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Archive for the ‘The fateful event’ Category

This post is written as participation in the amazing Angie’s blog project, Right Where I Am. Thank you, Angie, what a fabulous idea this is.

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In two months, it will be Ferdinand’s birthday, and once again we will remember it and celebrate without his presence, his absence every poignant, our hearts ever aching.

But this will be the first time I am getting through that day without friends by my side. We will have just moved to a new state, a new city, with much to learn and adapt to, and I do wonder how and if all that stress and distractions will affect my grief on that particular day. I wonder if that day will be different being far away from the place when it all happened, where my life changed forever.

Packing up at the cabin a few days was tough. We are selling the cabin. This is the place where I had spent some of the best days of my life, and also some of my worst. We spent many days and moments there anticipating Ferdinand’s birth. I had my Blessingway at the cabin, and R drove the birthing pool in the midst of a drizzle, winding along the mountain roads, so I could have my dream water birth. Yet right there, at our much-loved cabin, we did not find his heartbeat. In that cabin I had bawled loudly and cried my heart out. I had clawed at the carpet and walked circles around the gliding chair that we had hunted down and brought up to the cabin, imagining the amount of time I will spend there, nursing my sweet baby son. I had filled drawers with baby clothes and then I had emptied those same items with a bleeding heart, clenched teeth, aching empty arms and a tearful face. I hid there, away from people, and I listened numbly to the flow of the river, the birds’ calls, and wondered if I will ever come to life again. Boxing up the last of our possessions there, I cried. Memories came flooding back and I remembered that shock and hurt all over again, every second of the fateful event playing out in my head: loud, defined and clear.

In my heart I whispered, “Don’t worry, Ferdinand, I am taking you with us.”

But that may just be silly. For, so often during my mundane days when my thoughts turn to my son, and I plead to myself, “I so wish he is here. How I wish to have my son and watch him grow.” And almost as often I hear a voice in my head, firm and loving, the voice of my son saying, “You do not need me to be happy, mama. You are OK, you can be happy.”

And that always makes me cry, my back turned to the world, rinsing out the dishes.

As I walk further out on my grief journey, I sometimes feel stronger. The urge to grab strangers by their shoulders and hiss to them that my son had died has diminished. I talk less about him, and I write less. But I do not love less, miss less or grieve less.

Just different.

I have found ways to cope, and yes, I did moved on.  I can’t really spell out the details, which I sometimes wish I could, or to pen a manual of grief and healing, or to formulate a salve that will soothe all aching mothers’ hearts. Somehow, as the days wear on, I find my strengths and I plodded on. I admit to myself that even as I keep rubbing dust in my hair, and walk around like a living zombie, it just will not change the reality of it all. I allow myself to grieve and I know that there will be sudden rough moments, and I just acknowledge that of the many roles and identities I will assume in my life, one of them is that of a bereaved mother. And I try to use my experience as a bereaved mother to support people who seek others who can understand. I am honored to have walked with and sat with others on their grief journey, and every step of the way, Ferdinand was with me, throwing my heart wide open, shining brightly, healing.

And I know there will always be moments that just lashes at my knees, causing me to keel and break apart. Lately it is the episodes of “Charlie and Lola” that Lyra so enjoy watching. And each time I see her grin or chuckle over the story of Charlie and Lola, my heart breaks a little. I keep thinking the story of Charlie and Lola could well have been the story of Ferdinand and Lyra. I always imagine Ferdinand’s voice when he opens the episode introducing his little sister who is very small and cute. I really wish Lyra has a big brother who just adores her. She is truly adorable and she heals my heart. It is not her obligation, but by being just who she is, she soothes my aching heart. So often she brings me to tears, and I still have not talked to her about Ferdinand yet. I do not really know how, but I do not worry about it, because I know the day will come when I know it, and the words will flow, as will the tears.

Sometimes I wish I will stop with the could-have-been, but sometimes I really just cannot help it.

Some things just will never change: Ferdinand’s stillbirth. Waves crashing on shores. His absence. The moon waxing and waning. People who simply will not understand and acknowledge. Rain. People who refuse to look our way of the bereaved circle. Blossoms. The discomfort over talking about death, especially that of a baby. Falling leaves.

