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This is a place for anyone who has felt the loss of a child. Treat this as a communication haven regardless of how or when you felt your loss. My definition of loss: miscarriage at any stage, still birth regardless of week gestation, infant death at any month, and loss of a child even if your child was all grown up. For me they all hold the same root of devestation. None are more profound or more "easily" dealt with than another.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Reality Versus Fantasy

I sat up in the hospital bed, my swollen belly leading. Wrapping my arms around the protruding bump, I forced myself to breathe deeply - not because of the mild contractions consistently squeeqing me, a gentle hug from the baby within - but in a hyperventillation response to the questions the nurse had just rattled off.

Minutes earlier, she entered the room wearing scrubs, ironically featuring a host of whimsical little angels. Without prelude she began peppering me with questions. “Have you thought about which funeral home you would like to use? We can coordinate with them. Oh, and do you have an idea what day the funeral will be?”

Without awarding me sufficient time to process her words, let alone attempt a response, she kept firing “Do you want to have a full autopsy performed after the delivery? I can arrange a time for pick up and transport to Burlington”. I was stunned, immobile and effectively rendered mute.

The walls closed in, the gaping hole in the floor widened, beckoning me to jump. Why stay here in this world of tragedy and madness where nurses speak of funerals and autopsies? How could I answer or even think about those things. Why did I need to? It wasn’t necessary. I will feel every part of this delivery. I will use my well-practiced breathing techniques to endure unfathomable quantities of pain. My baby will cry when she arrives. She will live. The miracle will blow them all way.

As I existed somewhere between reality and fantasy, my parents and in-laws, informed the staff, “Any further questions about necessary arrangements will be directed to one of us”.

They met with the director of the funeral home, they arranged for the burial service, they picked the casket, and they paid every penny. My mother-in-law graciously donated her pre-owned plot and my mom went to our local children’s shop to find a burial gown. The owner noticing her obvious dismay helped to pick out the perfect gown, a delicate white dress with embroidered red rosebuds. Beneath the handmade quilt Nana had just finished, her burial would be warm, cozy and full of love.

A newly forged team, the four grandparents planned the reception, contacted the priest, and countless other duties I was never told. As a group they came together to make all these decisions and only when I was ready, did they tell me the parts I wanted to know.

"I read your article in the paper and was touched" my postmaster said Friday as I opened the PO box to check the day's mail. "I'm so glad you started a group. Would you be interested in some homemade baby buntings?"

We talked further. She told me how she connected with a group of women online who make these for families after a loss. She's been making them and sending them out to Ohio where they are distributed to hospitals and funeral homes for infant burials. We talked about how parents are often overwhelmed with grief when told their baby is dead, and the idea of making funeral preparations is beyond their ability.

If not for my parents and in-laws, I cannot say what Emma's funeral would have been or when - for that matter. If not for them - who knows if she would have been respected, let alone loved.



She said...

I just wanted to thank you. I was reading your post and "Baby Mine" started playing. I've never heard that version of it, and it helped me to cry... I haven't really been able to cry much after my second loss, (and I didn't cry for long) but it feels good to cry and to have a moment to acknowledge the pain that I'm going through.

Hope's Mama said...

my family stepped in and organised and paid for the funeral, too. my hospital were asking me about autopsies and funeral homes immediately after i'd had the ultrasound. fuckers.

Michelle said...

Your family sounds like they were a great support for you. I am so glad you had that. That must of been so difficult. Your post brought tears to my eyes.

Kristin said...

What a wonderful gift!

MrsSpock said...

Those are lovely. What a wonderful idea.

I can't imagine being peppered with such question right when you need all your mental reserves to do the work of birth. I'm reaching back in my memory and hoping my hospital protocol didn't have me doing the same with a grieving family...

CLC said...

Those are lovely. Yes, it's surreal to think about those hours where they were asking me about funerals and I still hadn't delivered her. Thankfully, my brother made all of the arrangements so I didn't have to do a thing.

Martha said...

I'm so sorry you had to endure such insensitivity from the nurse while you were preparing to welcome and say goodbye to Emma.
Your parents and in laws are a blessing to help burden the sad task of burying their granddaughter.
The story of the postmaster and the buntings made me cry. They are beautiful.
You did it, Cara, you are bringing a light into such a dark place.

Barbara said...

My worst moment(or more accurately one of them, there were too too many) was when we were informed that a cremation might not yield enough ashes to give to us. I originally wanted George scattered in the places Ray and I fell in love.

I'm happy with the choice we made in the end though, George is safe in a pretty wild wood.

Your family were marvelous.


Dora said...

Such a powerful post. What a horror of a nurse! I would have punched her! So glad your parents and in-laws were able to step up.

What wonderful buntings from your postmaster. So thoughtful.

I really feel the need to come to Vermont to give you a big hug. Maybe not in Winter, though. Springtime, maybe? I'll help you with your decorating. Use all my art school training. :-)

Anonymous said...

They are beautiful.

It must be so sad and overwhelming to try and think about funeral arrangements for a child you haven't even given birth to yet.

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