On Monday morning, at 5:45 we made our way to the hospital for our scheduled appointment that was set at 6:30. At least, I was supposed to be admitted at 6:30 anyway. We get there and I go to the Admissions office. There is only one woman there, and she seems to be taking her sweet time with a couple sitting there. I'm not sure if she really was taking her sweet time, but I was just so anxious and my nerves were so shot I was feeling like everything was going too slow. When I finally got to talk to her, she told me I'd have to go to the ER and be admitted there. So she handed me a slip of paper and sent me on my way. I should have remembered that my OB, Dr. Harper, told me to go through the ER entrance. That was my bad, but when I got to the ER they informed me I should go to Outpatient Surgery. I couldn't help but laugh as we went to Outpatient Surgery, explained our situation, and then have all hell break loose. "Dr. Harper isn't here and we don't have you scheduled."
They were supposed too, I said. And Dr. Harper was supposed to be here. "Oh, okay, I see. You need to go back to ER to be admitted." -- after a ton of calls we went back to the ER and I told them my name. Well, my name was being listed under my maiden name for some reason, and that's why they didn't catch the problem in the first place. So with that little drama out of the way, I went up to L&D and got into my room. The nurses came in about 15-20 minutes later and lo and behold -- the computer wasn't coming on. They could not log me in. They also could not find anything that should have been stocked in the room and ready to go. Through these moments I began to have a panic attack, and I began to shake uncontrollably. But even through that, I laughed over the technology screwing up and nothing going right so far. I began to hum "Manic Monday" in my head, and even continued to tell the nurses it was "just another manic Monday."
We were moved to a room down the hall, and had the same problems at first. My nurse Pam, God bless her soul, was getting frustrated with everything going wrong that day. I remember them all smiling when I turned to Pam, smiled and told her: "Don't get frustrated, take a deep breath. Count to ten. Things will work out." and my wonderful husband, Trey, who couldn't help but laugh over the fact that I was now trying to calm my nurses' nerves down rather than worry about my own. That seemed to be the theme for the day; even through my anxiety and the shaking I began to worry about everyone else but myself. After the computer began to work and I was settled in for the long haul my parents and husband mentioned wanting breakfast, and even though Trey said he would stay with me I began to scold him and tell him that I would be fine for 30 minutes by myself. So my mom mentioned staying, and it was through consistent: "Are you sure?" conversations that I finally managed to kick them out of the room long enough to eat. I even had the time to tell my husband to eat, but not eat a heavy meal, since I know how sensitive his stomach is in the mornings.
Hours passed by with very little to show for it except a pretty consistent, dull ache in my abdomen. We watched a lot of TV in those hours; everything from Price Is Right to Judge Mathis. Apparently, you can get a lot of money if you sue someone because their dog killed your goat. When the pain began to build up a bit more, I asked for some medicine to help me get through it. I could have lasted longer, but along with the pain came a throbbing headache that really knocked me for a loop. When they brought me some pain medication and told me that it would make me feel drunk and dizzy "for a bit" they had not been lying! The thing is, it did not last "for a bit". I had told them I was medicine intolerant since normally, at home, I won't take medicine for pain unless I really feel I can't handle it on my own. So once the effects of the drug began, I was pretty out of it. I just remember that I was talking a lot, but everything around me seemed out of sync. Especially my mouth; I felt like I sounded drunk. I'm sure I did since half of the time my husband and parents were trying to hide grins from me after I would say something.
I also remember hearing a baby crying in another room. It was at that moment that I turned to my husband and saw the pain in his eyes. I told him that the sound would kill me, and he began to complain that there should be "another wing of the hospital" for "people in our situation". It seemed from then on things began to progress pretty quickly, but it still took hours. Before I knew it I was ready to push, and Dr. Harper came in to help me. My nurses relayed my request to Dr. Harper, who agreed and they began to prep me. Now, I was scared with Lily but I don't remember being this scared. The shaking became almost unbearable, and my entire body felt as if it went into lock down. I was afraid I would never stop long enough to push, but somehow I did. It only took two pushes, and it was over. They took my baby away long enough to examine, and Dr. Harper came back.
"It appears to be a boy," She told me, but that was not all she had to say. "We can take him to get tested if you want, but we found his umbilical cord wrapped three times tightly around his leg. That appears to be why his heart stopped."
