What I’m Ready to Share About Infant Loss: Demise & Wicked Emotion

If you know me at all, you know that I am an open book. I quite literally will tell you anything you want to know about me. I have little, really nothing, to hide.  This blog post reveals some of the darkest pages to become a part of my life book.  I will warn you. I hold nothing back. You might not want to read it. But here it is.  And know that there is more to come after this as I share my experience with Infant Loss. As promised, I will openly admit…I am utterly terrified to share this story.

And you might not want to read about it or feel it either.

Check Again.
Dropped Kamden off without issue at preschool and off to my appointment. No more contracts really. Finally an appointment where I wasn’t feeling nervous that something would go wrong. It was no secret that I had hoped John Karl would be born in October. I knew it was a little early, but both Kendall and Kamden were just a bit early too, and we had already suspected that my predicted due date of November 17 was a bit off…about 10 days late.  Since I had so many contractions the night before I was hopeful that I’d be dilated at this appointment and couldn’t wait to see how far I was. 
In the office door. Wave hello to the receptionists. Head to the restroom to pee in a cup.  Have a seat on the couch. Minutes later the nurse I was so familiar with would call my name and back I’d go to see what the prediction was for the week. Everything seemed to be going perfectly in my head…we had an ultrasound scheduled for 2:30 that afternoon and I quietly hoped I’d be dilated to 5 or 6, confirm his development at the ultrasound later at the hospital and then be admitted to welcome him that very day – or at least sometime that week.  So much for hopes…I should have been praying for his health.  I did that too, don’t get me wrong, but maybe this happened because I didn’t make it my priority. It physically hurt me to write that last sentence. No mom wants to admit that she may have let her child down, especially when it involves his life…that’s my current struggle. “What if’s” – more on those later, back to the “what happened”. 
As predicted, the nurse called me back quickly, checked my blood pressure and weight – all good. Asked how I was feeling and if everything seemed ok. I told her about the contractions and she made a note.  Minutes later Dr. E walked in and asked the same polite, routine questions. We discussed the contractions and she smiled as big as I did –knowing this could mean that the baby was close. It is obvious that she loves her work (delivering babies), and John and I often joke at her “control” and “all business style” in the delivery room. She is truly a fantastic OB for me in that respect.  She did a physical check, mentioned that I was dilated a little more than 4, and 90% effaced. The baby was down this time; the week before he was up high and off to the side – hard (and painful) for her to reach. I swear she was in there up to her elbows. 
His heart rate had been normal in the previous (36 week) visit, but I remember, as always, she had trouble finding him then.  She mentioned having touched the top of his head and thought that would get him moving – it didn’t. I wonder if that is when it all really started.  His demise—that’s the medical term. Blech. Turns my stomach to think of it. I would tell you not to look up the definition, but you will so here it is: a person’s death. That seems like a simple enough explanation for what happened, but it isn’t. So much more is attached to that word. So much more. In fact, I don’t think I am capable of finding words to even express what else goes along with it in this situation. This entire blog is the best I can do.
Here we are now back at the 37 week visit. Dr. E helped me move my legs from the stirrups and lay a little more comfortably on the table, while she pulled out the wand to check for our baby’s heartbeat. It was tricky to find him – as always. No worries. Finally after several tries, we heard something. Dr. E made a face (I realize in hind sight, but was not alarmed by it at the time), I must have noticed because before I stopped myself I asked, “Was that him or me?” She hesitated, then answered, “Him. But it’s low and I want to get you on a monitor. It has me a bit concerned, we may deliver him today.” Oh my! As I hoped, but I was afraid to be excited we might meet John Karl today…I’m not sure why.  She instructed me to call John and drive over to the hospital, minutes from her office. She said, “Do not go home and pick up anything including your husband, have him meet you there. I want to monitor you right away.”

“Should I be panicked?” I questioned.

“No, no. Just be prepared to deliver him today.” Alright…here we go!

