Insomnia is one symptom that I have had with all three pregnancies. Usually it starts a bit later into the pregnancy, but still there were many nights when I was pregnant with Maddi and Emily that I would spend on the couch catching up on a show or two and eating in the middle of the night. I had not really expected to have to deal with the insomnia so soon, but here it is. And so I will make the most of it.
As I lay in bed trying to fall back asleep my mind began to drift back to the day that Emily was born and all the happened in those 10 hours of her life. Sometimes I am amazed at the details that still sneak into my thoughts, things that I had not thought about since that day. One of those details that I had forgot all about came back as I lay in bed this morning. I just felt like to needed to write it down, for fear of forgetting it again. That is one thing I love about this blog; it is a way to document those little memories and then I don't have to drive myself crazy remembering every detail. They are here to help me remember.
That little detail I was talking about was breast milk. Shortly after I was moved to my post-partum room, after Emily was born, a lactation consultant came down to talk to me. Even with the odds so low that Emily would survive everyone at the hospital treated us like she was going to survive and make sure that we were prepared to care for her. This included getting me to start pumping and producing milk for when Emily would need my breast milk. I pumped twice before Emily died that night.
In those first few days the body does not produce much milk. Initially colostrum is produced. They call it liquid gold, and the name really fits since it kind of looks like gold, AND it takes a lot of work to get just a little bit that it is really valued. Since the amount is so small I was given tiny syringes to collect those few drops of colostrum. I remember feeling so proud of those few milliliters that I was about to take down to the nursery when we went to visit Emily. That night, after Emily died those two syringes were left in the refrigerator. I wonder what happened to that little bit of liquid gold? I imagine that it was thrown away when everything was cleaned up, making that space ready for the next baby that would need the care of the NICU. Thinking about that makes me sad. I worked so hard to get those few drops and they were never used.
Then I began to think about that room. The room I was taken to after Emily was born. The room that was on another floor away from all things maternity and post-partum. I am so thankful for the foresight of the hospital staff to place me away from new mothers and crying babies. I was placed in room with two bed. I remember the first thing I asked the nurse was, "will I have to share this room?" She told me no and that they just did not have any rooms with single beds. The two beds ended up being a blessing, as my husband was able to stay in the room with me that night and was able to stretch out. Neither one of us got much sleep that night, but at least there was an option for him.
When we walked back into that room after Emily died that night there was one thing that effect my husband and one thing that effect me. For my husband it was seeing Emily Faith written on the white board in the room. I immediately erased it. Not to erase her from our lives, but because the pain was so intense that it hurt to look at her name in the moment. For me it was the breast pump and all the supplies. The nurse came in a few minutes after we got back and I asked her to please get everything out of the room. She was wonderful and got everything moved out while I was in the bathroom.
The next morning, really early, my doctor came into check on me. No one had told him that Emily had died and so it was put on me to tell him. That is one thing that I wish had been handled differently. He should have known, I should not have had to tell my doctor that my baby died. I also wish he had come to see my later, before I was discharged. I had so many questions, but when you are woken up from sleep often the brain is not working fully in that moment.
I do remember asking him what had caused Emily to be born so early and he gave me a simple answer, but I wish I could have asked more questions. Questions that I now know to ask, but had no idea that I needed to ask at the time. Maybe it is better that some of those questions went unanswered, but now with this new pregnancy and the thoughts that go through my head about it happening again, I wish we had more answers. But the truth remains that there are just not very many answers for why it happened.
I think the last question I asked my doctor was, "when can I leave?" I really did not want to stay in that hospital for any longer than I had to. I wanted to be home. To be surrounded by things that were familiar and to be able to care for our living child again. It has been almost two weeks since I had been able to actively care for Maddie and I wanted to be with her again. My doctor told me that he saw no reason why I could not leave that day if I wanted to. It seemed to take forever to get all the final paper work finished. We had to meet with a social worker about what we wanted to have done with Emily's body, and the nurse had a bunch of paper work and instructions for me. On the wall of my room there was a sign that said discharge was at 11am, so I figured I would not get to leave before that, and I was right. Just after 11am I was finally done with everything and allowed to leave the hospital. They even let me walk, no wheelchair, which I am grateful for. As we left the room, floor and finally the hospital I felt like crying, but held it together. I held it together until after lunch. After lunch we stopped at Toys 'R Us to get Maddie a special toy. She had been asking for a ball popper for several weeks. (We don't have a Toys 'R Us near us, so while we were in Seattle we decided to stop.) I was still holding it together, after all I wanted to be as normal as possible for Maddie since it had been a rough few weeks for her too.
As we were leaving the store I knew I needed to go to the bathroom so I walked back into the store alone to use the bathroom. The bathroom that was at the back of the store passed all the baby stuff. That was it, I lost it. I remember walking through Toys 'R Us with tears streaming down my face. I am sure people thought I was crazy, but I just could not stop the tears any more. I slept and cried most of the way home.
This next memory is a bit out of order, but it came to me after all the others, so I am keeping them in the order that I thought about them this morning. I remember being moved to Labor and Delivery on the day that Emily was born. As I think about it now I was probably in shock. No one plans to deliver their child at 23 weeks. I remember shaking and feeling cold; a warm blanket was placed on me to try and warm me up. When a women is in labor her senses are heightened. For me that is so true, especially my sense of smell. All though labor I kept smelling something, something like bad body odor, and in my crazy brain I was sure it was the blanket since I only started smelling it after the blanket was placed on me. I remember wanting to tell nurse to get me another blanket, one that did not smell, but I was so focused on the contractions that it just never came out. The smell drove me crazy. Well it turns out that it was not the blanket at all. Emily was born on Wednesday and my last shower had been Sunday, and I don't think in all those days I ever had deodorant, so that awful smell I had to endure all though labor was me.
I remember wanting a shower so bad. I think I asked every nurse who cared for me when I could take a shower. The desire to be with Emily in the NICU was stronger than the want for a shower, so the shower waited. I did not finally get to take a shower until the next morning just before I was discharged from the hospital. While it felt good to finally be clean, it was a painful reminder that I had just lost my baby. I stood in the shower and held my belly and cried.
While sometimes it hurts to remember, I am so glad for memories and that they are still coming back to me. I don't ever want to forget Emily.
The Spoils Of Victory
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