We called Dr. G and informed her that we would head to the hospital for induction after a quick stop home to pack a bag. She asked if I had eaten recently, which I thought was funny since she had suggested we go to lunch. I told her that I was actually calling from Arby’s. She asked what I had eaten. I also thought that was funny because what could I possibly be eating at Arby’s other than a roast beef sandwich. She told me to stop eating the rest of my food. I told her I would and I did indeed leave those last three fries uneaten.
My tears had dried for the trip home and to the hospital. I was focused on the task of delivering. I did not know what to expect at all, being that this was my first pregnancy. I wondered if this experience would at all be comparable to a normal delivery. As callous as it sounds even to my own ears, I was concentrating on just getting it all over with and done. The sooner the baby was out, the sooner I could hurry up and cope and move on. Experience would later teach me that my plans were unrealistic but for the time being, that was my mind set.
We went to the labor and maternity floor of the hospital but I was not led into a normal delivery room but rather an observation room. The layout of the floor was one set of security doors leading to the delivery and observation rooms and then a second door led to the maternity recovery rooms and nursery. I would never go past those second doors on this trip to the hospital. The observation room would be where I spent my entire time.
I was given a gown and was settled into my room by a weathered, experienced nurse. She was the kind of nurse that you can instantly tell has been doing what she does for decades. She offered no sympathetic words and her tone was even, if not even a bit cheerful. I was grateful and appreciated her normalcy towards me. I told her that I had a terrible headache and asked if she could give me something. I had not been officially admitted at that second, so she handed me some Tylenol and told me take it quick before I was admitted or they’d have to get a doctor’s approval. The approval would come, no doubt, but it would be a wait. She acted as though this was a great, exhilarating conspiracy and was pleased when we pulled it off.
A mid wife that I had not met during my prenatal visits was on duty at the hospital. She was about to end her shift but came in to see me. She put her hand on my shoulder and said that she was sorry I was here. She asked how I was doing. I offered a wobbly smile which quickly disintegrated into tears. I told her that I was doing okay until someone asked me how I was doing. She smiled and nodded knowingly. She let me know that the mid wife who was taking over would be in soon to start the induction.
About that time, Seth’s parents arrived, followed soon by his sister and her husband. I was glad for him to have them close by and could tell he appreciate their presence a lot. I had called my mom and told her that we had lost the baby. She had instantly swore loudly in my ear. I know it was just a reflex reaction. She might have missed her true calling in life as a sailor. And the Navy would have fortunate to have her; she’s tough cookie.
Soon a different nurse midwife came into the room and introduced herself. She was brisk and professional. She explained the induction process that they would use and went over the effects it would take. She asked me if I wanted to have pain medication available, which I did. I saw no reason to be a brave solider when there would no grand prize at the end.
The induction began around 4pm. The first few hours were uneventful and we watched TV. Seth’s family had left for Wednesday evening Bible study. After church, Seth’s parents returned to the hospital. By then it was about 8 pm and I had received a second dose of the induction drugs, along with a sleeping pill to help me rest before the real work began. Friends of ours, a Christian couple who lived near the hospital, had heard the news through relatives that attend our church. They came to the hospital to see us. The wife in this couple had been on our prayer list for some serious cancer tests. When she came in and greeted us, I asked her how her tests came out. She smiled a big huge smile and said that everything was just fine! God is good! Everything is fine! I was so glad to hear it. By then my sleeping pill was taking affect and my head was bobbing. My mother in law saw me struggle to stay awake, and said that it’s fine to sleep. Whether I wanted to heed her or not, the world went dark and I was out.
I learned weeks later that my friend’s tests had actually come back with news of breast cancer. But she was right: God is good and everything was all right. She had surgery and chemo and lost her hair… and she is doing well now.
When I woke up, it was the middle of night and Seth and I were alone in our dark room. I was in labor now and the next several hours were very intense. I gladly accepted (and asked) for as much intravenous pain medication as I could have. I was in a painful blur and only felt Seth’s hand rubbing my back or holding my hand. I did not know that he had finally been grieving there in the dark.
On May 12, 2005, around 8 am, our baby came. I debate even now on whether to type these details because they are so unpleasant. So not how I would want anyone to deliver a baby. Most certainly not how I wanted to deliver my baby.
