Wednesday, January 8, 2014

On Our Way

The day I left the hospital with Connell I was desperately ready to go home.  The last time I had spent the night in that maternity ward I went home empty handed and heartbroken.  Andrew's stillbirth was still as raw as my midsection.  We rushed to pack things, shoving socks in bags and hair clips in pockets.  We'd done this before.  We knew that we didn't really need all of the paraphernalia the new mom magazines suggested.

The nurse scurried in and out, sensing our urgency.  She glanced at me from the corner of her eye when she thought I wasn't looking.  I signed papers, moving as quickly as my cesarean would let me.  There was always just one more thing to do before I could leave the labor hall and get on with our lives.

David treated me gingerly.  He remembered my last recovery.  The tears, the shock, the unexpected surgery.  He didn't understand that the pain from this delivery was welcome.  It reminded me I had survived and our youngest son was alive and healthy.  David gently asked me to sit down.  My pacing was making him nervous.   But I was afraid to sit down.  If I did, I may have ended up back in that bed for another night and I couldn't have that.

The nurse returned.  She removed my IV.  She checked my incision one more time.  She cooed at my well bundled newborn.  And she looked at me again, with an expression I'd come to know over the year before Connell was born.  She must have read my entire chart and she knew what had happened.   She was watching me with the eyes of someone who had also suffered a loss.  She was waiting to see if I'd be able to handle this transition from mourning-mother to new-mother-again.  She was giving me time to change my mind and stay the extra day our insurance company would pay for.

The orderly came to my room with a wheel chair.  After she'd bent down to adjust the footrest, the nurse looked me in the eye.  She held my gaze for an extra second.  "I can do this" I tried to tell her with my eyes.  "I can start to move on."

She handed me my 8 pound miracle.  She put her hand on my shoulder as she gave final instructions to David.  "Follow up appointment in 5 days.  Pediatrician in 7.  Make sure she takes her iron and stays very hydrated.  Let her rest.  Enjoy these moments."  She squeezed my shoulder as she said those last words.

We're a sorority of the worst kind, we grieving mothers.  We know each other as we stutter when
sharing how many children we have.  We all wince slightly when we hear a newborn cry.  We all share the same broken purple heart of child loss.  And we comfort each other.  A gentle squeeze.  A willingness to listen.  A different view of family and priorities.

The orderly whisked me through the hospital halls.  He was young and insensitive, taking bumps and turns at breakneck speeds.  Connell let out a yelp as we zoomed out of the elevator.  "You need to be more gentle." I told the orderly.  "We need to get home safely."  He slows down and apologized.  The bright August sun blinded me when I met David at the curb.  He settled Connell in the carseat with care and made sure I was buckled safely.  We drove toward home with our newborn looking forward to moments to enjoy.

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