Maybe you didn't know me back then?
If you haven't heard the story--I'll tell it again.
I was pregnant with a little girl and had picked the name Charlotte--kind of after my dad, Charles, but really I just loved the name. It was my first pregnancy and I had made it to the day I had longed for--Friday, March 2nd and saying goodbye to the 4th graders at Monte Vista Elementary. Honestly I was exhausted, and as much as I loved teaching, I was ready to have a baby. Really, I had had 5 baby showers, and I had worn stretch pants for 3 solid months. I was ready! My due date was Tuesday, the 6th, but I had felt movement and contractions all day and figured she was coming soon.Rebecca, Me and Amy on that last day.
On the way home from work I stopped at Target and bought yellow pajamas and a bag of peanut butter M&Ms. That night we hung shelves and set up the crib.
Sleep was tough until about 3am; she was just so active. She finally fell asleep around then and gratefully so did I. I woke up the next morning and found James in the spare bed--"I think we should have this baby today", I told him. He smiled, he had had a good night's rest.
The contractions were sporadic but they felt like the real deal so after breakfast I called the doctor. He asked if I had felt her move. I thought and --well last night I had but this morning I'd been having contractions on and off and I just hadn't been paying attention. He suggested coming in to see how things were.
On the drive over I honestly felt like everything was fine. The first nurse that came in started seaching for a heart beat. She didn't say much but left to get an ultrasound machine. We asked why and she replied, "I can't seem to find the heartbeat."
I still really wasn't all that worried. I was huge--I was in labor, or some form of it anyway. I had been pregnant for eeeeeever and I had felt her so much the night before. No heartbeat? Well that must mean... She went to get the doctor on call and when he came in--I knew.
A baby...my baby...where was she? I had felt her spirit so close the few days before--Where had she gone? This scripture from the Book of Mormon popped into my head, ...that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body,.... are taken home to that God who gave them life, Mosiah 40:11. I knew where she was now.
On the ultra sound machine the doctor showed us her little chest cavity that was white. Where the blood had pooled and where the heartbeat usually is. I was in shock and my blood pressure dropped. I hadn't felt a contraction for a while. I looked up in tears. "Are you going to send me home? I don't think I can go home." They assured me that they wouldn't be sending me home but that they would induce me as soon as I was a little more stable.
I'd have to deliver?...ugh.
This is going to be really hard...
With no baby in the end--oh it hardly seems worth it...We knew we had to call our parents. We waited a long time--if we told anyone it would be real. I felt such sadness and failure. Failure was the most puzzling emotion I could have felt, and yet it was most intense. I could not have prevented what had happened. I went over and over in my mind how this could have been my fault and I knew it wasn't but I still felt like I had let Charlotte down--like I had let everyone down.
Her birth was climactic in the fact that we got to see her. This beautiful little girl with wisps of strawberry blond hair, who had passed this life's test. Anticlimactic because I was really pulling for a miracle. No such luck. Around 10:00 pm she was born, 7 pounds 10 ounces of baby--really real and very still. It was an extremely emotional moment. Even the doctor was crying.
We took a bunch of pictures, blessed her and fell asleep. And truly the hardest part was around 4am, when we woke for the mortuary to take her. She had only been held and then cradled in bed with me up until then. We handed her over to a complete stranger. Then we really cried.
The next three days were a blur. I remember leaving the hospital with many things--but no baby. Very hard. When we got home--we just shut the door to the nursery and it was a while before I could go in there. I do remember my grandfather giving a wonderful talk at her funeral--it had a great theme--hope and more children. It was really warm that day and at the cemetery, I remember kids playing. James was the lone pallbearer and carried the pink casket himself.
The doctor called sometime in that time with some results. Because there was a lot of blood in the amniotic fluid--it's possible that a placental abrubtion occurred but that's associated with pain and bleeding and I didn't experience any of that. Also the placenta was a little swollen which can be a sign of infection but they really couldn't tell.
Now the miracles. We really felt carried through the whole ordeal and for a long time after. We had so much support; family, friends, students, co-workers, that gave us phone calls, meals, letters, momentos, visits, flowers, and lots of prayer. We could feel it; it's one of the ways we made it through. That and time.
For weeks and months I'd be jealous of those who had been through a death, but, had time on their side. It wasn't the first thing they thought of getting out of bed in the morning, the only thing they thought of during the day and the ceaseless dreams that filled their nights. Now I rise, think and sleep with my thoughts at peace.
I now have time on my side.
I still think about her and what happened. This blog post has been somewhat cathartic reliving it all and wondering how I ever did such a hard thing. It seems sometimes that it was yesterday and other times that it was a whole lifetime ago. We have been immensely blessed since. We have a beautiful family now. Eight years ago I could not picture the future--it seemed full of holes and hopeless--but time has worked it's miracle. I have babies now--that are growing up really fast.
Adelaide and Benjamin are always remembering Charlotte and reminding me (and total strangers too) that there are really seven in our family.