A very short while after they take the babies away, Dr. O’Neil comes in and tells us they weren’t able to get the stuck placenta out and that I’ve lost a lot of blood. She thinks this is because the cervix has been torn possibly even before the cerclage was taken out. They want to take me very soon to have a procedure to get the placenta out and to stop the bleeding. People rush around me and I have to sign papers. I try to thank Pastor J and MB for being with us and send them home since it’s getting pretty late now but they both say they will stay until after the procedure.
They take me away and I have few if any thoughts but I do remember feeling a little panicky and wanting to cry for my mother but I don’t. There is a lot going on around me. People pushing and pulling on my half dead body, nurses counting instruments and draping me with paper and sheets and doctors trying to explain what will be happening to me and talking to eachother. Outwardly I’m sure I seemed calm during this time, truthfully, I was overwhelmed with everything that had happened and wanted to scream and cry.
They shoot some extra anesthesia into me and start. As I stare upward I see a light fixture with white shiny “arms” each ending in a bright surgical light. I realize I can see what they’re doing reflected in the white shiny part. I think one of the doctors is wielding a small scale machete about the size of a bread knife. I immediately think I feel pain and tell the person standing by my head. More medicine is given and I make a conscious effort to not look at the light.
It seems to take a long time. I ask once if we’re almost done and am told they are half done. Later, MB tells me they had told them it would be about 30 minutes and it was over an hour and that Mom got a little frantic while waiting. Finally, they roll me back to the room and everyone except Em is still there. She’d forgotten to lock her medical office when she rushed from work and headed back to lock it so she didn’t get fired. I don’t know how long everyone else stays. I know my mom fusses around the room for a while. Finally, Pastor J asks her if she’s ready to go home. She’s offered her a ride because Em had to leave. I feel bad that Mom has to drive so far with someone she barely knows. MB says MC is on her way to stay with me for the night and MB will stay until she gets there. I really could have stayed by myself…I knew I would be knocked out on painkillers for the night but I don’t protest.
MC arrives and MB goes. I’m assured that MC has gotten ready for a sub for Friday and has already called off. I talk with MC a little. I’m still pretty calm considering everything that has just happened. The nurse comes in and fusses for a while making me more comfortable. She also gives me a shot of dilaudid and I go right to sleep.
I wake in the morning and the emotions of what happened hit me very hard. The night nurse comes to say goodbye and she says how honored she was to help deliver and to hold my babies. I cry and tell her I will never forget her. MC wakes and tells me I have the cutest little snore. I’m able to talk with her but I can feel the weight of the sadness pushing on me. When I was so peaceful the night before I had thought maybe I’d get away without the open wound of emotional agony I’d had with Greyson. “My Poor Babies” I think over and over.
MC helps me shove a pillow under my knees. We talk a little and I cry. MC tells me she’d looked up the boys’ names and what they meant. The meanings match perfectly with what we’d been saying about them when they were born. It’s a comfort to me. We talk about God and grief. The nurse comes in and gives me another shot and I’m so grateful to be dead to the world again.
When I wake again, lots of things seem to happen, the nurse comes in and takes out the catheter and helps me to the bathroom. I’m starting to feel sore and whenever I move around even a little, I start shaking uncontrollably. She helps clean me up and pushes an ice pack into the mesh hospital underwear which is incredibly relieving. I didn’t even notice how raw and tender I was until she placed it there. They bring me a lunch and I try to eat a few tasteless bites because I’m afraid they won’t let me go home if I don’t. Pastor Ellen comes back and we talk a little. MC tells me to tell her about my dream of Grandma and although I’m a little embarrassed to tell a stranger I do and she’s very comforting about it. She gives me a little bag of “stress relievers” including a journal, a stress ball and a back massager. They seem like strange gifts to give a childless mother.
A different anesthesia doctor comes and asks me a bunch of questions about the effects of the epidural. Dr. O’Neil comes in and talks to me a little. She says she was glad she was here to deliver the babies and I say I’m glad it wasn’t a stranger. She touches her stomach while she’s talking and I realize for the first time she’s pregnant. I can’t believe in the three days I’ve been under her care that I’ve never noticed. I can’t help but think what a wretched experience delivering two babies who you know will only live briefly must have been for her. If it was she never let on.
Things calm down and MC and I settle in to wait for Mom and C who I guess I’d called and they said they would come in the afternoon to take me home. I sit up in a chair and MC and I look through pictures from the night before. It’s good to have someone to look at them with me. That’s one thing among many a grieving mother doesn’t get to do very often. She also goes through the memory box with me and looks at the tiny white gowns and tiny footprints. She writes their times of birth in the little book for me and I cry. I already miss my Sparks so much.
It seems to take Mom and C a long time to get there. I try to send MC home but she won’t go. She takes a cigarette break and while she’s gone I walk across the room to brush my teeth. It’s like a marathon. I’m hurting and have uncontrollable shaking. I can barely put the toothpaste on the brush I’m shaking so badly. It would have been funny if it hadn’t scared me so much. When I stand up straight after I had grabbed the sink and bent over to steady myself, I feel a heavy stream of blood come out of me. When I check it doesn’t look like that much. Even though I know the shaking is due to hormones I turn up the thermostat as I lurch my way back across the room and within minutes I’m sweating.
MC texts me to say that Mom and C have pulled into the parking garage. Shortly, she comes back and says that Mom and C have gone to the cafeteria. I’m really puzzled by this and it hurts my feelings, I guess. It took them so long to get here and I know Mom has been frantically worried about me. Mom does explain it to me later but I don’t recall what she said.
Mom and C finally get to my room and MC goes home. C has brought her cafeteria lunch with her and she and Mom share it. After a little while the nurse comes in with instructions and prescriptions. She blabbers on and on for a while and then leaves to get my release papers together. I get dressed and I feel so unsteady I have Mom stand just outside the door. C packs up my stuff and pillages the cabinets for a few extra cold packs and disposable underwear.
