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.