One month, and how am I different?
Losing a child changes you. It can't be avoided. The question is, will you change for the better or for the worst? It's a choice.
I realise now how petty and selfish a person I have been. I have taken for granted that which matters. I spent so much time worrying about how I would get everything done with four children...only to have that fourth child taken from me. I spent years nagging my husband about the things I wanted him to get done while the kids and I are at church... now I do those things gladly because after all these years, he is coming to church with us. But at such a high cost!
I am so sad today, but for some reason the tears won't come. Perhaps if I started crying today, I wouldn't be able to stop.
Yesterday was our son's memorial. Planning your child's memorial is a surreal experience. You want to give it your heart and soul, because it is one of the few things you will do for your child...but if you don't distance yourself somewhat, you'll go stark raving mad. Part of you plans it while part of you says, "This is not happening, I am not doing this". My husband spent hours making an insert with baby Brian's picture, his foot and hand prints and birth/death date. The service was beautiful...some of the Scripture was read by our pastor in the hospital, while I was in labor...my midwife spoke, as she was the only one besides us who had really known our baby. There was comfort in the service and in the love of friends.
Three weeks ago
I was a normal person. I was a mama expecting a baby, a baby who was kicking and rolling, beautifully alive. Now, I am a changed person, one of the walking wounded, with a huge hole in the center of my being that can never be filled. Sometimes my whole body starts shaking, is if the grief will shatter me to pieces. I never knew grief was so physical.
I am struggling so much with this now. Was it the tylenol I took? Was it because I went out that night? My God, I drank a cuppa Gypsy Cold Care that night, did that kill my baby? Or am I being punished? Did God look at me and find me undeserving? I know...I don't intellectually think God works that way. I had a looong talk on the phone today with my senior pastor, who assured me God would never do that. But I *feel* punished. It took me months to welcome my precious baby into my heart. And the day...the whole week leading up to his death, I was tired, cross and impatient with the kids. I guess I am just overwhelmed right now, with the fact that baby Brian was in the safest place on earth, and it was my job to protect him and bring him safely into the world, and I failed at it.
It's been a week
Some days it seems I cry less, others more. One odd thing that had happened is that for the past few months, we had been trying to get TurboSport into his own bed...after all, we had a new baby on the way, and would need the room. Last Saturday night, the night I slept so little for fear of the news I might recieve the next day, he was there between us. But one night away, and he was going to his own bed, of his own accord. We didn't need the room anymore, and now he was not there offering us the small solace of someone to cuddle. But this morning, shortly after 5, about the time I was giving birth last week, who should show up? When we woke up several hours later, Turbo looks at me and says "You're sad because the baby died and is in Heaven". It makes me wonder, if our tiny baby can nudge other hearts from Heaven.
"My body wept, and the tears were white"
All the books I have read on perinatal loss say that within 48 hours of the body attempting to make milk, it will subside.
I am going on 72 hours.
I have been doing all I can to stop this painful process, to get it over with. No More Milk tea, tight bras, cabbage leaves in the bra. MY body, the workhorse that it is, is still trying like crazy to feed a baby that isn't there.
Last night I took off my bra to get into the bath an my breasts were rosk hard and lumpy. I let them hang in the water, to let them drain somewhat without stimulating milk production. I wept into the water as I watched the milk flow out. This milk that flows out of me for no one, will be the last I will produce. My breasts ache, my arms ache , my heart aches.
After the nurse helped me get cleaned up, it was time to go to the nursery. I refused a wheelchair and we walked, my husband holding one hand and Pastor holding the other. He was weighed- 4 lb, 13 oz, and measured- 19 inches. So big for 33 weeks! Foot prints and handprints were made on a birth certificate. A little gown and blanket were chosen from the hospital's stores. When I became so tired I needed to get back to my room, I was given my baby to hold. His hands...so like TurboSport's, with the long fingers- his long feel too. His oldest brother's chin and his sister's nose. I couldn't stop kissing his hands and nose. I cried again over him. After I handed him back to the nurse, Pastor walked me back to my room while my husband stayed with baby Brian a bit longer. I slept, and hubby went home to shower and spend a few hours with our kids. He offered them the chance to come see their brother, and they chose not to.
