Brent and I decided together that we would take the night and in the morning we would head to the hospital. We needed our rest, I needed a moment to gather my thoughts. That night we slept more peacefully than we had in months. All was quiet. That began the theme, as odd as it may sound, as painful as it all was, we were at peace.
The next morning I woke up, Brent brought me coffee in bed. I was thinking about the day ahead of me. What we had to do. How I had to get from that bed to the hospital. Stepping out of my bed would put it all in motion. I just sat there texting my loved ones, telling them I wanted to stay in bed for the whole day, gleaning from their encouragement. Building my strength.
Once I finally got the courage to step out of bed, I needed to muster up the courage to take a shower. Each step brought me closer to having to deliver this baby inside me. The one who had gone entirely still. He still felt safe in there. I had always thought I would want a baby out of me asap if this ever happened but I didn’t. I still spoke to him, telling him I loved him and I wished we could stay like this forever. Together.
My shower felt like a ritual, cleansing myself before a big moment. Once it was over, it was hard to turn the shower off and get out. Every step was like this but it made me look at everything in steps. I just thought about where I was, not what was about to happen. I just focused on my step. When I thought about what I had to do today, I would imagine myself wailing in agony as I go through contraction after contraction until they gave me drugs. It would make me would start to lose it and cry. So I just focused on the steps. Wash hair. Shave legs. Rinse. Turn off water. Step out of shower.
Once I made it out, I packed a makeshift hospital bag, constantly thinking of the one I had wanted to bring to his REAL delivery. I hadn’t made my labour mix CD, I hadn’t figured out all I had wanted to bring. I knew I would want to labour in the shower and I knew I didn’t want to mess up my hair so I packed shower caps. I packed nail polish for when mom and I got bored. A book. Deodorant. I just kept thinking this wasn’t how it was supposed to be, packing this stupid hospital bag 19 weeks into my pregnancy.
I don’t know why I braided my hair but I did. It felt like a woman going to do this needed a braid in her hair. I made myself look nice. I had to. For the baby. So when he was born he had a momma that was pretty. The weirdest things get important at this time. I got so mad at getting dressed. I didn’t want anyone to see my bump anymore, it felt flaccid. I didn’t want people looking at it and thinking there was a life growing inside me. I wanted to hide it. There was no life growing inside me. Showing my bump would be duping people into thinking I was growing someone in there. I don’t like lying to people.
Finally was ready, finally dropped the boys off with my Aunt Ginny and my step-dad who had come out to support. Finally parked at the hospital. Walking towards it, the building loomed over me. This new hospital I had dreamed of delivering in – just not now.
Inside I saw all the people milling about. I wondered how sad their story was. Was any of it as sad as mine? Why do they all look so normal?
Finally up in the delivery room we looked around. What a beautiful delivery room. Brent and I held each other and cried. This was supposed to be where we gathered our loved ones in August, to deliver our alive baby. The one we had planned on. This was supposed to be that happy place. It was so beautiful in there and we were there to deliver a dead baby. It was so wrong. I couldn’t stop crying. Thinking of all the alive babies that had been born in that room. All those beautiful memories.
It took a long time for the OB to get there. He was so nice though. He answered all of our questions. He showed us our baby on the ultrasound machine, he showed us the still heart from every angle he could. So we were sure. He stood back while we cried and we cried and we cried about that still heart. About seeing that beautiful baby, silent inside of me. He had no answers as to why this all happened. He told us we may never know. These “late miscarriages” were often a mystery. Could be a cord accident. Could be something else. Just a really rare occurrence that happened to us. He asked us if we knew the sex of the baby. We didn’t and we didn’t want to know. Either way it was going to make us so sad. Might as well find out when the baby is out and we are already feeling pain. He and the staff didn’t treat this like a late miscarriage. They treated me like a woman who just lost her baby. Medicine might say that it isn’t technically a baby. Screw medicine.
There was so much time in between every step. Eventually I got my first dosage of the drug they place right beside your cervix to soften and open it, causing contractions. I needed all that time. It helped me ease into things, find my peace with it and prepare for what was next. Once those pills were in, a lot of time went by. We spent our time chatting and my brother came to visit. I got happy every time the lady brought me disgusting hospital food. We laughed at how terrible it was and wondered why they always bring you so much milk. I mocked whatever person came up with this menu, making the nurses laugh.
It might seem like it was weird that there was laughter in that room but what else could we do? Wail and cry and bawl and scream? That sounded a lot harder on all of us, on the staff, on everything. We kept choosing peace, knowing that laughter would soon cease. I don’t think any one of us could have stayed that strong without each other. I relied so much on Mom and Brent and I’m sure they would have lost it if I was losing it. We held each other up. Even my friends who supported me through my phone.
