My son was born at 18 weeks. He had no chance from the time my water broke. The triage doctor confirmed the miscarriage and left the room so I delivered my son with two nurses by my side, no assistance because apparently because he was a miscarriage it didn’t “count” as labor. One heavy contraction and my body pushed instinctively. My son entered the world with no medical assistance. Because he was miscarried, there was no grief from family or friends. No flowers sent, no casseroles delivered, no funeral or memorial planned.
My son was born with a collapsed skull. I have read numerous, countless stories of perfectly formed babies born far too soon and I feel envious of them. I didn’t even want to look at my son. I couldn’t bear to. He was wrapped in a blanket with only his head exposed and his head was flat. Crushed. I didn’t want to remember my son that way. I feel jealous of moms who spent hours holding their child, cuddling them. I didn’t get that time. I couldn’t. He was my son and all I could see was how he looked. I couldn’t bear to even hold him for longer than ten minutes. We have pictures and even those are hard to look at. Some are of just his hands and feet but the nurses took the pictures so instead of his hand resting on my finger you see a sterile white glove holding my boy. I didn’t even know I could hold him for the pictures. I didn’t think to ask.
I consider my son stillborn. The stigma that comes with the word miscarriage makes it seem clinical, a medical problem to be fixed and forgotten. Not a baby who didn’t live to see life and who deserves to be grieved.
I think I knew from the beginning something would go wrong. A mother’s instinct, I guess. My whole life I have had a feeling that I would only be able to have one child. It’s why I chose to have my daughter when I was 19 instead of taking the morning after pill after the condom came off. It’s why, as soon as I realized my boyfriend was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I started the dream about babies with him. Why Elliot was planned to be my last baby. I planned to get permanent birth control after I had him.
When we were planning to try to conceive I was on Pandora on my phone a lot. I came across the song Gone Too Soon by Daughtry. The song is about a miscarriage. I wasn’t even pregnant but I became obsessed with this song. I listened to it on repeat. I don’t know why. It just hit so close to home for me although I had not yet experience a loss. I feel like that song was sent to me so that when I was swimming the ocean of deepest grief I would have a lifeline to hold onto.
I was nervous my whole pregnancy. Each time I went to the dr I was terrified there would be no heartbeat. Once I let my daughter come into the room with me and I questioned that choice the whole way to the room until the heartbeat was heard. I just wondered what I would do if she was there and the dr couldn’t find the heartbeat. I felt terrified, nervous, anxious. Now I know why.
When my water broke that morning I went into denial. From the second I felt that pop I knew in my bones why I had been feeling so terrifed throughout my pregnancy. Why that song meant so much to me.
I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. I hate that anyone has to be here, to know this pain. And I feel awful but there are times that read another person’s story and I think, her baby was alive for an hour, I wish I had that time with Elliot. Or, “She has beautiful pictures of her baby, why was my son born with physical problems?” What would it have been like had I gotten to see him breathe even once? Would it have been a comfort? Or would it multiply my pain even larger?
I feel anger at the nurses at the hospital. At the time I thought they were wonderful but now I see that they were as distanced from us as they could have been. They tried to talk me out of holding my son. They waited until the last minute to give us our memory box. They took the pictures of Elliot in another room, so we were not apart of that. They left the plastic bassinet that they put newborns in out in the open so I could stare at it the whole time I was in the hospital. They left the doors open to the little area where they weigh and measure the newborns, so I was able to stare at that all day as well. When they were putting together the memory box they left out the supplies for another box with a little hat to go with it and when the social worker came in she commented on how cute our son’s hat was, that she hoped he would wear it in the pictures to hide how his head was formed. We never got the hat, nor did he wear one in the pictures. It’s not because they were mean, or heartless. I know that. But they are so clueless about how to handle the situation. The hospital is 45 minutes from my house or I would go there and volunteer and help the nurses understand how to treat babyloss families. I don’t have to money to buy things to donate, I can’t get to the hopsital to help. I want to do something to make a difference and I can’t figure out what. All I know is that the hospital I delivered at is the best women’s hopsital in the state and yet they don’t know how to handle babyloss. It needs to change. I just don’t know how.