Warning: This post may be a little bit gory, because yesterday was a little bit gory. I'm not going to go into specific details, but there will be some talk about what actually happened at the hospital and so, if the mention of blood makes you queasy, you may want to pass on this post. And my apologies for the length. Writing is definitely cathartic for me and this case is no different in that way.
Sadie had been walking around talking about the new baby for most of the afternoon, which was a change since she hadn't been talking about her little brother or sister as often lately. Two days ago she'd asked me where the baby was. When I said, "You know where the baby is.." she said "with Jesus" with a little frown before asking "Where is Jesus?" When I said, "you know where Jesus is" she said "in heaven with the new baby." Yesterday she had sat on my lap and said "I want the new baby to come home" before running to the window, looking out at the street below an yelling "come home baby, come home!" It wasn't the easiest conversation. But I digress. Back to the story...
I had mentioned to Paul before he left for class that I was worried I might end up in the ER sometime during the day. The miscarriage seemed to be picking up and I was a little nervous about it. The timing was less than perfect. My parent's headed back to California after lunch. If this adventure was going to occur we'd be on our own.
By early afternoon, when Paul came home for lunch, I was losing a lot of blood. At around 5 o'clock Paul spoke with a relative who works in the medical field and he said we needed to go to the ER. I wasn't thrilled with the idea, but I was starting to get dizzy and knew that he was right. Paul installed the seats in the car (we'd been waiting for the seat belt locks to come from Amazon... since it's almost impossible to find them these days in stores and thankfully they arrived yesterday afternoon) and we headed to the ER. He dropped me off at the front door and took Sadie and Mae home to have pizza and wait for updates.
The triage nurse said that it was a very good thing that I'd come in and sent me back out to the waiting room. Unfortunately, what happened next appeared to offend a few people...
A woman came out and said "Kimmie." I had been sitting, listening carefully to every name they called for some time, but by the time they called that particular name the contractions were two minutes apart and I was pretty distracted. So the nurse said that name three times before I realized that she was talking to me, and then berated me all the way back to the triage room (where for some reason I was going a second time) and for about a minute once we were there about how I "didn't know my own name." She did seem to feel bad when I apologized for not hearing her right away, starting crying and said "I guess I just have a lot on my mind at the moment."
However the other nurse who'd been standing with her when she called me seemed to also be incredibly offended that I hadn't understood them right away... and she ended up being my nurse in the ER. When I explained that I'd been losing large amounts of blood, like clockwork, every fifteen minutes for the past two or three hours, she actually rolled her eyes before telling me they'd take care of me and walking out of the room. That was the last time I saw her (and I'm kind of thankful that was the case).
Blood work was taken. A sonogram was done. And I sat and read "Emma," until the contractions were a minute apart, thirty seconds long and intense enough that I had to sit forward and grip the side of the bed. I finally hit the call button and a nurse came in, and then another and then the PA. I'd been asking to use the bathroom for about an hour by then (first I was told I'd have a catheter, then a bedpan, and then finally a very nice nurse came in, was very unhappy to find no one had done anything and brought in an in room potty chair). What happened next involved copious amounts of blood, painkillers, nausea medicine, and an argument between the nice nurse and another nurse about whether I could walk across the ER to the exam room. After that argument the nice nurse disappeared and I was on my own again.
At the exam I was told that my cervix was still closed (I was really surprised by that because I'd thought I might have already passed the baby) and that the sonogram had showed that the baby was still in place.
I made it back to my room where the painkillers worked for another five minutes. And then the contractions picked back up again. The nurse had told me that she'd given me a very low dose to start out with, and that she'd give me more if things got bad. After three or so contractions I decided the pain could definitely be described as "bad."
I pressed the button. A nurse came in and told me she'd get someone. An RN came in about a minute later, but was told by someone on the other side of the curtain that she'd "take care of it" and left. Five minutes (that'd be about five contractions) passed and I was crying, curled up in a ball. It was definitely comparable to labor with both of my nine lb babies. I guess contractions are contractions, when the baby is very big or very small.
I tried to wait. But there was no sound of anyone coming.
I finally got up, staggered across the room (the beginning of the crime scene look in the room began) closed the curtain and went back to the little in room potty. There was a huge amount of blood and tissue and then the amniotic sac and baby passed. The physical pain stopped almost instantly. I leaned over, pressed the button again and a nurse reappeared. I told her I was losing a lot of blood and she went to get help. Finally someone appeared.
I asked if that was the baby. She tried to say something comforting about it being a blob of tissue. I explained, between sobs, that we were Catholic and that I was going to do a conditional baptism, and I needed to know if that was the baby.
Logically, I knew that they couldn't find the heartbeat almost a week ago, so we were likely well past baptism, but I also felt the need to do all that I could do. She said that it was the baby and gave me gloves, a tub and a cup full of water and I punctured the amniotic sac, poured the water and said: "If there is anything here that can be baptized then I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." My job was half done.
We put the baby in a cup (the baby and sac were about the size of the palm of my hand) and I began the battle to make sure the baby wasn't disposed of as "medical waste." The nurse, who was Catholic, was a big help. I repeated over and over again to different people, that they could send the baby to pathology, but that I needed to be able to claim the baby to have it cremated, once they'd checked to make sure everything was there. I used the word "Catholic" over and over again. The charge nurse finally came in and told me that they were going to make sure pathology knew that we'd be claiming the remains.
I was a bit surprised by my resolve in the moment. For the past two weeks I'd been very nervous about these two aspects: baptism and cremation. I'd been a little embarrassed when I even thought about asking to be allowed these two things in an ER, for a fourteen week old baby. And I'd been stressed about whether I'd even be in a state where I could fight for these them if need be. But the mama bear instinct I've felt with both my girls definitely extended to that little baby, and I was not going to back down. I would do what needed to be done.
The sweet nurse hand delivered the baby to pathology with a note and gave me detailed instructions on claiming the baby today, and calling first thing this morning (Paul's already called three times and it looks like we'll be picking the baby up and taking it to the funeral house after his classes today).
At one point in our conversation, the nurse seemed quite shocked. We were talking and I told her that I was thankful that we had the sonogram, because we could see the baby's profile. She actually held onto a chair and sat down. She kept repeating that she'd thought it was only a blob of tissue, and looked at the cup as she told everyone who came into the room that we'd already been able to see the profile. I think it may have changed the way she thought about babies in the womb a bit.
After I got dressed and went to sit in the waiting room. Amazingly Paul had gotten Mae to go to sleep (the first time she'd gone to sleep without me). He loaded both girls in the car and they picked me up. And I fell asleep between my two girls, which was a great comfort.
And that is the physical story of what happened. It was definitely a night where I realized several things spiritually however (suffering and pain can definitely be catalysts in that way!), and I'll hopefully be able to put that into words at some point soon.
Thank you again to everyone for all of the prayers and kind words. You've all be such a great comfort to me. Some of the things you have shared have brought tears to my eyes. I've just been so amazed by the kindness that we've been shown. Thank you so very much.