Sunday, September 7, 2008

Our Story

Preparing for the service Part 6

The day before Curtis' service, a Friday, was a big blur.

My doctor called in the morning to check on me. It was a nice gesture, but my doctor has zero bedside manner. He stumbled through asking me if I was okay, asking me if we were going to have a service (and I was horrified at the thought he might show up. I must have said a few times it was family only) and I could just sense he was trying to hurry up and get me off the phone. Despite the fact that he called me.

We were anxious to see the pictures the hospital took and left a few messages for Mary Beth to find out what had happened to them. She had said she would get them developed Thursday, but we hadn't heard anything about them. Something weird with my cell phone happened because it ended up she had called and left a few messages, but my phone didn't register them until much later. She had dropped the pictures at the funeral home and when we found that out we raced to go see them.

I remember feeling so nervous to see the pictures. Colin handed them to us and happily told us "some of the pictures are really cute!" It was a nice sentiment, but in saying that I somehow expected the pictures to be more....I don't know. Soft. More living baby like.

When I first looked at the photos, my immediate thought was "He does not look like I remember him." My heart sank. I remember a sweet, sleeping face. Not that blue/red tint. I remembered soft little lips, not the red hue that is typical of stillborns. I didn't remember all the extra skin on his hands. But, of course, I never SAW his hands.

Craig remembered something he had read in one of the books, someone suggested turning the pictures into black and white to help soften the color. We decided to drive to Target and do just that. I remember standing at the photo kiosk, struggling with trying to scan the pictures in to convert them. I could get them scanned, but couldn't figure out the color conversion. Curtis' face was up on the big screen. The photo place was busy and one assistant seemed highly annoyed we were taking so long. We asked for help, we just wanted someone to tell us, but the other assistant walked over. I covered the screen with my hands and told her that they were sensitive pictures. That it was a baby who was gone. She gently smiled and said that was okay. She showed us quickly how to convert them to black and white. When she walked away, Craig noticed she had tears in her eyes.

The one assistant, the one who had seemed annoyed by us, had softened considerably. When our pictures printed and we walked up to pay for them, she told us he was really cute and only charged us a few dollars.

My parents were helping to put together a small photo album and had asked for some pictures. We drove over to their place with our now black and white photos of Curtis. My mom had printed a large amount of pictures we had taken with our camera that day. My dad had uploaded everything to a CD to give to us and my in laws. In his haste, and quite frankly lack of knowledge, he uploaded every last picture on my memory card on to the CD. So when he put it in the computer to show us, pictures of my baby showers, Curtis' bedroom, and me 35 weeks pregnant flashed on the screen before pictures of Curtis showed. I had to look away. It hurt too much to see the baby shower cake which exclaimed "I'm On My Way!" with rubber duckies on it. It hurt too much to see my gigantic stomach. And it hurt to see his bright, cheerful room. All just waiting for a little baby.

Craig and I were in desperate need of clothes to wear to his service. We walked into JC Penny's and wandered up and down the aisles trying to decide what clothes to wear to our son's service. My body was only a few days post partum so I felt comfortable in nothing. I bought the first shirt and skirt combo that fit. I made sure not to pick out black, even though I wanted to. I clearly remember Craig standing in the dressing room with me and I started to cry. I leaned into his chest and sobbed "We should be picking out clothes for his baptism, not his funeral." I said it loudly. I wanted everyone around me to know. I wanted them to know the hell I was going through. As they spent their Friday doing some summer shopping, I wanted them to know I was in hell. I wanted their sympathy. It is weird to admit that, but it is true.

In a weird twist to the day, the funeral home called us and said they couldn't get ahold of my doctor to sign the certificate allowing them to cremate Curtis' body. It was his day off and he wasn't in the clinic.

Because this is exactly the hassle we needed.

We tried to call the clinic to see if another OB could do it, but no one in the clinic could even find my chart so no other OB could do it. It was a huge, huge headache. We were practically minutes away from not getting the certificate signed due to the timing of the cremation place. Luckily, I remembered my doctor had called earlier in the day from his home and his number was stored into my phone's memory. I made Craig call him to ask him what we could do to get this done. He was able to run to the funeral home and sign the certificate with minutes to spare. Never once apologizing for dropping the ball (He was suppose to sing the certificate in the hospital we had learned). And, most likely, taking my chart home with him. Which is illegal. (It wasn't the first time they couldn't find my chart. A nurse told me he often took charts home with him. In fact, at one of my last appointments the doctor I had to see for that one couldn't find the chart. The previous appointment I had monitoring for low movement and heart decels. Makes you wonder the what ifs. What if that doctor had seen something in my chart that showed her the impending issue? What my doctor had obviously missed?)

At home that night, Craig and I stood outside of Curtis' door. We wanted to bring some special items with us. The outfits we picked out when we found out he was a boy. The quilt Craig's cousin had made. A teddy bear blanket a friend had picked out. To bring these special items with, we had to go in his room.

"I'm going in," I said to Craig.


I opened the door, and the bright colors greeted me. Sunlight streamed in the room. I saw where my parents had tossed everything in their haste to make our living areas less baby centered. But, at the heart of it all, was his room. The room he was only ever in while inside of me. I allowed myself a minute to take it all in. It still all smelled so new. So untouched. I didn't allow myself to cry. Not now, not in this room. Despite the heartache, this room was my happy place. The room I was so excited to create for him.

I quickly gathered the items we had decided to bring and walked out.

But I shut the door behind me.

1 comment:

sally said...

Shopping for funeral clothes, going in to Hope's room for the first time... Still so many similarities in our stories. My heart continues to break for you, your husband and Curtis. It is three weeks today since we lost our Hope. Tomorrow will be three weeks since I delivered her in to this world. When does it start to get easier?
Lots of love to you.