Fragments, Part Four

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

We went directly from the hospital to our house – a five minute drive at six o’clock on a Sunday morning – so I know it didn’t last long.  But my emotional memory of our car ride and walk into the house  seemed like when, by sheer force or mind, you will the last dregs of honey from the bottom of the jar and into your measuring cup. It dragged o.. n…. i..n…. s..l..o..w…. m..o..t..i..o..n, and I felt like I stumbled through those moments trying to find some equilibrium.  My parents, living two doors down, had agreed to meet us at our house, but thinking we had gone to a more distant hospital, they had to rush over once we got home.  I remember looking out my entryway window and watching my mother, silhouetted by the rising sun, racing across the sidewalk and up the walk.  My father followed close behind.

I can’t remember the order of the things we discussed.  They quite obviously didn’t know what to ask, and one of the first things I think we discussed was what happened.  Much of this series of blog posts will probably be news to them, because in that moment I could only utter the simplest words.  I couldn’t find the heartbeat.  I tried, but couldn’t find it, so we went to the hospital, and they couldn’t find it, either. My father, a big, powerful, “in control” preacher pressed his forehead into my living room wall and choked up.”Why, God, why?  We don’t understand!”  That image of him bringing his anguish to God is indelibly engraved on my heart and did more to preserve my faith than almost anything else.

Gabe, now delirious from lack of sleep, tooled about in the way only a confused, overtired five-year-old can.  “Grandma!” He exclaimed with a smile on his face.  “We can take back those shirts!  We don’t need them anymore!  The baby died so we can take them back and get our money!”  Having heard it once before at the hospital I was prepared, but it was clear his frankness caught my parents by surprise, and I wished I could have gotten to them first to prepare them for his state of mind.

We talked about Gabe and arranged for him to go to my parents’ house with my mother so Tahd and I could (attempt to) sleep.  Dad said he’d go to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription, and we asked them to call my sisters.  Dad, scheduled to preach in three short hours, asked us if we wanted him to tell people, and my unequivocal answer was yes.  I told him the more people he told the fewer people we’d have to tell, and that prospect sounded extremely helpful to me.  Dad wasn’t sure, however, whether he should preach at all, and when he left my house I wasn’t sure if he’d be at church or not.

Once they left, Tahd and I surveyed our surroundings.  I looked at the doppler on the coffee table and felt numb as I realized how everything had started only a few hours earlier.  Tahd tried to convince me to go to bed, but I couldn’t do it.  I was not only overwhelmed, but terrified of having the miscarriage actually happen in my bedroom.  So we set up shop in the living room, and I tuned into Kelle Hampton’s blog to listen to her funky, inspiring playlist while I began to process.

It quickly became apparent to me that I needed to write.  I needed to put some context around my story, to “pretty up” its bones with some skin.  It came quickly – the words through my fingers – and it felt like the story had always been written and was just waiting for its opportunity to come out.  As I wrote, my cousin – hours away in Canada –  had written this message on my Facebook wall:

I want you to know that we feel the pain, all the way across the miles…speechless, tearful, heart in throat. We love you so much. I hope you feel our embrace today, and in the days to come…..All our love…xoxo

I appreciated the message, both for its sentiment, but also because it started the process of getting the word out and encouraged me to start seeking support by sharing.  I posted this on my Facebook wall:

We are heartbroken & shocked to have learned that at 12.5 weeks our baby went to be with Jesus. We’re blessed to have had those weeks, the ultrasound peeks, the many chances to hear a strong, beautiful heartbeat & the chance to imagine & celebrate the growth of our family. But mostly, we are just sad. Thank you a thousand times over for your loves & prayers, which we have already gratefully received from so many.

All the while I wrote on my blog, sweet messages of love poured in, and we soon became aware of the many people who surrounded us, offering their shoulders to share our burdens.  It was truly extraordinary, and when I think about it now it takes my breath away.  Eventually the exhaustion gave way to sleep, and upon awakening the only light in my eyes came when I reviewed the cares and concerns of others that had been sent while we slept.  Never before had I so fully understood the gravity of love and how profoundly it changes things.  I’ve always been fortunate enough to experience life on a pillow of love, a pillow that cushions me from the inevitable falls and disappointments of living the human existence.  But in this instance, when I felt everything had been cruelly stripped away and I couldn’t find anything certain underneath my feet, the love of those around me rushed in to fill the voids and we were literally carried on their backs through those most dark hours.

Throughout the day sleep found me intermittently.  Each time I awoke I reminded myself of my new reality and wished I could be asleep again, away from my nightmares.  Getting back to sleep, however, was difficult because I harbored so many fears about how the physical process of loss would begin.  I alternated between Xanax and tylenol, alternately attempting to quell the rising panic and rising cramps.

