I’m afraid for this day to end. It’s as if the passing of a calendar year closes the gap between Bracken and me. As if, for the past year, a few vaporous plumes of his existence still touched me. By tomorrow, they will have vanished forever.
Thirteen days later, my water broke in the kitchen. I never thought I could go into labor on my own, but there it was! We experienced the stereotypical crazy drive to the hospital after some dear friends arrived to watch our other children. We pulled up to the wrong door, at first, for dramatic effect. When we found the right place, a nurse with a loud drawl yelled, “Which baby?” I thought this was an odd question since I was obviously there to deliver the one(s) in my belly. After we cleared up that minor confusion, I was rushed to a room to get my vitals. I was at five centimeters. I blinked and was at 7.5. My friends started pouring in. I was screaming and convulsing, telling them that I couldn’t do this. Both of them are nurses and assured me that I could. “But I don’t want to!” I shrieked. I begged over and over for my epidural, but the deadpan-faced nurse told me they couldn’t administer it until they had my vitals. I was terrified that I would reach that legendary point-of-no-return, the “too late to get an epidural” measure. Apparently, it’s bogus, because I finally got it around 10 centimeters.
The atmosphere settled a little once I was no longer screaming. My doctor, who was NOT on call that night, seriously rescued my universe when he walked through the door. I put on some make-up and freshened up my newly colored and styled hair. We got some photos, other people arrived, including my twin seven-year-old daughters. I can’t remember how long I pushed with Baby M, but I do remember being so relieved and full of joy when he came out screaming like a banshee and weighing in at 6 pounds. The NICU unit hurried in to look at him, born at 36 weeks. They were, as one put it, noticeably underwhelmed and left fairly quickly. The atmosphere changed again the room as I prepared to deliver my lost baby. I cried, my friends prayed for me, my husband held my hand tightly. And Bracken arrived, his little muscles slack and his body slightly purple, but beautiful. It’s all a surreal blur. I held him that night, but my husband spent the most time with him. I’d held him for 36 weeks inside me, so it was someone else’s turn. I bathed in a warm wash of joy for the rest of the evening. I simply felt happy and decided to indulge in it. I knew the following days would not be so clear and simple.
Psalm 139, Sons of Korah. Our theme song for this journey.
I’m happy today. The milestone of Friday is past, which is a relief. I’ve had a wonderful day with my family, including tacos for breakfast and French toast for dinner. The weather has been cool, grey and rainy–the kind that sends most people to bed for the afternoon but inspires me to get out my sewing machine and finish the kids’ Easter presents. Today has been a calm-hearted day. I am well.
One year ago today, I had a appointment with my OB for a routine growth scan. I was expecting twin boys, 34 weeks along. I wore a new Garnet Hill dress that I spent way to much on for my post-maternity summer. A long, beachy, grey number that, paired with my swollen ankles, rendered me something of an elephant. I’d spent the previous evening journaling, praying, and throwing private tantrums over some major frustration with my husband. I cannot recall the reason for my Medea-like fury, but I was up half the night. At one point, I experienced a dramatic drop in my womb; I thought it would be good to shut off the histrionic valve and get some sleep. At 9AM, our family of five loaded into the car and headed to the OB’s office.
We drove to the doctor’s office in silence, my husband and I. I’m sure the kids made plenty of noise; I was too focused on my cold shoulder to notice. The drive, the waiting room, the pee stop are all a blur. With the five of us plus a tech crammed into the ultrasound room, we settled down to get a glimpse of both babies. It occurred to me that the mass of humanity on my right side seemed rather thick and immobile. I asked to see the heartbeat, and the tech quickly pointed out “Baby A’s” heartbeat. Then, without fanfare, she slipped out to ask the doctor something. Through a daze, I looked over at my husband, a physician, who had his head in his hands. He explained that he was just tired from the night shift, but I knew better. I decided I wouldn’t worry unless the OB came into the room. And suddenly, there he was. He paused a moment at the machine and checked around. I think he touched me gently before he told me that there was no heartbeat for Baby B.
I screamed. I beat my forehead. No!! I cried out, “Are you sure?” half a dozen times. “I am 110% sure, ” said my doctor. My husband was trying to hold it together through his tears. I have no idea what my other kids were doing. I can only imagine that scene from their perspective. A dark room, screaming Mommy, sobbing Daddy, and two relative strangers trying to keep Mommy on the ultrasound table. What side of Hell did we just walk into?
Today, through many tears, some laughter, and newly built memories, I remember the loss of my precious boy. How I loved him.