The story of a boy….well, he was much more than that to me……
Part 8: From Numbness to Anger
This is the 8th in the series.
Before I begin; let me say that this post will not be funny. And it might contain information that upsets you and not in the usual way with offensive language and politics…..but in a human, sad and guttural way. I may very well ramble at times and for all of these things: I am genuinely sorry. Please read Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 before reading this. It will just make more sense that way.
I awoke alone in the hospital room May 30, 2007. I remember waking before the sun was up~ and thinking momentarily that it had all been just a bad dream~ a nightmare of the worst kind. I reached down to my abdomen~ where what was~ just 24 hours prior~ a glorious round, firm, pregnant belly….an outward physical manifestation that represented my son~ inside me~ alive and growing every day.
But it was not a dream. It was a living, breathing, horrible nightmare. And there was no firm baby belly. There was mushy yucky flabby belly that bothers you even IF your child is alive and healthy. And in the bed there was blood. And attached to my arm there were IV’s…….and instantly it all came flooding back….he was not alive. He was dead. He was not growing and healthy wrapped in the warmth of his mother’s body. He had been taken to the morgue and I imagined that he was cold and alone there. And part of my soul had died with him. And even though I cried and cried and cried: heaving sobs that shook my entire being………he was not there. And never again would he physically BE there.
I called my husband, checked on our beautiful boy at home….the boy who, in the weeks and months that followed, quite literally saved my life and brought me back from the true cliff of insanity. All was as well as could be expected on the home front. My husband would take our son to preschool…..he would be by later in the day to pick me up from the hospital……what clothes did I want him to send in for me to wear home………and no it didn’t rain last night~ so the roof did not leak…..and how did I sleep……and is there anything else he needs to bring me…....and on and on and on the planning and preparations went. And despite my quiet tears: I felt numb. Like I was walking through a haze and I was never really sure what was happening in the physical world.
My husband brought clothes……and on the way home from the hospital we had to go to the funeral home. And I remember sitting across the desk from a very young but very, very kind man as he explained our “options” for our son’s funeral. And I remember nodding and agreeing all the while thinking WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME THIS? WHAT FUCKING DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE WHICH FUNERAL CARDS WE CHOOSE? WHY DOES THIS HAVE TO BE DONE TODAY???????????????????????MY SON IS DEAD; I DON'T FUCKING CARE ABOUT ANY OF THIS! And though my soul was tortured with pain, on the outside I only nodded…..and signed…..and picked the cards that would be used……and listened as he explained that they would pick up our son’s body later that day…..and looked through catalogues to try to choose an urn that would hold our son’s remains..…..and listened to the young man as he explained that it would be significantly less expensive to just go a buy a meaningful vessel as our son was tiny~ and his remains would be equally tiny………and thanked the kind man……all the while I just wanted to curl into a ball and die.
I remember trying to find something to wear to the funeral….I remember standing in front of my closet: looking mostly at maternity clothes…….and I remember thinking “HOW does a mother CHOOSE what to wear to her son’s funeral???”. How, how, how. And then all of the sudden I was obsessed with NOT wearing anything that would make me look pregnant. One of the cruel jokes of pregnancy~ even after you deliver the baby ~ you still LOOK pregnant. And while it was unlikely that anyone at my son’s funeral would mistake me for being pregnant I was nevertheless obsessed with finding an outfit that did not make me LOOK pregnant. So out I went to shop to find something to wear.
When I returned to my home I remember pulling into the driveway and seeing no less than 15 of our dearest and closest friends on our roof~ the tarps were gone shingles were being put in place with rapid and loving accuracy. And I stood in my front yard and I cried~ so moved was I that when you need people the most: they just show up. There is nothing quite like a tragedy to help you really find out who your friends are~ and we have some pretty amazing friends.
The day of the funeral arrived…we decided against the pomp and circumstance that accompany many funerals. It would be just a service at our church. We requested that people not send flowers~ but instead if they wanted to; to please make donations to either the March of Dimes or to The Cleveland Clinic.
I remember being so very, very sad when after I dressed my two year old in his little dress shirt and tie he said: I handsome like Daddy. And it was all I could do to say yes, yes you are and not dissolve in a fit of rage and tears. Inside I was screaming: your brother was handsome too~ for they looked nearly identical.
I cannot recall the drive to the church…..or what I wore (even though I had agonized over it the day before). But I remember walking into the sanctuary….where my husband and I had married, where our Dear Son had been baptized…into this beautiful room~ that before today had held only joyous and wonderful memories. And I froze~ at the end of the isle that I had walked as a bride full of joy not so long ago~ I froze. And I remember that my Dear Son’s Godfather was standing behind me~ and I turned~ I wanted to run away, I wanted to be ANYWHERE in the world but HERE. And he caught me in his arms and I looked into his face and I screamed “I CAN NOT DO THIS. THIS IS TOO HARD. I CAN NOT DO THIS”. And he held me and I cried. And my husband came from the front of the room where he had been talking to our Pastor, and together these two men who mean so much to me ~ each on one side~ led me down the isle.
