Bethany’s Story part 2

It seemed so quiet in the Neo Natal ICU unit that night….

I am in a wheelchair….
I am going to see my baby…
She is in the Intensive Care Unit for newborn babies.

Dr. Wolf is with us.
Our wonderful nurse Cindy is with us.
I am not paying much attention to where we are going.
This is a road I did not expect to travel.

My body is here…but my mind is far away…

My heart is racing…and inside my soul is quivering and the only thing I can think of right now is what will she look like when I see her again?  Will she still be alive?
Will she have tubes going everywhere?
Will she respond to me at all?

Dr. Wolf is telling me about Dr. Cartwright.
A part of me is listening to what he says…the other part of me is yearning for my baby.
Dr. Wolf says that Dr. Cartwright is the best baby doctor in the hospital.

God covered this base well…
If the best baby doctor in the hospital could not help her…
Well…the logical conclusion is that no one else could either!

Dr. Wolf says Bethany doesn’t have any tubes or machines on her.
They have all been removed.  He says she is still alive!

Then times seems to stand still as the doors open with a whoosh and I see my beautiful baby girl again.
She looks so peaceful and still.
I wonder if she is still alive?

I cradle her gently in my arms once more and marvel how she can look so perfect in every way and yet…DIE!!
The nurse is checking her heart beat…
I can hear it’s soft thud and feel it beating against my hand.

Gradually the beating stops…and I know my baby is gone…
I do not notice anything different except this empty hole, this heavy ache in my chest.

I feel kinda numb…like I’m kinda floating away with her.
Is this what it feels like when your baby dies?
I want to cry but it seems like my eyes forgot how to cry, too.

Cindy the nurse is crying.
She doesn’t know why my baby died.
It is obvious to her how much we love and want our baby.
She sees other mothers that have babies that don’t care…
She says it’s just not fair!

It is a puzzle!
I find myself wanting to offer comfort to Cindy because I know she is taking this really hard.
I also know this doesn’t happen very often.
When it does it makes an impact!

Dr. Wolf and Dr. Cartwright are both crying silent tears.
I feel their compassion…
I know how much they want her to live.

I just kinda sit and think about the euphoria I felt just a short time ago….
Now I feel like I am on a roller coaster ride with no idea how to get off!
I feel like the rug has been pulled from under my feet….and the ground is pretty shaky!

Like no kidding…

There just aren’t words to describe the intensity of emotions you feel when someone you love dies.
Especially someone you carried close to your heart for nine months in joyous anticipation with a longing to know the precious soul and spirit growing inside you.

There is a room close by where we can spend some more time with Bethany.
They roll me in the wheelchair into this quiet space.
I am still holding her… then Philip gets to hold her for the first time….
It is a bittersweet moment for him.

He looks at her hands and her feet, counts her toes, looks at her little turned up nose!
I can still see the sparkle in his eyes I saw when he looked at me after she was born and she was laid in my arms.
We share a tender moment as we cling to each other for strength to get through this.

Now Dr. Cartwright is talking to us about losing a baby and divorce.

I had no idea over 90% of marriages end in divorce when a couple has lost a baby.
He encourages us to find a support group so we won’t become a divorce statistic.
It seems kind of strange to be having this conversation when we are still holding our baby, and still trying to wrap our minds around the fact that she is not here.

It seems very strange to think that our marriage could suffer because our baby died.
My thoughts are saying…
…….this is one thing that won’t ever happen! We have a good marriage.

Then I think about the thoughts I am thinking…how can one person have so many thoughts about so many different things so close together as to almost come simultaneously!!!

Dr. Cartwright is concerned that for some reason I will blame myself…
Or Philip will blame himself…
Can’t say as I see much sense in that right now, but who knows if I might have this trouble later?
I guess this is one reason we gave our consent and said Yes to the next troubling question.
It wasn’t an easy choice to make…

The next question the Doctors talk to us about is whether we want them to do an autopsy.
My heart recoils at the very thought.
I ask myself how important is it to know why she died.
We both decide we want to know what was wrong…
We think if we don’t have an autopsy we will always wonder why this happened.
This is one thing we can do to give us peace of mind about it…

Before long we are encouraged to try to get some rest…it is 11:00 pm…
I am not ready to stop holding my baby and I know I will never get tired of holding her!
We go back to the room where our joy turned to deep sadness…where we can hear the cries of other babies…and where we will start making some phone calls about what has happened in the last hour!!!

Ugh….How do you call someone and tell them your baby is born and they are happy and excited until you say… and she died or you say she only lived an hour and a half…
They are in disbelief and shock!!!
Not an easy thing to do at all!

We did not call Philip’s Mother until the next morning because it was late and besides that we weren’t too thrilled to tell her about Bethany’s death.
As it ended up she didn’t sleep anyway!
She was so excited about Bethany’s birth that she couldn’t sleep.
I was thankful she had one night to think about the thrill of being a Grandma….about having a little girl to hold and rock and sing lullaby songs to and do all the things Grandma’s do!
She was extra happy Bethany was a girl!
She had four boys and always thought a girl would be fun.

We named Bethany in honor of her by giving her Mother’s middle name; Marie.

We still could not reach my parents.
They weren’t home and no one seemed to know where they were.
(These were the days before cell phones!!)
My sister Sandra and her husband Dale decided to go to their house and wait for them to get home.
When Sandra got there my parents had just got home.
Sandra went running into the house crying and saying, “Susan had her baby and she died!”

My parents stared at her in disbelief….they thought she was saying I had died!!!
They did not know our baby was a girl!!
Sandra quickly told them what happened and they were very relieved to know I didn’t die….and very sad Bethany did!

My parents came to see us that night in the hospital.
They also went to the hospital morgue to see Bethany.
It was so good to see our loved ones and the reality of what happened started to sink in a bit deeper…

The following morning I was released from the hospital and we came home.
It was Palm Sunday. It was raining and a very dreary day.
It seemed very fitting considering the circumstances!
The skies were crying and so were we…

Everything was exactly as I had left it…
The bassinet and small crib sat in the corner of the babies room.

Draped over the side were the baby boy and baby girl outfits I had hand smocked.
The blanket I made was there, too.

The changing table Philip made was stocked with sleepers and diapers and baby powder and baby lotion…everything was ready for our baby….a rocking chair…baby monitor…

The babies room…intended for lots of love and laughter….now became a shrine…to the memory of the one we loved and lost.

The changing table wasn’t used to change any diapers….at least not now.

Instead it became a “desk”…

A place we put everything we brought home from the hospital.

The birth certificate, the 2 Polaroid pictures,
two footprints (one footprint missing 2 toes!) and a growing pile of cards and some beautiful flowers.

You would have thought it important for them to get all 10 toes on the birth certificate…

No, she wasn’t missing any toes!!!
She had 10 adorable little toes.
Philip gave me a pink rose…it was symbolic of our tiny “Rosebud”.
I really do like Roses but pink roses didn’t ease the pain in my heart!
Pink roses didn’t fill my empty arms or the deep aching void I felt.

It seemed like I was just going through the motions…
People came and went…everyone was so concerned about me…

Grieving….I don’t think there is anything that really prepares a person for the intensity of grief that comes when a baby dies.

But then…that’s part of “the rest of the story” I will be sharing later…
Click here for the blog post about avoiding her room…

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