I went limp. I began to cry, but at the same time some sort of peace washed over me. I could see my handsome little Jude Raleigh Wheeler every time I closed my eyes. I had a dream about him, about what he would look like, a few days previous to coming into the hospital. He was still smiling just as much as he had in my dreams. I declined the testing; I knew nothing was wrong with him. He was a healthy boy. He had just gotten himself all caught up. It was just an accident, and it was clear to me that there was nothing I could have done any better to keep it from happening. So I asked to hold my handsome boy, but I asked that they cover him. I knew what he looked like as my healthy boy, and I did not want to lose that image to another. He had shown me his face in my dreams, and that was good enough for me. So he was laid on my chest, and it was the most awkward holding I'd ever dealt with. It's not that I didn't know what to do, but between him being so tiny and the drugs making my body weak I just could not get a good enough hold on him. As he laid on my chest I could feel him near, as well as a few others I had no seen in a while. I could not see them, I could not hear them, but I could feel them there with me. My brother was one of those that I could feel near. It was a huge comfort to me, and the tears slowly stopped coming.
In all honesty, I thought that it would take weeks to find out what had happened, and what the sex of the baby would have been. I had expected to play another waiting game, and that is one of the things that I felt would hurt the worst. So having such a clear understanding of what happened, of who my baby boy was, shocked me and at the same time made me so relieved I wasn't sure how to react. The tears would still come, but it was not as hard to say goodbye as I thought. Because my mother was there, and because I felt this need inside of me, I told her she could hold him if she wanted. I knew she needed to say goodbye in the same way I did; by holding him close. She stood over me, prayed over him, and then went to rock him for a moment. My husband, though he was hurting, could not bring himself to hold his son. I reassured him that I understood completely his decision; he and I both have different ways of coping, and I knew there was no reason for force him into something he didn't want to do. We called for the nurses to come and take our little Jude away, and Dr. Harper asked me if I had any specific plans. Jude was too young to donate to science, like I would have liked, but I knew that we would be saying our final goodbye to him in the hospital and nowhere else. It just felt like the right thing to do; I had no plans outside of the hospital and trying to figure things out would just cause more stress and pain for my family than I wanted. So I was okay, and I had no regrets, with letting the hospital handle him. I knew they would take good care of him and treat him with the respect he deserved.
Not too soon after I was wheeled down to the 2nd floor; the doctors and my family had decided that it might be better for me not to be on the 4th floor with the mother's who had their babies; it was a good call on their part, since I had been so out of it and so tired I could barely speak. They settled me into my room for the night, and one of the nurses brought me a turkey sandwich. I did not realize how hungry I was until I began eating the sandwich. Trey even ordered some pizza to be delivered to our room because we were both so hungry. The food helped to bring me back to a state that I could walk back and forth to the bathroom without falling over. When my father-in-law called my husband answered it, but Trey was just too exhausted and frustrated to really talk about what we had just gone through. Somehow, I got the phone from Trey and talked to my father-in-law about everything that had happened; I explained everything to him, and yet I felt so at peace that I did not feel any need to cry or meltdown. I figured the medication was just that good, or I was just too tired to be able to think. Around 10:30 that night my sister-in-law called me up, mid-meltdown, and Trey and I had to reassure her that it we were okay, and that everything would be fine in the end.
I realize now, now that the drugs have worn off, why I felt so at peace that night. You see, every time I dosed off I would wake up to a baby crying or cooing. It took me a few times to register that there were no babies on the 2nd floor, and that the sound was coming from inside the room. I've always believed in ghostly being and the like; my daughter saw my brother the morning after he died playing in a sandbox, and I had seen many things in my own home the first three weeks after he died as well, including seeing a shadow form of him. So when I realized that the noises coming from inside were not from the TV (it was on mute) but from my baby boy, sleep became easier and more serene. It was like he was telling me: "It's okay, mommy. I don't hurt anymore." and it made everything better. He was there that night, and I cherished it with every ounce of my being.
By morning I was ready to go. I felt okay except for being a bit lightheaded, and the drugs I had been on the day before was still in my system. I told my husband it felt like I was tripping out, and by the time I was released and in the car with Trey I realized how much was truly still in my system. The paranoia of how fast he was driving, how close he was to other cars, etc. was just too much. I had to lay back and close my eyes throughout most of the trip home. However, as we left the hospital I felt like I had left something there; it felt as if a tiny piece of my heart and soul had been taken from me. I suddenly felt heavy and the peaceful Brooke started to fade away. Even though I still feel that way after being home, I know that things will be okay. I can sit here and cry, and mourn for my Jude, but I can also sit here and feel at ease knowing that I have a beautiful baby girl who's missed her mommy. It's really helped me throughout the day, but there is never a promise that things will be okay tomorrow. I'm just going to take it a step at a time, a day at a time.