Monday, September 1, 2008

Our Story, Part 4

After goodbye.

After we sent Curtis away, we were left in that hospital room. They brought us a tray of food, I hadn't eaten at all that day. I picked at the bread on the sandwich, ate the ice cream, and we began to pour over the materials that had been left in the room.

The materials I was so digusted by, I found comfort in. I clearly remember Craig reading a passage out of one of the books that talked about how, after you lose a baby, you see babies everywhere.

We tried to turn on the TV, but it wasn't working. We asked the nurse about it and she couldn't fix it, but asked us if we would mind moving rooms. We went ahead and moved. I couldn't stand the thought of a silent room. I had a silent baby today. I wanted the comforting background noise of a TV. I wasn't expecting much sleep to be had, so I wanted something to watch as well. We got settled into another room.

I remember laying in the bed, pulling out my cell phone and starting to text people. "He was born at 5:31pm. He looked so much like Craig. They think it was a cord accident." Craig sat in the chair next to me, but I remember little of this time together. Both stuck in quiet reflection, reading articles on how 80% of couples who lose a child divorce. Lovely.

We decided to turn off the lights and try to get some sleep. The nurse asked me to please buzz her if I woke up in the middle of the night because they had to take my blood pressure.

I didn't sleep. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine the following days. The following months. Everything I had expected my life to be after giving birth, it wouldn't be. I expected sleepless nights. I expected baby smiles. I expected hard time adjusting to parenthood. I expected me exasperated with my husband. I never went into parenthood expecting perfection and how wonderful it would all be. I had enough mom friends to know the truth. But, despite knowing the down side, I was well aware of the upside and I was okay with all of it. I was ready to take on the good AND the bad.

Around midnight I buzzed the nurse to come in and take my blood pressure.

She said she was glad I buzzed, because, well there was an influx of women in the midst of labor, and we were still in a delivery room and another mom coming in to give birth....and would I mind moving off the floor? I would still be an maternity ward patient but...

Kim and Mary Beth were long gone at this point. They were the only nurses okay at taking care of pregnancy and infant loss patients. This woman clearly was not versed in their comforting language and their thoughtfulness.

I said it was fine. This time we had a longer hike down the hall. I was grasping the gown behind my back and shuffling down the hall, past the other delivery rooms. I was in a bit of pain, and moving slowly. All of a sudden I heard it. Wooop. Wooop. Wooop. Loud. Clear. And strong. A baby's heartbeat.

"I hear a heartbeat."

The nurse stammered. "I am so sorry, I should have closed the door."

"No, it is okay. I just, well, my son didn't have a heartbeat."

She doesn't say anything.

We get to a much smaller room, but a room with two beds. Craig is able to lay down. I lay in the other bed and look around the room. On the wall there is a whiteboard. It says something like "No Me without You!" It is an information board all about the mom and baby.

My board remains empty.

I had wanted to go home. The doctor said I could have gone home immediately after delivery if I wanted. I think Craig was scared. I was bleeding a lot, I was in pain, I just had been through emotional hell....he probably was afraid I would flip out. So he prefered that we stay at the hospital where he had help keeping an eye on me. He didn't say that of course. My parents and his thought it was a good idea as well. Just to make sure I was healing okay after childbirth.

At 6am, I was ready to get the hell out. I hadn't slept much. I know I got a few hours here and there through the night, but at 6am, I decided I wanted to go home. Even if it meant going home without my son. Going home to his nursery and baby swing and his laundry still in the dryer.

We alerted the nurses we were ready to go, but it was a painfully slow process. There was lab work to be done, and nurses to meet with. The lab nurse had tears in her eyes when she walked in. She told us she had lost her son a few years ago, he was 21. We made the appropriate "oh I am sorry" comments. But it felt hollow. We didn't care about her loss. We cared about ours. Looking back, I appreciate her reaching out to us.

A social worker comes in and helps us fill out of information for our Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth. She is nervous about it because it is a new law they had just passed and it was her first time doing one and she was afraid she would mess up. Well, she did, but we were able to get it fixed later. She too, lost a child, she tells us. A 14 year old daughter.