I called John who was just finishing his run for the day.  He asked what we should do about the kids. I called friends: Andy, Ashley, and Bethany and let them know that we would probably have a baby today! Everyone’s excitement oozed through the phone. The three of them made arrangements to be at our house when Kendall got off the bus, and pick up Kamden at the end of preschool, then care for them until grandparents arrived.  I called my parents and told them to find a way to get down, it looked like he would be coming today. John would call his parents.
Parked, entered, and took the elevator to the Labor and Delivery floor.  Deep breath.  Open doors. The nurses took me to a triage room and asked me to potty and change. They had the bed all ready, monitor laid out to wrap around my tummy and keep track of John Karl’s “low heartbeat”.  I crawled in and they tried to find him with the monitor, no luck.  “Where did Dr. E find him in her office, dear?”
“Oh he was low,”  I answered. I pointed to a spot low on my tummy, she tried there without success and then explained they would use the ultrasound to locate him and place the monitor. The nurse checked and found him, but just looked at the other nurse in the room and said, “I don’t see anything, better call Dr. Whatever-Her-Name-Is-On-Call.”   
Wait…what?! What!? Why isn’t anyone looking at me and talking!? Why are they only looking at each other!? “Check again”, I said. “Check again.” I looked at the second nurse who was now holding my hand somehow. Please, please I need my husband, I begged. I fumbled with my phone to call him. I couldn’t make it work. I couldn’t make my fingers work. I was lying down, but I swear the room was spinning in circles. I worried, I panicked.   
“Check again!” I kept shouting. I looked right into the nurse’s eyes and begged her, “Please find him!  Please find my baby’s heartbeat.” It’s got to be there.  John wasn’t here yet. God, please don’t let this be happening. Where is John? Where is my doctor. This is not happening. Please God, when they heck again, let it be a mistake.  They just overlooked something. You can fix this. I know you can fix this. I was having trouble breathing. Immediately I flashed back to the miscarriage, when they couldn’t find anything and everyone seemed too afraid to say it out loud.  The doctor was in the room and scanning me while I fumbled with my phone to see where John was. 
Immediately I heard his voice calling, “Misty, where are you?” 
“Here!” I answered. As he poked his head through the curtain to make certain it was me, I blurted – “He’s gone, babe! They can’t find him!” I watched as the excited “we’re-having-a-baby-today” turned to the panic, confused look I knew was on my face also.  He looked at the screen as the doctor confirmed that she couldn’t see a heartbeat. I couldn’t see the screen, but John later told me he could see John Karl’s outline, but no heartbeat. That’s the one thing he could always recognize on the black and white screen during an ultrasound. It’s easy to see your child’s heartbeat flutter on the screen, it’s the one solid, consistent movement. And it wasn’t there. He says now, that’s when he knew it was serious and it is like a switch flips from elated excitement to panic and fear. He rushed to my side and I remember him leaning over to hug me. 
“Check again!” I shouted over and over. I don’t even remember if I was crying at this point. Panic is something I didn’t often experience and I have no idea, to this day, if there were tears on my face. John looked at me – hopeless, sad, and teary. Don’t look at me like that. This is not real. They will check again. It will be there. God will fix this. He will. We prayed, we prayed all the prayers, prayed about all the decisions. It’s a boy…the one you’ve prayed for your whole life. Please honey, don’t look at me like that. It means this might really be happening.The doctor looked at me the same way as she shook her head and looked down to avert her eyes from mine.  The nurses seemed to be doubled in my small curtained room now and they all just looked useless. No one was helping me find him. My baby boy. We had waited so long…what could have happened to him now? 
