Thursday, July 2, 2009
Walking With You - Meeting Our Babies
If you'd like to meet Kelly and learn more about Walking With You, please click on the picture above.
Last week, we talked about "Waiting". This week we are supposed to talk about meeting our babies, making memories and the time we spent with them.
My friend, Suzanne, is a Nurse Practitioner in the NICU where I delivered. I met her when Emma Grace was born prematurely at 25 weeks, and we've since remained friends. She and another nurse friend, Lori, came to my c-section with Grady that evening on November 12, 2008. They were going to come to my scheduled c-section just two days later. Suzanne was already working; Lori came in just because she's a precious soul.
I was completely against pictures of Grady. It just didn't seem right to take pictures of my dead baby. I've previously talked about this in a post called "Regrets". Fortunately, Suzanne got in my face, albeit politely, and told me that I wouldn't get this time back. I agreed to the pictures. And I'm SO very thankful! The hospital furnished a beautiful, white, smocked gown for his pictures.
When he was born, still and silent, at 6:14 pm, they asked me if I wanted to see him then or wait until recovery. Gib and I agreed that we would wait until I was in the recovery room. About 45 minutes later, when I entered the recovery room, the photographer from NILMDTS was finishing the pictures. At the time, I only wanted pictures of him. Therefore, I have not one of me with my precious boy.
I was in a daze. Not from the medications, but from the confusion and shock of the whole situation. There was the flash of the camera, hushed talking, commotion behind the curtain, more flashes, but no baby noises.
Grady was there, but he wasn't crying.
His body was there, but he was missing. His soul was already in heaven. He breathed his last breath inside of me. The last beat of his heart was long gone.
It was time for me to say hello and goodbye all at the same time...
Gib held him first while the nurse in recovery did some things with me. Gib and I can't remember who brought Grady to me. It was either him or Suzanne. The only thing I remember is Suzanne walking over, before he was in my arms, saying "Tonya, he's beautiful."
And, oh, how right she was.
I remember holding him for the first time. He was still warm from my womb. He looked like he was sleeping.
He just wouldn't wake up.
I kept stroking his face, kissing him, telling him how sorry I was, asking him what happened.
I held him for a while. I was asked if I wanted to keep him in the room with me. Since I'm a nurse, I had a little insight to this part of the deal. I asked them where he would go if he didn't stay with me, and they honestly told me he would go to the morgue.
No thank you. I've been there. (not in that hospital but where I worked years ago) I decided to keep him with me.
We were very fortunate that he didn't have bodily fluids leaking from him like some babies do. He really and truly looked just like he was sleeping.
He was beautiful with his BRIGHT red, rosy, rosebud lips. He had deliciously chubby cheeks. He had long, beautiful fingers and BIG feet, just like his Daddy! His skin was softer than the finest silk, I'm convinced.
I was then transferred to my postpartum room, which was NOT on the postpartum floor, per my request. I remembered being there after Emma Grace was born, hearing a baby crying in the middle of the night. I cried, too, because my baby was in the NICU, fighting for her life. I just knew that I couldn't be on the postpartum floor in that situation.
Grady stayed with me until I left.
That Thursday I was numb. The tears wouldn't come. I was exhausted. I had tried to sleep the night before, but had stared most of the night at Grady's bassinet, willing him to move and make noise. Didn't happen...
I asked for no visitors, but a few came anyway. One of them was my brother. He showed up bright and early the morning after Grady was born. I was holding Grady on my chest under a blanket, kangaroo style, just like you would hold any other baby. My poor brother walked in and was VERY confused. He thought he had misunderstood because I was holding Grady. I felt so bad for him because he was caught off-guard. He didn't stay long, but I was glad he came.
Not long after that a hospital worker from housekeeping came in to sweep my floor and change the trash bag. As she was leaving, despite the card on my door, she said, "Congratulations". What was I supposed to say? I mustered a weak, "Thanks".
Gib came for a while after he got the girls to school. A few more people came in and out. Grady was with me the whole time. I am so thankful that I kept him with me. I only wish I had held him more. I even wish that I had cuddled him in the bed with me at night. That may sound crazy to some of you. But he was my baby. I had watched and felt him grow the 36 weeks and 5 days that I carried him. The bond was strong. The love intense. The guilt overwhelming. I needed to be with him.
It was all I could do...
Those two days passed by way too quickly.
Friday came, and so did the tears. I took two sleeping pills the night before because I HAD to get some sleep. I slept well, but I was able to "feel" a little more the next day. I cried all day. I knew the formal goodbye was coming.
Dr. Joe came to see me. He asked if I was ready to go home. I told him it was a tough decision...I had two girls at home who wanted and needed me, but when I left, I had to say goodbye to Grady, this side of heaven. He's such a wonderful, kind, caring, compassionate person and doctor. He said he would write my order that I could go that day or stay until the next day. The choice was mine. I knew I was going to have to say goodbye sometime.
I decided to go home.
The funeral home came to get Grady. Unfortunately, because of living in a small town and because of my mom's funeral, I'm on a first-name basis with the funeral home directors. Chad was the one to come get Grady. He was so kind. He didn't rush me. He came in to tell me how sorry he was and that he was there. He brought some magazines and said the nurse would know where to find him when I was ready.
How could I ever be ready to say goodbye? To touch my baby for the last time...
But I had to.
I asked him one question. I needed to know...
Was he going to put Grady in a body bag? That may sound terrible, but again, being a nurse, I know these things. I couldn't watch them (same people) take my mom from her home after she died because I knew she would be in that bag.
To my surprise, he had a basket to put Grady in. When it was time, he brought the basket in to the room and put it on the bed. The nurse gave me a standard hospital blanket to wrap Grady in. He had been wrapped in a beautiful blue and white crochet blanket that I was going to take home with me.
I swaddled him. Gib and I kissed him. We told him we loved him.
And I placed him in that basket.
That was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life.
Gib and I held each other and sobbed. And sobbed. And sobbed.
Chad walked out of the room with my precious baby, and we followed not long after.
The nurse said she was going to get a wheelchair for me. I adamantly refused!
I was determined that I was NOT going to be wheeled out if I didn't have a baby in my arms. Gib pulled up to the back door, where Grady had been taken out, and I walked right out those doors.
Only this time, there was no hope that my baby would come home alive.
He was gone...