Last Friday was not unlike the norm... except that Joe had been out of town again, and would be returning home to us that evening from a work trip. It had been 2 weeks since we had found out we were having a little boy, and because I had been feeling so much better, I felt like I could finally post the exciting news!
I picked the kids up from school, dropped them off at home, and then turned around and rushed right back out to the car to go to my doctor's appointment for my 16 week check up. He had been seeing me weekly, and then after we got back from Iguazu, he said things were looking perfect in regards to the baby, so he moved our visits to every two weeks. I still had the lovely clot that he needed to keep an eye on, but it was out of harms way of the baby...I was really feeling pregnant with all of the glorious side effects that come with it.
We were talking about the holidays and trips we'd both be taking when the monitor came on and suddenly he got quiet. I have seen plenty of ultrasounds. It's easy for me to find the cute little profile, the tiny hands and feet, and the incredible spine that is always so vivid. And then I heard those awful words, "I'm so sorry, something's wrong. There's no heartbeat."
Shocked and speechless, I turned to the screen, and there in his chest, where the little heart should be working overtime to build my baby boy, was empty, white space...
* * *
Somehow I managed to find my car. I had parked in one of the spots they hold for pregnant women, right up in front with the disability parking spaces. This is one of the things I love about Chile and was so excited to always have a good place to park wherever I went. I looked at the pregnant stick figure on the sign in front of me and started sobbing. How could this have happened? I was feeling so good! I called Joe and he was in his car, driving home from the off-site, with a bunch of co-workers that he had to take home. Not the best time to tell him, but I blubbered something through my tears and told him to just get home as quickly as he could. Poor Joe couldn't escape the car, or his team. He was stuck for another 2 hours.
I started the car and realized I couldn't go home to the kids like this. I texted Sandra, who was supposed to be off in 15 minutes and asked her to stay for a little bit until I could gain control. Sweet thing stayed all weekend.
I parked my car in our neighborhood far from homes and windows and stared at the flowers that surrounded me. It is spring in Santiago, after all. My chest hurt and and my soul ached. I went through what was left of the kleenex box I had in the glove compartment until I heard Joe finally pull up alongside of me. He took me out of the drivers seat and we both climbed into the back seat; and as I destroyed his button up with snot and tears, I went through all of those emotions over again. Someone once told me that tears help get rid of toxins in our bodies. I think I was completely free and pure of all poisons that had ever resided in this 6 foot frame of mine. Little did I know that my mass purification was just beginning.
When we finally went home, Kate came running to me, releasing her own toxins, as she jumped into my arms, asking me to tell her what happened. Oh how she wanted her little brother, she cried over and over. I stayed in bed as everyone had dinner, and Jake said the blessing. "...and please bless Mom and the baby that they will be healthy..." as he has always done from the day we told him the good news. More tears. It was time to tell the boys. "I'm going to be sad forever." He cried. Luke kept running into the room saying, "I give Mommy wuvs?" And he'd crawl into bed with me and shower me with kisses. Especially my tummy. Why stop now? Just more cleansing, right?
* * *
The next morning, Joe and I walked through the hospital main doors and checked in. I couldn't do anything. I sat there with red swollen eyes and a crumpled kleenex in my hand. I knew I wasn't the only one hurting, and yet he was my rock. How grateful I am for my husband. For being exactly what I needed when I needed it. The lady behind the table gathered quickly that he would be doing all of the talking for me and directed all of her questions to him.
We were taken up the elevator and as soon as the doors opened, I realized we had come to the maternity ward. I guess I hadn't exactly thought where I'd be going. I looked up. Beautiful black and white images of little babies faces, hands, feet, and elbows adorned the walls. This should be a happy place. It always had been for me in the past. I grabbed onto his arm and released even more toxins. How could I have any tears left? I wondered. We were directed into a room and the kind nurse came in and spoke in her slowest Spanish possible so I could understand. She wanted me to cry as much as I needed. And they would take good care of me. We had to reconfirm that there was no heartbeat. More tears. And then I had to get ready for my mini delivery.