After I woke up, the nurse tried to get me to eat. After I refused to pick anything from the menu, she ordered a sandwich and fries and ordered me to eat. My husband came back. We had to fill out the death certificate and contact the funeral home. I didn't want to, I really didn't want to. Just listening to my husband make arrangements for them to come pick up our baby's body was too hard.
Then, it was almost time to go. The nurse brought us little Brian for the last time. I held him and she took pictures of us with him. My husband did not feel able to hold him again. Just before I gave him back to the nurse, I kissed his little forhead goodbye. It was cold, so cold. She had not even wheeled the little crib out of the room before we were sobbing in each other's arms. I got dressed and she brought us the memory box the nursery had prepared. The little gown and blanket were there, a card with a lock of his hair and a locket for it...and a tiny stuffed tiger. We cried again- his big brothers both adore tigers, and the oldest has a huge stuffed one. having said our goodbyes, we left our baby and returned to the rest of our family.
Birth of Brian Benjamin
When we got home, our neighbor and her son were waiting. We dropped the kids of quickly and headed for the hospital. How to describe the experience? Aside from getting admitted there was paperwork, questions to be answered. Did we want a lock of hair, pictures, a hat and gown? One of the pastors came to call, and prayed with us. Then I was taken for a breif ultrasound. The tech and a doctor confirmed that there was no heartbeat. The small shred of hope I had been clinging to died. The doctor on call asked if I wanted to induce now or wait untilt he next day. I decided it would be best to have this part over with, and Pitocin was started. I had decided that while I had had three natural births, there was no reason to do that this time. After all, why do we avoid drugs in labor? Our newest pastor came to visit. It turns out this was her first pastoral care call. She has been so very wonderful. She stayed over an hour, listening to us, praying with us and reading the Scriptures. After she lest I dozed on and off through the labor. At about 2-3 cm, the doctor broke my water. He said the meconium was clear, which indicated that whatever has caused our baby's death, it happened so fast that if I had headed to the ER when it happened, they could not have saved him. And that he had not suffered for a moment. At some point my midwife arrived. At some point I asked first for Stadol, and when that was not enough, I was given morphine. Although it was the shortest of my labors by about half, it was the most painful. I cannot describe to some one who has not done it, the difference between birthing a living baby and one who was not. Just about the point I decided I would have an epidural, the doctor told me I was at a 9. My midwife got me up on my knees, and within minutes I was able to push. One of the memories I will able to cherish is his small warm body as I pushed it out. He was placed on my belly, wrapped in a warmed towel, and I held him and cried. Pictures were taken. Hubby had called pastor about the time I started pushing and she arrived soon after his birth. She performed a breif naming ceremony and it meant so so much to have her lay hands on him and pray with us at that time. My midwife had to go ( she had not slept) and she signed a cross on his head before leaving. We had time alone with him, About an hour and a half after his birth it was time to go to the nursery.
This may take a while.
But getting it all written down is so important.
It was Saturday afternnon when I first became concerned that I had not felt the baby move in some time. By 9 o clock, after I had had a big glass of juice and a bath, I was sure
something was wrong. I called the midwife and she said I could go to the ER if I wanted to, but either everything was all right or, or it wasn't, we could not do anything. After waking up and talking with my husband, I decided we would go the next day after church.
When I got home with the older two, Hubby and TurboSport were ready to go. We went to the midwife's, saying little on the long drive. She turned on the ultrasound- no heartbeat. Doppler- none. She hugged us and we cried.
Then the midwife went to make some phone calls. We got ready to go. I called a freind in my church, and Hubby called our neighbor to come be with the kids. Then we got in the van and headed to the hospital, for the hardest night of our lives.