A year ago yesterday (8/10/10), we were thrust into the world of the baby-lost. Just after midnight, while still strapped to the operating table as the doctors put all my insides back together after the emergency c-section, and with my husband firmly gripping my hand, I was told the news no mother wants to hear. "I'm sorry, but she didn't make it. We tried to revive her for 20 minutes, but it didn't work." Those were the heartbreaking words the NICU doctor had to deliver to me as I laid there on that damn table. In that moment, I felt like such a failure. I hadn't kept my baby safe. She was born too early and too sick from the infection that had invaded my uterus. And because of those things, she died.
The next few hours are muddled in my memory. I don't remember being taken back to my room after the surgery. I'm not sure how Brianna got to my room, I just know that she was there, dressed in a tiny pink dress and wrapped in a matching blanket that the hospital provided because we didn't have any baby clothes for her yet. I know my OB told my parents and my sister the awful news. I know that I was hooked up to IV antibiotics to fight the infection in my body, but I don't remember what they were.
What I do remember is that a year ago yesterday, I lost my innocence right along with my baby. I remember holding her tiny body wrapped in the blanket. I remember her tiny fingers - they were so long for such a little baby. I remember her skinny legs. I remember she had black hair like her daddy and it was starting to take on curl like mine. I remember her adorable feet, a perfect mixture of mine and her dad's. I remember thinking she was too purple from the lack of oxygen. I remember wishing she wasn't so purple, because I would have loved to know what her skin color was naturally.
I also remember the look of sorrow and utter devastation on my husband's face. I'm sure I had a similar look on mine. I remember my mom and dad's tears as they tried to comfort me. I remember my mom holding her newest granddaughter and marveling at how tiny and perfect she was. I remember my dad's refusal to hold her because he knew if he did, he'd lose it and he was trying so hard to be strong for me. I remember my sister crying as she held her first niece, saying how beautiful she was.
I remember all the questions we now had to answer. Did we want an autopsy? Did we have a clergy member we wanted to contact? Did we know if we wanted Brianna's body buried or cremated or donated to the state medical board? And they just kept on coming. And they weren't any questions we thought we'd have to answer about our baby, so of course we had no idea on what to do and just went with our gut decisions.
I remember holding my tiny daughter for hours, willing myself to stay awake so that I wouldn't miss any of the time with her. I know I didn't...there is a picture that my husband took of me, sleeping while still cradling my little girl close. I remember having about 8 hours with her, which in retrospect, is a lot more than some babyloss moms get. But, it wasn't enough time. No amount would have been enough, especially since what I wanted was a lifetime with her.
Around 9 am on 8/10/10, we had to say goodbye to our baby girl. My husband gently wrapped her in her blanket and laid her down on this little basket the nurse had brought in for this purpose. The nurse then picked up the basket and assured us she would make sure our little one was looked after as they took her to the morgue. As she left the room, I remember thinking how I didn't want to let her go. How it was so unfair that my baby had died. Why me? Brianna had been with me for 25 weeks and 2 days and I remember thinking I felt so alone without her. She had been my constant companion. All I had to do was touch my belly and I felt connected to her. And in a matter of hours, she was gone. It was too fast. I didn't want her to go to the cold morgue. But, I didn't have a choice. She was dead and that's where the dead go in a hospital.
A year ago yesterday was the day that divided my life into the "before" and "after". It was the start of this journey into deadbabyland. It was the beginning of the heartbreak and sorrow. But it was also the beginning of the change in the way I view life. I'm now more real, more present, more aware. It was the beginning of this journey that has led me to realize that joy and sorrow, laughter and tears, hope and heartbreak are not mutually exclusive. Instead, they are all present all the time. They can be part of my life all at once if I allow them. It's not an "either/or" but an "and".