Our Story, Part 2
May 31, 2006 late morning.
We walk into the hospital, walk past the conference room we had our childbirth class. The class we skipped the second day of because it was that boring. I had read everything I wanted to about childbirth and the class wasn't teaching me anything I didn't already know. Craig and I had giggled through the first day when they were having us pretend to have a contraction and doing visual imagery of rowing in a 'golden' boat through a wave, a wave that symbolized a contraction. I also remembered laying on the floor with him, in the back of the room, giggling with the maturity of two 12 year olds. We were suppose to be doing some type of massage, him rubbing my back through a fake contraction, but we were too busy laughing at the camera that was planted in the ceiling. Wondering if some security guard was keeping watch on the class.
We got into the elevator and pressed two. Followed the signs to the maternity floor, went through the security doors, to the nurses desk. A nurse looked up at me, irritated. "Can I help you?" she snapped.
I stated my name. Her eyes shifted away from my face, she looked down. She never looked at me. "Oh, um, yeah. We are getting your room ready. We have a nurse coming in special for you."
Great, I get a special nurse.
They lead me to a room. A white rose with a purple flower was taped to the door. I knew immediately what that meant.
I was lead into the room, the nurse not looking at me. She pointed out the gown, telling me to undress. "Can I leave my bra on?" I asked. "No." I did anyway.
The nurse walked out. Laying the bed was an array of loss materials. A folder "The Fetal Demise" program. A green and white box, tied with a green ribbon. A brown, small, teddy bear tied with a blue bow. A book, something with a broken cradle and empty arms.
I looked at the materials with disgust. I said something to Craig about the stupid things laying on my bed. I was 40 weeks pregnant! I had a diaper bag packed with nuks and diapers and a video camera. I didn't want a stupid book telling me how to grieve my unborn, but dead child.
I don't remember meeting her. I do remember the way she came into the room, sat on my bed, and held my hand. She had a kind face. She told me her name was Kim, she would be my nurse and be with me through this. She said she is one of 2 nurses who are "okay" with dealing with pregnancy loss. The other nurses do not handle it as well. But she is okay. She tells me what they will do to induce me. She checks and thinks I am dilated to a two. They will insert some gel. I can have an epidural immediately. She tells me, depending on what happened, he will look like any other baby. His coloring may be off. But, when he is born, they will place him on my chest so I can see him right away. I can hold him and take pictures and do whatever I want. She is talking and talking, holding my hand and all I can do is stare at her bracelet. It is turtles. A turtle bracelet.
Curtis' nursery was turtle themed.
"She has a turtle bracelet." I tell Craig after she leaves the room.
Maybe not significant to many people, but it is to me. Months later, Kim and I discover we both have collected turtles and both have a turtle tattoo. Significant.
We sit, and wait. Some gel had been inserted and I feel fine.
My parents are the first to arrive. Red eyes, looking shell shocked. My dad has tears in his eyes. They sit and wait with us. A nurse comes in and says "Grandparents are here. Can I send them in?" I say yes, expecting Craig's parents. But my grandparents walk in. I remember saying "Oh, MY grandparents." My grandpa won't look at me. In fact, I don't think he looked at me that entire day. My grandma has tears in her eyes.
Craig goes out to meet his parents. He tells me later his dad about collapsed in the hallway he was so distraught.
Craig's 2 older brothers arrive. Maybe it is a mistake, one had said when he found out. It isn't a mistake. "You can have another, you guys are young," one says to Craig. Another insensitive comment. His wife is in labor with his dead child. My husband is thinking about the son he never got to hold while his heart beat. It isn't a comment meant to be hurtful, but it is. Like many other comments we will have to endure.
Contractions start. A nice doctor comes in and tells me in situations like this, they can give me as much epidural as I want. They aren't worried about the baby. They just want me to be comfortable.
I tell him I want to feel as little pain as possible. Wishing for an epidural for my heart.
