There are different events that play out in our world, in our history, that we remember where we were on “such, and such” a day. What was going on around before that day, and the days that followed. And with that, a lot of the time, how our perception of life itself, changed.
Waiting at a red light the other day, I watched as a funeral procession went by. I immediately went back in my thoughts to the day that we buried Emily, February 15, 2013. After our baby’s ceremony, I remember walking out to our car which was parked out in the front, and looking around the church parking lot. And watching as the funeral director was placing flags on everyone’s car that was heading out to the cemetery. (I have tears in my eyes as I am writing this.) My husband, carrying Emily’s casket, handed me her to put on my lap. I looked at him, and I said, “I cannot believe this is our baby’s funeral.” It just felt so surreal. I just couldn’t believe it. I still can’t, and to this day, have these thoughts that appear out of nowhere, “Did we really lose a child?”
As the days lead up to February 5th, when we found out that Emily did not have a heartbeat, I have flashbacks of what I was thinking and doing a year ago, around this time. Memories that I thought would be long gone. But, they stick with me. Just as people remember how innocent they were before events like 9/11. And how after that tragic day, our world changed forever. That is exactly what the days leading up to that sad and painful Tuesday afternoon are like. And how the days that followed, and are still following, have changed forever for us. You are trying to recreate a sort of new life, but still hoping that it is all a dream while being fairly certain that it’s not.
I remember where I was sitting as I was waiting for my ultrasound appointment in that hospital café on February 5th. I can barely look at that café now. I remember the receptionist saying that I would have to wait about an hour or so, and that I maybe should get a bite to eat while I wait. I thought, “Yeah, that’s a good idea. I am pregnant and it’s lunch time. The baby probably could use some food.” Little did I know that, that was going to be all that I would want to eat for the rest of the day. I sat at a high top, eating my chicken salad croissant sandwich and soup. I even was registering for a baby class, as I was waiting, for February 27th. I thought, “I think we should do that hospital tour too. But, I will wait a couple of months.” My husband always chuckled at me registering for baby classes after our first. He did not think that it was necessary, but knew I enjoyed them. So, he just went along.
I cannot even go into describing that day in the ultrasound office. It is just too hard, even a year later. Maybe one day I will get enough courage to write about it. After I learned that Emily no longer had a heartbeat, I called my mom. I had just hung up with her, and she even offered to come up to the office with me before I went back to the room. I said confidently, “I think we are okay. If I was worried, I would say yes. But I think all is good.” We were almost half-way through our pregnancy. All was looking good. In shock, I delivered the news to my mom. She came immediately. Once I got a hold of my husband, and told him our very sad news, he came up to the hospital. I couldn’t drive home, so we left my car in a grocery store parking lot that night. Even that parking lot, I have a hard time driving by.
That night when we came home, it was pretty late. Probably around 7pm or so. I sat in my doctor’s office for a long time that afternoon and evening. I was still processing it all. Plus, I felt like once we left, that was it. Our baby had died. And that was so unbearably difficult. Accepting that our lives would be going down another path than what I had envisioned from that afternoon walking into the hospital. I was going to go buy a box at Target after our appointment to put balloons in it, to announce to our boys – girl or boy. Sister or brother. Little did I know, that a week later I would be at that same Target buying our baby’s funeral guest book.
That night when we came home to tell our two little boys, Matthew, who was three then, and Ryan, who was one, that our baby died, it was painful. You are trying to be strong for them, when inside you are breaking apart. They were asking, “Why did our baby die?” While you don’t even know the answer yourself. Matthew wanted to know “why we were at the doctor’s office all day,” and Ryan just wanted to give our baby (my tummy) a kiss, as he always did. Going down into the finished basement, there was a footstool at the top of the steps. Matthew pushed it down the steps, not really knowing what it would do. It put a good size hole in the wall. This is before we even told them anything.
That hole. My husband had tried fixing the hole at different points over the past year. For a while, it was just a hole. I really did not like going by that hole; it brought me right back to that very sad day. And like I said, he tried covering it, and it did not quite work out. Just recently, he seemed to fix it. And painted over it with two coats of paint. But, you know what? You can still see it. I think of it like my heart. That painful day, a giant hole got hollowed out of my heart. Time, counseling, talking to other bereaved mothers has helped, but the hole is still there. It is being healed, slowly. Just like the hole on our basement wall, my heart will probably always have a hole in it, even if it appears completely healed.