Grief has no expiration date.
Grief is also like that wash you apply on your paper when you work with water-colors. The foundation layer. Usually a light, inconspicuous color. It sets the tone, holds up the other hues and sometimes provide contrast. Sometimes, by the end of the painting, you no longer see much of the wash. But, it is there.
I am in big-time anti-social mode. The homeschool park days are starting up, because the weather is finally cooling down, or so it seems. I am trying that “fake it till you make it” approach. I try to keep up with the online discussion about where to meet, what time, all those logistics. I post my replies, sometimes even enthusiastic with ex.cla.ma.tion marks!!! Heck, I even use smiley faces! But really, I don’t care to be around most people. There is nothing wrong with them. But I am certainly not “right.” I did not make any “announcements” so I am dreading people seeing me in my current state of being and smiling and asking me questions. Those innocent questions. I do not want to mention Ferdinand to follow it with just three words “But he died.” and I also do not want to talk to him to just anyone standing in the park.
When I am out and about running errands, I sometimes get into a panic mode. I kept thinking, what if a bereaved mum sees me and she is hurt by my existence and state of being? What if I made her sad and she thinks, “Oh, look at that pregnant woman with her two girls. She has no idea how lucky she is. Does she know that her baby can die any second?!” It kills me to think by walking around I am causing pain to someone whose pain is not visible to me. It made me want to make a T-shirt that says, “I am not that innocent pregnant woman.”
And then of course, those questions and comments I get. I dread those. I just hate them, actually, even though I know people only have good intentions. Some people even say nice things. But, it is just not the same this time around.
We went for our first hospital tour of the so-called Birth Center last night.
It was awful. We planned our first delivery at the birthing center and ended up being transferred, and I still cannot forget the horrible experience. Sophia was born at home. For Ferdinand, we dreamed of him being born in the water tub on our deck at our cabin. Ended up with a two-day induce-and-deliver. This time, we just do not have the balls to plan a homebirth. We both know deep well that whatever technology they can provide us with at the hospital will all be an illusion of control, and prolonged false assurance. But we also feel a closer monitoring might give an extra shred of hope.
Although, what hope? Even our OB makes sure that every time he sees us, he will tell us, so things look fine so far, but you know that bad things can still happen despite all the good things we do. He will remind us, of course you know this does not guarantee anything. Of course, doc, of course. We know because we have been through that already.
Six weeks ago our CNM told us to schedule our hospital tour. Being superstitious, we waited longer. Just in case, you know.
We dropped the girls off at S, R’s free-and-single French colleague. Then we found our way to the correct entrance, this being our first time there, despite the hospital being just about 6-minute drive from our home.
Our “tour guide” did not look very friendly or enthusiastic; she does not even look like she is happy with her job. But, that’s not my business. She started at the entrance and helped us by telling us, “Remember- B for Baby. That’s the entrance you are looking for.” uh-huh. Then she showed us this small little area curtained off behind the reception. That’s where they check the women who come in. I remember hearing something loud, like a baby’s heartbeat, when I checked in for our tour. No kidding. This hospital may be bigger than the one that belonged to the small town we went to for Ferdinand’s delivery, but they seem pretty hard up for space. I almost blurted out– “But, what if you do not find a heartbeat?!” Am I suppose to wait till they roll me to a remote room before I start to scream and cry?
Then she pointed out the triage opposite the corridor. 14 beds, she said, each with a curtain around it. My stomach started to lurch. Again, I asked her telepathically, “But what if something goes wrong?!” She did not get my telepathic question.
We moved on to the Labor & Delivery Room. There are 18 of them, and she said, they all look the same. It was small. It had a funny smell. R asked about their water-tub policy. She turned and said to everyone, “He’s asking about laboring in the water” and told us well, you will have to bring it in and set it up yourself, as long as your doctor says you can labor in water. R wondered where that tub will fit?
I saw that R had softened his heart a little bit. When we first found out about this little one in me, and I brought up the issue of water labor, he vehemently said NO WAY. He told me he is not going to touch the water tub, or have anything to do with it. It is just going to be too traumatic. I could not reply. Yes, he was the one who had to secure the tub to our car as a summer storm was brewing, and drove it two hours up to the cabin, with the wind and rain chasing him down. But that was not the worst part. There was the returning. Securing the tub on the car again and driving it down for two hours and returning the tub to the lady who rented it to us… without having used it… with a dead baby heavy in his heart.
I had not thought about the water tub again. But he asked the question. He asked it! I started to tear up. He also asked about candles, music and aromatherapy… …
And then our tour guide said, once you are in this room, no food or drinks for mum, only ice chips. R took a double-take. “Not even fruit juice?” he asked. “No. maybe small sips of water. But no juices. Just ice chips.” R frowned and muttered that such practice is unusual and gave me a quizzical look.
By then, we had to move on to the Operating Room, so I just walked. By then, I was screaming inside and starting to have a panic attack. Tragic vibes overcame me. I was sure I was not going to deliver a live baby there. I wanted to rush to the guide, grab her and ask her, where do the dead babies go?! Every cell in me was bursting with defiance, “No! No! Go home now! Have a homebirth in the water!!” Only I blinked and swallowed my tears and trudged on.
And flashbacks. As we walked the hallways, R and I had flashbacks. Lots of flashbacks. It was getting harder and harder to stay present and breathe.
Operating Room, blah blah blah.
Next, the Nursery. We had to stand with our backs against the walls along the corridor, so people can pass. They had huge, and I mean, huge, blown-up picture of healthy, world-cutest babies along the walls. My heart ached. Then, someone rolled by with a bassinet and she said, “Yes, everyone see that? That is the baby bassinet. Beautiful baby in there… blah blah blah…” The baby was small, but quiet, cute, peaceful, precious… and belongs to someone else. My knees felt like they were buckling and I was going to keel over. I leaned back harder against the wall, trying to listen to what she is saying about why a baby needs to be in the nursery, but I was needing every ounce of strength in me to stay there and look normal without breaking down.
Thankfully, it was coming to an end. She waved to some rooms further down the hallway and say that’s where you go after baby is born, blah blah blah…
Then it ended. R and I walked out. Once we stepped out of the building the deluge of tears came. By the time we made it into the car I was totally bawling. R’s eyes were red. “I know,” he said, “It was traumatic for me too.” We sat there, darkness falling around us, and I started to wonder how many other lonely and sad couples are there like us, right now, in the past, on this planet… …
This is the only place where I will come and spew this. No one else will know or learn of our horrible 40-minute tour last night. We go forward, as bravely as possible, the pain and grief throbbing in our hearts, traveling through each and single cell, trying to summon forth hope. Maybe, maybe in a couple of months, we will hold a fresh little life in our arms and the pain will begin to slowly recede… but grief? it is always there.
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