Kim, our nurse who delivered Curtis (because let's face it, a doctor who comes in for the last push does not count) comes to go over my discharge papers. She looks exhausted. I had been looking forward to seeing her again, she was so kind the previous day, but now she can barely look at us. I wonder if she was hoping we would be gone so she didn't have to be confronted with us again. We were emotionally draining people. She probably wanted to get back to her happy patients and happy families. I am sure it isn't easy going through a stillbirth with patients. Who knows what it was like for her to go home at the end of the day, being a part of something like she had been a part of with us.

Finally, they allow us to leave. Craig is instructed to go get the car and meet us out front. Kim tells me "I will call the funeral home and they will get his body."

Chills run up and down my spine.

"I...I ....uh, last night. When we had the nurse take him away. I thought he went to funeral home already."

She looks at me.

"I just...he was alone all night."

She is quiet.

"It's okay, I just didn't know he was still here, in the hospital. I thought, I mean, I thought he was gone." My heart is aching. I hated the thought of us in the same building together and us not with him. We had chose to send him away, but I thought he would be sent to the funeral home. Not alone in some morgue. It felt like I had abandoned him.

I climb in the wheelchair they insist upon and she pushes me to the elevator. We go down to the front, and out where Craig is waiting with the car.

The carseat installed in the back.

I take my flowers and bag. I climb slowly in the front. I thank Kim. Despite her quietness this morning, she had been a God send through Curtis' birth. She came in on her day off, she held our hand, she was one of the select few who would ever get to meet Curtis. While brushing away tears, I tell her she is good at her job. I thank her again.

I shut the car door and we go home. Without our son.


Paige said...

Just ignore this comment if it strikes you the wrong way, but I can't help but think that you would be a great person to talk to for people who are going through a still birth at the hospital. You know the things that would bring them comfort. You know what would make their pain more intense. I don't know if I could ever do that, if it were me, but I just think you'd be awesome at it.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear you didn't realise your son was still in the hospital while you were there. How no one could tell you this is beyond me. Our nurses were insistent we keep our daughter with us as long as we wanted.
I agree, you should think about using your story to help other people. When I feel strong enough and that I can breathe again, I think I would like to do the same. My daughter would only be two weeks old today, almost to the minute. Your blog is already helping me more than you may realise.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have not been through what you have been through (I can't even get pregnant), but my heart goes out to you and your family. I am so sorry.

Cibele said...

I read your story and I cried for your baby, for you and your husband... I am so sorry, I am sorry. I am sure Curtis knows how much he is loved. HUGS

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry that you lost Curtis and for the pain you went through and still feel.

G said...

My heart breaks for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story.

Tash said...

Here from Natalie's -- I'm so very sorry for your loss. Thanks so much for sharing your story -- and Curtis' -- with us.

emily said...

C- What you have written over the past week is beautiful. Everytime I read it makes my heart hurt for you, Craig, and of course for Curtis.

Thank you for opening your heart and sharing your story with us. You're an amazing mom - to both of your children.

Christine Marie said...

You are beautiful, amazing woman my friend. You are one of the most loving mothers I have ever known. Thank you for continuing to share your story. Know that your boy is never, ever forgotten. Love you.

Cara said...

Our stories of finding out, birthing, one really fabulous and attentive nurse, and holding our baby until we knew it was time to let them go are so parallel, I sometimes feel like I am reading my own story from September of 2000.
I am struck by your emotion when you realized your son was still in the hospital as you tossed and turned all night. He may have been with you, you know. Regardless, I don't think you can hold any regret in your heart. You let him go when he was "starting to change" and, believe me, I know that feeling and I remember exactly what that looks like. You made a choice to remember the sweet and beautiful face of your little boy without the effects of this atmosphere working their devilish tricks on his appearance.

If you can, when you look back on your time with him, remember his handsome aura and know that you did it on your time.

your strength is abounding, keep telling your story

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

I am just so very sorry. There are no words at all...