And today, I am a mom in mourning... As I listen to the feet running on the floor upstairs, I am painfully aware of the pair that is missing.
Yes. There are 12 feet in this house that belong to children. And yes, even with those feet that can sound louder than the stampede of elephants, I hear the silence of the missing ones.
A beautiful child of seven is what Monday would have brought. A party with grandparents, and Barbies and birthday cake.
The problem is, if you have ever been pregnant, you know the things you wonder about. Whose eyes will the baby have? Whose nose? What will she look like? And when you deliver a stillborn, you can see those features as they are, but then you can only speculate from there...
What color would her eyes have been? Her hair? Blonde? Brown? Curly? Straight? Would she have walked and talked early? Or Late?
I spent a LOT of years being angry at God for taking her away from me. It was only the last few that I've been able to let go of that, and realize it may have been the catalyst for change. He knew I needed to be somewhere else... and that is what it took to make me know it, too.
I will never forget lying there in a delivery suite while a nurse looked at my baby on ultrasound. It was nothing new, really, since she was my 3rd baby, and there had been complications, so I'd had ultrasounds twice a week for the last 7 weeks or so... They were supposed to induce me the Monday before this. And here I was, because I hadn't felt the baby move... And there with me was my mom, and my friend who is more like a sister, and the nurse. And she was looking for the heart. She found it. Perfect, tiny, four chambered heart... It looked exactly the same as every other time I had seen it from the time I was 10 weeks along, except for one thing...
This time, it was still.
I can't remember if there was an audible gasp by me or my friend, but we caught each others' eyes. She wasn't sure if I'd seen what she'd just seen. She asked, "What?"
and I said, "Nothing."
My mom said, "what are we looking at? I can't tell what we're looking at!"
And I couldn't bear to tell her that we both had just seen my baby's heart not beating. "Mom, I don't know either," was all I could muster. And the nurse then said, "I can't tell what I am looking at, let me get another nurse in here to take a look."
And she left the room...
Now, a nurse can't tell you that your baby has died. A doctor has to. And my OB/GYN was out of town on a camping trip. So, the other nurse came in and scanned, and sort of told us that she didn't know for sure, but that it didn't look good. What more could she say?
And then the doctor on call came in. I'd never met her before. I can't even remember her name. She was about to go off call, and she probably wished I'd come an hour later. And she came in, and did a third ultrasound.
"I'm so sorry."
I hardly heard anything after that, until I was told that I could go home and "let nature take it's course".
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????
I guess some people do choose that... I wanted a c-section. But she told me no. She told me, you don't want to have a c-section and then go home without a baby. I was so angry with her when she said that. What did she know? I know what I wanted, and it was to get that baby out right away so I could have as much time with her as possible, since it was going to be short. I knew what happens to babies when they are left in the womb after they have died, and it is NOT pretty. I also knew the last time I could definitively say I'd felt her move was around 3 a.m. that morning. It was now almost 11 p.m. So we were already going on close to 24 hours. And damn them for not inducing me the night before when I'd been there BEGGING them to, and she was still alive. I still think that somehow I knew there was something wrong, and that's why I was so desperate for them to induce. But of course, they didn't. My cervix wasn't ready, they said.
And 24 hours, it was no different. But induce they did...
18 hours later, I gave birth to a perfectly beautiful little girl. 8 lbs 8 oz. She had the same mousey brown hair as her brothers. She was perfect. Except she was gone. My heart was broken. Sometimes it still is.
That day was a Saturday. The following day was Mother's day.
This year, Mother's day is this Sunday. Monday would have been her birthday. We will probably have a small cake with just our immediate family. I will cry. I may let off some balloons. Some years I have, some, I haven't.
But, I am a mom in mourning. And when I say I have six kids, it isn't because I've forgotten, or because I am trying to forget. It's because I don't share my angel with just anyone. Some people don't get the right to know about her.
So, when you are thinking of your mothers this weekend, remember that there are mothers, like me, who are missing someone. We have empty arms. We ache for them to be filled. And we could have a hundred more babies and still not be able to get rid of the hurt. Remember us, too, and say a little prayer for us. Yours might be the one that gets me through.