This is not what to say to a parent who is seeing their baby for the last time. At the conclusion of the service, the gentleman at the Funeral Home told Baby Rylee's momma to take the time to visit with those who were there. Then he said ... "Just let me know when you are ready." It took me back to what Nurse T said to me while I held my own precious baby... "Just let me know when you've had enough."
Even though he said it in the kindest, most gentle way ... I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I tried not to let it bother me...but....IT DID. I lost it. I tried to regain my composure, but the tears were flowing and I was on the verge of uncontrollable sobbing. I had to get out of there.
I cried. I was angry. I had to do something. So, I called the Funeral Home. I voiced my concerns. The kindly gentleman and I discussed different alternatives as I explained to him that WE ARE NEVER READY. In the end, he said they would / could say, "Take the time you need." Even though we NEED more time than we have, and there really are no right words to say, I guess that sounds a little better.
October 23rd - Upon arrival at the hospital when Momma went into labor, she was told those horrible words, "We're sorry. There is no heartbeat." My Step-Mom told them about me and Chelsea. My step-sister calls me and asks me to come to the birth of her step-daughter's sleeping baby. I don't think I have ever met the Momma, and this is why I feel so privileged and so honored being asked to share such a personal time. I prayed for strength. I prayed for peace. I'm going to need it. Even though the flood of emotions is a tsunami of sorts, I must put myself aside and be there for them. I spoke with the medical personnel to be sure this Momma would not suffer the same fate that I have suffered...that she would be able to bathe, diaper, and dress her Angel and hold on to her little Angel as long as she wanted, not being rushed to give her up before she was ready. I was assured she would have all these things. I also asked if they had contacted a photographer and they assured me, again, that this was taken care of. And so it was that Baby Rylee was born. A beautiful, china-doll like, precious baby girl. Life gone from her little body due to a knot in the umbilical cord, so tight, that the doctor couldn't even undo it. After a while, and many tears later, I asked if I could hold her. Momma said "Yes" Again, I feel so honored, so privileged, to share this time with her. I took this little one in my arms, rocked her, kissed her, and just cried. I gave her back to Momma and hugged them both..."I'm sorry. I'm so so sorry. She is absolutely beautiful."
October 26th - Today is Baby Rylee's memorial service. Again, I pray for strength. I have to do this. I have to be there for the Momma. I am given the opportunity to hold this precious Angel one more time. And once again I feel so privileged and honored to be apart of this time. I hand her back to Momma, hug her and thank her for allowing me to hold her again. She thanks me for being there with her during the birth and thanks me for being there with her now. I tell her how privileged and honored I am to have been there and am here now. I tell here how beautiful she is and how nice her photo's turned out. She told me the hospital did not use NILMDTS, but the funeral home called them and a photographer came out and did even more beautiful ones. She has my phone number and I tell her to call me ANYTIME. She says she will. I will be checking in on her often. I don't want any Momma going through this alone. Friends, when Baby Rylee's Momma comes to mind, please say a prayer for her.
Yes, this is a famous children's bedtime prayer... But it is also the name of a Non-Profit organization started in 2005 by the Momma of an Angel and a photographer. I came across this organization in 2009 while researching some of the diagnosis' that my sister was given for her unborn child. (This is another story in itself) As I checked out this website I realized what a truly wonderful this organization is. NILMDTS is a group of professional photographers that volunteer their time and talent to make beautiful memories of our little ones that could not stay with us. Please, read all about it here. EVERY hospital needs to know about this organization! Being a Baby Loss Momma, I decided to join their Parent Forum. I wanted to give support and encouragement to those that are new to this heartbreaking journey of grief. In the process, how was I to know that these parents would also support and encourage me as I came to terms with my own grief that I had suppressed years ago. I also had one of those wonderful photographers that volunteer for NILMDTS contact me. She asked if I had pictures of Chelsea, and if so she would like to see them and maybe touch them up for me. I agreed. Now those photos that my Mom and the hospital had taken, that I cherish with my life, are even more beautiful. Thank You, Lisa. In the last few posts, I've used some of those photo's. Here are a couple more...
