E and I decided to induce that night. First, we had to walk home and get our hospital bag. The instinct was to dig my heels in; refuse to return to the hospital. I did not want to deliver my dead child. I did not want to face this reality. I did not want to think about it at all.
Though our eyes were red from crying, practicality set in and silently we threw last minute items into the hospital bag. I also began removing things we wouldn’t need: nursing bra, lanolin ointment, the stack of baby clothes and blanket. E speaks up, “Why don’t you leave the clothes in? You may want to dress the baby.” What a sweet, thoughtful man. He had such clarity in the midst of intense emotion and tragedy. His perceptiveness throughout our ordeal continues to impress me.
We drove back to the hospital. It was pouring now.
Together we agreed not to call any family members or friends. We would do this just the two of us.
After hours of hospital BS protocol like paperwork and blood draws, the induction finally began. We labored through the night and A was born late the following morning. I remember finally opening my eyes after the last push. The nurse was crying, the midwife was crying, the tears were streaming down E’s face.
A was absolutely perfect! I was so awed by the beautiful baby placed on my stomach that it was a full minute or two before I even thought to check if he was a boy or a girl. He looked very peaceful. I found myself anticipating him yawning, stretching an arm as if he was simply sleeping. Kept waiting for him to awake.
After some time of fawning over our son, we decided to call our parents. A is the first grandchild for 3 of the 4 parents. They each dropped what they were doing and raced to the hospital.
We had a wonderful day together as a family checking out every feature and detail of his flawless body, holding him, kissing him, talking to him, singing to him, taking photos, pressing his footprints. A truly memorable day.
We asked our folks to leave so that we could have an hour or so together, just the three of us. When the time came to go home, I placed him in the bassinet, wrapped in his blanket we had brought. I kissed his soft, cold cheek and we walked out of the room, closing the door behind us. I lost it right then and there. I couldn’t leave him!
E calmly said, “Let’s go back in.” We go back into the room and simultaneously, each kiss one of his cheeks. We again walk out and close the door. The cleaning lady is working in the room next door. “Is there somebody in there?” she asks. “There is.” replies E. “I won’t go in if someone’s in there.” she responds.
I bawl the entire walk down the hallway. Propped in the corner of the elevator I am sobbing. Crying like a banshee E escorts me toward the exit door. I cannot bear to leave my child. Deep down inside I know the second we walk through that door, I will never see my son again. As soon as we cross the door to outside, I collapse on the ground. E patiently sets down the gigantic hospital bag, picks me up, holds me, kisses my forehead and talks to me. Calmer, he hoists the bag to his shoulder again and we walk to the car for the short drive home.
The cord, placenta, membranes all looked normal. No immediate explanation for why he died. No warning signs that anything was amiss. We may never know for certain what happened.
What I do know for sure is that A will always be our firstborn. He will always be a part of our family, a part of our lives, a part of ourselves.