Some things change. I walked on. My son walked along with me. I moved on because it was the only way. My heart will always have a hole, and the cast of grief’s shadow. I got stronger and I live my life different.

But oh, my heart as a bereaved mother, many years out it will be the same. Beautifully scarred. My life, ever perfectly imperfect.

 

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Painful recordings

This will have to, for now, suffice as Ferdinand’s birth story. I have thought of re-writing the lengthy and painful words below so it will be shorter, but I am not having the mind-strength now. I am thinking, I need more time to be able to process this into a beautiful piece that can be a fitting tribute to my son. But this was what happened; and how it happened… … what I wrote in my journal about two weeks after the fateful event:

I thought I was going to write a birth story, of a homebirth up at our cabin, out in the nature with the creek flowing and the breeze blowing. But that did not happen. You cannot plan so much in life, I suppose. But I still wanted to write down what happened. It is still a birth story in some sense. At least, to me.

 

 

Wednesday, 7/25

We decided to meet Cecille for lunch in Pine; then checked out the thrift store together. It was a pleasant afternoon and I was starting to feel some contractions. They were not too painful and were about 15-20 minutes apart. I thought of telling Cecille but did not want to get her too excited too soon. I know she had been looking forward to my birth and so glad that we were going to be spending a month up here after the birth. She had asked about the birth tub too, seeming to be wanting to be at the birth to experience the marvel of it all. We called Robin and Mani at about eight or nine that evening, thinking we might be seeing some action soon. I remember R saying, “I’m going to wipe that table down with alcohol and put it in the guest-room.” That’s the table we meant to use for the birth supplies. He also set up the video camera and cleaned up the tub that he had just finished draining. However, the contractions started to taper off and we all went to sleep.

 

 

Thursday, 7/26

Nothing much happened in the morning but in the afternoon the contractions came on again. Not too painful, though somewhat regular. And then again it tapered off in the late afternoon. I made some more salmon burgers to freeze. The girls kept asking if the baby is coming.

 

Friday, 7/27

I woke up early to make fried rice for lunch. Robin and Mani were coming for a prenatal visit and I thought we could have lunch after outside; it looked like such a beautiful day.

Robin and Mani could not find any heartbeat. I got on my hands and knees; I laid on my side, but there was no heartbeat to be found. We had to go to the hospital. My heart was in my mouth but I tried to remain calm. I called Barbara to see if she could look after the gals.

On our drive out to Payson, I did not know what to think. I kept asking Ralf to tell me what was going through his mind, what was he thinking?! At first he said nothing, then he said we probably will hear the heartbeat at the hospital, that the baby must be in a position that made it impossible to pick up a heartbeat with a handheld Doppler.

When we arrived at the STOP sign waiting to turn onto the 87, I saw a butterfly flutter past. Suddenly, my heart knew that Ferdinand had passed. But I still held on to hope. Even if it were but a shred, or even a tiny thread of hope just dangling, I needed to hang on to it.

We arrived at the Labor and Delivery dept at the Payson Regional Medical Center and checked in. The nurse, whose name is Venida, could not detect any heartbeat either. She called for the on-call doctor to be informed and for the ultrasound technician to come in. my heart was beating wildly and my hands and feet were cold. I could not even believe I was in a hospital.

The ultrasound technician came. It seemed everything was so slow! She hooked up the machine and began scanning, but she was silent and did not say a word. Her expression did not look right. Only R was able to see the screen. Actually, he could already see that there was no heartbeat but when I asked him, he just told me, “They are just taking some measurements.” Trying to postpone the painful truth for me, even if just for a few seconds. The silence was killing me as everyone stared at the screen that I could not see. The silence pressed on me like a big, heavy metal block, suffocating me and squeezing all life and hope out of me. The technician wiped off all the gel from my belly with a towel. I asked her, almost in hysterics now, “Can’t you just tell me what you saw?!” and she shook her head and said, “I’m sorry, but the doctor will have to come in and talk to you about this.” They left and turned off the light in the room, I asked R what did he see, and he finally said, “There was no heartbeat, Janis.” Immediately I was screaming, “NO! NO! NO! That cannot be! Why? How?! Why?! What happened?! How could this be? This cannot be true, tell me this is NOT true!” it was only then that R lost his composure and bent over and hugged me and said, “I don’t know… there was just no heartbeat….. we will get through this together, Janis. Be strong, be strong for me, I need you to get through this with me.”