I must have still been shouting because the next thing I knew they were wheeling the bed down the hall. This is about when my anger set in. What the hell, God?!?!!?!?!? What are you doing? This is not happening, this is not happening to us. No. It just isn’t.I repeated over and over. Finally parked in my room, the anger came in full force. “Check again,” I demanded calm but firm. After each of these questions escaped my thoughts – some out loud and some silently – I knew that God could hear them, and so each time I would follow up with:  There’s still hope, you can still fix this. YOU can. YOU better hear me!  Dr. E finally arrived in my room as the nurse was rambling on about getting me an IV and they could call for an epidural. What? What are talking about? I’m not delivering this baby. I’m not doing it. Anger. Frustration. Mad. Rage. If there were a stronger word for the emotion that I was feeling at that moment, I would use it. But I’m not certain it exists.  Dr. E explained that she agreed with what the on call doctor had concluded. There was no heartbeat. She offered to check again for me if I wanted. Are you serious? I have been screaming for that since I arrived! 
Check again she did, with the same results.
Kaleidoscope of Wicked Emotions.
I think I went from heartbroken to profoundly sad and then anger and rage in a matter of seconds. I half listened as Dr. E explained that the safest way to get him out was to speed up my labor and have me deliver him. Um, no. Not doing it.  And then I shut my brain off and didn’t listen to anything else she said for the next 5 or 10 minutes.  John must have been listening though, because periodically I would see him look at me with his head kind of sideways – like a puppy, and sad, sad eyes. It was like he was waiting for me to understand and agree. I knew they were trying to convince me to deliver my son vaginally, and I just wasn’t having it. I was holding on to him and if they wanted him out, someone was going to have to physically cut me to do it.  Also, I thought…if this is really happening, I need it to be over quickly.  Flash to thoughts of my girls, and all I could think about was getting this over with, getting the baby out and getting home. Wicked change in emotions because the next thing I knew I was thinking that I wanted to meet him and hold him and love him as long as they would let me. I simply didn’t care that he wasn’t going to breathe. He was still my baby boy.  I hoped and prayed and waited so long for him.  Still not listening.  Praying, God, it’s not too late. As long as he’s still inside me you can fix this. You can make him breathe again. Please, please make him breathe again. No one else can fix this. It has to be You. Surely, you did not answer one prayer (for a child), and one dream (for my husband to continue his family name with a boy) only to let it all slip away like this. We prayed. We did everything we thought You wanted. Hope and pain all in the same breath.
Finally, I told the doctor that I would think about it and I needed some time.  When she left the room (in tears for us), we asked the nurse to go to so we could talk. I really needed everyone around me to stop crying so that I could process, but at the same time I needed them to cry because it meant this was real and they maybe understood how much it sucked.  That’s the right word…I realize “sucked” is a slang term for something negative, but that’s what I was actually feeling. Like every last breath I had was sucked out of me and it was a struggle to continue.  It physically hurt to breathe, and think, and even to use my eyes. Thank goodness I was lying in a hospital bed because there is no way I could have done this on my feet. 
Bethany arrived to get the keys to van and pick up the kids. I didn’t realize at the time why, but John caught her in the hallway to tell her that John Karl was not alive. How had I forgotten to call and tell her this? Another dream crushed. She was as excited as we were about John Karl. I let her get all the way to hospital with excitement. Please fix it. Let him be ok when he comes out. Let them be wrong.  She walked in wiping tears and immediately came to the side of my bed to hug me. “Bethany, I’m not doing this. They want me to deliver him.”  
“I know,” she said simply with those eyes that I would come to see a million times. Sad, empathetic eyes.
“I’m not…you need to tell them I’m not doing it.”  
“Talk with John, honey, you will be ok. I’m so sorry this is happening. I’m so sorry, love.” I love that my sweet friend said, “You will be ok.” and not “It will be ok.” John and I would later discuss that “it” would never be ok. It was not ok that this happened and that we were going through it, any of us. But we did know that we would somehow be ok. This would become something we repeated often to each other.
I remember those words and I can hear them still. The first sympathy and comfort from a friend.
