*This part of our story includes medical information that may make some people uncomfortable. I will, of course, aim to be as tasteful and modest as possible. But I also wanted to give fair warning before we continue.*
I woke up the next day-Sunday-morning and heard David taking a shower. Ella was talking and playing in her bed and Nate was probably off reading a Calvin and Hobbes comic book somewhere. I needeed to get up becasue we had decided to take Nate to his baseball game. But first I just laid there with my eyes shut. I forced myself to feel everything Iw as feeling. I told myself, "This is what it feels like to wake up in the morning knowing your child is dead." And then I began crying.
I sobbed into my pillow. I cried for my loss, the loss of my children of their sibling. I cried knowing that this was a child who had the potential to be one of the most fantastic people on the face of the earth--but no more. I would never know this child. I hadn't even felt this baby move.
I felt safe to cry because David was in the shower. He needed a break. He needed to go a few minutes without having to hold me and mop up after me. But I forgot about Nathan who has some sort of radar built in to come and find me when i am crying. I felt him climb into bed with me and wrap his arms around me and beg me to tell him what was wrong. I heard the panic in his voice and I pulled myself together enough to tell him, "I miss our baby." I cried some more and Nathan didn't let go. He held me and said he understood.My wise 7 year old just let me cry some more and then offered encouragement, "You know Mommy, in 20, 30 or 40 years, you will get to see the baby again in heaven." I wanted to slug him (20 years? I will only be 53!) and smooch him all at the same time. (Thank you God for Nathan!) (Remember, you are keeping track of all of these.) When David came out of the shower, I felt better for the moment and we gathered ourselves off to baseball.
The rest of the day was a blur. There were a lot of tears. I didn't talk on the phone a whole lot but texted a few people. My Mom kept Lucy who was really doing well and loving her one-on-one time with Grandma Sisi. that evening, our next door neighbor who just started teaching AWANA at our church took all of the kids with her to AWANA so David and I could be alone. (Thank you God!)
We had some hard conversations. We had to talk about the practical side of things. My child was still inside and was going to have to come out one way or another. But what was right? Go to a hospital, do things clinically, cleanly, with experts around us and risk that we'd be in a room of people who would not regard our child as a being with a soul? Or do we opt or fight to have the process occur naturally at home and run the medical risk plus the emotions of associating a room in our home with losing our baby? We were overwhelmed. We handed the decision to God. Begged Him to make it clear what would be best for the two of us. And then we talked out both scenarios so we would be prepared when the time came. I had a doctor's appointment Monday evening but a friend who had been sharing her wisdom and experience with me guessed that Nature would take it's course before then. My gut agreed. The same gut that was feeling crampy all evening.
I cried myself to sleep that night. I had survived another day.
I still did not feel alone. I still felt some peace, bits and pieces of it. But I still didn't feel like anything that was happening was real, either.
Monday morning we all got up and got the big kids ready for school. David got to see the crazy process and go through the steps I take every day as one of those moms who stands on the campus watching her kids walk to class till there isn't anything left to watch. while talking to some girlfriends who knew about Saturday, the cramps I had been feeling began to grow stronger.
When we got home, I sat next to Ella in her high chair and watched her eat breakfast. the "cramps" were beginning to feel familiar-more like contractions. David called the clinic and wondered what to do when suddenly I had the feeling of my water breaking. We had already discussed that I would go to our upstairs bathroom and we met up there. By the time I had removed my pants and another gush of blood came, I was pushing. It was a very strange mix of both the totally familiar but completely unreal.
I knew when the baby had come out and-as we had discussed-David looked the baby over to see if it was intact. This was something I had been warned about and had decided I only wanted to see if the baby was whole. It was. (Thank you, thank you, thank you God!) I looked down at my....son. Yes, no doubt it was a boy. Just as I had suspected. He had tiny little ear flaps and dark black little eyes, he had a miniature button nose and a sweet mouth turned downward. One hand was on his chest and the other was laying to his side with his palm open and David saw all 5 fingers. He looked like a baby. This was our son.