Happy 20th Birthday to my Precious Little Angel. I miss you so much. I love you so much more!!! Each day that passes here on earth is another day closer to holding you in my arms forever. In memory of my Granny, too, whose Birthday is also Chelsea's AngelDay. This picture was taken on that day...June 26, 1993...20 years ago.
As most of you know, I am techno-challenged !!! I'm not sure if it is just me, or if Blogger changed something. My problem is this...I am not able to leave comments on your blogs. I have been trying for several weeks. Everytime I hit your comment button, type a comment, select my profile, then it asks me to sign in again and again. To no avail, it will not accept my sign-in, even though I am already signed-in to my blog. UGGG! Thinking of you, my friends.
Chelsea is a big sister!!! Her little sister looks just like her, only chubbier. It's amazing how 2 sisters, born 16+ months apart, can look so much alike ... almost like twins. The birth was a much happier event... Which made me realize even more just how much I missed-out on with my Chelsea. I also realized that the fear of ~ How am I ever going to love this new little one as much as I love Chelsea ~ was for nothing. Such a wave of love crashed over me the moment I layed eyes on her. The love for my girls has multiplied!
Another something I missed out on with Chelsea... A Baby Shower. It was post-poned because I had gone into pre-term labor. They were going to reschedule it after she was born. So here I am, pregnant again. This time, I had a baby shower. A bittersweet time shared with family and friends.
A new baby made its way into our world on July 8, 1994. My niece, Megan, was born ... the same size and weight as my Precious Chelsea. I took a deep breath, then took her in my arms. Then I just cried and cried. The wave of emotions that crashed over me was overwhelming. My Sister-In-Law, who happens to be my Best Friend (we met in High School), held me close as I held her newborn baby girl and cried.
The weeks and days approaching Chelsea 1st year were so stressing. My stomach is in knots. My chest hurts. It is difficult to breathe. I should be making cupcakes and decorating for a wonderful birthday party. But instead, We go to the cemetery and decorate her Special Place. This is not my idea of a fun-filled birthday. My heart is torn in pieces. Seems as though it's just another day to everyone else.
For Chelsea's 1 Year ... I wanted to give a special gift in her memory. The recipient: The hospital nursery where Chelsea was born. The gift: A Rocker. The nursing staff was so touched. They even had their local newspaper come out to do an article and photos.
I haven't been feeling well the past few days. I've had an upset stomach since Saturday. Today, I am nausous and gaggy. I'm 2 days late. He wants to wait to do the PT ... says he doesn't want to waste money for a negative result. I decided to do it now.
My sister is here with me. She is excited at the possiblity that I may be pregnant I tell her *I can't look!* She tell me, *Just Look!*
I go back to the bathroom. Turn on the light. Look at the test on the counter...
I'm happy! I'm nervous! I'm happy! I'm scared! So many jumbled up emotions are flowing through me.
Then I remember that little talk I had with God, just 2 months ago...and I feel a peace come over me. He knows when the time is right. The time is now. This little one is gonna be alright. I hope my marriage will be ok, too...for us and the children. Maybe this new life will bring some healing for all of us.
I've been at my job for 1 1/2 weeks...and now I have to tell them I am pregnant. Will they believe me that I did not know before hand?
In fact, when I go to the Midwife, I will ask her if I can get an ultrasound. I want to see my little one. I'm sure she won't object. After what I've been through, she is sure to know that I need all the peace I can get.
17 Years ago, My Precious Little Princess was laid to rest. Not where I would have chosen, if I was coherent enough to make any decisions at that time. I still don't like that she is in a place with strangers. Am I crazy because I still have thoughts of having her moved to rest on top of my grandmother?!?! My grandmother was no stranger. She held Chelsea in her arms, loved on her and kissed her before she died. It was my grandmothers 75th Birthday that day.
We did our Income Tax paperwork. A large sum of the refund will be used to pay our portion of all the hospitals bills and Dr bills and the Headstone. *But where is the Funeral bill?* I asked.
