Throughout the day of the 17th I kept feeling like it was all just a bad dream. That this wasn’t real and that someone was going to say they had made a mistake and our daughter was fine. At this point I had received an epidural, and I was thankfully numb, the Doctor had started me on pitocin and had explained that a normal birth would be better than a C-Section at this point, she said I was already going to have enough scars she didn’t want me to have a C-Section scar and longer recovery. I agreed, but I was honestly horrified. She asked me if we were religious or a certain denomination, I said Catholic because that is the only religious influence I had growing up thanks to my Grandmothers. She asked if we wanted the Chaplain to come in, and what our plan was for after the birth. I explained I had a friend experience a similar loss many years ago, and she wasn’t as far along but the hospital had her hold her baby and it was very traumatizing for her, and for me as I visited her and saw her son. I explained to my Husband that I couldn’t see her, I couldn’t hold my baby, there was absolutely no way in hell I could hold my baby and see her and love on her when she was dead and then survive leaving the hospital alone and empty handed. My parents supported my decision, and as hard as it was I had to focus on getting through this. My Husband told the Doctor he wanted to see her, I supported his decision and I thought he was so incredibly brave. All I could think of was this perfect image of my daughter that I had in my head since the moment I was told she was a girl. I didn’t know what to expect, or at this point what had caused her death and the last thing I could handle seeing was her hurt or something really wrong.
As this was all unfolding I was getting text messages and facebook messages asking if we had our daughter yet, this was all happening 5 days before my due date so all of my friends were on baby watch, anxiously waiting for us to post pictures of our daughter. I deleted my facebook and all social media temporarily. I couldn’t handle it, I replied what was going on to some friends, some I ignored. I couldn’t really grasp what was happening, or what was about to happen. I will mention during this time we had a shift change in nurses, and we had the absolute worst nurse imaginable. She walked into our dim room as we were crying and preparing for the inevitable and she started making jokes and kept referring to me as an “Angel Mom”. I wasn’t ready for that, I was still trying to process what happened, the last thing I wanted or needed to hear was that the “Hot nurse was here”. It was utterly fucking disgusting and I will at some point when I’m ready and a little less mad, be contacting the Hospital administrators about this nurse in particular. The last thing I wanted was some lady I don’t know telling me how she “deals with this kind of loss a lot, and requests Angel Moms”. It was flat out unprofessional and fucking sick in my opinion.
Around 5 p.m. my Mom’s plane landed and she hopped into an uber. At this point I told the nurses I felt a lot of pressure. I was checked, my water had broken and I was dilated and ready to push. My Doctor was stuck on the other side of town with car trouble so one of her partners from her practice was going to be handling the delivery. At this point I kept asking everyone to wait for my Mom, I couldn’t do this without my Mom is all I kept thinking.As they placed my legs into the stirrups and the Doctor was getting ready my Mom walked in. She put her suitcase down and grabbed my hand and it was time to push. At this point it was a total out of body experience, I didn’t feel the pain because I was running off of pure adrenaline at this point. I think I was in complete and total denial of what was really happening, the nurses kept telling me to push when I had a contraction, and I just kept hoping and praying they were all going to be wrong and Harper was going to come out screaming. About three pushes in they realized I was zoned out and not paying attention to them, they placed an oxygen mask on me, and my Husband realized I was just focusing on him. Thank God and everything in this world for him because he talked me through it all. After a few pushes the Doctor said she was out, and all I heard was total silence. I just sobbed, apparently she looked so perfect the Doctor kept checking her for a heartbeat. Her cord was wrapped around her neck, but the Doctor said it wasn’t tight enough to have caused this, something else did. Brian followed the nurses over to the bassinet and cried as he looked at our daughter. I just held onto my Mom and wept. They brought my daughter out of the room and Brian followed, they were going to weigh her and clean her up while I just wept with my Mom.