David and I sat and held each other again just like we had been doing for the last 2 days but this time we were thankful, joyful even, and yet grieving. We cried and prayed and just looked at him. We knew that our prayers had been answered and as we sat there totally alone, with Ella perfectly happy in her high chair eating breakfast downstairs. (Thank You God!) We were so thankful that this morning had been put together to fit exactly what we needed. We needed to do this in private, we needed to have time with our son. What a gift this moment was.
We hadn't discussed what to put the baby in but made a decision and I insisted that he be wrapped in a baby blanket. David was not sure where to look for one and with my organizational skills, knew it might not be easy to find. However, just the night before I walked into the kitchen to find a baby blanket on the kitchen floor. I don't know why it was there. Ella or Lucy probably dragged it downstairs to play with. I'd picked it up and tossed it on the counter. I gave David specific directions and we had our blanket. (Thank You God!) I found out later that there were TWO baby blankets on the counter. David got to pick which one to wrap our boy in! Just explain that to me...I can by saying: Thank You God!
We needed to go to the doctor so I made a few phone calls while David attended to the baby. Michelle was coming for Ella and my mom had amazingly offered to clean up our bathroom while we were gone. (Thank You God!) David helped me out of the tub and suddenly I felt dizzy. I was sure it would pass and I lowered myself back down. The tunnel vision began and I kept saying, "I'm fine! I'm fine! Don't call 911, I'm fine!" Apparently those words turned into something more of an "ImfiiineI'mfinefinefine." The last thing I remember is hearing David, "That's it." and the sound of his phone dialing 911.
I had dreams....dreams of throwing up, (ewww!) dreams of a taalll man in dark blue standing over me and not feeling afraid (the paramedic standing on my bathtub while getting me out) and a mustache with kind eyes asking me what day it was and panicking because I actually didn't know-not because I had brain damage. On the way out of my house, I saw Michelle who had been called to come over when everything was fine and met the paramedics at my door. I couldn't stop apologizing to her because I knew my body's actions were making her face look so worried. On our way out, David handed our wrapped up baby to the paramedics. I was told later that as he did, he said firmly to the men, "Don't do anything distasteful in front of my wife."
I can't tell that part of the story without crying. When I heard those words I was struck and overcome with the amount of selflessness my husband was displaying in that moment. We both lost a son. We both had seen him and felt the pain. There wasn't one grieving more than the other. But he knew how important it was to me for our baby to be treated with dignity. I have an amazing husband (but that is a whole other blog for a whole other time.)
I spent the rest of the day in the hospital. My amazing amazing school mom friends took my big kids from school to Chuck E Cheese. My mom, sister, sister's husband, and bestie Michelle cleaned my downstairs and kitchen. Folded and washed a ton of laundry and I still can't find the little pan I cook my eggs in. And then they fed, cleaned, jammied and loved my 3 kids while I was gone. My pastor came up and visited with book in hand to read out loud. And the text messages and phone calls and e-mails poured in. The love, support, kindness--all overwhelming. It was impossible to overlook as anything but a blessing. Thank You God! (And thank you to all our friends!)
When I was young, my mom had a book called "A Child is Born" that had amazing pictures of real babies while they were still in the womb. I was delighted to find my own copy of the same version of that book right after I got married. And then only a few years ago, I found an updated copy. the pictures are stunning, moving (sometimes distrubing and not fit for the young children in your house) but all of it is an amazing display of the details that God has put into the making of a human. A week or two ago, I wnated to see if there was a photo that represented where our son was in the development process. The kids were interested and I knewmy family would want to see but mostly so I could have an additional image in my head of what he looked like. I wasn't sure if I would find one that was exact but I looked through every single page.
And, I am thankful and pleased to be able to share this picture with you. Because this is what my son looked like....
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
My dad called for an update while I was in the hospital and since I was stable, we got to talk. He was grieved and I could hear the pain in his voice as I told him everything that had happened. He said to me, "I can only imagine that this is the worst day of your life."
I paused and told him, "No. Saturday was the worst day of my life. On Saturday, my baby was dead. But today? Today I got to meet my son."