"How do people get through this?" I wonder out loud as he is inserting the long needle in my back. "Drugs and booze." I joke to Craig. I then quickly say "I am joking," so they don't send in the psychologist to talk to me.
I remember telling Craig I am glad we have a dog. She will be a good distraction. I ask Craig if we can take a vacation soon. Somewhere together. I ask him if we can do therapy. He nods and holds my hand. Still dressed in his work clothes. His favorite blue polo shirt that brings out the blue in his eyes.
I learn later my father in law went up to my doctor and asks "What the hell happened?" the doctor, having no clue who this man is, is short with him and rude. But to tell the truth, he was always short and rude with me when I was pregnant. But I had an easy pregnancy. The world's best. Felt great for 9 months straight. So I never worried about my doctor who was lacking in his bed side manner. I do pregnancy well. Getting the living baby here, not so much.
My mother in law tells me I am right, my doctor is a jerk. Something I had mentioned to her in the past. I tell her I can't worry about that now. I know she feels bad that she even brought it up right now.
We wait. I am progressing well. The doctor comes in and breaks my water. It is filled with merconium. "That means he was in distress." I say out loud. A fact I had known for some reason. No one answers me.
My brother comes in, and I break down. "Oh..." he says and puts his arm around me. We are not close, my brother and I. But I can see pain all over his face.
We wait, my in laws bring Craig some food. I hear him mention something about wanting to lose some weight. Idle chit chat. Someone asks my brother about his job lay off and a potential interview. He says that isn't a big deal. He doesn't want to talk about losing his job when his sister just lost her baby. I tell him to please talk about, tell us about the interview. It helps me to hear the idle chit chat. Sometime during the day we tell the name we picked out. It is Curtis. We had kept it a secret. No one really says anything. It is a somber moment.
My epidural is being adjusted as my contractions as getting stronger. Kim turns one of the other delivery rooms into a waiting room for our family. So they don't have to be in the public waiting area. You know, with all the families, Waiting for the living babies to be born. The cafeteria sends up food. We do appreciate the nice gestures.
My two brother in laws decide to leave. They have families and really, we have no idea how long this will take or what will happen when he is born. It is just a waiting game now. I joke and say they are leaving right at rush hour. It is getting close to 5. Craig walks them out.
I am starting to feel pressure, they turn up my epidural but it is really hurting on my right side. The nurse asks everyone to leave so she can check me.
I am dilated to a 10. I am ready to push. Kim arranges everything in the room, but I am struck by how calm it all is. I expected a ton of people. Then it dawns on me, the baby is dead. There is no reason to have a ton of people.
Kim gets my legs in position and Craig says to me "Can I tell you something? I am terrified of this part."
"Me giving birth?"
"I never was. I was okay with this part." But I was talking about before, when he was alive. Not when he was dead.
Craig is instructed to hold one of my legs back. I am told hold the other. I start pushing, it is now 5pm.
It is all happening so fast. It has only been 8 hours since we found out he was gone. I push a few times and Kim tells me to stop. She calls to one of the other nurses that she needs help. The nurse comes in, but won't look at me. Kim calls the doctor and tells him she has a full crown. I am suppose to wait for him to come in. I don't. I keep pushing on my own when her back is turned. I don't care about the doctor. I am not waiting any longer. The doctor comes in, sits down, I give the final two pushes and at 5:31pm on 5/31/06, our son is born.
I hear something about the cord wrapped around his neck. I keep saying I am sorry. I am so sorry. I am apologizing to him, I am am apologizing to Craig, I am apologizing to myself. Everyone tells me it isn't my fault. It is just one of those things.
They lay him on my chest and I am terrified. He is still so pink. I can't look at him, I am struggling, so I focus on his nose. So much like Craig's nose. I reach up and touch his nose. I can't look at Craig, I can't see his heartbreak. Not anymore, it has been broken too much. So I just look at the baby's nose.