I am so sorry you are having to go through this.
I wrote a long post already, but I timed out and it all got deleted. I hope i can remember what all I put in.
First, the bloodwork is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. When a baby dies before it is born, and it takes a while to be delivered, something called disseminated intravascular coagulopathy can develop. This is life threatening. The longer that it takes for the baby to be delivered the more likely this is to occur. Please keep in mind that you really should deliver in NO MORE than 2 weeks (some might say 3). Not all women go into labor without intervention within 2 weeks, only about 75%. So your midwife may insist on induction if you do not go into labor soon. If she doesn't, you really need to. This condition is fatal. The bloodwork is not to diagnose what may have caused your baby to die, but rather whether you are at imminent risk of death yourself. Many of the blood tests involved in finding a cause need to be done both at the time of birth and weeks later to confirm a diagnosis.
Second, I would highly recommend getting the services of a bereavement doula. I wish I had known there was such a thing when I lost my son. I am not sure where you are located, so you might try contacting DONA international (dona.org) or googling bereavement doula and the area you live in.
I can relate my experience, but it may be slightly different than what you might go through. For one, I was induced the day I found out Alex had died. I was 24 weeks and went to the midwife when he suddenly stopped moving. After not finding a heartbeat using doppler she drove me to the hospital for an ultrasound where we confirmed he had died.
Keep in mind that what you will be going through is largely the same as a "normal" labor. Like all women with a normal labor it may vary from person to person. Nobody told me this, what to expect at all, so if I give too much graphic information, please forgive me. I wish I had too much instead of too little.
As far as supplies, treat it largely as if it were a live birth. If you are delivering in a hospital, they may have more on hand, so I am not sure what all you need for a home delivery. We were planning on using a birth center, so as far as supplies they had it all. I would recommend the following list:
* cell phone to call friends, family
* a baby blanket and layette of some sort. If you know someone who sews, here is a link to patterns with micro-preemie sizes http://www.bevscountrycottage.com/preemies.html
I actually would have two sets. One to dress you little one in while you spend some time together, which you can take home. The other for them to wear when they go to the funeral home to be buried in or cremated.
* an ace bandage
* a very cold head of cabbage
* a package of the largest maxi pads you can find, preferably post-partum pads
* the number of a funeral home. In virtually all states you will be required past 20 weeks to have the remains handled by a funeral home.
* if the midwife/hospital does not supply it a kit to take casts and prints of their hands and feet.
As far as the experience itself, again, I can only relate what I went through. I was in labor for 15 hours from when regular contractions started to delivery. I was in the hospital for a little over 24 hours - i was admitted early afternoon on a saturday and delivered sunday morning. I was induced first with cytotec to dilate my cervix and later pitocin. I did have narcotic pain relief during the night, but never had an epidural. The pain was honestly bad but tolerable until the last hour, when it was quite painful. The worst part was during the time when he had entered the birth canal, which honestly I think was as much the sudddennes of it happening and my not being prepared as anything else. I went from only a few centimeters dilated to the membranes visibly bulging out and a searing burning pain in a matter of minutes. The burning is from the tendon that holds your pelvis together, which nobody had warned me about. During the first 2 stages of labor, again, the pain was manageable. THe only truly painful part is when they would check my cervix, but that may have been because the cytotec made it very sensitive.
What happens immediately after can vary, but I can tell you what happenned with me and what I wish I had known or done. Immediately after he was completely out they told me i had an angel, and that it was a boy. They cut the cord and did the normal (hospital normal) rudimentary clean up and then wrapped him in a baby blanket and asked I if wanted to hold him. I was holding him within 3 minutes of his birth. The placenta was taking its time, so it was manually extracted. I really wasn't aware of what was going on as I was focused on my son.