After they cleaned her up and told Brian her weight 6 lbs even, 19 inches long the nurse grabbed her with one hand and tried to pass her to Brian with such carelessness that her head fell back and her mouth fell open. He was utterly horrified and heartbroken. Yes our daughter was dead, but did this fucking nurse have to handle her like a bag of potatoes. Brian couldn’t even hold her at this point. Her eyes were closed but her head had fallen back and her mouth was open. It was just sick how careless the hospital staff was about it. Brian didn’t tell me this for months, he shielded me from knowing how traumatized this really made him. They kept my daughter in the Bereavement room down the hall and just let me be. Brian decided he needed a break from the hospital and he drove home to take care of our dogs. An hour later he called me sobbing, he had taken the car seat out of the car, and taken all of the baby things around the house and put them all in the nursery. He went through the entire house taking the pack n’ play out of our bedroom, the diaper cart from downstairs, and put them all in the nursery and closed the door. He didn’t want me to come home to a house full of baby things, and I couldn’t have been more grateful. I hadn’t asked him to do this, he was just strong enough and knew it would have fucking killed me. He sobbed and just kept saying He wanted his daughter, this wasn’t right. I told him to stay at home that night, he hadn’t really slept the night before and he wasn’t in any shape to drive, I kept assuring him my Mom was here for me, and we would see him in the a.m. The original nurse from my intake came in, she was a sight for sore eyes, she was kind and sweet and didn’t bully me or treat me rudely. She had hugged me and held me during my epidural and she was the familiar face I wished was there during the delivery. She started taking out my IV’s and she helped me to the bathroom slowly and started to instruct me on care after birth. She was kind and knew the loss I had endured. She was an absolute godsend and I couldn’t have been more thankful to have such a compassionate nurse.
The next morning as I was being released, the nurses stopped Brian before he reached my room, and they expressed the Doctors concern and confusion and that she had suggested an Autopsy. I at this point fully understood what an Autopsy entailed and I couldn’t imagine them doing any of that to my little baby. Brian saw it as an opportunity to get answers, and that maybe by doing this autopsy they could find some cause, or reason and prevent other parents from experiencing a loss like this. Once he explained his reasoning, I stood behind his decision 100% At this point the Chaplain came in and asked if we would like her Baptized, and if I had changed my mind on holding her or seeing her. I still couldn’t. I just could not see my baby like that. I had a perfect image in my mind, and my heart was broken, all I could think of was keeping that perfect image. The nurses kept coming in and trying to persuade me into holding her, and having my picture taken with her, or changing her diaper or “pretending to feed her”. It was fucking horrific to me to even imagine. It might work for some mothers going through this loss, but it seemed morbid and I couldn’t do it. At this point two volunteers came in and explained they were going to take pictures of Harper, and dress her up and asked if we wanted our pictures taken with her or holding her, or of her holding our wedding rings. Would this ever stop, at this point my Mom even had enough. I was being bullied by every person in this hospital, and being made to feel like I was doing something wrong. I absolutely could not do it. They explained that they would take these pictures and that they would put them on a USB drive, and it would be included in the box I’m sent home with and if I decided to look it was up to me, but they would also have some of the pictures professionally photoshopped and emailed to me at a later time. I thanked them, but that was the last thing I could handle or even process at this point. I just wanted to go home. Once all of my release paperwork was done, and I was dressed in a robe and sweats I was ready to get the hell out of that hospital, they loaded me into a wheelchair and Brian went to get the car. My mom held my hand as they started pushing me out of that room, away from that white rose on the door, away from the sounds of crying babies and all of those memories. We went by a room and the sign on the door caught my eye, “Bereavement Room” I asked the nurse if my baby was in there and she replied yes, she asked if I was ready to go and I just wept as we got into the elevator.
As my Husband pulled the car up to the curb it hit me like a ton of bricks, I started sobbing as I stepped into the car and it was the most empty and heartbroken feeling. I was leaving the hospital not as I had dreamt of or had planned for, I was leaving empty handed. It really was harder than I had imagined. On the way home I heard a song come on the radio “I Could use a love song” By Maren Morris. I looked out the window and wept as it came on. I have always loved music, and its gotten me through a lot of tough times throughout my life, and this song came on the radio when I needed it. It’s actually played quite a bit randomly on the radio as I’m driving and I’ll be thinking of my baby girl, I’ll take it as a sign, shit at this point I’ll take any kind of sign.
Walking into my house I was greeted by my dogs, I saw the diaper cart was gone from the living room and it all came rushing over me, I ran to the bathroom and I got so sick, and I just fell to the floor sobbing. My Mom came in and washed me up and just hugged me. The doctor had told Brian and my Mom to make sure I got plenty of rest and to sleep as much as possible and take my medications on a strict schedule. The last thing I could think of was sleep, because I knew when I went to sleep I just dreamt of my baby, I dreamt that everything was fine and she was perfect and healthy and here with me. God I dreaded sleep.