Monday, March 4, 2013

How Did I Get Here?

The day was like any other.   I woke up, got dressed, and went to work.  As I prepped my class of fourth graders for their writing test the next day, I noticed I ached a little more than usual, but I had a doctor's appointment that afternoon, so I wasn't too worried.  I rubbed my swollen belly and made a mental note that my darling ninja seemed a little sleepy.  I'd talk to the doctor about that when I arrived at her office later.  At the end of the day, I cleaned up my room and got it "sub ready" just in case.  At 36 weeks pregnant, I never knew when I'd suddenly be welcoming my baby instead of teaching fractions.
I drove home to meet my husband and we headed over to our doctor's office.  I remember passing by a medical office that read "Center for Surgical Excellence"  He commented, "I'd hate to go to the Center for Surgical Non-excellence", and we both chuckled because we're weird like that.   We got to the doctor, signed in, and all that jazz.  I peed in the cup as usual.  They took my blood pressure, which was slightly lower than usual - a good sign since it had been elevated for a few weeks.  I laid back on the table and waited for my doctor.  When she came in, she grabbed the dopplar and the gel.  I pulled up my shirt, braced for the cold goo, and then listened for that familiar "whoosh, whoosh, whoosh" I had heard so many times before.  That beautiful sound of my baby's heartbeat.  Silence.  Perplexed, the doctor moved the want around to the other side of my stomach.  Surely, there's an explanation. Nothing.  We heard a tiny "thump, thump".   "Oh, there she is!"  I sighed with relief.   "No, Rebecca.   That's your heart."   We listened for what seemed like hours, but was probably only a few seconds.  My doctor rushed me into the ultra sound room.  The lights went off, my shirt came up, the screen flickered to life, and I saw her.   My beautiful, wonderful little girl.  Curled up and so, so still.  No pulsating little ball in the middle.  No heartbeat.  My baby was gone.
My heart tore in half with such force, it wrenched an ungodly groan from deep within me.  No tears came then.  Those would flow freely later.  I just lay on that table, half dressed and covered with goo, and writhed and moaned.  NO! Not this!  This isn't supposed to happen!  My baby is not dead!  She's not!  There is a mistake!  I had everything planned out.  We just finished her nursery yesterday!  Yesterday!!  My husband was strong for the both of us.  He held me tight and told me we would get through this.   
We drove to the hospital where they confirmed one more time our worst fears, and then they gave me a terrible choice to make.  They could induce me, meaning I would labor for several hours to deliver my dead baby girl, or they could perform a Cesarean section, but I would have a tough recovery and most likely my future births would be performed in the same way.  I didn't want to be cut open, but I knew I could not mentally handle the trauma of labor with the end result being what it was.   I opted for the C-section.
I called my parents.  When my father answered the phone, I became a four year old little girl again.  "Daddy," I trembled, "Daddy, my baby is gone!"  The details of the phone call are a blur.  My parents rushed to my side and were there 15 minutes before I went into surgery.  
Doctors and nurses came and went.  Asking me questions my mind was too numb to answer.  When they were ready, they eased me off the hospital bed, my pregnant belly in my way for the last time, and they walked me down the hall to the operating room.  Mike would join me in a few moments, but I walked that cold, tiled hall alone.
I slid onto the operating table.  My doctor had me lean forward into her arms as they pumped the drug that would make me forget into my IV.  "I'm so, so sorry."  she whispered over and over to me.  That's the last thing I remember about my surgery.   My doctor's tearful, heartfelt apology to me.  An apology no doctor should have to make.  An apology no mother should have to hear.
I am grateful for my doctor's decision to make me unable to remember anything about my C-section.  My husband says I was talking through some of it, although he doesn't remember what I said.  He tells me I threw up, which is not surprising.  What I am most grateful for not remembering is the moment they pulled my baby girl out.  Mike says she was completely entwined in her cord.  It didn't just wrap around her neck.  It wound around her legs, her back, through her hands, and around her neck. Like a captive.   I'd always called her my Ninja Baby because she was always on the move, kicking and twisting.  She must have gotten too excited.  She was having too much fun in a place with too little room.
I remember coming to in the recovery room.  My legs needing to move but being unable to do so.  I was shaking all over.  "It's the anesthesia", the nurse said to me.   It was also every part of me breaking into a thousand pieces.  My baby, who had been such an integral part of me for the last 36 weeks, was gone.   I felt empty.  Gutted.   My lucidity was patchy for this block of time.   I know they wheeled me into my room.  I know Mike and my parents were there.   A nurse asked me if I wanted to see my baby.   Of course I do, but I'm still kind of fuzzy headed.  What if I don't remember her later?  Is this all the time I will get?   They told me I could see her as often as I'd like to.   Relieved, I asked them to bring her to me.
A few minutes later, the nurse wheeled in a small cart.  In the middle of the cart, bundled in a soft, white blanket, was a very still cocoon.  It didn't rock or wiggle like you are used to seeing babies do.   The head didn't shift slightly to one side or the other.   That's because my baby had no life, no breath, no beat of heart.  My baby was gone.
The nurse lifted up the bundle with every bit of care you'd do for any baby and placed her in my arms.  She was heavy.  (5 pounds, 1 ounce)  And she fit in my arms as if she'd always belonged there.  She was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in all of my years on this Earth.  Her eyes were closed and her mouth hung open slightly.  Her perfect little mouth.  Her father's mouth.  Curved more at the top than the bottom.  Her nose was mine.  I pulled back the stocking cap to reveal what I already knew to be true.  Her tiny, round head was covered in thick, black hair.  Just like my head as a baby.  Her cheeks were pink, but her skin was cold.   I wrapped my index finger underneath her perfect hand.  She was still and soft.   Mike put his arm around me and we both sat there with our little one and we cried.   Body shaking, face crumbling cried.  This is CRAP!   How can my baby be dead?  We loved her so much, so hard, so deeply.  Why wasn't that enough?  I kissed her hands and her beautiful face.  I traced my finger along her neck and the inside of her chest.  I wanted to hold her in my arms for the rest of my life.  But I couldn't.   She had to go.  There were realities that had to be faced.  I'd see her one more time before never again.  The next morning when my mother arrived, we'd hold her once more together with the same result.   The nurse would come in my room on the third day at 5:30 in the morning to tell me the funeral home was ready for her and did I want to see her one last time.  That time, I had to say no.  Not because I didn't want to see her.   There is nothing in the world I could possibly want more.  I said no because I knew if I had her in my arms again, I would never let go.  I would never willingly give her up.  It was time to say goodbye.
So, now here I am.  A mother without a child.  It has been exactly one week since my baby left me, and I am still so very hollow.  I feel empty and broken. I am starting this blog mostly for me.  As a writer, I need to turn my feelings into words.  My sorrow into sentences.  It is the only way I can even attempt to make sense of this.  I don't know if I ever will, but I am going to try.  You are welcome to accompany me on my journey, but I make no promises of how smooth the ride will be.  I expect very rough seas and very dark skies.  My experience has taught me though, that every storm has an end.   Every cloud eventually releases all of its rain.  Every angry, bitter wind eventually calms into a warm and gentle breeze.  This blog is the chronicle of my travels through this storm to the other side.   One moment at a time.  


