Being at the hospital was a surreal experience. I hated walking into L&D still feeling her weight in my abdomen and knowing that when I walked out, I would be leaving her behind forever. The first nurse was very snippy to me and seemed to have a problem with the reason I was there until the doctor (Dr. Y was amazingly compassionate and competent!) spoke with her outside. When they came back in, she was a completely different person. I don't think she understood the gravity of the situation.
I didn’t even really comprehend what was happening enough to even cry until late that night. I knew enough from working in the hospital to understand the options that were presented, but I never knew there were so many forms and decisions and questions and choices. I chose to be induced by a continuous Pitocin infusion because it sounded easier than the tablets, but I didn't know that the Pitocin would cause it to feel like one long contraction. There were no waves once it got started. It felt like someone had twisted the lower half of my body around backwards and left me there. I had terrible back labor and I remember thinking that I couldn't believe that I was going through all of this pain and would have no crying baby to help dull the memory. I had a blood pressure cuff, and IV, and a contraction monitor, but because we were inducing, the nurses would not bring in a Doppler or ultrasound to let me hear her heartbeat or to even know if she was still alive. Looking back, I believe that God answered our prayers to take her home before the labor because I never felt her swishing around after the amnio and her appearance after birth indicated that she had been gone for more than a few hours.
Sometime after 11:00pm, we were finally able to convince my in-laws to go home because nothing was going to happen before morning and minutes after they left, my mom came back to the hospital, intent on staying in my room over night. After many tears and an utterly defeated argument, I made my mom leave my husband and me alone. I just knew there was no way I could sleep with her there and honestly, I needed time to process what was about to happen. All day there had been someone in the room with us and my husband and I needed time alone. After she left I just sat on the edge of the bed and wept. My husband asked what was wrong and when I responded with “I don’t know” he just held me, stroked my hair, and said “I know.”
I don’t really remember much of the following morning because sometime in the middle of the night, I had been given Phenergan for nausea and it knocked me completely senseless. Apparently I had entire conversations that I have no memories of. I remember flashes of faces and at one point I fell asleep while sitting up in bed. My mom thought I was going to fall over and hit the floor. I remember waking up in pain as Dr. Y broke my water and I was so angry. After he left I cried to my husband, saying, "He should have told me he was going to do that. I didn't know. He should have woken me up." to which he replied, "He did, honey. He talked to you about it, and you agreed that it was time." I had absolutely no idea. He said he stayed in there with me alone for most of the day and cried while I slept. People don’t seem to understand that, as a father, his dreams were dead too. He is such an amazing and supportive man. I never could have made it without him.
Later that afternoon, my doctor came to my room in a suit and tie. He was going to have to leave to be inducted into some kind of OBGYN Hall of Fame but he was bringing another doctor to watch over me until he returned. He had this new doctor examine me to see how much I was dilated and I remember him saying "The baby is two fingers in the vault" meaning I had been delivering and didn't even know it. My husband said that in my sleep I had been sitting up in bed and pushing my hands on my stomach but he didn't realize that I was actually pushing. The nurses had been telling him all morning that when it was time to push, I would wake up. The new doctor immediately laid me back and told me to push. With two doctors and two nurses in there, my husband couldn't even get to the bed to hold my hand.
When Raelyn was born, I was instantly awake! I had no more grogginess at all. I knew I needed to be awake in case she was alive. She was not. I have never heard a silence so deafening than a silent labor room with the stillness broken only by a father’s sobs as he told his father on the phone “she had the baby”. I don’t know why—maybe it was the drugs—but I couldn’t even cry. I had cried so hard the night before as well as the two weeks prior, it was almost like I had run out of tears.
We held her and she was beautiful. Her tiny body showed signs of death and was badly bruised from the delivery since I had labored for over 24 hours but she looked perfect! I knew, however; that 23 week old babies should weigh a little more than a pound, but she was only eleven ounces. Her smaller size and her clenched fists were the only outward manifestations of the Trisomy 18, but I know that her organs were not all there. She was nineteen inches long and had big feet! She would have been a tall baby. She looked just like I did as an infant. My husband jokingly called it another Immaculate Conception because her eyes, nose and mouth are all mine! September 29, 2008 was one of the lowest points in my life to date. Bringing my baby’s body into the world while her spirit was dancing with Jesus was absolutely heartbreaking.
There are so many things that I wish we had done, that I wish I had known about. We took a few pictures on our own camera, but I wish I had known about Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. I also wish we had taken some time with her by ourselves before our families came in. Everyone was waiting outside and as soon as I was decent (I hope) they all came in and everyone stayed the rest of the day. We didn't have any time to just be alone and love on Raelyn. I wish we had taken hand and foot imprints. I wish we had taken a special outfit or blanket or something for her. Sometimes I wish we had been financially able to have her cremated or buried where we could go visit. Some days I really struggle with regrets and guilt, but I know that she is healthy and happy and whole in the arms of our Father. Most of all, I wish I had kissed her. I don't know why I didn't. I think I was afraid of what my family would think or say. I wish I had held her close and kissed her and sung over her... I wish I had had more time with her...