I asked again, “How can there be no heartbeat?! What happened? What happened?!!” I was devastated beyond words. I just could not comprehend it. There was my pregnant belly I can see. And someone is telling me there’s a dead baby in there without a heartbeat. Dead. Is this a cruel joke? Am I hearing right? Is this a dream? What a nightmare… … how could I not have any inkling at all?! How will I ever trust my instincts again? Life had dealt me a harsh, cruel blow this time, so mercilessly and heavy and so, so sure-handed. Down I am in bloody, dirty dust, trembling and bleeding; shaken and scared, but I had to stand up again, because my family still needs me. And I still want to deliver this baby… …

The doctor came in and talked to us about the next steps. He also told us there was no fluids at all around the baby and that the placenta did not look right on the ultrasound. It looked fibrous and scarred, probably had a viral infection but he had no answers until we could see the placenta. I asked to return the following morning for the induction and he agreed that it was probably better this way. We met Robin and Mani at the waiting room; they offered to be at the birth to support me. I remember telling Robin, “I just want to have a normal birth…” and crying again. We decided to go home for lunch and discuss a little about the procedures before picking the gals up from Dick & Barbara’s again.

While R picked up the girls from Dick and Barbara’s, I called home to relate the sad news. I could not stop crying. Everyone told me to “take it easy” and to “look on the positive side”, as in, Ferdinand may have been a very sick child and it would only be more heart-aching to look after him. All well-intentioned words, but did nothing to soothe my pain.

We also told the girls about Ferdinand and Valerie was very sad and cried. She told us, “Do you now that it is the saddest thing in the world when a baby dies?” and we just nodded our heads and cried together. I wrote an email to a small circle of friends to ask for prayers. I was scared. But R was even more scared. He was afraid of complications during the birth and something happening to me. In fact he asked me, “If something happens to you, do you want me to continue to homeschool the girls?”

I cannot remember how I slept that night. I remember taking the homeopathic sleep remedy twice. I remember crying.

 

 

Saturday, 7/28

The first thing I did when I woke up was to go to the sunroom. I stood in-front of a window, cradled my belly, stared at the flowing river and listened to it rushing by. I told Ferdinand to listen to the river and I told him today we were finally going to meet each other! R came into the room and I collapsed into his arms, crying, “I just want him to listen to the river one more time!” and R said, “He hears it! He hears it! And I need you to be strong, Janis! We will grieve later, but now I really need you to focus on the birth, and be strong, ok?”

We dropped off the girls, still sleepy, at Dick and Barbara’s again (Bless their loving hearts, they were such a big help those few days!) and arrived at the hospital at 8am. On the drive down, I looked out of the window and I could feel Ferdinand’s spirit skipping playfully along with us; I could see him, sense him, in the clouds, amongst the trees, in the mountains…. He’s already taken off… happy and laughing, my little free spirit! My heart tightened and the tears came again, how could one say goodbye like this when we had barely said hello?

Venida greeted us at the hospital with her assistant Meghan. They attended to us almost exclusively that day and the day after and they were caring, professional and compassionate. We were very lucky to have such dedicated personnel attending to us; and we were glad we were not down in the valley jostling with herds of other people requiring attention.

First, Venida inserted a cervix ripener into my vagina, getting as close to the cervix as possible. It was unpleasant, to say the least. Two hours later, when it was clear I did not have any allergic reactions to the drug, she started me on pitocin. “Pitocin” is like a scary monster to me. I have had such a bad experience with it at Val’s birth. But they started it on a very low level for me, and increasing only in small amounts every 30 minutes, so it felt rather manageable and my fears started to subside. At about eleven I decided to take a short walk with Ralf to the cafeteria to help things along. Ralf bought a sandwich there and then we went outside for some fresh air. It looked like a thunderstorm was coming. I paced up and down, feeling more contractions and soreness in my lower back. When we got back to the room Ralf called to let Robin and Mani drive up. I knew it was a long drive for them, but I really needed the support, and I was so grateful they were able to be there for me.