I had various midwives from the clinic I was going to check in on me. One that was planning on being there with me. She finally came and we chatted about everything. I welcomed every single distraction because if I wasn’t distracted then I would focus on why I was there. It wasn’t avoidance. It was distraction. It didn’t help the sadness in my gut or the rising feeling of anxiety within me. But it kept me from breaking in half.
Things began happening after my second dose of medicine. I couldn’t tell if the cramping was in my head or not, but it got stronger and stronger and stronger. Soon I was ready for the heat of the shower because the hot packs the midwife and nurses were bringing me weren’t doing the trick. It was like a real full contraction but just really low. I was in labour. The shower took the pain right away and again Brent and I sat and chatted and cried and waited.
I never intended on doing this naturally. I never intended on anything that happened once hard labour hit. I was going to numb myself with all the drugs they would give me. But as the contractions got harder, my mind started to change. I had a plan for this baby’s delivery from the beginning, natural and peaceful. Everything stopped being about me and it became about my baby. The nurse offered me morphine but I refused. This was going to be the delivery this baby deserved, no matter what. I shall stay calm and focus on him (yes, once my instincts kicked in – I knew it was a “him”).
Once I had a moment alone, I went deep inside of myself and told him “it’s ok baby, it’s time, you can come out“. I had realized I was still holding on to him. It was time to let go and I began to labour hard. In honour of him.
I began focusing on opening up, on allowing each contraction to do its work. By choosing peace, I quickly tuned in to this strength I never knew I had. It felt ancient, it felt reserved just for a mother in this situation. It came from love and heartache and peace. It was pure and spiritual and ritualistic. I began labouring to a rhythm being kept by my feet. I would meet each peak with a hum, singing a song to my baby – words only sung within my head. I just kept tapping out that rhythm (I realize now it was the same beat a heart would make), I kept humming and singing and swaying my baby down and down and down.
As awful and heart wrenching as it sounds, his labour became beautiful. Just what he deserved.
My instinct kicked in once again and I knew to stand and my waters burst. Thinking the baby would soon follow, we moved to the room where I laboured on my knees on the floor. My rhythm getting stronger, my song getting louder, my body swaying to the beat of it all. It felt so visceral and pure. There had been women who had done this before and I felt them there with me, drumming and swaying and humming along.
Everyone was quiet, Brent holding my hand and passing me water, my mom nearby, the midwife behind me offering encouragement and validation. She really knew what I was doing. Sometimes it felt really silly and I may have stopped and acted more like a normal woman in labour, but having her there silently validating my every move gave me strength and courage to move forward.
Even in transition, I was at peace. Every muscle in my body relaxed. I needed to use the bathroom (like every other woman in transition) and I needed my dignity. The midwife was opposed to it but I assured her the baby wasn’t there yet and I was going. The good thing about midwives is that they give you so much freedom. So I went…and I almost passed out on the toilet. I called to them and they came into the bathroom to see me looking completely grey. Dignity gone but at least it was left where it belonged.
They brought me to the bed to lay down and I felt like death. But as soon as it had washed over me, I was back feeling powerful and with a renewed energy. My body knew what it needed to do and my rhythm came back. My instincts told me that I needed checked and the baby needed an adjustment but I was too scared she would check and I would have hardly dilated. I know now that fear is a liar and my instincts are right. My labour slowly changed and became less and less and less. I got worried that something was wrong and I would need more drugs. I started to bleed – a lot. She checked me and my instincts were right. A little shift, a little push and he was born.
I’ll forever remember everything Brent said in that moment. “Oh Leah, oh the baby is so perfect” he said through sobs. “Hold on Leah….oh it’s boy, oh they were going to be the three amigo’s. He’s so perfect”. I couldn’t see anything and it felt like forever to have him handed to me. Once he was I saw that he was indeed beautiful. He looked exactly like Isaac. The weight and warmth of his body on my chest felt so amazing. I held him and we wept and we wept and we wept.
It was another two hours before I delivered the placenta. We just ignored the nurses who were bustling and worrying about all my blood loss. I delivered it with my last bit of strength just as the nurse was calling the OB to take me to surgery.
We had two beautiful hours with our son. Earlier I had researched names that meant peace and we decided he would be named Jonah meaning “dove” or “peace”. We placed him on a pillow and I held him beside me. My sister Juliet arrived, she had driven for 8 hours and she made it in time to meet him. We passed him around a bit but mostly just had him on the bed beside me. We were at peace again, studying his body, taking photos of every angle. I rubbed the tip of his big toe and stared at him. I whispered to him how much I loved him and how beautiful he was over and over and over again.
I still stare at him, admiring his beauty, wishing he was still with me. Every day.
I share Jonah’s story with you in hopes that it will bring someone comfort, hoping that Jonah will have some sort of a legacy. Please share his story, that it may reach the people it was truly intended for. So that those tiny feet make an impact on this world.
Oh ya…and post a comment on this page…you all have such amazing things to say and I want everyone to see that too. Yes I am being demanding. Yes I am talking to you people who comment on Facebook.