12 comments:

  1. I will accompany you on any journey, unconditionally. My heart is breaking for you and I know this does not really help heal you. -Tracey

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  2. You've only met me once, but my husband Jason went to med school with Allison, and we've followed her excited waiting for months to be an aunt. My hear truly aches for you. I can't imagine what you are going through, but please know that you are not alone - we are grieving for you and the world without your little girl.

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  3. I am friends with Jeanee James. I too have a little girl who is an angel baby. She was still-born when I was 20 weeks and 4 days pregnant. The feeling of being a mother without a baby is one I am oh so familiar with.

    I am so sorry that you have to deal with this. I am so sorry for your loss. I am so sorry you had to say goodbye to your sweet Kenley.

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  4. We've never met, but I know your parents. Your mother was my children's preschool teacher. As one mother to another, my heart is breaking for you and your family. I hope that God can bring you peace, comfort, and strength in the trying days ahead.

    ~Kaci Hall

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  5. there aren't words to describe the heartbreak I feel reading your post, and I can't even begin to imagine the immensity of yours. from a fellow mother and a stranger, I send you love for the long road of grief, and eventually the healing ahead.

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  6. I was in tears reading your posts. You are a truly inspirational person to have gone through all of this. I wish you the power of healing that only time can prevail. God bless you and your family.

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  7. We`ve never met but I work with your dad. I will never understand why life deals a unfair hand like this. I have never gone through any thing remotely close to this but my mom did and she tells me that no one who has not gone through this trauma does not truly understand. She named him Eric, mom wasn`t as far along as you but they new when they delivered him. We (me and my brother)just did not know how to make her feel better and we were sad because our baby brother wasn`t coming home we were only 5 and 6. We rarely talk about him mommy still gets chocked up but she says time is what helped her and running but she says you never forget the one you lost. I wanted to tell you this so you would have hope after all of this hurt and to tell you will be a super mom I no it. Please keep writing you are so strong and I hope this helps other women who have experienced such loss. Bless you and your family.

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  8. Rebecca, I think you are doing the most amazing thing by writing about your loss and how you feel. I think it will really help heal for you, your husband, your family and you will always honor your sweet baby. I have been reading your posts and just have been thinking of you a lot. A little over 5 years ago, my sister-in-law and brother lost my nephew Noah at full term. It was the worst experience, and so hard to watch them go through that immense pain. I think time has helped them (plus the chaos of two babies now), but none of us have ever forgotten Noah and how much we treasure these future babies. Even though this feels like the darkest time, I know you're going to make it.

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  9. We've never met but my heart goes out to you. This is a loss that no one should ever go through. Keep writing as it will not only help you through this journey but will also help others. I'll say an extra prayer tonight.

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  10. You don't know me but I just wanted to say that this moved me to tears. I lost my daughter at 20 weeks last September and it shook my world. I had PPROM and she died while I was trying to keep her alive in the hospital. I am so, so sorry you had to go through this. No mother should have to go through this. I wasn't as far along as you, but I share the same feeling, "This wasn't supposed to happen."

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  11. Thank you for sharing your story and I am more than happy to accompany you in this journey. Like you I am also a writer and I have been writing about my experiences through grief after loosing my baby boy in April - a day after he was born. I found that it helps me to read other peoples similar journey and if you would like to read mine you can find me at http://lukasinthestars.blogspot.co.nz/
    I wish you strength, love and peace. xxx

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  12. I found your blog through a support group, and I am so very grateful that I did. I know there are no words when you lose a child, I know that because 2.5 weeks ago, I went to my doctor for a routine checkup and the doctors had to tell me my baby girl had passed. At 29 weeks, when you shouldn't have to worry about anything going wrong, and my world crashed. Reading your blog saddens me, and also gives me hope that there will be better days. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your daughter.

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