The other night, a friend was talking about the room where her son lived before he died. Listening to her transported me right back to the morning after August died, when we came home from the hospital without him. That was the worst feeling…the worst I can imagine or try to describe.
It was Monday, January 11, a sunny, crisp, chilly day. I had been in labor all day, walking around the house and neighborhood, napping sometimes, watching movies and hanging out with my friends. We were doing a home birth, and our midwife and her apprentices had come over mid-morning; so had my three dear girlfriends. But early in the evening, when I was about 8 centimeters dilated, the baby’s heart rate started to drop for no apparent reason. We rushed out to my midwife’s car and drove quickly to the hospital, where everything just started going crazy. (That’s another story for another post.)
August was born late that night, and termed a “fresh stillbirth” since he had died sometime while I pushed him out. We got to keep him with us for several hours, but not for long; we had decided to donate his body to the Blood and Tissue Center, so they had to come take him away within a certain, small number of hours of when he died. We only got to hold him until about seven in the morning. During that time there was one interruption after another — nurses checking on my status, phone calls, a forty-five-minute interview with people from the donation center to make sure August and I were both “good candidates” — meaning, that he would be a healthy donor. Our hospital room was dim, and at one point between disruptions, E and I both tried to get a little sleep, me with August wrapped in his blue knitted blanket and propped up next to me.
All we wanted to do was to go home. Having to stay there in the hospital for hours on end seemed like one more injustice on top of a mountain of them. The doctor finally released us at ten in the morning, and my best friend picked me up. It was so sunny; I remember her black car gleaming as she pulled up next to the bench where we sat huddled, waiting. When she got out of the car she burst out crying, and we held each other and sobbed. It was the most awful thing — all the excitement and anticipation ending in having to come home without our baby.
The worst part was when we got back to our cold, dim house. It was chilly outside and cool inside, and the blinds were drawn, and the dogs were quiet, padding softly around our feet, nervously flicking the ends of their tails as they looked up at us, wondering what had happened. I went into our bedroom, which was, and still is, my favorite room in the house. The midwives had made up the bed for us — fresh sheets, our big down comforter, absorbent pads beneath the bottom sheet in case my lochia flow was especially heavy. I had slept only about an hour out of the past thirty.
As I walked into the bedroom and slid in between the cool, clean sheets, the feeling I had was so strange — a surreal mingling of immense relief and shocking, soul-shattering grief. August was supposed to be here with us. I was supposed to be lying in this bed with him, holding him and nursing him, marveling at his sweet, perfect body. Instead I was trying to wrap my brain around an unbelievable truth: He had died; he was gone; I would never, ever see him again in my whole life.