I remember very few details from the daylight hours.  At one point, I called the on-call doctor with my ob/gyn clinic.  Obviously at home with his family on Mother’s Day, I could hear his little girl in the background.  He listened to my story and listened even more closely to my fears and helped me formulate a plan so I knew what to do.   A dear friend came over bearing a beautiful card and a charming apple tree.  I don’t remember if we talked or just sat; knowing us, we talked about something.  🙂  I do know she prayed with me – precious, comforting words I didn’t imagine possible in those moments.  While she was there, an acquaintance of ours whose wife had recently experienced several miscarriages and who had lost their 8-week-old baby to SIDS several years earlier called to speak with Tahd.  I had been so concerned about Tahd that I asked my mother to get in touch with this friend to see if there was any possibility he might reach out to Tahd.  As much as his phone call ministered to Tahd, it ministered to me equally knowing there was someone who would invest in my grieving husband when I couldn’t.

I also remember that my parents asked me what I wanted to do about Mother’s Day.  Originally, we had planned to gather Sunday evening as a larger family with my sisters and one brother-in-law for a Mother’s Day dinner.  Given the turn of events, no one knew what to do and everyone was ready to follow my lead.  Unsure myself, I begged them to pretend to be happy.  I wanted to spend the evening without crying and without falling apart and smiling at least a little bit.  In spite of the tremendous hole in our hearts, I wanted to find some modicum of happiness on Mother’s Day.  I felt like I needed it; I need to keep a seed of happiness in that day for the sake of future Mother’s Days.

I’m told Gabe slept until 10:30 that morning, but I don’t recall that I saw him until we went to my parents’ house to “celebrate.”  I don’t remember what it was over, but Gabe had gotten very angry with her earlier in the day when she had tried to talk with him about our loss and his experience.  I think it may have been over presents…  As a part of their Kohls shopping trip when he purchased onesies for the baby, he also purchased some presents for me – several things I could enjoy whether or not I was pregnant (one being jelly beans), and a maternity shirt for “me and the baby.”  Mom suggested that he not give it to me because it might upset me, and at that statement he became fairly angry.  I don’t remember when, but at some point I told Mom that she should let him give it to me anyway and that I’d be fine.  He did, and was very proud of his choices.

I don’t have the shirt anymore, but I still have the candy. 🙂

I wish I could describe dinner, but I can’t remember it.  I don’t remember what we ate, but I do remember I ate very little.  I only teared up one time, but I don’t remember why.  I do remember not tearing up when I expected to, however, and it was when I was saying goodbye to Gabe.  My sister from Chicago had offered to take him home with her so he’d have something special and fun to do for the few days while I had surgery and we regained a small amount of equilibrium.  I didn’t want him to go, but I knew I needed – and he needed – to go.  Staying at home during the chaos of my impending surgery would only have complicated matters, and I knew that as good as the diversion would be for him, Tahd and I were in no shape to be in charge of the caregiving.

Tahd had gone home to pick up a few things we had forgotten to pack, and while he was gone I asked Gabe to come talk to me.  We talked about how he’d be having a super fun time with Auntie but that when he came home there probably wouldn’t be a baby in my belly anymore.  He said one last goodbye to the baby, and without any tears from either of us I gave him a big snuggle while I kissed him goodbye.  And still – no tears.  I didn’t even want to cry, really – not due to a lack of feeling, but due to an abundance of feeling for my son, and a fierce desire to somehow assure him that we were going to be okay.

We were going to be okay.

I didn’t realize it while we said goodbye, but the things I said to him were the same things I needed to hear, too.  We had love.  We had each other.  Our baby wasn’t coming back.  But we were going to be okay.

And then it was over, the day that had stretched on for years.  It was over before I was ready for it to end.  Tahd and I went home alone to the living room where we set up a little “camp.” I preferred the floor so he got the couch, at least for most of the night, and CNN blared in the background, reminding me that there was a reality outside of the one in which I was currently stuck.

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  1. I love the concept of having a pillow of love…and I’m so glad that you are surrounded by so many who know how to take such good care of you. Most people in my life give a little pat on the shoulder and expect me to move on, which is so hard when you’re not ready. What an amazing support network you have!
    .-= RenovationGirl´s last blog ..Outlook =-.

  2. I haven’t commented on parts 1-3, but I’ve been reading along, thinking of your family. Thank you for sharing with us.
    .-= Devan´s last blog ..Cheating =-.

  3. This healing business is so hard. Hopefully someone else who has suffered a loss will find you and know that they are not alone. You have such a beautiful way with words my friend.

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