband, Frankie’s Dad, was ironing his work clothes. I thought about asking him to take the morning off work to attend my doctor’s appointment with me, but I never said anything. I already felt the anxiety of the day to come, but wasn’t totally sure why. My doctor’s appointment was at 11am & in the shower before leaving, I started getting a plan in my mind together of how I would get in contact with Dave should he not answer his phone that day if I needed him. I truthfully have no idea where this intuition was coming from, but I can only believe that Frankie was guiding her Mom through the next hours and holding my hand from the other side.
That morning, I walked into the doctor’s office for my gestational diabetes test. My midwife, Liz, came in and I expressed to her that I had called the previous week with some anxiety about Francesca’s movement patterns. I wasn’t feeling strong kicks any longer, but more like “butterflies”. She wanted to ease my concerns, so she got out the doppler to find her heartbeat so I could take that big sigh of relief, however, the sigh never came. I never got that moment. She struggled to find her heartbeat and went and got another midwife to see if maybe she was just having trouble herself. The second midwife (I wish I could remember her name) used her hands to find Francesca’s body placement and began searching. Neither one of them could hear enough to feel comfortable, so they sent me for an ultrasound immediately.
I was walked down a hallway to another part of the office & sat alone in a chair while they prepped and found an ultrasound tech to, once again, give me that sigh of relief I was so searching for. The ultrasound tech, Ashley, came out and called my name & I noticed a purple dragonfly on the back of her scrubs, which immediately calmed me down. I thanked Emily for this sign and was sure everything was going to be okay.
I laid down and she began searching for her. I saw her on the screen & without knowing a single thing about how to view an ultrasound, I knew my baby was gone. She was still. She was calm. Which was not how my baby was. She was a mover, a kicker, a jabber. She was spunky and full of life from the second I found out I was pregnant. That body I saw on the ultrasound was not my baby and then I heard the words… “I’m sorry, honey, but there is no heartbeat”.
This is when you would think it would all become a blur, but it doesn’t. I sat up on the table and started screaming about how I needed to call my husband. I was in hysterics and the tech asked me not to move, she wanted to go get a midwife to help her. Liz came back in and handed me my phone, but had me lay back down to try to see if she missed something and take measurements to try to determine when she could have passed. I remember trying to call Dave and not being able to get a hold of him. I then called my mom and screamed through tears, “There’s no heartbeat, I need you to find Dave”. It seemed like an eternity I had to wait until Dave actually did call me back, but I’m sure it was just a few minutes. I told him and he asked me at least five times, “are you sure? are they sure? did they double check? are you sure?” He got in the car to come to me and they started to walk me through what would happen next. Dave had an hour drive to get to me and I sat there listening to how I had time, I was in no danger of not doing anything quickly, but that within the next couple of days, I was going to have to be admitted into the hospital, induced, and I would have to deliver our baby. I couldn’t bear these thoughts, I kept praying that it would all just disappear and that I would wake up from this nightmare.
I never woke up.
They took me into a separate room & to occupy the time until Dave could get to me, I called my cousin, my best friend, and Dave. When he finally arrived, our midwife came in again to just help Dave understand that there was no heartbeat and explain what would have to happen next. She encouraged us to take our time deciding when we would like to schedule to go to the hospital to start the next process, but I wanted to start the next day. I couldn’t bear the thought of walking around with her in my body lifeless. I wanted her out, I wanted the nightmare to end. She talked us through the possibilities of what COULD have happened. She explained that I would have a lot of testing done when I was admitted to the hospital to see if there was an issue with me, with the baby genetically, but we also may be able to tell if there was some sort of placenta or cord incident upon delivery of her. We prayed for something visible as the possibilities seemed endless otherwise.
We decided together, in that moment, we wanted to know if our baby was a boy or a girl. We didn’t want any more surprises, and the only person with this information was my brother. So, we called him. We explained what happened & through the strength of our marine relaying the gender of our baby, we heard “It’s a girl” for the first time. We cried, but we were joyful. We have a daughter.
We scheduled our appointment to be induced for the next evening, September 21st at 9pm & we went home. All I remember for the next few hours was walking out to the car and seeing so many people going about their lives as usual. How could these people all just be surviving as normal when my whole world was crashing down on me? I couldn’t even stand up. The 2 minutes it took for the valet to come back with our car was 2 minutes of pure agony. I remember flopping my body onto a bench while we waited and just looking around, wondering… “Do they know my baby is gone? Do they care? Do they still think I’m pregnant and are just wondering why I’m sitting here crying? Is anyone going to ask me if I’m okay?”
We got in the car and we started our journey home. I remember breaking down, over and over, screaming at Dave that I could never do this again. We were never trying again. We were done. He cried, too. He broke down, too. We held each other close that whole first day taking turns while the other one held it together. On the drive home is when we named our baby girl. We had already had picked out Francesca as the first name we would use for a girl, but the few middle names we had picked out no longer seemed appropriate. I asked Dave how he felt about Francesca Joy & he just looked over at me, with his eyes soft and loving, & gave me a fist pound. We had named our baby & we would pray for her out loud, using her name. We would breathe life into our sweet angel by always speaking her name.
We decided that evening to go for a walk. I was reluctant because I clearly was still looking physically 6 months pregnant and I didn’t want anyone to talk to me about it, but I went. I needed to expel some energy and Dave knew that. We ran into neighbors who inevitably asked how I was feeling to which I had to respond truthfully, holding my husband’s hand, “we found out we lost the baby today”. I am actually grateful for this encounter as it taught me how I was going to get through the next couple of days. I was going to get through them one step at a time, one person at a time, one second at a time. I was going to be honest from the start. I was going to share what we were going through and experiencing. And eventually, it wouldn’t ever get easier, but it would get less scary. I would no longer care how people would react because my baby was more important than scaring anyone else with our nightmare.
When we got home from our walk, we wanted to find a church that was open to go pray. To search for some sense of peace and calmness. Nothing was open, but we were fortunate enough to be connected to a priest we knew personally through my cousin, Ashley, & I will never forget every word he spoke to me that night. He talked me through what would happen to her and with us moving forward as far as a funeral and bereavement goes. How the hospital may manage this situation and my spiritual rights, as well. He then said these words to me that I will NEVER forget, ever.
“Taylor, you are a Mom. We don’t know why these things happen and I will never try to understand what you are going through, but I now this. It’s our job to teach our children to pray, right? and how AMAZING it is that Jesus will teach Francesca to pray.”
I found so much comfort in those words and FOREVER will. Jesus is teaching my daughter to pray. How can we not be joyful?
We went to bed that night on the couch because sleeping in our bed without our baby was too much for me to bear. I didn’t want to go to bed like nothing was wrong, so the couch it was. We knew what the next day would bring and we were not ready, we would never be ready. So, we laid the couch, welcoming sleep when it would present itself and continuously hoping that we would wake up and the nightmare would be over.