John and I talked and talked and talked some more about what was happening and realizing (I guess, as little as my brain was functioning at this point, I don’t know if I was comprehending anything) or somehow being convinced that delivering John Karl was the best option – I agreed to it. Dr. E said that she didn’t think it would take long, my contractions were still coming and not really getting stronger, but more consistent. Wait I’m still having contractions? I hadn’t even noticed. The nurse said, “Sweetie, they are pretty strong, you don’t feel them?” I. Feel. Nothing.  I think I nodded or shook my head. They would begin the epidural and then break my water, then follow that up with a strong dose of Pitocin (to induce contractions). I was fine with all of this.  Give me all the Pitocin, all the drugs. Move it along…
The contractions were becoming a bit stronger, I finally noticed the actual physical pain my body was experiencing.  I was ready for an epidural.  I was not ready for this one.
In my previous two deliveries with the girls the epidural was easy and quick, no pain.  This time was different. Maybe because of the stress or anxiety, maybe because of the anesthesiologist?  Who knows? But let me tell you – it hurt like a SOB!  The prick came (that is supposed to be like a bee sting, and it was—it just never stopped). As the anesthesiologist continued all the while explaining what he was doing, it hurt. I didn’t remember this part before. I mentioned it and he said sometime it happens, and should end soon he was almost to the epidural space.  When that happened I yelped. It really hurt, as he explained that he was searching for the right spot, I could feel him moving the gigantic needle in my back. Again, it hurt. I kept saying this over and over as I leaned on John and looked at the nurse, she encouraged me to breathe and hang in the correct position so he could place the needle. After no success this time the anesthesiologist pulled everything out and said he would need to try again.  From the first prick, I screamed. Actually screamed out loud. This is not what it’s supposed to feel like. It hurt even more than before. These aren’t supposed to hurt. What the heck!?!  I screamed again and again. Why is it hurting? It never hurt before. Why is this happening? 
Finally after what seemed like an hour, but was more like 5 minutes he stopped and said he could call for another doctor to try. “Yes! Yes!” I shouted. You are done here. You have to stop.  I was actually crying from all of the pain: the physical pain as the needed searched for space in my back, the situational pain, the emotional pain of my broken heart, everything.  The nurse teared up as well as she asked him to call for the head of anesthesiology.   
He did and a few minutes later a happy fellow pranced into the room. He was older with white hair, but looked like a TV doctor. This made me feel better…I probably watch too much TV.  After asking questions to assess the situation, then reviewing my chart, he realized that the baby I carried was no longer living. That was the first time I would see the face of sympathy from another person – a stranger. Someone who probably had no actual idea what this was like for me, but regardless wanted to help. He offered to give me a little “cocktail” he called it, to relax me for the epidural procedure, the labor and delivery, and just calm me a bit all together. Yes, please!  I did ask if it would make things fuzzy and would I still remember it. I’m not quite sure why I asked because I really didn’t know if I wanted to remember this (of course, I did).   
“You will,” he said, loading the syringe. “This will just feel like…” he pushed the medication into my IV… “like I’ve had half a bottle of wine” – we said simultaneously. Honestly it was all I could do not to shout “Jinx”…what the heck had happened, now I’m trying to be funny? I’m sad. Sad, people!  Oh Lord, make this not be real.  Please just let him be born and be breathing. Please.  Still holding on to hope while I cursed the God whose help I needed desperately.  Finally the epidural was in and I settled in to ride out the labor.  
John by my side in a chair and holding my hand. At some point we each spoke with our parents and told them that John Karl was gone, and that I was going to deliver him anytime.  Both sets of grandparents left immediately to be with us. John’s from work in Michigan, and mine from northeast Ohio to us in Dayton.  
I remember, my dad shouted and cried on the phone, so much that I could hear my mom screaming in the background “What’s wrong? What is it? What’s going on?” He couldn’t even tell her, just put her on the phone so that I would tell it again.   