Through the afternoon the contractions came on somewhat regularly, though they were not close enough or long enough to get me into active labor. I still had to breathe through the contractions and my lower back was really starting to bother me. Robin and Mani took turns rubbing my back. It felt so good to be taken care of like this! As things seem to be progressing slowly, we thought the birth may happen only later that night and we decided that Ralf will drive back to bring the girls’ pj’s over to Dick & Barbara’s house. During his absence, I could talk about my concerns for R with Robin and Mani. I knew he wanted to be strong, calm and in-control and I was afraid he would not grieve properly. I also hated the fact that this had to happen so close to his birthday. It seems like there will always be a shadow over his birthday. (Although why do I curse the birthday of my very own, beloved son? Don’t we love him dearly, and want to celebrate his birthday?… … it’s only we have to remember him with so much sadness, and regret, and that we could only imagine how he would have been, and not be able to physically hold him and have him with us… …)

R returned to the hospital an hour later than expected. A thunderstorm came in while he was there and the river crossings were flooded. He waited for it to subside but drove out anyway before the waters had fully receded and the bumper liner came off in the process. I knew he was taking a big risk because he was anxious to get back to me at the hospital. By then, I was tired and my spirits were really low. I did not make any progress the entire afternoon! The IV tube on my right arm was also starting to bother me and I just felt discouraged. I did not feel like walking, or squatting, or sitting on the birthing ball anymore. I decided to take a nap and slept longer than I thought I would. Then Dr Witt came in and we discussed options. We could stop the pitocin and try again 6 hours later, or the next morning. We decided on coming back the following morning. I wanted to go home and have the girls sleeping in the same room with us. We also convinced Robin and Mani to stay at the cabin instead of driving down and returning again in the morning. We went home; R made dinner and we all ate together. Robin and Mani helped with the dirty dishes and I got ready for bed as I was really tired.

 

 

Sunday, 7/29

In the morning I again went to the sunroom and listened to the river with Ferdinand. I ate a bit and decided to walk around the yard outside. I stopped at all the special places where I loved to stand and hold on to my belly and listen to the river, imagining the birth of Ferdinand. I knew this will be the last time I stand at those special places with my dear child inside of me.

Robin and Mani stayed to take care of the gals till they can drop them off at Dick and Barbara’s, after they return from church. We again arrive at the hospital at eight and Venida told us today we will be more aggressive with the pitocin since my body is accustomed to it now. In the first hour or so, I was not making much progress at all. The contractions seem to be coming on slowly. I was feeling a little agitated, nervous and afraid. Pacing up and down, dragging the IV’s with me, I asked Ralf, “What if I fail to progress at all? What if I need a C-section?!” he said we could consider the pros and cons. For me, there is no pros and I told him if I have a c-section, I cannot have a homebirth again, at least not in Arizona. He looked at me and slowly said, “But after this incident, I am not sure if you will be considered a high-risk case by midwives?” I bit my lips and fought back my tears. I felt like screaming. No! C-section is no option! To me it is a violent way to birth and have a baby tugged out of me, and I will have to stay at the hospital longer and I just wanted to go home and be with the girls! Suddenly, life seems to be totally out of my control… …

After three hours of little, if no progress, we decided to have my waters broken. Dr. Witt came in to examine me and then he broke the waters. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “You look nice and focused. We’re going to do it today.”

Within 15 minutes, the contractions strengthened and started to pile on. I turned to lay on my side and clutched the bedrail with my left hand (I could hardly move my right hand with the IV tube in place). I could no longer talk normally and when Meghan came in to check on my pain level (which never exceeded “4” the previous day) I yelled “Seven!” at her. I think it was a clear indication to everyone that action was picking up. My lower back hurt like hell and I needed someone to press really hard on it. I heard Venida showing R, maybe Meghan, maybe also Robin and Mani (who arrived some time in the midst of all these, but I cannot remember exactly when anymore) where to push on my back to alleviate the pain, but really, nothing was helping. I was so glad Ralf moved over to my left side to hold my hand and I dug my nails into his arm. At one point I also remember asking him to move closer to my face so I can smell his familiar, comforting smell. That really helped me. I also kept thinking of a large flower with petals furiously unfurling at my vagina. I thought of the Rose of Jericho. I thought of Ferdinand, my dear baby.

