By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
The anesthesiologist snaked the relief into my back. My body hurt no more.
Everyone was gone. Except the nurse. Stephanie. She looked at me. "Paula, we have to talk."
I slowly turned my heard toward her, "Yeah?"
"I think you know, but I have to tell you. There's no heartbeat. Your baby died."
" . . . I know. I know."
I closed my eyes. It was dark. Quiet. Still. Forever changed. My life. I hurt but couldn't cry. My mom still hadn't gotten to the hospital yet. And Scott wasn't by my side.
Everyone came back. Scott sat in a chair. Jackie sat in a chair. Christine sat on the floor. My other midwife wasn't there. I don't know why. I haven't asked. Too painful? I lay in the bed, epidural pleasantly doing its job, and me, pissed because I broke a fingernail on the damn hospital bed rail during an earlier contraction. Focused on a fingernail when my life was falling apart.
Stephanie brought pillows in for everyone. And blankets. She was kind. And thoughtful. And she cried.
I looked over at my precious husband and Jackie, the woman who'd been my rock for the past two months. My heart ached for them. I couldn't say anything except, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry . . ."
"Jackie, remember when I lost it back at home? When I lost control and asked to be taken to the hospital?"
"Well, it happened because I knew my baby was dead. I couldn't focus on the contractions anymore knowing the truth. I just couldn't do it."
"I know that now. I didn't then. I couldn't believe you were 'going there.' I couldn't believe that those words were coming from you."
I looked over at Scott. I've never seen anyone's eyes ever look so empty.
Stephanie began to talk to me about procedures. I'd be giving birth vaginally. [Whoop-de-doo.] I could hold my baby. [Oh my God! How wonderful! Yes, I want to do that! Desperately.] As long as I wanted.
"How long is that? Can others see the baby? My mom is on her way. I want family here." She kindly told me that everything was up to me. As long as I wanted. I could bathe the baby and take the hand and footprints. She'd check and see. She brought her protocol book to me. She said that there was no specified time limit. I could release my baby when I was ready to. No time limit. No time limit. No time limit. No time limit. No time limit. No time limit . . .
My mother arrived. She came to my bed and said, in a somewhat jovial manner with her hands on her hips, "What? No baby yet?"
"No mom. Not yet. [deep breath] There won't be. The baby died."
She turned away. I don't know what she thought. I saw her pain though. Seems like all her life's tragedies coursed through her heart that very moment. And nothing probably matched hearing that her own child's child was dead.
Scott's mother came. She and Scott went somewhere outside of the room to talk. I tried to figure out who needed to call whom. Someone had to call Liana, my sister, who was far far away in New Zealand. I tried to figure out what time it was there because I didn't want her to hear the news while she was at work. We counted. She would be at home. I knew it was too early for Maria and Eric, my other sister and my brother, to be called. Scott's sister Cheryl and his brother Todd and his wife Jeannie had to be called. I'd let Scott and his mom figure that out. My mom called my dad and told him the news. She asked him to call Liana since she was at home.
Alexandria, my darling two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, was at my parents' home sleeping. My mom went home so that my dad could come to the hospital. He did. My mom came back. Then, everyone except for Scott, Jackie, and Christine left to get something to eat.
Several hours passed. I was checked. No progress. My body was tired.
Pitocin. Would I consent? Yes.
One and a half hours later. I was checked again. I was going backwards. I had begun to run a fever. My body was exhausted.
Cesarean . . . cesarean . . . cesarean . . . cesarean . . . section. Would I consent? Yes.
I closed my eyes. I felt my spirit die.
Stephanie asked me if I had any questions about the operation. I told her I had no questions, but several requests: 1) I'd like the drape dropped when our baby was being delivered so that I could see, 2) I wanted my baby laid on my chest, without being cleaned off and without a blanket, and 3) I didn't want anyone to announce the gender. She brought the doctor to my bedside. I repeated my requests to him. No problem. I also asked about being able to keep my baby on my chest while I was being taken back to the birthing room.
No problem again. If there were any complications, Scott could carry the baby. I didn't want my baby to be without her/his mom or dad.