I sit in a wheelchair ready to go. I can’t help thinking about everything that’s happened. I try to control my emotions. I can’t seem to remember if I came to the hospital on Tuesday or Wednesday and I start to get upset. Finally, I say something and C clears it up by going through her schedule and concluding with certainty that I came to the hospital very early Wednesday morning. I can’t believe it has all happened in just three short days.
I ask over and over if we have the little purple box. Mom finally hands it to me. All I will ever have of my babies is in there. We wait awhile and then C gets impatient and goes to get someone. I work very hard at controlling my emotions. I want to go home but at the same time don’t want it to start. Life without my babies.
Finally the nurse comes and wheels me downstairs. As she helps me into the car she says for me to “never forget you’ve given life.” I’m shaking badly and now crying hard. It’s a long drive home.
C makes several calls on the way home arranging for Dollface to get a different ride to a skating party. I don’t think she realized how bad off I’d be or that we’d have to pick up medicine on the way home. We drop off the prescriptions and since it will only take a short time to fill them we drive around. I’m due for my next dose of pain medication soon and I think we all know it’s a necessity for me to take it. C shows us a lake where her grandpa took her fishing and I show them where Em lives.
Finally, we get the drugs and we’re on our way home. When we get there, I can tell from my first movement to get out of the car that it’s going to be difficult and painful. My dog, Norma Rae, rushes to greet me, tail wagging and Clara B is not far behind her. The pain in my hips and abdomen is very bad. The pain in my left hip is so bad it makes my knee buckle with every step. I move very slowly and Mom quickly takes my arm and literally supports me as I walk. C rushes ahead and corrals the dogs. I know I would have fallen if I’d tried to walk on my own.
Once we’re inside, I sit down and start shaking very badly. C finds a blanket to wrap around me. Then, I start sobbing hysterically and screaming that I can’t bear it. Mom hugs me to her tight. I don’t know how long this went on…it seems as if it was a long time. When it finally slows, Mom and C both fuss around. I text my friends and Pastor J that I’m “home safe”. C helps me sort out the medication. She gives me what I need to take now and writes down the next few times. I say I should take a shower but Mom says that doesn’t seem like a good idea and I should wait till tomorrow. I stand up and Mom anxiously asks where I’m going. I want a scissors to cut off the hospital bracelets and then I slowly and with help head to the bathroom. When I finally get there, C is cleaning the bathroom, including scrubbing the toilet. Why, I don’t know…I didn’t think it was too dirty. When I chastise her for it she says she doesn’t want me to get an infection. I brush my teeth and go to the bathroom with Mom standing right outside. She reminds me to wash my face.
I ask Mom to stand beside me as I change into my pajamas because I’m afraid I’ll fall. It’s only 8:00 but Mom helps me into bed. Before I make the painful climb in I touch both my pillows and Mom uses a funny voice to say she’s never seen anyone “tweak” their pillows before. I feel bizarre hysterics start in my belly and it seems like I should laugh but of course I cannot and do not. I do manage to say that one is my “reading pillow” and the other for sleeping and I was checking to see they were arranged properly since they look alike.
Finally, I slowly get into bed and ask for an extra blanket and the fan to be turned on. C makes me take more pain medicine and thanks me for not arguing with her about it. Mom kisses me good night. I hear them for awhile fussing around in the house and I cry a little but thankfully I’m soon oblivious.
I wake up at 4am to let the dogs out and I take another pain pill. Around 7 I get up and I’m still hobbling but my hip and abdomen pain is already much improved. My heart pain is much, much worse. I ask myself over and over again why this had to happen and how it could have happened. I think about how my sweet sons looked and who was there and what happened and I cry.
When Mom comes a while later I’m on the couch and awake if barely functioning. She fusses and fusses around in the kitchen cooking eggs, bacon, toast. She puts the plate in front of me and I know I have to eat to let her know I’m ok. I eat and it tastes good. When I’ve eaten what little I can I push the plate over to her and she eats too. We talk a little and I start to crumble. I get up and Mom asks if I’m going to take a shower. I whine that I’m going back to bed and then I start weeping loudly. She comes in and tries to comfort me. My face, throat, ribs and stomach hurt from the cries. Dad and E pull up in the driveway and Mom goes out to head them off. I cry myself back to sleep.
When Mom comes back a few hours later, I’m still in bed but silent. She sits on the bed and I apologize about what happened and cry about not being able to control the crying. She says no one expects me to control it and many other things. We hear Dad and E pull up and I get out of bed and hobble to the couch. I’m still in incredible emotional pain and I can’t talk without crying a little. I’m also not embarrassed exactly but conscious that I’m in my pajamas and haven’t had a shower in so long I can smell myself and my hair is very greasy. They stand far across the room from me and have a hard time coming up with things to say. I say I have to take a shower and they don’t hesitate to be on their way. Before they leave I ask them not to give up on me. I don’t know why.
In the days to come, people call and text, sometimes I answer. Family comes over and to sure I eat and am surviving. I spend hours talking with Mom about what happened and asking questions. I spend hours crying. I spend hours holding my six month old kitten, Spot, curled up on my chest and listening to her purr. It’s one of the few things that comforts me but when I hold her to my cheek in the same place I held Jack and Aaron for the last time which I can’t seem to keep myself from doing, it makes me feel insane as well.
I begin the wretched comparison of what happened and how I felt after Greyson died with what’s going on now. I think non-stop of my beautiful boys and little Mavis Emily. I berate myself for ever trying to change my fate, wondering why I couldn’t be happy with what I was given but had to try to change things. And I begin planning a funeral for two beautiful baby boys.