Monday, January 29, 2018

My Two Days

It's hard to believe that it's been NINE YEARS since God called our Ty-boy Home. 

Nine. Years.

I try push the thoughts and the pain away for 363 days each year.  Sure, they make their way out of hiding at times...sometimes at holidays or when I see little boys Ty's age.  Christmas and the start of school are probably the toughest of those days.  Otherwise, though, I keep them locked away.

Until his two days come back around... the day he left and the day we said good-bye.

The day he left was not an ordinary day.  I spent the morning interviewing candidates for my long-term substitute position.  The position that would cover my maternity leave.  We finished the interviews feeling awesome about one candidate.  She was the one.

At lunch I commented that Baby was being quiet, but I was probably just distracted. 

The afternoon was a blur - it always was when teaching kindergarten.  On the way to pick Tegan up from daycare I made a mental note to lay down when I got home.  Baby was still being lazy and that usually woke him up. 

Brendan and I got home around the same time.  As he left to go for a bike ride (yes, on a frigid January evening) I mentioned that I was going to go lay down because Baby had such a quiet day.  He said to call him if I needed anything.

Five minutes of quiet time, no movement.
15 minutes of quiet time, no movement.
30 minutes of quiet time, no movement...

I called my midwife.  I was sure I was overreacting but it was best to call.  Better to be on the safe side of things.  She told me to eat a snack, because they wouldn't let me eat there, and then head to labor and delivery for some simple monitoring.  I chose to eat a bowl of clam chowder.

I walked Tegan over to the neighbor's house, said thanks and then drove myself to the hospital.  I called my mother-in-law as I passed the Walmart and left a voicemail. "Hi Devin.  I'm sure it's nothing, but the baby has been quiet today and my midwife wants me to come in for monitoring.  I'll keep you updated.  Please say a prayer."  Called my parents as I exited into the highway.  Same message.  Called Brendan and left a voicemail; there was no need to make him stop his bike ride.  I was sure it was nothing and Baby was just being quiet.

I parked on the hospital side of the parking lot.  I rarely parked over there.  Second row, facing west, just a few spots from the end.

Upstairs, I was lead to room 305.  A nurse tried to hook me up to a fetal heart monitor - one of those ones that straps onto your belly... but she couldn't find the heartbeat.  I thought nothing of it.

The nurse brought in a 2nd monitor, maybe that was the problem.  Still, no heartbeat could be found.  I thought nothing of it.  My baby was just being stubborn and that's what she said, too. 

The nurse tried to wiggle him around and get him to move... but nothing.

So, they had me watch some TV while they got an ultrasound machine.  House Hunters was on.  The couple was looking for a house in Wisconsin - Oconomowoc.  We have a good friend from there.  Small world!

The ultrasound machine my midwife found was old and hooked up to a black and white tube monitor.  She "was having a hard time reading the image" so she was going to get radiology to bring up one of the new ones.  She suggested that I call Brendan.


Three calls later, Brendan answered.  He was going to turn around and head to the hospital.  I can't remember if he drove to the trail-head or if he biked there from our house.  Either way,  he was about 2 hours away... I think.

Brendan knew what had happened at this point.  I REMAINED CLUELESS!!! 

Not once while I sat there watching episode after episode of House Hunters did Ty move and not once did it concern me.  I was in the hospital, after all, and if something was wrong they would be rushing me off for an emergency c-section or monitoring me more closely, right?!

Shortly after Brendan arrived, so did the big fancy ultrasound machine and tech.  The nurse turned off of the lights.  The tech was chatting away, just like she had at my 28 week ultrasound... and then she fell silent. 

That's when it hit me that something really could be wrong.  As she left, I said, "dare I ask?"

I don't remember her response exactly, but it was something about how my midwife would explain things.

Brendan squeezed my hand.

In came my midwife... arms crossed... defeated expression on her face... just shaking her head no.

I screamed.  I cried.  I screamed again.  I lost my breath.





I don't really remember the order of events after that.  I wanted a c-section.  Tegan's delivery was awful.  Hours and hours of pushing.  I couldn't do that again knowing that there would be no screaming, pink baby to reward my efforts... but I wanted my baby out of me. 

I was so overwhelmed with so many emotions. 

My midwife convinced me to go through a standard labor and delivery.  They would give me an epidural before breaking my water.  I'd feel no pain. 

I hate that I felt no pain.  At least I could have focused on that.  I feel cheated somehow that I felt no pain.  I was so numb emotionally after a while that I wonder if I would have even noticed the physical pain of labor.  I'm sure I would have... but who knows.

Brendan quietly left the room to make phone calls to family.  My first call was to my principal.  He had just gotten off the phone with the candidate that we loved.  She would be my sub... for my medical leave - no longer a maternity leave.

Much of the remainder of my time in room 305 was clouded in near silence.  When the anesthesiologist arrived he tried to joke around a bit.  He must not have known about my situation.