I was feeling pressure but not knowing what delivery would feel like, I assumed that I needed to use the restroom. I asked Seth to help me into the bathroom. I leaned on him and my IV rack for the short walk, which felt like a mile. My knees buckled with every step. Seth left me and lightly shut the door. Before I could even understand what was happening, I was suddenly standing in a puddle of blood and water. I cried for Seth to help. He looked in and saw the blood and darted back out for a nurse. Two nurses charged in and pushed me down on the toilet. The baby came there. On the toilet. A urine hat had been placed in the commode and it was what my baby landed in. I did not turn and look at the baby. I was so distraught that the baby had been born on the toilet. I have never experienced hysteria in my life but this moment was hysteria, or what I imagine hysteria to be. The fact that the baby was in the toilet tormented me. A nurse removed my hospital robe and began using it to clean me and the floor up so that I could get back to my bed. I was so sad that the baby was in the toilet but when she started using my robe to clean, I began yelling that I needed that robe. I wanted her to stop cleaning with it and put it back on me. Even as a part of my mind recognized that I was being ridiculous, I could not stop crying and screaming. She repeatedly assured me that she would get me another robe. Poor nurses. They truly put up with a lot.
Eventually I went back to my bed, which had been redressed with clean linens and was given a clean gown and robe. I returned back to the quiet patient I had previously been. I was suddenly exhausted and rested on my bed, with no tears and no outbursts. Seth called his parents and they were on their way soon.
After some time, the same sweet nurse that I had yelled at came in carrying a bundle of swaddling blankets. Without her saying a word, I sat up in my bed and prepared to hold my child.
“Is it a boy or a girl?” I asked. What had been all consuming to us just hours before had been completely forgotten about until the very moment.
“She’s a girl.” The nursed answered with a small smile.
Those words seem to make the loss that much more real. It was not a faceless, genderless baby now. She was a daughter. Our daughter. I had felt all along that I was carrying a girl. It seemed that everyone had known it was a girl. The fact that she was indeed a girl meant that somehow, we already knew her.
She was tiny. Holding her, I only really felt the weight of the blankets. She was pink with translucent skin. Though only developed to 19 weeks, she had so many features and unique characteristics. She looked just like a regular newborn, thought extremely small, with very thin skin. She had blonde eyebrows and eyelashes. A tiny little nose. Pink lips. Three years after holding this tiny baby, we would hold Eden and I would see similarities in their appearance.
If there is anything I regret in life it is not holding her longer. Again, my mindset was to hold the baby, give her back, pack my bag, and get out of the hospital, and go home where I could just hurry up and go through all 7 steps of grief or however many they say there are and be done with the whole ordeal.
I don’t know how long I held her, but it wasn’t long enough. I wouldn’t realize that it wasn’t long enough until days or weeks later. You see, there is no manual for what to do when your baby dies. There was no class on this in college. I did not know, Seth did not know, what we were in for. A nurse came in with a form to be filled out. She asked if we had a name for the baby.
I said no.
I guess I thought that naming her would make it harder, or make it seem melodramatic. I’m not sure why I said no so quickly but I did. After the nurse left, my mother in law, who had been sitting in the corner listening, suggested that we might regret not naming her. We had not discussed names in much depth. Only casually thrown a few names around. But one name came to mind. And I don’t believe we had ever brought the name up before but it was clear in my mind that it was the only name that could be her name.
No middle name. If we had been given more time… if we had made more time… we probably would have come up with a middle name. But questions came too quickly and answers came even more quickly. There are things, such as this, that I wish we had done differently. But how were we to know? We took no pictures. We had no special outfit. We had been operating on auto pilot and had thought of none of these things. I had never known anyone in this kind of situation, or at least not that I knew of. I had never read of another’s experience. We were so utterly unprepared.
After the baby was taken and never seen again, I fell asleep for several hours. In the early evening, I was discharged.
The nurse midwife who was reviewing my discharge orders with me could tell that we were still not yet at terms with reality. She advised me to take the next week off of work, which I did not think was necessary. I was feeling fine already. Really. I was fine. The sweet nurse from early came in before I left and gave me a few mementos. She took a Polaroid of Grace and made an angel ornament from it. It, along with a small pink and white box, a miniature baby blanket, a knit hat, her bassinet ID card and her ID bracelet, was all we had to represent our Grace.
With my precious gifts held in my lap, I was wheel chaired out of the hospital. The ride was surreal and sad. Seth helped me into the car and we drove away wordlessly. Silent tears escaped my eyes and fell unchecked onto my lap for the long ride home. Seth held my hand as we drove but there were no words to say. I had gone into the hospital the day before with a baby on my belly. I left so utterly empty.