I feel heavy.
My steps are heavy and slow. The pain from the gash, from the hole they carved in my flesh to bring baby Hazel to light, to safety, throbs...a tangible reminder of what I have,
and what I have lost.
This was to be our last child, Jimmy's and mine. Baby Hazel was a surprise, and we knew that this was to be the last time I would experience pregnancy and childbirth.
And I intended to savor it.
I am one of those weird ones, I guess. I love being pregnant, and I look forward, in a way, to the pain of labor and the pushing and the searing and the slip sliding baby bloody on my chest.
But I didn't ever get that. And now it's done. Almost from the time that I knew that I was pregnant through the 5 short months that I held Hazel inside me under my heart, I suffered. I never got the swelling belly. I never got the energetic 2nd trimester. I never got the carefree time of being pregnant.
And now it's over. And I'm sad.
Is that selfish? Am I being thoughtless for thinking that way?
Don't get me wrong. I am happy that baby Hazel is out. My womb was a death sentence for both of us. A sentence that would have been carried out in mere hours had she not been taken from me. I know that given the circumstances, there is no better place that she could be,
I throw that question to heaven, to God. And He catches it and cradles it. He tells me to walk on. He tells me that He has great things in store for me. He has plans to prosper me and not to harm me. Plans to give both me and Hazel hope
and a future (Jer 29:11)
But where, God?
Where is our future? Is our future together? Me and Hazel and Jimmy and the kids?
Or is it plans to take Hazel to Himself?
So I am heavy. My body is heavy. My breasts, filled with milk for one who can't nurse, are heavy.
And my heart is heaviest of all.
As soon as the doors to the NICU open, I can see her isolette straight ahead. My throat tightens and my breath gets caught there.
I need a reminder to breathe almost as much as Hazel does.
Then there is the ritual of the washing of the hands. The clean cool water washing away everything that comes from the outside world. That is followed by the slipping on of a gown lest even our clothes harbor something that would be bad for the babies tucked away in this humming corner of the hospital.
Her bed glows blue from the bililight suspended above. And this time, she is not breathing on her own. Her tiny chest rises and falls in a clicking rhythm dictated by the tubes running down her throat.
Her lips are dry. Her mouth looks parched. My breasts ache, milk let down to flood the vast nothingness that stands between us.
The baby next to my Hazel has gone home. A lusty boy. Congratulations are in order to his parents.
A new baby girl has taken his place.
She cries, angry, when the nurse tends to her. Mom sits in a rocking chair with arms out ready to receive her little one to feed, rock and comfort her. Dad stands by.
The peaceful trio is quickly hidden behind a moving partition that is used to seclude and give comfort to those parents who can hold their children.
But what about those that can't?
There is no rocking chair for me. If I am lucky, I get a swivel desk chair that the nurses use to enter records into the computer.
There is no rocking comfort for me. Who would hold me anyway...me with the empty arms and overflowing heart?
And there is no partition for me. No hiding. While the happy families can hide their joy and celebrate in private, I must wear my grief on my sleeve. There is no hiding the tears slipping down my cheeks, washing the hard plastic that separates me from my heart, but that at the same time, is keeping that heart beating.
And then there is the goodbye. How do you say it? How do you put into simple words that which kills you to even think? How do you turn your back on someone and walk away when you never know if it's going to be the last time?
But how long can you sit on that swivel chair and helplessly watch the tiny life breathe when you have running, jumping, hearty life at home waiting for you, needing you?
When I was preparing for surgery, last Thursday afternoon, when tears quivered and panic threatened, two separate people, my doctor and one friend who just happened to be coming to visit at that time, prayed over me the same prayer.
And this is what it was:
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace
So, sweet baby Hazel, turn your face towards His, and may He smile on you and give you peace.