I felt movement down my birth canal. I felt a tremendous urge to PUSH!! I yelled, “I need to push!” (At another time, I know I also yelled, “Gimme those pain drugs!” and also “I cannot do this!”, all indications that I was in transition.) I think Venida tried to check me; I think I heard the words “fully dilated” and I felt winds howling about me and thunder and lightning surround me. I was in a bubble. In a bubble with my baby only. He’s coming. I heard Robin saying something about going with what my body was telling me to do and I just bore down and pushed! I could feel Ferdinand’s head coming through. The pain was overbearing. My teeth were chattering and I felt I may pass out. But I also knew I was near the other end of the tunnel. Ferdinand was going to swim out soon, I will see my dear, dear son soon! I must have pushed another three of four times more, and then I knew it was over. Ferdinand was born. Except it was silent. He was not crying… … my angel was asleep.

I opened my eyes and saw Dr Witt cradling a baby in his arms. I looked at him and murmured, “Baby… baby…” he laid Ferdinand on me and said, “In cases like this, I always say we are looking at an angel. This is how an angel looks like.”

I must have been on a hormonal high because I felt no sadness or sorrow. I felt calm, and really elated to finally see my little baby. He looked so perfect and beautiful! When I saw him, I thought, “This is my child! He can only be ours!” as I can immediately recognize his features from R and myself. I looked at his big hands and his big feet with long fingers and long toes and I smiled because he was so totally mine, so totally ours. He felt warm, and his warm weight felt so wonderful and good on me. I love that feeling! I wrapped his fingers around my index finger so I could feel the sensation that I so love and cherish… baby fingers grabbing onto you…. It’s such a precious feeling you cannot forget! I could remember R taking pictures and when I raised my head to look at him, he was in tears. I was a little shocked, maybe surprised at him crying so publicly. But how could I be? He’s the father … and I think finally he could let his tears and sorrow flow freely. Later he told me, “The baby is so abstract until you see him. And then you recognize yourself in him and you feel a part of you had been taken away!”

About 20 minutes later Dr Witt came in again to help me deliver the placenta. It proved to be longer and harder than the previous two times. I know this was the part R feared most; this could be the most complicated part, and Dr Witt was also expressing a little concern. I did not think or feel anything at that time, I was resigned. Finally the placenta was delivered and examined. It was no normal, healthy placenta. I cannot describe it… it just did not look or feel right. And it ached my heart to see it… … like looking at my failure- the placenta that ceased to support the life of my son…. The placenta that was ravaged without me hurting or even feeling anything… ..

The girls had asked to see Ferdinand after he was born. I saw that the skin on Ferdinand’s face was darkening and R told me to blot it with saline solution to keep it moist. Otherwise, his skin could rapidly dry out and affect his features and R wanted his features intact when the girls see him. So Ralf took Ferdinand and went with the nurses to the nursery to have him cleaned, weighed and measured. When Ferdinand was rolled back on a baby warmer, he was covered entirely with a blanket. That really hurt me to see. I am not used to seeing my baby all covered up… … it means he is DEAD. Though I knew it, to see him totally underneath a blanket drove home the fact that I was trying to postpone for myself… …

R left to fetch the girls and I started to dress Ferdinand. I thought I would have to dress him on the bed, but I could actually get off and stand to do so. I did not have any tears or skid marks, everything was intact, so I did not feel too sore and could move fairly easily. A nurse had told me to bring the smallest clothing possible as he was going to be small… but I did not have any “smallest clothing.” Val and Sophia were big babies and we only expected Ferdinand to be bigger so we only bought clothing from size three months and above… … I dressed him in a blue set of organic cotton shirt and long pants. That was what I initially planned on letting him wear after his birth but now he is wearing it in his death, for the first and last time… … I also put on a pair of red booties for him and a dark blue baby cap. And I wrapped him in a blanket that was covered with stars- where he shall forever be cradled amongst. I stroked him, kissed him, and talked to him. He looked so peaceful, yet I could also detect a mischievous air about him. (The other day when I heard Sophia called Valerie “Jie-jie!” [big sister] in the sunroom my heart twitched as I recall how in the last months we had talked about their “di-di” [little brother]. I murmured “di-di” in my head a few times and wondered if they will forget about their di-di; if this word will ever pass their lips again…) I could so well imagine him wrecking havoc around the house, driving all of us to crazy exasperation.