Because I was farther along, I would have to go through 3 hours of contractions and then they would take me into surgery. Those three hours were filled with quiet moments, quiet talking, and quiet tears--together. Family ached to be with us. Mom was ready to hop on the next plane down here. Jen texted, "I hate Chile." When I was sitting in the car, alone, after I found out, I felt so very far away and alone. I hated Chile too.
Ten minutes before they were going to take me into surgery, there was a knock on our door. Sweet, sweet, Karen walked in and gave me one of her famous squeezes and we cried some more. She sat next to my bed and we talked and laughed and cried until it was time to wheel me away. Little did I know at that moment that she had already arranged time with my kids, brought chocolate chip cookies for everyone, left beautiful flowers in our bedroom for when we got home, guided Sandra when she needed help, set up a calendar for a weeks worth of dinners and pick ups at school, and let other friends know, so when I looked at my phone I was flooded with love and support from dear friends in Santiago. My family away from family. I felt so very blessed. Let's just keep crying.
The operating room was cold. Everyone was speaking in muffled Spanish as they hurried around the room getting everything ready. I felt so alone. I prayed for peace as I let the tears trickle down my cheeks. I couldn't wipe them because I had a blood pressure cuff on one arm restricting my movements and all sorts of wires that kept me from moving my left arm. I clutched my wadded up tissue anyway, ready to use it if the opportunity arose. Too many memories flooded my mind of when I went into my emergency C-section with Luke. But this time I already knew the end result.
The anesthesiologist put his warm, gentle, hand on my head and said, "Tranquilo, Senora." It's what I needed at that very moment. And then the doctor whom I'm so grateful for, told me what was going to happen and that he would take good care of me. I could finally breathe and allowed myself to feel a little bit of that comfort I was praying to Heavenly Father for.
* * *
I remember waking up and feeling lighter... like there was an emptiness in my stomach. Something was missing. It was the first time in my life that I didn't long for taut, firm abs :) And then it all came back to me. Joe was right there by my side. We spent the rest of our time in the hospital doing what we did best that weekend, as I went through the after effects of a delivery. Contractions were a constant reminder of what had just occurred.
We talked for hours about what we should do with our baby boy. We both had and still have no doubt that he is back home with our loving Heavenly Father. And some day, when we go home too, he will be ours to raise. So whatever we chose to do here on earth wasn't for him, it was for us and for our healing. We decided on a Christian foundation down here that has a beautiful park that isn't far from our home, dedicated to families who have all been through similar situations. They take care of the details, so we can focus on the memories. We can visit, plant flowers, have picnics, ride bikes nearby, and talk about how grateful we are for the knowledge we have that our family is eternal. How blessed I feel for that knowledge. It has carried me through so many difficult times.
It felt right for us. This is a piece of our Chilean experience and it only seemed fitting to have a little memorial here. Still, I told Joe, I felt like I needed a little something (and I didn't know what that was) to hold close to my heart, to remember our little Blue Berryhill. I think I'm finally going to get to use that name. Nothing official, but in my heart, that's what he'll be. Our 3rd little baby boy. Then he suggested something and it felt just right.
A picture of his perfect little hand.
That's what I'd get to keep with me.
And it was perfect.
* * *
When it was time to leave, they brought a wheelchair for me. It had been very quiet the entire time we had been at the hospital. And as we left our room, for the first time, I remembered where we were as we passed the nursery and heard the newborn cries. I went ahead and did what I did best. I joined right in with those little bundles. Life would continue. I had three BEAUTIFUL children at home for whom I was so grateful. I had the knowledge that so many of my loved ones and friends had been through similar and far more difficult times than we had just experienced. And I also knew that my Savior knew EXACTLY what I was going through. We would get through this and be a closer, better, family for it.