With all these new losses surrounding me, I can't help but think about those days, or weeks, leading up to Everett's death and everything that followed. I remember how terrified I was every time I was admitted to the hospital. I remember feeling scared, and lonely, and so unsure of what was happening around me leading up to the weeks before Everett died. Then the day came where we thought our dreams were coming true and he would FINALLY be delivered and they couldn't find his heart beat.
I haven't written about what we experienced in the moments after learning that our son was gone, for a couple of reasons. I wasn't ready to go there. I wasn't ready to put myself back into feeling that pain, that unbearable, awful pain we experienced when I made my doctors tell me out loud what I could already see on their faces. The horror of the words spoken out loud to us. I knew it in my heart he was gone before they said it, but I needed to hear them say it. All Dave and I could do was cry in horror and shock and hold each other. I remember crying to the point I felt like I could no longer breath, and just saying no, no, no... saying, how could this happen, he was just alive this morning, I heard his heart beat this morning, I felt him move in the lobby this evening, how could this happen?!? Then I said it, We were so close! I was supposed to be induced right then and there. We were so close to him being here, and he was gone.
We had a Chaplin come in and visit with us for a while before they started the induction process. He did a blessing over Dave and I and Everett and then we were left to start the induction process. I begged my doctor for a c-section. It was too unbearable to think about going into labor and delivering my dead child. I just wanted him out of me. But they wouldn't do it. Too much risk for an "unnecessary" surgery. I started having contractions on my own very shortly after it was determined Everett's heart was no longer beating. Kind of like nature was taking it's course. I still had to be induced in all the typical ways, cervical ripening, pitocin drip to speed up contractions, and then the hook to break my water. After my water was broken things moved very quickly. In fact a little too quickly. They did a slow drip on my epidural, which had to be performed twice (ugh). The pain meds hadn't caught up with the level of pain I was in from the contractions. I begged for them to give me something. I was screaming out in pain and agony. Pain from the contractions and agony from what was about to happen. I kept thinking throughout the labor process, Maybe they made a mistake, maybe he will come out crying and screaming and things will be OK. I think part of this was hope that I needed to hold onto to get through the delivery process and part a protecting mechanism in my brain to help me deal with what was going on.
It was finally time to push. I pushed for what felt like an eternity. One of the few times in my life where I felt so incredibly weak. I was weak from emotional distress, weak from all the meds being pushed into my body and weak from going through labor all night. I just wanted it over with. I wanted to see my baby boy that we wanted so badly to be in our lives. I remember asking my sister, who was there with us during this process, if she could see his head. I needed to know it was almost over. A few more pushes and he was partly out. I had to wait, yes wait, for him to come the entire way out so my OB could inspect him to see if there were any obvious reasons for why he died. Then Dave watched as his cord was unwrapped (tightly) from around his neck and there was the smoking gun... Those two cord knots in his umbilical cord. My OB stated they were the tightest he had seen in his experience.
Everett was placed on my chest, just as Lilli was when she first came out. For a brief moment I forgot that he was gone. I just marveled at this beautifully, chubby, red headed little boy, who in our eyes was beyond perfect. He had skin tears from being gone for several hours and going through the birthing process and his lips were a dark shade of purple, but that didn't matter to us. He was ours and he was beautiful. The nurse took him and cleaned him up. Just like any happy and anxious mother I was excited to hear his birth stats. Then they let us know he was 8lbs, 1oz and a very long 22inches. What a big boy he was.
My in-laws arrived with Lilli to meet Everett. Lilli didn't understand that her brother she had waited so long to meet was gone, she didn't understand why everyone was so sad, and crying, wasn't this supposed to be a happy time? She held him and wanted to see his feet. She LOVES baby feet. We unwrapped them from his blanket and she touched them. Everett was still slightly warm at this point. Another Chaplin came in, one I had seen just weeks earlier while on the high risk unit when I was feeling so scared. She baptized Everett with his Mommy, Daddy, big sister, Nanny, and Deda (Deda is Serbian for Grandfather) surrounding him. My parents arrived by plane from out of state that evening and got to spend some much needed time with their grandson too.
I remained in shock the remainder of my hospital stay. Going into "crisis mode" and doing what needed to be done for our son. Making funeral arrangements, contacting the funeral home, florist, letting friends and family know what happened and what the tentative arrangements were going to be, things like that. The middle of the night when I was in the hospital was the hardest for me. I was moved to a different unit, so I wouldn't be around other happy new moms, and have to hear baby's crying. Although I did have to experience that while in labor and delivery. I could hear a mom giving birth to her alive baby in the room next to me. It was unfair and felt a bit torturous at the time.
The unit I was moved to was quiet. They put me at the end of the hall away from people and I felt a lot like the red headed step child. It was as though I hadn't been pregnant the entire year and everything had been erased. Except that it hadn't. When it was time to go we got a box of mementos some nurses had made for us. It was in a box they had picked out, with (of all things) a sail boat on it. Everett's room was sail boat themed and they didn't even know that. We said our final goodbyes to Everett, after spending the next morning holding him and rocking him in my room. I asked to clip some lockets of his beautiful hair so we could have that to touch later on, and I'm glad we did. As we rode down the elevator with my nurse she held our box of mementos. There was a well meaning volunteer in that elevator ride with us, who kept commenting on how beautiful the box was and what was it for, etc. Our nurse just tried to get her to shut up, but in a polite way! And then we exited the hospital, empty handed and the epitome of broken hearted. Tears welled up in my eyes as we left the hospital with no baby in hand.
Part 2 to come later