*There is no Funeral bill*
*Why is there no Funeral bill? I know we didn't have the money to pay for her funeral.*
This is when I found out that my oldest brother paid for Chelsea's funeral. He felt it was the least he could do for me. A *you helped me, so I'll help you* thing. I cried! You see, my brother is hard on the outside, but inside there is a softness he hides very well. Through my tears, I called him. I had to thank him.
So, when our tax refund arrived, I sat down and sent payment in full for all of it. Words can not describe what I felt ... how this lifted such a weight off of me. I did not realize that all of those unpaid bills had such an underlying hold on me. No, this did not *Cure My Grief* ... Yet, in a sense, I felt a bit of closure. Like I could take a step forward and breathe.
Late February, I started a job at an office, filing, PT in the evenings (after hours). I still wasn't ready to face the public everyday for 8+ hours, so this was the perfect thing.
Yes, one step at a time. I'm trying to move on. One step at a time. Breathe. I can do this. Step. Breathe. Step. Breathe.
My heart is aching, but I must go on. Alone. In silence. One step at a time.
I was trying to find God in my life. He was there, I just didn't know where. Afterall, I had such a distorted view of Him. If that makes sense. Do you ever feel like you're gropping around in the dark looking for a source of light? Well, it shouldn't be that way. Think about it … Darkness can not hide light. I understand that now, many years later.
So, sitting in my rocking chair, I prayed! I cried! I begged! I pleaded! I needed peace. I needed comfort. I needed to know that the Lord was with me, and there to help me. I had a heart to heart talk with Him about a few things in my life.
My marriage: When I married my husband, I vowed *For better, For worse, For richer, For poorer, In sickenss and In health, Til death... That meant my death, not my daughter's death. He has chosen to put it behind him and not deal with it, or help me deal with it, or even allow me to deal with it. This put a strain on our relationship. I had to try to work through my grief in silence.
My life: I've made many mistakes and wrong choices. I am told that this is why Chelsea is dead. Again, I am sorry. Please forgive me. Help me to do better.
Chelsea: My heart is shattered in a million pieces. My arms ache to hold her. I just don't understand any of this. I don't ever want to get pregnant again if I am going to lose another child. Ever. Not through miscarriage, stillbirth, any type of loss. I could not bear it! So please, If this is what is in my future, don't even allow me to get pregnant. But if you do bless me with another child, I know it will be a promise to me, from You, that it will be for keeps...and I promise to raise the child for You, to the best of my ability!
His grandparents were having a Christmas family dinner. This is a big family!!! They rented out a restaraunt. I am in no mood to celebrate anything. I don't want to go and sit in the company of the in-laws. But, it is my duty. So, I go. I try to put a smile on my face. You know, the foney-I'm-a-happy-holiday-celebrating kind of smile. We find the table with our name tags on it. Our table is next to a cousin who recenlty had a baby. How am I going to get through this night?! He is mingling with family. I am trying to keep up with him. His aunt, who live out of state, approaches. The Hello's and How are you's are said. Then to him, the question, * How many children do you have now?* He answers *2* (the 2 from his previous marriage) How could he not include our daughter into the equation. It hurt like a slap in the face. I said, *3! You have 3!* I turned and walked away. I was too upset to stay inside. I went outside for fresh air. I want to leave. Just get away from there.
I wasn't just hurt and upset ... I was livid! I don't remember how I got the key, but I did. I got into my car and drove off. Several hours later, I wind up at my sister's ... and who was there? Yes, him! He went there to 'tell on me' to my family.
There were no words of comfort or support from him. Instead, he threw his wedding ring at me and told me, *GET OVER IT OR WE'RE THROUGH!*
My marriage was at stake. I had to make a decision ... Continue in my grieving state and end my marriage? OR Get over it!?
Reality hit like a ton of bricks. He was not and will not be a source of comfort or support. He didn't think I needed any sort of such things. I just needed to get over it and move on.
The thought of being alone scared me, so I ran to him like a puppy with its tail between it legs. I bit the bullit! I apologized! I apologized to him, to his other children, and I went to his family and apologized for leaving the dinner party.
Again, I was given the lecture of *Get Over It* by his family.
So, 1993 came to an end. I had to keep my grief in check and try not to show emotion. I had to hide my tears.
The in-laws said I needed to *get over it.* Even my husband told me to get over it!