She cried, and said, “I’m on my way. I’m coming to you, baby. I love you.” My mom. Who usually falls apart at the sign of sadness and trouble, but God bless her, she was strong and said exactly what I needed to hear. Moms’ are good like that. God is good like that. He put those words in her mouth. The ones I needed to hear. He was answering prayers, I’m sure, just not the one I wanted.
During the long wait. The staff gives us a folder, information about grief, groups, counselors, and a list of local funeral homes who will pick up the “remains” and prepare for burial or cremation. It was for reading later, “when we were ready”. When the eff will I ever be “ready” for that?!? We are supposed to be calling friends to tell them the baby is coming. Not funeral homes to take him away. Why is this happening?!?
Push, Push, Push.
My parents arrived sometime in the afternoon before John Karl was born.  They hugged us, sat with us, and cried with us.  John’s parents were going straight to our house to take care of the girls and bring them to the hospital when we were ready. John and I decided that no one should tell the girls what was happening, we wanted to do it. I didn’t want anyone to tell them that baby brother was coming today, because I didn’t want their little hearts to be so filled with the joy that I had earlier thinking the same thing only to be crushed later…I can pray for my heart to mend, but I wouldn’t be able to fix theirs. 🙁
Finally the nurse checked and informed me that I was at 10cm and it was time to push. The doctor arrived and confirmed this and they then prepared as they would for any birth, I assume, putting tools and blankets into place.  Out came the stirrups and handles, the bottom of the bed dropped away and they moved me and my “dead weight bottom half” (thanks to the epidural) to the edge of the bed.   
“Let’s try with the next contraction,” Dr. E suggested.  Fine.  “Here it is, Misty. Push!” I half-assed a push that barely made me hold my breath.  Clearly, my heart wasn’t in this one. I wanted to meet my baby, but it wasn’t supposed to be this way. I cried.  Another contraction came and went. I felt him move around in my pelvis, but not on his own, only because my body was about to force him out. Oh, how I wanted to keep that sweet baby right where he was and just hope that he would come back to us.  But I couldn’t. I wasn’t allowed.  Just like he would never be allowed to breathe or open his eyes. Not fair, it just was not fair.  “Here comes another contraction,” the nurse gently informed me. I could feel them now, and decided it was time to buckle down and do this. Please God, it’s not too late, they could all be wrong. You could fix this. I think my brain actually shut off all emotions – like a switch and I felt like I was becoming “all business”…get the job done…don’t mess around. Push…
“His head is out, babe!” I heard John say with tear-filled eyes.
“One more, Misty,” said Dr. E., “Quickly.” I could feel the contraction and pushed again. This was different from delivering the girls. It took half a second for me to realize why. She wasn’t suctioning his mouth and nose. She didn’t need to. He wasn’t going to breathe. My son would never breathe the same air as me, as his father, and sisters.
The next thing I knew, this perfectly sweet sleeping baby boy landed on my belly. He was facing me as my vision focused in on his tiny face. He really was perfect. He looked just like the girls. I touched my hand to his back. He was warm. He felt fine. If only he would just breathe or open his eyes. I begged, God. Please, please let him just take a breath. Show us God what you CAN do, save him…show them that they were wrong. I debated demanding that they suction him. I probably should have, as I still carry some guilt about it. (Later I would learn, that they need as much in tact, in the lungs, as possible for an autopsy.) I wondered for a brief moment if we tried CPR would it work. I knew logically it was too late, thus is the hope of a mother who is holding her child while a doctor cuts a cord that couldn’t save him. Failure. I think that’s what I felt. Like I’d failed him. Failed all of us. I took in all his sweetness for just a minute. The nurse handed me a towel and we began wiping his face and back. Oh he was so precious. I remember the feel of his skin as it was still warm (from me) and he felt alive right then. Please let him stay, I begged silently.  This all happened too fast. Regret.