A lab tech came in to collect blood for testing.  16 tubes... at least that's what it felt like.  She tried to joke about how much I was "donating".  She must not have been informed of my situation.

The night was dark.  Brendan slept the whole night.  I don't remember sleeping at all. 

I have remarkable blood pressure - always have.  Actually, it's often on the low end of normal.  Got that from my mom.  There were a few times where my blood pressure monitor sounded the alarms... it was low.  Really low.  I felt myself drifting away.  Floating while feeling like lead at the same time.  I almost thought that maybe I would just sink down and disappear into my sheets.  Then, they would come in and give me something to bring my BP back up and I would return to reality.  I hated that.  Reality sucked.

I had to be turned periodically through the night because over time the epidural would only numb one side of my body.  It would feel so cold. 

Camden or Ty?  We had not yet decided on a name.  And suddenly, it was crystal clear to me - his name was Ty.  That one thing I knew for sure.

I just wanted my nightmare to be over.  But did I?

By the time morning came I felt like I had aged 10 years.  Then... he was ready, he was there.  The moment I was waiting for had arrived and now I wanted nothing to do with it.  Delivering would mean that I was no longer pregnant.  That I would be one step closer to leaving the hospital with nothing.

The blinds and curtains had been opened in my room.  A calm light shown into my room.  The lights had been turned off.  Everyone was silent.  "Ok, Jenn.  It's time."  Within a few minutes I felt my baby boy be birthed from my body and my pregnancy was officially over.

The room remained silent.  The tears we were all shedding remained silent. 

The tiny, lifeless body of my son was gently blanketed and placed into my arms.  He was utterly perfect.  His lips, slightly parted.  His skin still pink.  The most precious little baby nose I had ever seen.  10 little fingers.  10 little toes.  A decent amount of hair.  Skinny as could be.  4 pounds 3 ounces. 18.5 inches long.  He looked so much like his big brother.

His jaw was slack - I had to hold it closed or else it would gently fall open.  I kept losing my breathing thinking that it was him trying to live.  Trying to breathe.  About to cry.  But no.  I prayed so hard that God would breathe life back into my sweet child... but that was not to happen on this side of heaven.

After a while, the photographer arrived.  I was so confused about why anyone would want photographs with their dead baby.  Oh how I am so grateful for the pictures we have. 

Next, our family arrived.  My in-laws first.  Their arrival was captured by the photographer.  Raw, painful, anguished, defeated...

Ty was passed around.  I was so worried that he would get cold.  I was constantly trying to keep him covered up.  It mattered to me.  Maybe the warmer we kept him, the longer his color would last? 

I didn't even want to think about the inevitable.

Tegan arrived with my sister and parents.  23 months old... just 2 weeks shy of his 2nd birthday.  He was very confused but he knew he should be quiet.  We tried to get him to sit with me and Ty, but he was scared of me as I was still hooked up to an iv and monitors.

To this day, Tegan will still, on rare occasions, get upset with himself that he didn't hold Ty.  Oh my heart!!!

We had 5 hours with our little guy... or at least the body that God had designed for his short life.  We know that when his heart stopped beating, his soul joined his Savior in heaven.

I don't remember being disconnected from the iv or the monitors.  I don't remember changing.

I will never forget saying good-bye.

It was shift change for the nurses... it was the right time.  No need to bring our pain onto another round of people. 

I don't know how I did it... but I gently placed my heart into that bassinet and followed him down the hallway as he was rolled away - sheet drawn over his face.  The sounds of newborn cries echoed from other rooms.

My heart was empty.

My womb ached.  It wasn't ready to be empty.  It was supposed to be still nurturing and growing my sweet boy for another 6 weeks.  This wasn't right!

I was required make the trek downstairs and to the exit in a wheelchair.  Maybe to keep me from running away... but I'm sure not.

And that was that.  The hospital was behind me and the real world was in front of me.

Part of me died on that cold Monday, January 26, 2009.  On the 27th, even more of me ceased to exist.

Time does not heal.  Don't listen to people when they tell you that.  You just get better at locking the pain away.  At first it's for a few minutes.  Then a few hours... before you know it a week has passed.  The world has returned to its normal.  But there you sit. 

Here I am.  Nine years later. 

I can now keep my pain and heartache at bay for the better part of 363 days out of the year. 

But those two days that part of me died.  Those two days that I remember saying hello and good-bye in the same breath.  Those are mine to mourn. To weep.  To scream.  To pound my fists into the ground.  To fall to my knees and lose myself in pain and anger and heartache.  Those are MINE!

And if you see me on one of those days, just nod and give me a hug.  No words are needed.  I know you don't know what to say, and that's good!  It means that you don't know my pain.  I wouldn't wish it upon anyone. 

But don't feel sorry for me either.  I don't want that.  I just need that proverbial shoulder to cry on. 

God works in some pretty amazing ways.  This year, when I needed support the most, my phone literally rang.  When I felt alone, I found arms around my neck and a hand on my shoulder. He covered me. ~j

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