Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Small Blue Box

I was lying in the hospital room crying in earnest after they told me he was gone. The evil techs who tried in vain to start an IV (7 times) were shooed away, and Peyton and I were left there to ponder the next move by ourselves.

It's a horrible, gut wrenching feeling knowing that the news you just received was just the beginning of the horror that you are going to have to endure. His heart broke for me, because in the end, I was going to have to labor. I was going to have to deliver him dead. He knew it was horrible. He knew it was cruel. And I knew he would take it away from me and do it himself if he could.

We knew that we would have to call a funeral home. We were informed of that when we were given the bag full of stuff. The 'so you're baby died, now what?' stuff.

"I don't want him buried here." I said.
Peyton nodded through his tears.
"I don't want him buried. When we leave in a few years, we will have to leave him behind, and I don't want that," I said.

His parents came. My parents came. My friend Gina came. We called everyone under the sun. It was getting late. A million tears were shed. I remember how Peyton's father cried as he looked out the window. I remember how my father was trying so hard not to cry. I remember apologizing to his mother for this monumental fail I did as a daughter-in-law. She burst into tears and hugged me and told me that it was not my fault--that I did nothing wrong, but I didn't believe her.

The night nurse brought us a sandwich that she swiped from the doctor's lounge. And a bag of chips. Peyton and I split the turkey sandwich like two children in a school cafeteria. We chewed. We cried. We choked down two bites before we gave up. We fell asleep holding each other on the 'daddy' fold out couch.

At two in the morning I crawled back into the hospital bed. I lay there in the dark and held my belly and cried. "I'm so sorry, Ronan" I said over and over again. "Mommy is so sorry,"

I fell asleep, and sometime around 7 am a tech with a doppler came in to start the IV. He kept chatting. He kept saying things that didn't matter in my world anymore. He said that most women handle the pain of an IV no problems.

"How 'bout the pain of delivering a dead baby?" I asked.

He shut up.

Later that morning Dr. C. came in and introduced himself. Said he had talked to Dr. S and was going to help me deliver today. He said that I could have an epidural. "No need to suffer anymore than you need to," he said in his soft spoken way. Five minutes later he inserted the Cervadil.

4 hours later 2 more went in, and the pain began in earnest. And it was more intense and horrible than I thought it could ever be.

The cramping was intense. I thought I was being split down the middle. I was in full-blown labor and not progressing more than 2 cm. I was given a shot to calm the pain, but it wore off in 20 minutes. Tannya came in with the hard stuff that was being shot into my IV at a snail's pace. I could feel the numbing come, but underneath, the contractions were still there.

Peyton had whispered to me that our friend Jeff was in the waiting room and he wanted to come and see me. I nodded ok in my narcotic-induced haze. Jeff, who is a sweet man unique in his own right, came up to my bed and held my hand and looked at us with so much love and pity that I started to cry. He held Peyton's head in the crook of his shoulder. When people mention Jeff's name now in passing, I see that image of him consoling us in the midst of my labor-hell.

I was allowed an epidural, and as Peyton cradled me in his arms as Dr. K numbed my back, I remember thinking {this} was the part of the process I was so afraid of. The needle in the back. I felt the prick. I felt the threading of the line. The pain was gone in an instant, and the storm was over.

I slept that night, but awoke shortly around 2 a.m. Peyton had finally fallen asleep and I was alone with Ronan again. I knew our time was coming to an end. My body was ready to deliver him, and I would never see him again.

"We're going to get through this, you and I" I said.

I prayed to a God I barely believed in at the time to please be kind and let the delivery be easy. And to please spare my uterus.

"Please let there be a chance for children again," I asked. "Please don't let this horror be all I will know of carrying a child"

At 4 a.m. my water broke. At 6:49 a.m. Ronan was born still after 4 pushes.

I was transferred to the 'sick ward' for recovery, and Ronan was brought to us by Jennifer who was escorted by two police officers. One of the police officers was a Hispanic male, about 50 years old, who hugged us and cried and said he was sorry for our loss. We thanked him, and every time I want to think all cops are assholes, I think about that man, and how the loss of Ronan brought him to tears.

We were visited by counselors, nurses, psychologists who were also women of God. They asked if we wanted to have a prayer service or a dedication there in the hospital. We agreed.

Our parents and friends stood in a circle around the hospital bed as I held Ronan. I took in his soft skin, his dark hair, his fuzzy eyebrows, his ruby red lips. The women prayed, told God that my son was now His. My mother-in-law wept loudly. Everyone wiped their tears.

After the dedication, the family left us alone. Peyton and I held our son and each other. He grew cold, and any bit of spirit that had remained of him was long gone. By late that afternoon, we had to let him go. The same police officers who escorted Ronan to me were responsible for escorting him back with Peyton. I was grateful that compassionate people were taking him to his final resting spot.

I handed Ronan to Peyton, kissed him on the forehead and wept as they took him away.

I sat by the window and forced myself to look at the sun setting. I named the colors that I saw. Pink. Orange. Blue. White. I told myself he was not in that body anymore, but that he was in the light.

A week later a funeral director slid a small blue box with a white sateen pouch in it across the table to me. My fingers rested on the box. Peyton grabbed my hand and I stood with him, cradling the box to my chest.

I walked out of the small office, and saw how people looked at me in the lobby. They looked at the small box. They looked at the grieving couple. And they bowed their head because they knew what was in the box, and the reality of it made their hearts heavy.

That small blue box sits in another box in my closet, along with his pictures, the clothes he wore, and the cards we received. As we prepare to finally move from this place in the next few months, I prepare to move his box to take it with us....