Later I sat in the rocking chair and rocked him. Robin, Mani and I even chatted; it almost seemed like I was just rocking a baby to sleep. That’s just how surreal it felt. Looking at his little face, I decided to hum him a lullaby, only my voice broke and I was trembling and crying. I did not believe he had left. At the back of my mind I knew I was going to have to leave the hospital empty-handed and that I was not going to fall asleep at night with a baby suckling at my breast. That just killed me.

R returned with the girls and Robin and Mani left for a walk. Val exclaimed how beautiful, sweet and adorable he was and wanted to touch him all over. Sophia wanted to know if he also had hands and feet and a tongue… …

I was hungry and set Ferdinand down to have a late lunch. In the meantime we also called the mortuary to make arrangements for Ferdinand’s cremation. Robin and Mani came back and we thanked them and let them go home to their children. The girls were getting very excited playing with the adjustable stools in the room so at about 530pm when the cafeteria should be open again, R took them with him to look for something to eat so I could have a rest.

I got into bed but I could not sleep. I rang for the nurses to come in and lay Ferdinand next to me. Then I stroked him and felt his body next to me, wanting to just memorize and engrave every little detail in my mind. And I cried, both in anger and in sorrow. Anger for his departing; anger at myself for not having any means to save his precious life! And sorrow for all of us who have to lose Ferdinand from our lives. I was also overcome with guilt that the viral infection possibly happened during our Mexico trip, even though I only ate something with cheese once, and it was only a couple of cheese-stuffed shrimps. I felt desperate that we may never find the cause and I felt I could never ever trust my own body again. I asked him for forgiveness and I begged him to come back. I still could not accept or understand how he could be gone. I felt cheated and bitter. He looked so perfect; how could he be dead? Did he suffer at all? I could not even bear the thought of him struggling within to stay alive, and then finally drawing his last breath… …

By the time R returned with the girls, about 45 minutes later, I was no longer in control. I told R that I thought it was all my fault and that I was sorry. He burst into tears and told me he could not look at Ferdinand without feeling guilty. He felt he was not involved enough (which is so not true) and that it killed him to be the last person to have heard Ferdinand’s heartbeat when he used the stethoscope. He said he felt the heartbeat was on the high side, which may be a distress signal but he let his instincts fell to the side. Perhaps if he had sounded the alarm, Ferdinand would have been alive… but we knew it was nobody’s “fault”… it was not meant to be. The joy of Ferdinand was not ours to experience.

I got out of bed and sat on the rocking chair and held Ferdinand. Val came often to admire him, repeatedly telling me how cute and sweet and beautiful he was. She kissed him, hugged him and touched his soft smooth skin. It started to rain, and soon it was time for us to prepare to leave the hospital. My bleeding was ok and everything was fine except for my elevated pulse rate. I told the nurse it was probably because I had been emotional; I did not want to stay in the hospital just for that. Someone from the mortuary arrived to take away Ferdinand. I started to cry loudly and I said to Ferdinand, while stroking his head, “Ferdinand, you are going to travel to so many wonderful places. Mama is going to miss you so terribly much! Please come and visit me often in my dreams, and tell me stories of the places you have been to, and about all your adventures. Remember always that mama loves you very, very much!!” R also broke down, and he told the girls, “Say goodbye to Ferdinand, and do not forget how your little brother looks like!”