John touched his son and I scooped him up for a hug. We kissed his face, his back, his fingers and toes. And I squeezed him. Not hard, but firm enough that I thought I could squish my some of my life inside him again. I am quite certain I called out to God aloud in this moment. My prayer again unanswered. The doctor continued to work on me while we enjoyed the short time we would have with John Karl.  Dr. E mentioned briefly that the cord was around his neck, but it wasn’t tight.  Seconds later she was explaining to John that my placenta showed a small sign of abruption.  It was so small she didn’t think it was the cause, and said that it could have happened after the baby passed even.  None of this was helping. As much as I needed and demanded a reason, these weren’t the ones I wanted…none were definitive and none would mean that we could keep him. He was still gone. I kissed his head again taking in the warmth of his skin, which quickly fading.
The nurse asked if she could bathe and clean him, or if I would like to. I told her I would like to do it myself. Since I couldn’t get out of bed yet, she placed the tub and cloths on the bed we washed him together. Then put on his diaper and the special Tigers outfit that I’d had made and given to John on our anniversary.  He looked precious, just like I pictured he would when we would be taking him home from the hospital. Again, I was reminded that we wouldn’t get to do that.  For a minute, I was thankful we hadn’t put the carseat in the van just yet. I held him on my chest and as I placed his lifeless body there, his arm touched the top of my shoulder and stayed there. I felt for a second like he was trying to hold on to me too. My sweet, sweet boy.  I rubbed his back, and he felt like a living breathing child, just like the girls. The fabric of his sleeper was so soft, but thin enough that I could feel the small bones in his back and ribs. Oh how I loved that feeling when cuddling the girls, tiny little bones formed by God.  I tried with all my might to remember it, and do this same thing over and over through the evening as I wanted to remember exactly how it felt. 

Breaking little hearts.
Telling the girls was something that I dreaded. I began to pray for words to use. How do you explain this to a 3 and 5 year old?  How do you break your child’s heart? Break their spirit. I was terrified I’d break their faith.
John Karl lay in the bassinet, the girls came into the room – alone. Everyone else stayed in the hall.  They climbed on to the bed with me smiling.  We told them that Baby Brother had arrived today – Boom – excitement. Child’s eyes that literally light up…but we can’t keep him. Confusion and questioning on their faces.  
“Sweet pea,” I addressed them both. “John Karl died.  He can only be here with us for a little bit. When we go home tonight, he will go to heaven.” (Of course, I realize this isn’t totally accurate, but it was the best I could muster.)  Kendall cried a bit. Kamden, at 3, had no idea what was happening.
“We can’t take him home?” they asked.
“No, we can’t take him home. Do you want to meet him? See him? Hold him?”  The light returns for a bit.  John gets John Karl from the bassinet and brings him to the bed. Kendall kisses him, Kamden is timid.  Kendall rubs his tiny head and touches his sweet lips. Kamden gets brave enough to hold his fingers. 
“He’s little,” she giggles.  At 5lbs 8oz, he is little. But perfectly formed, and wonderfully made.  He looks like his sisters.
We spend the evening (which is now sometimes a blur to me), cuddling him, crying, passing him around to parents and grandparents.  I watched my husband hold our son in the corner near my bed. Hold him close and whisper. I knew what he was saying, the same speech I’d heard him give our girls. That he loved them, would always love them, and protect them, and be there for them in anything.  This time he added. I will never, ever forget you My Boy.  My Boy.
The hospital called in a NICU nurse who is also an amateur photographer. She arrived late on her day off to take pictures for us of John Karl and what would be our only family photo. 
The original photos are so precious to me. Real life snapshots of what he looked like.  His skin was pink and peeling a bit, like a sunburn. Typical of stillborn babies.  They were hard to share with others.  My lovely friend offered her photographic ministry services and RHEMA Photographytouched up the pictures a bit. Softening the peeling spots of skin and refocusing backgrounds. I share them freely…eventhough they often make others uncomfortable. He’s my boy and I will share him always.