At the end of the isle~ my sons were waiting for me. One handsome and so very full of life~ looking at me with sad eyes and not really understanding what was happening. The other~ dead~ tiny remains in a tiny silver box with his name engraved upon it. I picked up my boy~ full of life and love~ and I held him and he gave me the strength to sit down in the pew. On my lap he sat and he wiped away my tears as they flowed unchecked during my Dear Angel Son’s eulogy. And he gave me the strength to not run away~ to face our family and friends who had gathered there to help us through this day and the days that would come.
I can’t say that I remember what our Pastor said….only that I remember at the time thinking he had done a really beautiful job in choosing his words~ and I genuinely was comforted by them.
At the end of the readings and the prayers my husband, my DS and my two nearly grown daughters walked with me to the front of the church~ and our Pastor handed me the tiny silver box that contained the only tangible thing, the only physical evidence that our son had been. I remember clutching the box and thinking: this cannot be ALL that is left, it can NOT be. He was SO MUCH MORE to me.
The next few days were spent in numbness. Eat, take care of DS, write thank you cards, answer calls of people who checked on me, try to sleep….get up and do it all over again. I genuinely believe that I was completely just NUMB. The feelings of the hospital and the funeral and all of it~ they were just too hard to feel……and so I stumbled through the first two weeks~ each day so very grateful that I had a Dear Son at home…..and he needed me…..and he loved me…….and I was not alone……and I had a reason to get out of bed.
But at my 2-week check up the numbness disappeared and the rage returned. After delivering William I had had a great deal of difficulty delivering the placenta. And they had a very hard time stopping the bleeding after the placenta was quite literally torn from my body manually. SO they said I had to have an ultrasound at the 2-week mark to make sure the entire placenta had in fact come out.
And as I sat in the waiting room of my OB office: surrounded by happy pregnant mommies and daddies holding there hands~ the rage grew. Then my name was called and I proceeded down the hall and into the darkened ultrasound room. The very one that just a few weeks ago gave me the single most happy day of my life. But instead of my son on the screen there was what the sonographer called “retained products of conception”. And then the doctor came in and explained that I would need a D&C to remove all of this retained business. JUST FUCKING LOVELY.
And then to add insult to injury when I asked her if I could go back to work after the D&C was done~ she said NO. She informed me that I HAD to take a maternity leave. WAIT WHAT? I have no newborn baby to care for, you can’t possible expect me to stay HOME for the next 6-8 weeks alone, WITH NO BABY. And she said a bunch of crap about how THAT didn't really matter from a physical standpoint….I had been very sick, I had in fact delivered a child, I would need this other surgery, I would not be released to return to work until at least 8 weeks postpartum. I was so fucking mad I wanted to punch her in the face.
So back to the waiting room filled with pregnant ladies I go, and I sit there for another 20 minutes while the scheduler called the hospital to schedule my D&C. And I was literally consumed with rage. It was SO SO SO hurtful to me to have to SIT there with the pregnant ladies. To have to return to the same ultrasound room where I had had countless sonograms that showed me my baby growing from a tiny bean into a CHILD. That I had to endure watching the screen that now only showed bits and pieces of DEBRIS. REALLY? Isn’t there a better way to do this? A back door to this fucking place? A way to arrange for the ultrasound to be done someplace else??
I have never been more angry in my life at the injustices that I have suffered through than I was that summer. I had a full-blown panic attack at Kohl’s trying to find the perfect frame for William’s picture. I remember so many days that I would lie in my bed and yell and scream and rail at God. How could this be happening? Hadn’t I suffered enough? What did I do to deserve THIS?
We had already booked and paid for a beach vacation that summer….and I spent the whole 8 days waffling between uncontrollable crying to blinding rage. I didn’t WANT to sit on the beach with my squishy, yucky, flabby, I still looked pregnant belly. I was SUPPPOSED to be gloriously BIG and BEAUTIFULLY pregnant STILL.
When I went back to work 9 weeks after William was born, I was shocked and angered to realize that the world had carried on without me. EVERYONE just went on with their lives. EVERYONE but ME. My son was dead and I would NEVER be the same person again~ and yet the world went on as if nothing had happened.
And then as summer turned to fall I became obsessed with trying again. I wanted, desperately NEEDED to be pregnant again. Tests and procedures and results all revealed that William’s loss was a “fluke”. It was extremely uncommon for the amniotic fluid to become infected in the manner that it did. The loss was a “one time” bad luck thing. Not caused by the fall or anything I did wrong they said……but I still was wracked with guilt that my body had failed William.
3 months passed and we were given the ok to try another frozen embryo transfer. The procedure went smoothly. And during the two-week wait to find out if it had worked I was actually cocky enough to discuss with my husband the procedure for donating our last two embryos…..so sure I was that I was pregnant….that I deserved to BE pregnant.
Blood test day came and I was so cocky I went back to work after having the blood drawn….so confident that the call that would come later in the day would bring good news. Well, it did not. I was not pregnant. I got the call literally as I was walking out of my office to go to an all staff meeting. FUCK THE WORLD, I HATE YOU GOD. Is what I thought.
And then later that day a coworker that I was particularly close to because she had lost a son as well~ said to me that she could not help but feel that this time….this fall……THIS was still William’s time. This is the time in which he SHOULD have been born and lived.
And she was right, it was still William’s time. And I was only just beginning to realize how profoundly this little boy would change our lives.
Coming next: part 9: A Leap of Faith