The man from the mortuary came into the room with a large Winnie-the-Pooh quilt blanket. He laid it gently on the bed. I laid Ferdinand down on it. The man folded the blanket over Ferdinand and all dams broke loose for me then. My tears poured fourth as he continued to wrap the blanket around Ferdinand. I screamed and yelled and cried my heart out. Valerie started to cry too and R hugged both of us. I saw that Sophia was looking scared and on the verge of tears and pulled her towards me and hugged her tightly. Then the man picked up the bundle that was Ferdinand and quietly left the room. The truth, the fact!! that Ferdinand was GONE, GONE, GONE sank in like a big rock hitting my head. I leaned over the bed and rubbed my hands over the spot where Ferdinand last laid, crying like a woman out of her mind, trying to feel a last warmth; trying to grasp at a breath of life. No one saw my heart being dragged out of the room as well when the man left with Ferdinand, and all my organs following along, my uterus dangling behind, everything all bloody and weeping. A part of me died. I felt like I was going to die!

After a while, a nurse came to remove the IV tube from my arm. She was sobbing too and told me she was so sorry for my loss. I told her I just wanted to have my baby to bring home, I ask for nothing more. Finally, we could go home. Lightning was flashing and thunder was rumbling; the skies was pouring buckets upon buckets of bitter sorrowful waters. I changed, and we left, carrying a box of Ferdinand’s memorabilia with us. Still, my heart was hollow, and my arms, so empty! My sorrow knew no end. The rain poured and my tears merged with all the wetness; all the sadness.

We managed to get home safely and Ralf urged me to go to bed straight away. Suddenly I felt utterly exhausted; totally drained out. I fell asleep stroking the empty sheepskin next to me.

 

 

Monday, 7/30

Today the confinement starts. Even if a woman miscarries, or has a stillbirth, the practice continues, and in fact, has more reason to continue. I have heard that for miscarriages, the confinement period should be extended to 40 days so the woman’s body can recover from the trauma more completely. I enter the confinement reluctantly, because I find no joy and no necessity in resting and eating nourishing foods. I told R, “I am only eating for one, not two! I have no baby to nurse!”, hurling my anger needlessly at him and wailing. He was just trying so hard to take care of me, he really did not need all these….. and so I ate. I know I had to.

We also put together some things that will be cremated together with Ferdinand. I cut off the colorful Blessingway ribbon bracelet on my wrist and used it to tie together a small bundle of clothing for Ferdinand- a cap, a set meant for post-birth picture-taking, and a winter jumper with a lion embroidered on it. I also included a wooden rattle, a Rose of Jericho and a clay flower I made as a symbol of hope for my birth. The girls drew two cards each for Ferdinand and I included those as well. Val also wrote down the alphabets A to Z for Ferdinand so he can “learn how to read up there.” We also included the small silver cuff bracelet that a kind stranger gave to us at the Strawberry festival a couple of months back.

 

 

Tuesday, 7/31

Today is the day of Ferdinand’s cremation. R said he found it hard to get out of bed.

We arrived at the mortuary at 930am. I told R I wanted to see and hold Ferdinand for one last time. R conveyed that to the manager at the mortuary, who spoke to us briefly, offered his condolences, and asked what else they could do to help. He said he would not advise that as Ferdinand had been in refrigeration. I would not change my mind. So when Dennis (who came to pick up Ferdinand from the hospital, and who will also be responsible for Ferdinand’s cremation) came out to meet us, we still told him of our wish. He hesitated for a few moments, then he nodded his head slowly and said, “I will go prepare the room now. It will just be a few minutes.”

We were led to a small room at the back. There was a chair for sitting, and a small table. On the table was Ferdinand, still wrapped in the quilt blanket, and his head was uncovered. I took him in my arms and touched him. He felt cold and I pressed him against my body to warm him up. I held him tight and talked to him, telling him he was going to be safe and that we were all going to miss him and how we all love him so much. The girls also wanted to look at him and together we sang him “Twinkle twinkle little star”. R took more pictures. (Later he was reluctant to look at the pictures after downloading them and I asked if the looks of Ferdinand bothered him. He said not at all; it was how I was crying and grieving in those pictures that hurt him.) I asked if he wanted to hold Ferdinand one last time too and he nodded. I also took a few pictures for him and saw how grieved he looked. My poor R! I really did not know how to comfort him… …

After we composed ourselves we put Ferdinand back onto the table and said our final goodbye. We told Dennis we were ready and he told us to follow his car to the crematory, which was three miles outside of Payson.

