There is not much that hasn't been said and done in these last few exhausting hours.
Our children have been brought to the hospital, and we have told them the devastating news--first that they have a sister but that she has died. Telling our children was the final crack in my heart already cracked wide open.
Calls have been made to family and a few friends.
Our pastor has arrived.
My mother is flying up from California.
We are on a runaway train without any guide book to help us navigate through this terrain.
The doctor, the sucky, sucky doctor who has not delivered a baby since graduate school has arrived. And I don't know it at the time, but I hate her. She is all business, all about the induction, all about getting this baby out of my body, and I just want to hold Grace inside and pause the moment.
Grace. We have named her Grace.
We have held that name through two babies, wanting to name one Grace but never feeling like it made sense--up until now. Grace. She is Grace and she is Susie. Sweet Susie, dear Susie, who just one year earlier died an unexpected death at age 36.
Some things make a lot of sense.
Many things make no sense at all.
I have been induced with a cervadil by the sucky doctor who leaves and informs the nurses to call her to return when my labor gets hard and delivery is close at hand.
But for the moment, nothing.
I sit in the bed and wait.
Our midwife and Terry take me for a walk, but first I have to be wheeled down into the waiting room in a wheelchair. And then I have to sign a form that says I am leaving hospital property to go on a walk, and that I don't hold them liable.
Of course I don't hold them liable. I hold myself liable.
My head spins with this reason and that reason. With this meal and that meal. With this illness and that illness. With this fall on the pavement and that dog running into me. With this small glass of red wine and that small thrust of anger directed at god knows what.
We are in a holding pattern.
My belly aches with the fullness of death, head down, body still.
Calls continue to come in from family around the country--some calls I can take. Some calls I can't. Some people, I decide, I never want to see again.
My two children remain in awe of the cable television in the hospital waiting room.
Babies are being born and happy parents are cooing and fawning over their new little bundles of joy.
A silk flower arrangement is hung on my door and this, this I come to find out, means 'dead baby inside. Enter carefully and speak quietly.'
What I really want to do is scream out loud. What I really want to do is shout at the top of my lungs. What I really want to do is run.
But I have been trained to be a good girl. I have been trained to be polite.
I worry, instead, about the nurses around me. They look so sad. I apologize to my midwife. I apologize to my pastor who has left her kids for the next 36 hours and left her sermon and left her family. I apologize to Grace. I'm sorry I failed you.
I never once apologize to myself.
I have never taken a drug related to birth. I have never taken the medication they offer.
And now, I want it all. I want a C-section, but they refuse that. 'Too dangerous,' they say.
What the hell does that mean? Too dangerous for a dead baby but perfectly fine for a live one?
I want the morphine. I take the morphine. I want to be drug-induced. I want numbness.
The nurses tell me I don't have to feel anything. My midwife tells me I can feel everything. I am confused by all of it. I am confused by everyone.
I want my baby.
The rest of the day continues in some kind of bizarre and surreal fashion.
People arrive to take my children on play dates. People arrive to see me, but I don't want to be seen. I refuse some and allow others.
I am waiting for labor to start.
I am dreading that labor will begin.
I am about to give birth to death.
I think of my father.
I thought that was the worst kind of thing, to be fatherless, for a child to lose their father.
That no longer becomes the worst kind of thing.
This is by far the worst thing ever.
I am without Grace. She is still inside my belly.
I wonder when her soul left me.
I wonder when she took her last breath.
I wonder when her heart stopped.
I wonder when mine, please god, when will my heart stop beating.
I don't want to be part of this body any longer. I don't want labor to begin. I want to crawl out of my body and run away.
I want Grace.