When I think of L (also known as Q - see this post for an explanation of names), my mind frequently wanders to the regrets I have related to her birth and the very brief time we had with her. As many of you know, there is no way to prepare for the decisions you are asked to make in rapid succession when you know you are giving birth to a stillborn baby. There are so many decisions and each is more torturous than the next.
I delivered L vaginally while on more morphine than I can even imagine. I couldn't have an epidural because of my blood clot and I don't feel like the morphine helped the pain all that much, but it did make me feel completely separate from my body. I remember feeling like I had floated up above my body and was watching what was happening from above -- I couldn't possibly be going through this myself. For the record, I hated this feeling and wish I hadn't taken any drugs and just experienced the birth. It is easy to say that now, but my mind doesn't handle narcotics well and I hate the way they make me feel.
R and I have never really spoken about L's delivery. We certainly talk about her, but we mention that night mostly in generalities, so perhaps my recollection is wrong. In my mind, L came into the world in silence (both hers and ours). It was the middle of the night and the room felt eerie. A doctor arrived and out she came. The nurse asked if I wanted to hold her and I did, but not yet. My OB arrived shortly thereafter, L was given a bath, and my OB asked us if we were ready. R was in the bed with me and I took tiny L into my arms. She weighed only a pound, but she looked like... well, she looked like a very small baby. Her eyes were closed. I remember her hands seemed disproportionately large, but I loved her tiny fingers and held each one, marveling at how very much she looked like the sweet girl I had imagined growing in my belly.
We each held her and kissed her tiny forehead. But I was still totally out of it from the meds, it was the middle of the night, and honestly the whole experience is a total blur for me. Eventually my OB returned and took L away. The next morning I awoke and headed to surgery. I remember wanting desperately to have another chance to hold L once I felt aware of what was going on, but she was gone and there was never another offer to bring her back. That said, I never asked. Admittedly, there was a lot going on with my surgery and being in the ICU, but I never asked to hold her again. It both breaks my heart that the only time I had with her I was not myself, not cognizant of my surroundings and it makes me feel like I didn't do her justice. I didn't spend the time with her that she deserved and that I so desperately wanted. Why didn't we bathe her? Why didn't I memorize every inch of her tiny body? Why didn't I hug her and hold her for as long as I wanted to? Was it fear and a shortcoming in my personality? What kind of Mom does this make me?
I have so many regrets about that brief time we had with L. I think about it often and search in my mind for details from the night she was born to no avail. I know there is no playbook for handling grief and loss, but I wish I had handled it differently...
(I'm feeling very sad today and this week generally, for no apparent reason. Sigh.)