It was the most difficult, watching little Ferdinand being removed from the quilt blanket, and placed in a receptacle for cremation. The items to be cremated with him were placed in there as well. I touched him one last time and said goodbye again, this time truly, truly for the last time! Dennis put the receptacle in and closed the door, the sound of which ripped my heart to a million pieces. He asked if we would like to press the start button but I shook my head. He started it and I think at that moment a part of me burned and died away, forever. I really wanted to stop that thing. To scream and yell and fight claw-to-claw with Death. To tell Death how angry I felt and how I felt my Life was being destroyed and how my heart will never beat the right way again. That I want to spit and hiss at him and break his heart as well.

But all I could do was to sob, sob, sob, and sob some more. And the tears are just useless. They are not going to turn back the clock, nor change anything at all. What has happened, has happened. No more “what if’s”; “if only”; or “maybe’s”. we just have to accept this as a sad, tragic chapter in our lives. Yet as I write this I know I cannot think all these without remembering all the beautiful, wonderful and just plain awesome gifts I have received from this pregnancy, even this birth, even this death. I still have had so much, maybe even too much. And I know this makes the loss of Ferdinand even more painful.

 

I say again, Ferdinand, that you shrouded me in such beautiful, divine light in the past months; and therefore this darkness is extremely unbearable. But I will watch out for the twinkle of your star at night, and wait for you in my dreams.

I am sorry we cannot be mother and son for a longer time in this lifetime, my son. I apologize so deeply and feel so much deep regret for our transient time together. Though it feels painful and awful to have lost you at full term, I am also so grateful, because I was able to experience a beautiful and glorious pregnancy so fully, and I was able to deliver you and then hold you, my precious baby, in my arms, and loved you all that I could. And I thank you once again, for your deep gift, and for all the beauty and grace you sent to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you, I bow ever so deeply. And I love you, fiercely, deeply, with tears and forever-more love and gratitude.

This is our story, Ferdinand. I finish here, but our book has not ended. In mama’s heart, the book continues, because I will continue to remember you, and love you, and you live on forever in mama’s wrenched heart.

 

 

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“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

With grieving, heavy hearts, we announce the birth and death of our baby son, Ferdinand Lenigk (Chinese name Lin Shiyuan). He was born and died on July 29, 2007, at 12.05pm. He weighed 6 lbs 9.9 ozs and was 20.5 inches long. He looked very peaceful, and was a perfect, beautiful baby. He was, and still is, much loved and shall live on forever in our hearts.
Ferdinand means “bravery” and “adventurous” and it also means an “ardent voyager”. We believe Ferdinand travels amongst the stars now.

Our dear friends and family, we acknowledge that interaction with us in the near future may prove awkward and difficult. Please know that it is fine to talk about baby Ferdinand; please do not step around his birth or death, or his brief, beautiful existence. He is very much loved by us and we wish to remember him, not forget him. We can only heal if we take time to grieve, so please do allow us our times of sorrow. We so appreciate all your love and support; thank you for holding the space; thank you for your love for us, and our dear baby Ferdinand.

Ralf, Janis, Valerie & Sophia

“Some people dream of angels. We held one in our arms.”

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Dear Ferdinand,
your name means bravery. It means adventurous. It also means ardent voyager.
Your soul has already taken off, flying off to other stars, traveling all alone. My brave little boy. Mama and papa wishes they could come along… …

We listened to the creek this morning together for the last time, I hope that sound accompanies you on all your journeys. Mama will miss you terribly.

Today will be your birthday for us. It will be beautiful. I will finally get to hold you and see you.

Love and heartaches,
mama

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Prayers

Dear all,

this afternoon we learned that our baby Ferdinand Lenigk is dead in utero. There was no fluid around the baby and it seems the placenta had a problem. We are heartbroken beyond words.
Tomorrow morning we will be going back to the hospital for induction and we will deliver the baby in as normal a manner possible. It will be a very hard day for us, and the period after even more as we grieve. We ask for prayers and kind thoughts from you, and request that there be no phone calls.

Thank you for your loving support thus far and for your understanding during this time when we will be less than social.

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