The one SIL even said I shouldn't have Chelsea's picture hanging on the wall. My thoughts on that...if she doesn't like looking at my daughter's picture, then she doesn't have to come into my house!
HOW DO I GET OVER SOMETHING LIKE THIS? Am I defective in that I am just not able to? Is there something wrong with me, that I am not able to just forget her and move on in my life ... like the rest of his family has. Like he has.
One day goes into the next. I'm trying to function but feel as if I am on auto-pilot. Get up, do the household chores, go back to bed ... over and over again. I go and sit at Chelsea's place at least once a week.
He says I need to go back to work but I am not ready to face the world.
I just want to crawl into a hole and die!
I feel like I am going Crazy! Am I? Am I really losing my mind? My family is there for me, but I still feel like they don't understand my pain and heartache. My in-laws are not supportive at all. Support Group meeting is only once a month. These women understand, but I can't be with them all the time. I have no where to turn.
Trying to find comfort from God was not easy for me.
All my life I was given a very distorted view of Him. In one breath I was told that He loved me and died for me. But in the next, I was also taught to think that He was an iron-fisted tyrant just waiting for me to mess-up so He could pounce on me in His mighty wrath.
The preachers daughter told me that God took Chelsea because I had sin in my life. WOW! What a blow that was. Yes, Chelsea was conceived out of wedlock, 6 weeks before my wedding. I know pre-marital sex / fornication is sin and I did repent. Was my apology to God not good enough?! I know many children that are alive and well, that were conceived out of wedlock.
This woman's dad, the preacher, on many occasions, would hollar to/at us from the pulpit *Do not blame God for this!*
This furthur distorted my view of God.
After some years of pondering this, I realized... Even this woman has a daughter and several grandchildren, conceived out of wedlock. If what she said to me was true, then, her daughter and grandchildren should be dead, too. All of these conceived-out-of-wedlock-children would be dead. It didn't make sense.
For many years, my distorted view of God was just that... DISTORTED!
Still in such a blur that I failed to comprehend the HSG was scheduled with *Dr. D* Dr D, the Perinatologist that was consulted when we found that the umbilical cord was prolapsed. The Dr. D that said to wait til I went into labor, then recheck to see if the cord moved or do a C-section. The Dr. D, who I feel, is responsible for my baby not being here now.
He reads through my file and remembers *my case* He asks how we are and how is the baby.? My husband politely tells him that Chelsea did not make it.
HSG results show that I have a normal shaped uterus. It is unknown why Chelsea did not turn downward. Just a fluke thing.
September, Nurse T calls. *You can come to the hospital and pick-up Chelsea's photo's.*
Again, we drive over an hour to the hospital. Nurse T takes a photo out of the envelope. *Here's Chelsea's photo!*
*NO! That is not my baby!* I pull-out a polariod photo from my handbag. *This is Chelsea!*
She goes to her office to double check. She returns. *Yes, the numbers match up. This is Chelsea.*
*That is not Chelsea! And she is not a number! She is my baby! That baby doesn't even look like her!*
*She looks like that because of her blood disorder.*
*Chelsea didn't have a blood disorder. That is not her!*
My handbag went swinging as I stomped down the hallway. I hit walls, stair railings and anything else in the way. He got the name of the photo company, then caught up with me, staying clearly out my range.
He calls the photo company. Explains our situation to the very nice girl, Nikki. Nikki does a thorough investigation and finds Chelsea's photo. To our suprise, the superiors will not release the photo because they are not good quality. The nurse's hand is in the photo.
We don't care! We want our photo's.
Well, it is not just the hand that is the issue. You see, the nurse used her middle finger to support Chelsea's chin.
Again, he explains our situation. *Our baby died. These photo's are all we have. The nurse, we are sure, did not do it as a vulgar jesture. Please, just send them to us.*
A few days later we received the envelope. In it were 2 3x5 photo's of my sweet baby girl.
