AfterdeathThursday, March 01, 2012
This is the second part of Beatrix's story.
When my daughter died I was holding her. Not many people experience the death of their child, and fewer still are holding their child when they stop breathing.
My daughter died in my arms, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I have photographs of her living in my arms, her eyes like slits and her tiny mouth open. She was so light in my arms. I couldn’t make her stay.
One hour and forty-seven minutes after she left the womb she left this world.
There were no hysterics, and it was peaceful. I think shock overcame us then.
I had not been able to get a hold of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep for a photographer in the immediate time preceding her birth and I wasn’t thinking of it immediately after. We did take photos of her, mindful of the realization that they were the only ones we would have.
My hair was a mess, my glasses were broken, and there were wires and tubes coming out of both me and Bea. The photos that the nurses took of the three of us were blurry and messy.
Each and every photo we took is precious. I love them all.
I don’t know how long we kept her with us. A nurse kept coming in and out and I wanted her to leave us alone. My husband was grateful because he had seen me bloodied and opened and he was frightened. All that I knew was that she was interrupting my solitude.
We took our photos and unwrapped my daughter’s tiny body. Some mothers choose to keep their baby’s bodies covered because LBWC can include some horrific defects. We were at the minimal spectrum, and I wanted to see everything. I knew that I would wonder later, what her body looked like. I took a photo, because I knew, again, that I would wonder, later.
I neglected to look at her backside- at least, I don’t recall looking at her backside.
I regret it. I know that may seem strange, but in such an important moment, I can’t believe I forgot something so basic. I will never know what my sweet little baby’s behind looks like this side of Heaven.
But I guess those things won’t matter there- although the idea of her mooning me as I walk (or float?) up to the pearly gates is interesting. Who knows?
I think we may have kept her with us for only about 2 hours or so after she died. I didn’t know that I could have asked for her to go with me to my room. I didn’t know that I could have kept her with me for 10 hours, if I had wanted to.
Strike 1, against the hospital.
Before the nurse took her from me, I asked her to make sure that she brought me back her small hat and her blanket.
She walked out with my daughter in her arms, and my husband and I fell into one another and our grief.
Then the nurse brought her back in.
Strike 2, against the hospital.
(I know you’re thinking- wait, strike 1 was not telling you that you could have her back, or keep her for 10 hours.
If we had known that we could have her as long as we wanted, we would have kept her longer. But once the decision was made to let her go, we had made the decision to let her go. It was extremely difficult to watch her walk out the door with my daughter.
And then walk back in.
She interrupted a private moment between my husband and I.
And I’ll tell you why.
Bea’s hands were folded, like in prayer. I had put them that way, as she was slipping away.
The nurse thought that she was just so adorable. She thought we may want a photo of her with her little hands folded. My husband took the photo. It is the only photo I have of my Bea, in which my husband or I are not touching her. Where we are not caring for her. I hate it, but I can’t get rid of it, because it’s the last one I have of my Bea.
That’s why it’s a strike 2.)
After about 5 minutes, the nurse came back in with Bea’s box of belongings. I opened it.
Her tiny locks of hair.
And a brand, spanking new receiving blanket, which was most definitely not the one my daughter was wrapped in.
Strike 3, against the hospital.
I hit the call button.
She came rushing in. I handed her the blanket, and told her I wanted my Bea’s.
The one that was colored with birthing fluid, the blood from IV pokes. With my daughter’s epithelial cells all over it .
The one that served as the only clothing that she would wear while she was living.
She had to dig it out of the garbage.
Strike 4, against the hospital.
(Two separate strikes- one for trying to foist some false item on me, and one for throwing away anything that had touched my daughter’s body so intimately. Anything that had held her while I held her.)
So, back to the rest of what happened after.
She left. Again.
I was unbelievably calm.
A man came and wheeled me out of the recovery room, and into a private room. I was placed on a floor for women whose babies were in the NICU. Or were stillborn. Or were only alive for an hour and forty seven minutes.
My husband eventually left to care for the living. I stayed in my hospital bed.
I stayed in the hospital for almost a week. Drs. and social workers and food people all came in and out. I didn’t cry. I almost did once, but a nurse walked in. I couldn’t cry in front of strangers.
They brought Bea home the day before I left.
My husband made arrangements for her to be taken care of. While he was sitting with the funeral director, he explained the story of our situation. The funeral director asked him,
“And you never thought of abortion?”
My husband said he almost left, but answered him, “no.”
The man got up and hugged my husband, and told him that 8 months before we lost our Bea, that he had lost a daughter. He and his wife had made the choice to carry to term a pregnancy in which the baby had been diagnosed with a severe case of Spina Bifida. I can’t post the name of someone else’s child here, but I will say that her middle name was Joy- it’s interesting- many carried to term babies have a name that references Joy.
For the first time since our pregnancy ordeal had begun, we finally had someone who knew exactly what we were going through. It was the right thing, at the right time.
The funeral home that she went to is on the corner of my road. I have to pass by it every time I leave my house. I think of the quietness of the room where we sat with her. I think of my youngest son holding her so sweetly. I think of saying goodbye to her. I think of how I was the last person to touch her, after everyone had gone. I think of her hat that was too big, and her small fur-lined pink boots. Her dress had a cupcake on the front. It was so sweet and tiny.
As far as the birth and death story- that is basically all. There are small details that I could continue with, things I have missed, that I could add later. But right now, there is no more involved in the story of her life.
I am left here only to keep my grief now.
I miss her so.