Pushing with the epidural was interesting – lots of women do it every day, but i didn't like it at all. Most of the time I couldn’t really tell if I was pushing or not. Jeff and my sister stayed by my side for every minute. I pushed for about an hour and 15 minutes, and Gracie was born at 2:29 a.m. Even though I knew that it wasn’t going to happen, I wanted so badly to hear someone say that she was breathing. As soon as she was delivered, I started to sob. Our pregnancy was over. There was no baby left in my belly. There was no baby to take home. This was not how it was supposed to be.
Gracie was taken to the warming table and cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket. She weighed 4 pounds, 3 ounces and was 17 inches long. After I delivered the placenta, she was brought over to us. There are no other words to describe her other than beautiful and peaceful. She had my nose and her daddy's little chin dimple. My sister went to the waiting room to sit with our parents while Jeff and I spent some time alone with Gracie. Our parents came in around 03:00 to meet and hold her. After they left, Jeff and I had more time alone with her. We cried, took some pictures, cried some more and just looked at her. One of the nurses came in to bathe her. During this time she was also baptized and footprints were done. I had mentioned to Jeff earlier that I wanted to also get handprints; we both forgot to ask about handprints, and I am so disappointed about this. Around 05:30 Jeff and Gracie went to the nursery for Gracie’s ‘professional’ nursery photo. He said that the nurses worked so hard to get the best picture that they could get for us; I think they did a really good job. While he was gone, Susan came in to talk to me; I can still see our conversation in my mind, but I have no idea what we talked about. After the nursery photo session, we spent another hour with Gracie. She was starting to get cold and show some discoloration, so we decided that it was time to send her to the morgue. I had a really hard time with this and sobbed harder and more uncontrollably than I had in preceding 18 hours. Sending our baby away was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. After the nurses took her, someone else came in and did some paperwork with us and got us ready to move out of the L&D wing to a regular room in The Family Place.
We moved out to the other wing around 07:30. Our room was as far from the families with live babies as they could put us. They brought in a cot for Jeff; I think this was his favorite part of our stay. The cot mattress was in a loud plastic protective cover and the whole thing sagged terribly in the middle. He looked and sounded like he was sleeping in a bird nest lined with dried leaves. The cot definitely provided a little bit of much needed comic relief and gave us a few much needed laughs. We were so exhausted that we slept for a few hours and woke up just before his brother, sister-in-law and nephews arrived to visit. They wanted to meet Gracie, so we had her brought up from the morgue. Having her brought back to us was almost as hard as sending her away a few hours earlier. I wasn’t able to bring myself to hold her, because I was so afraid of sending her away again. Just seeing her was hard enough, I didn’t want to go through what I had felt the first time. I sometimes struggle with this, and wish that I had decided differently about holding her one last time.
After our visitors left, Susan came in to tell me that since my blood pressure had returned to normal with one dose of medication (it was pretty elevated during the laboring process), I was welcome to go home that afternoon or I could stay overnight if I wanted. There was no need for me to stay there, so I jumped at the chance to go home. I figured that if we were going to get any rest at all, it would be better done at home. It was a few more hours until we left; my sister had left her laptop for us to use, so we took some time and sent emails to a few people and found that we already had a slew of condolence messages on Facebook. We got home around 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 1st – just about 30 hours after we had left for the OB office.
I don’t remember much about the rest of Saturday, other than the fact that I slept surprisingly well overnight. When we got up on Sunday morning, we didn’t really know what to do. We had an appointment at the funeral home in the afternoon, but we didn’t know what we were supposed to do in the meantime. After I got a shower, we decided to go to the grocery store and get some cabbage, since I would need the leaves in the following days. We then made our way to the funeral home. We were dreading the visit to the funeral home, but it was surprisingly much easier than we had anticipated. We worked with the owner, and he was quite accommodating. We had already decided that Gracie would be laid to rest next to my grandmother (whom she was named after) in Eagles Mere, but we hadn’t made any other decisions. We got the rest of the details sorted out and decided that Gracie’s committal service would be on Wednesday, August 5th. We had less than 72 hours to prepare ourselves emotionally to bury our daughter.
To read about Gracie's funeral, click here.