I was 37 weeks pregnant and I called off of work the night before on a hunch that I didn’t want to be working the next day. It was a Monday morning in March, exactly 3 years ago. I woke up in so much pain. I sat up in bed and felt a huge gush. It’s time. I think my water just broke. I think I’m in labor. There was rushing to get your big brother around. You are coming early. We are not ready. I go into the bathroom to wash up and change. There is so much blood. Should there be blood? I’m not sure. Phone calls are made. I am speaking to doctors on the phone while I’m in the bathtub, sitting in bloody water. Then we are rushing. And the pain has not stopped. It’s one continuous contraction. Surely it’s not supposed to be like this.
Jack is dropped off at Noni’s. She is waiting at the door. Her face shows excitement. I can not get out of the car. We are rushing and I am cussing and saying why isn’t it stopping? Why does it hurt so bad?
At the hospital we are rushed up to labor and delivery. They are asking so many questions and I am still in so much pain. The nurses scurry in and out of our room. I look at Jason pleading Why aren’t they doing anything? He needs OUT! There is a searching, then whispers, then and ultrasound technician looking seriously at the screen. And I know then. I know what everyone in the room but Jason knows, but no one is saying anything. Just tell me. I tell the technician. The doctor will be in shortly. She replies leaving us alone in the room with my other two nurses who are still standing on the other end of the room just looking at me.
The doctor comes in. Fetal demise. No heartbeat. He is saying these things. He is asking me what happened. Did I fall? What happened? What happened? I look to Jason. Did you hear what he said? He is just looking at me. He is just holding my hand, nervously. He is looking at me but not responding. Jason, did you hear him? He’s gone. The baby is dead.
Your Daddy starts crying, quietly, in his way that he does. Emergency c-section they say. Immediately.
I need to call my sister. The phone sucks and isn’t working fast enough. She answers, excited, says she’ll be on her way soon. Don’t come up here. I repeat it over and over and she keeps asking why. The baby is gone. I need you to make some calls for me.
I don’t know how much time passed. We are left alone in the room. I am not crying. I don’t know why I’m not crying but I can’t cry, not yet. We can’t stop talking to each other. He says. I nod. I don’t remember when the pain stopped or what they gave me… but at some point it did. They are saying it almost time to take you out. They are asking if we want to see you. Absolutely not. No. Too hard. He’s not here. We are being wheeled away. Other loved ones have arrived with terrible looks on their faces and questions. So many questions. No one has any answers.
In the operating room it is somber and different. There is rushing to get you out but not to make sure you arrive safely. Now, they are trying to stop my bleeding. They are trying to save me. And the nurse is there, waiting to take you away into another room, to clean you up. Wait, I do want to see him! I do! Okay, Okay they say. Okay. There is pressure then relief and you are here. But there is no brilliant cry. There is no hustle to get you breathing. You are handed off to the nurse, covered up, and hustled out before anyone can lay eyes on you. Methodical, business-like, the business of dead babies. The operation takes less time then I remember my previous one. Before we know we are back in our room surrounded by both sets of your grandparents and a friend of Noni’s that worked at the hospital.
I looked around and remembered you were coming. They’re going to bring him in here. So if you don’t want to see him you can leave now. But before I can finish you’re here. The nurse has put you in a nightgown and a beautiful knitted blanket. She hands you to me.
You are so little, 5 lbs 9 oz. But what I wasn’t expecting was how perfect you are. You look a lot like your older brother. You have my nose and your Daddy’s olive skin and forehead. Peaking out from under your little hat is your black curly hair, another thing you got from Daddy. You are perfect. But you are so, so still.
Happy Birthday Benjamin Scott!
This morning has been a quiet one. Daddy is working until 5:30. Jack and I ate banana bread for breakfast and will hang your birthday decorations soon. We’ll be eating your third birthday cake this evening with your grandparents and thinking about who you would have been today. I think about you all the time. There is a space in our little family that only you can fill. You will be a big brother in May. I spend lots of days thinking about what it would have been like to be a mother to three boys. I miss you. Have the happiest of birthdays little bear.