Our parents took the girls home for bedtime, as a few close friends would arrive to spend some time with us. Praying, grieving, cuddling, and crying. Sam, Gretchen (my bff who drove all the way from Chicago to be there on what was, thus far, the darkest day of my life), Andy & Ashley, and Bethany returned.  She needed to hold and squeeze him too. Bless them all. I am more grateful than words for their presence that evening even though I couldn’t muster any of my own aloud. I don’t even know if I talked.
Our lovely friends stayed as long as we needed. When they left, John and crawled into my bed together and cuddled with John Karl. Loving him and talking to him, and remembering him.  When I was finally brave enough, we called for the nurse.  We had agreed that when she took him for the evening that would be it. We wouldn’t see him again. I wanted to remember him just as he was in that moment, even though my warmth of life had left him and he was starting to feel cold. I said to John, “I can’t make him warm anymore. He’s cold. I can’t make him warm.”  God, please, you can fix it now. It’s just us in the room. We will tell the world. Please, this is my last prayer, my last hope. 
The nurse quietly entered the room, placed him the bassinet. Letting that baby boy is the strongest emotion I have ever felt. A mixture of pain, and disappointment – at God. Anger resurfaces.  Longing continues.  Strength is not something that was even on my radar.  Pain certainly was. He was gone. Gone. I hate You for doing this. I really, really do.  The hope slipped further and further away.  The miracle became less possible to me. 
The Beginning of After

 We slept restlessly that night, if at all. After many narcotics and sleeping aid medications, I hoped it would be smooth and over quickly, I would rise with the sun…it wasn’t — toss and turn, turn and toss.  Wake in the middle of the night to see my husband quietly crying. “Come to me, babe.” He climbed in bed with me and we didn’t talk. There’s nothing to say. Just hug and cry.
The nurse comes in checks my vitals. The doctor comes in later, it’s still before 7 am. She’s examines me and is calls for the discharge paperwork.  The nurses return, paperwork in hand. Along with them they brought us a cast of John Karl’s hands and feet. Two small locks of his ginger hair. His foot prints. In a pretty cardboard treasure box.  It still sits on our dresser filled with his hospital bracelets.
The next hours would become a whirlwind, I remember the pain but not the process. Gretchen arrived and by now I had showered and dressed.
When we found out John Karl was going to be a boy, we took the girls to make him a bear at Build-A-Bear.  Someone brought it to the hospital so that we could have his pictures taken with it.  I climbed in the wheel chair, prepared to leave with empty arms.  As I sat down in the chair, emotionally and physically exhausted, my stomach dropped through my bottom and perhaps out my toes. Empty. I felt empty.   
The sweet old retiree wheeled me out of the hospital John and Gretchen trailing behind. He took us through the Memory Garden at the hospital. A husband and wife doctor team donated to remember stillborn and miscarried babies.  John Karl’s name will be engraved on a brick paver and placed in the walkway. It’s a sweet little space, as much as I can remember. We will see it again on May 1 when the hospital holds its spring Remembrance and Dedication service.  
Before I knew what was happening I was in the car and crying most of the way home. Empty. With an empty backseat, no infant carrier there. I couldn’t bring myself to look up for fear I’d notice in the rearview mirror. I couldn’t look sideways at John because I thought I might see into the backseat. The bag that held his things, but no baby boy there to claim them.
We came in the door and just before I opened it, I remembered bringing home each of the girls and the excitement that would be waiting on the other side of the door.  This time…Empty.  Not really, there were plenty of people who loved us waiting there in the kitchen. But it sure felt empty. I felt empty.  I couldn’t talk to anyone. I marched straight upstairs and climbed into bed.  I slept. I wanted to crawl under a rock and sleep until this was over. Until they called and said he was ok, until I woke up to find out none of it was real, until God fixed this. 

Leave a Reply