We send Nikki a thank you card, expressing our deepest thanks for all her help.
from baby supply companies offering for me to sign-up to receive products. The first few I just say "No thank you" hang up and cry. But the calls don't stop. A No Thank You the first time was not enough for them to not call back. Finally, I lose it! *My baby died! Don't call me again!*
In August, at one of my Dr visits / check-up, he asks if it is ok if he takes me away, for a change of scenery. He is given the ok. We go to WV, to my parents. He tries to keep me occupied, pulling me here and there like a puppy on a leash. I go. I follow. But my heart and mind are constant on my sweet baby girl.
I asked her... Why didn't you offer for us to bathe, diaper, dress, and all the other things we could have done. We had no idea. It was up to you to offer these things.
Her excuse - *You were not well.*
I tried to stay calm but the overwhelming grief, disappointment and anger took over - *You still should have offered. We missed out and have no other chance to do all those things. It was my decision to decline if I could not do it. Now I have to live with the decision that you made for me. I have to live with it for the rest of my life. Don't ever, ever do it again. Don't ever make that decision for anyone ever again! It's the parents decision, not yours!*
Chelsea's picture is still not in. She will call us when she gets it.
I don't get it. I have a few friends that have had babies after Chelsea was born, and they have their picture already. They have their babies, too. I don't have either. I want both, too. Life can be so cruel to add the sting of salt to an already excruciatingly painful wound.
We drive over an hour to the NICU hospital bereavement support group. Nurse T was not there. That was probably a good thing. I'm not sure how I would have handled seeing her again.
I think it was just us and the coordinator, maybe one other couple. No type of discussion. Not helpful at all. We took some pamphlets and left.
I made a call to the local hospital and found they have an active bereavement support group. (Not the hospital where Chelsea was born) We go as a couple the first few times. Then, I go alone. He tells me I don't need to go. His care-less additude stabs at my heart. Yes, I do need to go! I need to talk to someone who cares, someone who knows what I am feeling, someone who is walking this heartwrenching road and understands.
Go to the Dr for 2 week check-up and to have the staples removed from the C-section incision. The Dr tells me, *You look like s***!* In 2 weeks time, I have lost 27 pounds and I am pale as a ghost.
I have severe anemia from the blood loss. Told to eat more iron rich foods. I can't eat. Food makes me sick. I'm not hungry. I just want to sleep, but everytime I do *The Nightmare* is continuous. Depression! Post-partum depression and grief depression. Told to continue the medication.
The bottom staple is stuck. Even the Dr needed to take a break because he got queezey trying to get it out. I just about passed out! I now have a scar from my navel to my pubic area. This will be a constant reminder, for the rest of my life.
Perscription for BCP's. Do not risk getting pregnant until they do a couple of tests. One being a HSG in 3 months. A dye contrast will be injected into my uterus and then a scan done. Checking to see if my uterus is an irregular shape. Possibly the reason why Chelsea did not turn into head-down position.
Midwife J tells me to come back in 2 weeks. I saw her every 2 weeks for several months.
Everytime I close my eyes to sleep, the nightmare comes. Labor to funeral replayed over and over again. Tormenting me for months.
When it rained, I went balistic! Remembering that she is not 6 feet under, but only on top of his dad. I kept thinking - the mud is getting in there with her. She is not far enough in the ground to keep it out. I have to get her out of there. He kept telling me that she is ok, the rain and mud are not getting to her.
After a few weeks of this torment, he purchased a sheet of heavy-duty plastic and some red stone. We landscaped this over her place. It gave some peace of mind when it rained.
I opened the box that Nurse T brought to us. In it are some polaroid photos, the video, her blanket, hat, hair ribbon, and NICU outfits. Also, some books on what to do when your baby dies. Funeral style information. Grief information. Bereavement group information.
I start reading the information ... bathe your baby, diaper your baby, dress your baby, spend as much time as you want with your baby, keep your baby in your room with you. If your baby has already gone to the morgue, you can have your baby brought back to you.
I didn't know we could have done all this.
Why weren't we given the chance to do these things?
Why didn't Nurse T offer for us to do these things with Chelsea?
Now Chelsea is gone.
I cannot reverse time.
I've been cheated out of so much. When I held her I saw her face and a foot. In my dazed state, I never thought to unwrap her from her blanket and look at her from head to toe.