We were told we could hold him for as long as we wanted to. I highly recommend taking (or better having someone close to you) take as many pictures as you can. You may feel awkward doing it, but it is unlikely you will regret it. I wish was had taken far more. Unfortunately, many of the bereavement photography services will probably be unwilling/able to help you with this given both the gestational age and the length of time since your baby died. Now I lay Me Down To Sleep has a policy of 25 weeks or later, or at the discretion of the delivery staff. There is no guarantee how your baby will look, but it will not be "normal". however, it is probably not going to be as bad as you may imagine it. A lot to remember through this process is that frequently the anticipation of anything is worse than the actual happenig. The retouching services tend to be far more forgiving as far as time since death and gestational age, so this may still be an option. Even if you think you won't want them, take them anyway. You can change your mind later but you can't go back to take more.
You might want to ask if you can dress/bathe your baby as well. I didn't know I might have the right to do this, and wish I had. On the other hand, given the length of time your baby's skin might be extremely delicate and you may want to defer this to someone more experienced with handling babies who have died. Also, feel free to examine your baby just as you would had they been born alive. I felt like I was doing something wrong, unwrapping him so I could count his fingers and toes. I wish someone had told me it was okay.
After a few hours, the nurse said that they could bathe him and dress him for me and to do an intial examination. The nurse took him away and came back with an information sheet about autopsy, a list of local funeral homes, and three different gowns i could choose from to have him dressed in. Be advised that autopsies are very expensive. I am not sure whether our insurance would have reimbursed us or not had we chosen to have one. We were told that we would need to have a cashiers check for $2000 ready when the pathologist came for him if we wanted an autopsy. This is not why we said no, but in retrospect that seemed so strange. You may get answers about what happened, but then again you may not. Don't let anyone sway you one way or another, this is a decision entirely up to you and your family.
We lived an hour away in another town, so we did not use any of the funeral homes on the list. We called the chaplain at the college I teach at to get advice, and called the one who had handled his mother in law's funeral the week before. They said they would come to get him within a few hours and took some information from us for the obituary for the newspaper. They told us they would come by the next day to discuss the details of a funeral or service and other options. Since you have a little more time, you may want to consider this now. If you can't handle it just yet, don't force it. See if there are close friends or family you trust to help.
While the doctor examined him, I asked to be disconnected from the iv so i could take a shower (it had been 2 days).
After the doctor examined him and he was dressed they brought him back in . By this time he had gotten very cold. My husband and I spent some more time holding him, and then some friends and family came in to meet him and say goodbye. After a while longer, we told the nurse that we were ready. She came in and carried him away. She returned and asked if I wanted to keep his hat and blanket and gown. This is why I suggest bringing two sets. I desperately wanted to keep those, but ccouldn't bear the thought of my Alex's little body lying naked for at least a day. So I said no. They took him to the nursery and placed him in a bassinett until the funeral home came. We decided to have the nurses be the go between, as I couldn't bear the thought of handing him directly to the funeral director, but you should do whatever feels comfortable to you.
When they returned they brought me a memory box, which had some fairly irrelevany brochures about miscarriage (very little of the "what to expect" will apply to you), a list of bereavement groups in the area, a knit baby blanket and a more standard baby blanket. At the bottom was a little envelope with 4 snapshots of Alex dressed in his gown and his little preemie cap. I was discharged with a prescription for pain medication and some ambien to help me sleep.
The ace bandage and cabbage is for the milk coming in, which will happen anywhere from later the same day to a few days later. It will come in just as if you had a live, full-term birth. By wrapping your chest down tightly with cold cabbage leaves between your breasts and the ace bandage it will help the milk dry up sooner and will not hurt as much. Just be sure to cut the spine off the cabbage leaves to avoid touching the nipple (or if you can, cut a whole to avoid contact with the nipple) as nipple stimulation triggers milk production. Also, when you shower for the next few weeks, try to always face back and avoid letting warm water hit your breasts. You may spurt milk as well anytime a baby cries, whether it is in front of you, on tv, or a block away. Even wrapping and with the cabbage it can take weeks to completely go away.
I know there is more, but I can't think of it right now. If you need more, come back here or to the ivillage stillborn board. If I don't know I will try to find out for you.
If you are ever at such a low point that you feel completely overwhelmed and want to escape, First Candle has a 24 hour crisis hotline. 1-800-221-7437 .
Please be gentle with yourself in the weeks and months ahead.