I have been thinking a lot about going to the hospital where Eli was born and talking with our nurses...maybe visiting our room if it is not occupied. Then last night a friend of mine who has lost a baby messaged me. Her message was timely in that she expressed the same thoughts about visiting her room. Her message really floored me simply because this has been on my mind.
I then got to thinking...what is it about a cold hospital that makes us mothers want to go back and visit. Hospitals are a place of sickness and often death...sometimes healing... and even sometimes new life. The LDR ward can be one of the happiest places in the hospital, but it can also be one of the saddest. I really have no clue how many times the medical staff in LDR see mothers and fathers lose their babies. I would venture to say that they see more babies that do make it than not. They still have to be prepared for those times that babies are lost.
I know that not every experience with medical staff is positive and that truly grieves me. I can not imagine why anyone would not give grieving parents the respect and support that they need during such a time. That being said, we were very blessed to have some wonderful and terrific support when we lost Eli. I know that my doctor smoothed a great deal of the way for us. He made plans and talked with the staff at the hospital just so they would know what they were dealing with. He stayed with my family until he was called away to deliver another baby. He gave updates about Eli and me to those waiting. He talked with the Neonatologist and Jamie concerning Eli. He just went above and beyond. But you know, as much as he did to prepare and smooth the way, there was no way for him to guarantee the way others would respond to our situation.
When a baby dies it is difficult and uncomfortable for the medical staff also. I think that is the line where professional courtesy and compassion meet.
I remember so many things that the nurses and hospital staff did to make our situation easier on us. It really all began here in Troy.
That Sunday afternoon when Jamie and I arrived at the Troy ER those nurses jumped into action. We went in to the ambulance bay because I was afraid to walk. Everyone was shocked to see us there, but knew by the way we took that turn on two wheels it meant there was something going on. There is no L&D here at the Troy hospital, but I was in the midst of a situation where I thought I needed immediate help. I remember that there was one male nurse and several women and of course the ER doctor. The male nurse helped me on the stretcher there at the ambulance bay but I think from that point on it was just women (aside from the doctor). I was upset and crying and it all seems like such a whirlwind. I do however remember those ladies trying to calm me down and being so compassionate. I have since talked with one of the nurses that was there that day and she did tell me that the two main nurses on my case really rallied to have me taken to Montgomery for Eli's delivery. We were unaware that it was even questioned. It warms my heart that those women were looking out for my family that day. They really were just great! I can not say enough good things. There were women on the ambulance that transported me, one that had lost a baby herself. I do remember that I was really self conscience about flashing people while being transported. I am not sure why that was on my mind at the time, but it was. That is me, ever modest. They made sure I was sufficiently covered. The doctor that rode with us, who is the chief of the ER was such a quiet comfort. He did not have too much to say, but just him taking his time to ride means so much. Even if we did have to stop along US 231 to pick him up in the median. Leave it to God to provide comic relief. Not that I laughed about it then, but I see the humor now. During this time Eli was alive, but I knew the end was drawing near and I was a wreck. I just remember saying to Jamie over and over, "I am not ready yet." I wasn't, but I never would have been either.
Once we made it to Montgomery, Dr. K., my L&D nurse, the neonatologist, and anesthesiologist were all waiting. We kind of had a conference so Dr. K. could explain the game plan to Jamie and me. This is really the only time that I had any cross moments with anyone. I pretty much knew at this point that I would have to have a c-section. What I did not realize was that I would have to be put to sleep. This was so not alright with me and I voiced that. That is when the anesthesiologist spoke up and told me that I did not have a choice in the matter in just those exact words. Really, because last I checked, I had to sign off allowing you to put me to sleep. Those were my thoughts that I kept to myself. I just cried more. I don't think she realized that that might be the only chance I would get to see my baby alive. I did not keep that to myself. Once that was explained she back off. She even helped me take my jewelry off and offered her camera phone for pictures. I honestly do not think she knew the situation she was dealing with. When I got to the OR, I had a different anesthesiologist. I am not really sure why. I did not ask for a different one. This guy was really great. I could not stop the tears and he just rubbed my shoulder and let me cry. Then I went to sleep.
When I woke up, I was in recovery with some really great ladies. The first thing they did was assure me that Eli was alive and fighting. They did not know that I had not had an epidural until I told them I felt like my insides were fixing to tumble out. I also told them that I did not want any medication that would make me go to sleep or be out of it. I would just rather be in pain if it meant that I would remember and enjoy any time I would get with Eli. They also did not realize that he would not live until I told them. I do not know how many nurses typically transport patients from recovery to their room. I had I know at least three. They hung out with me and tried to make me comfortable until Jamie came to the room. The one nurse who was with me when I woke up told me that she would be praying and thinking about us.
The nursery nurses were so, so, so fabulous. My mom told me that Eli's nurse never stopped working with him. She told me she rubbed on him trying to stimulate him, talked to him, and just showed so much tenderness. Jamie said when he went in the first time to see him, he was unsure of what to do, but she encouraged him to talk to him and touch him. Eli did rally for a little while. His oxygen level went up to 80% and his coloring got better. They had called the Angel One unit from across town to come in hopes that Eli could be transported to a better NICU. By this time though the neonatologist had done xrays of his little lungs and they knew there was little if any development. It was just a matter of time for our little fellow. So, his nurse dressed him, did the handprint molds, weighed and measured him, and then called me to tell me he was ready for mama to love on him a while. I never got to meet this nurse, but I want to so badly.
This was all right in the middle of shift change so the new nurses came in to introduce themselves and we met Eli's nurse "E" and my nurse who I have known for years and years. She was also my nurse when I had LR.
The first thing Eli's nurse had to do that night was tell us that he had no heartbeat. I know that was not easy on her. She also prayed with us. She was God sent that night.
We had a great deal of family and friends there so we were put on a hall by ourselves. That was really a good thing. The nurses did talk with Jamie about how WE wanted to handle everyone seeing Eli and they were great to clear the path for our wishes.
I would have two nurses during my stay in the hospital. My nighttime nurse "L" is the one that is a friend. She and "E" were so great to Jamie and I the night Eli passed away. They were not afraid to share their emotions with us and that means the world to grieving parents. I know at some point during the night, my L&D nurse came back in to tell us that she thought what we had done for Eli was the right thing to do and that we would be in her prayers. My daytime nurse "P" was so sweet also. Once she removed my IV she helped me get up and tidy up a bit. She found a toothbrush and deoderant for me, and just went out of her way to help. She would come in and straighten my room and just talk some. The ladies that delivered the meals discovered that I really liked the cranberry juice and crushed ice so they would bring in several of them at a time and make sure I had plenty of ice. Food was not something that I even wanted to look at but the juice was great. If I could have smuggled some home I would have because it just does not taste the same from the store.
The second night we were there, I just could not stop sobbing. "L" would come in and try to comfort me. She made plenty of coffee for Jamie and let him know when it was fresh. Bless her heart she gave me her scrunchy for my hair. They were all so patient and compassionate. They gave from their hearts.
The last person I had contact with before we left the hospital was the sweet lady that wheeled me out with empty arms and sobs. I will never forget her saying that she had requested to wheel me out. She was there the night Eli died and did not get to come in so she wanted to do this. She wanted to tell us how touched she was by Eli's birth and death and that she would be praying for us. It was so difficult to leave the room where my son had taken his last breath but we had to.
So, yeah I have an aching need to go back and see that room and those people. They are what surrounded us along with family and friends during the most diffucult time of our lives.
I know this has been and extraordinarily long post and I have more than likely rambled quite a bit but I needed to write this out. I needed to remember.