At work on Saturday (a hospital day) I got in the elevator with a lady and another man who was carrying a car seat. There was a winter zippered cover-up thing inside and I assumed a baby was in it. But as we both got out on the 3rd floor I saw that the car seat was empty. The man was going to retrieve his newborn and his wife and take them home. And suddenly I was having a breakdown. Had to stop and sit down at a workstation in the hall with a flurry of ‘what do I do? Call Brad? He’ll say ‘yep’ with a heavy sigh and there won’t be anything else to say but ‘I’m sorry’ and then what? Should I contact my friend/coworker and find out what floor she’s on and see my breakdown through with her?’. In the end I decided neither would be productive and the latter more dramatic than I wanted to get into, and told myself to pull it together for the next couple of patients and I could fall apart later if still needed. But during the 2 minutes or so that I sat there, my hands were shaking and tears streamed.
You see, one of the worst scenes in all of Anna’s dying was leaving the hospital without her. When I let it I’m back in those minutes instantaneously, feeling all of it as if it were happening right now. Brad falling to his knees in the elevator, his head in my lap, all awkward with the wheelchair, sobbing, sobbing, sounds no one wants to hear another human make. Never from the man you love. I cry now without hesitation, but I don’t know if I cried then. I imagine I did, but mostly I felt void. I wanted to not be anywhere. At all. I didn’t want to go home, I didn’t want to be in that elevator, I didn’t want to be. I was acutely aware of the nurse behind me taking us to the car, that I wanted to get away from her and her pity, I wanted away, away, particularly from anyone trying to be nice to us. I think I was barely human myself, then. I saw she was crying too, when I glanced back as I got into my sister-in-law’s car. But I couldn’t acknowledge, couldn’t interact. I just remember sitting stock still in the car, all the way home. I think I was absolutely stunned that my body was intact, that I was somehow still actually here, that everything out the window was familiar and yet totally different. (I keep meaning to go back and find that nurse, thank her for her kindness, her willingness to Be with us - she had made our room into a virtual hotel a couple of nights before. Trust me, not every nurse wants bereaved parent duty. She took us on and I’ve been grateful for a long time. I’ll do it, someday.)
But that elevator. My poor, sweet husband. Our empty, empty elevator. All there was, all that reverberated in every corner of that box was the sound of a broken man.
What if we never have a baby in our car seat?
What if this baby dies, at any point along the way from here on out? At 20 weeks, from here we’d probably miscarry/deliver in the hospital (as opposed to home), and we’d leave again the same way.
Being pregnant again, opening ourselves up to the possibility of experiencing any of it again... I can hardly breathe. There is no reason to think it will happen, but we didn’t think we had a reason with Anna either. You think ‘it can’t happen twice’, but it can. Not often, but there are stories out there. People who’ve lost more than one, successively, in mid-to-late pregnancy. For no consistent reason. What would it really take to go truly insane? I wonder - would that do it? Going through it again?
Please God, please god, let this baby live. Let this baby be pink and wriggly and screaming it’s head off. Let it have all its parts in perfect working order.
Or I might not have parts in working order, either.