[Written June 22, 2017]
Dear Mom and Dad,
Did I hear you say that we’re going home today? What is home like? Will I miss the hospital? It has so many fascinating sounds. You said the baby next door sounds just like a peacock when she cries. Do we have peacocks at home?
I didn’t think I would like the hospital very much. We had already been in a hospital that day when you thought you’d lost me. That was a scary day, so I didn’t want to go into a hospital again. I’ve heard so many stories of babies who never made it into their mom’s arms, and I had wondered if I would know their loss. But even though I felt afraid that day, I remember familiar words coming into my heart to comfort me:
And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will. (The Words of Mormon 1:7)
I couldn’t imagine how almost losing my connection to you was for a “wise purpose,” but with all that I don’t know, the one thing I definitely know is that my Heavenly Father loves me. So when he sends words of comfort to me, I just try to to be patient until I understand.
[Note from Mom: ‘Six weeks after we almost lost Baby #4, my doctor said that the resulting “subchorionic hematoma” had resolved. What she didn’t know was that this change in that part of my placenta would lead to an unusual condition called” chronic abruption oligohydramnios sequence” (CAOS, pronounced “chaos”), which began sometime before week 31 (a normal pregnancy is about 40 weeks). I went into the hospital on bed rest due to CAOS, but as scary as that sounds, it may have saved my baby’s life. I am so grateful to my OB for getting an ultrasound when she was concerned about my smaller-than-expected belly–I just thought I was in good shape! In other words, what sounded like chaos set into motion a sequence of events more orderly than I could have arranged myself.’] Thanks for explaining, Mom!
So. The first two weeks we were in the hospital, I heard a lot of people saying, “amniotic fluid.” Well, that’s what I realized later when I was all done being born, but while I was on the inside, it sounded like people were saying, “Annie-odd-duck-flew-in.”
It made no sense: “He has no Annie-odd-duck-flew-in around him.” You bet I didn’t have Annie–or any other odd duck–flying around in there. That place was locked down. I had to keep it nice and sealed up in there because my bath water kept disappearing. So I made sure the plug was nice and tight and there were no leaks anywhere. All that work took a lot of twisting around!
I heard you saying it was hard to walk because I sank so deep into my tub, but there was no water to float in! I added a little every day, but it was just enough to splash my face in. So I had to rest on your bladder and ligaments more than I would’ve liked. Thanks for putting up with that discomfort. I didn’t mean to squash everything under me.
As I was saying earlier, it turns out that I liked the hospital. First we went to that big room where we listened to my heart beating all day. It sounded like horses galloping (I heard some on Downton Abbey and wondered if the horses were upstairs people or downstairs people). If the galloping sound ever slowed down too much, things got really exciting. You would roll from one side to the other until the horses started galloping faster, or a nurse would come in and help you get it right. Sometimes I felt a little sick when the slowdowns happened.
I also noticed that when we got to that big room, I rarely heard anyone say “Mom” to you anymore. That used to happen all day long! Where did those people go? Was someone else taking care of them? Is someone else hearing “Mom!” all day long? I miss that word. And those voices.
Not many voices came near us, but my favorite doctor was the one with fancy shoes (I knew they were fancy ’cause I could hear them clicking across the floor). When she started getting nervous about how many times the “hoof beats” had slowed down, I was glad to hear that I would be coming out sooner than expected. I didn’t like getting that sick feeling. I liked the sound of 33-weeker better.
The next place we went to was very pleasant. I heard that once the bath drain got big enough, I would get new bath water! Why didn’t you guys do that earlier? When the nurse and doctor sent new water into my tub, I didn’t feel squeezed by my tub every few minutes. It was squeezing still, but now I didn’t feel it. I could finally relax.
Which was great, because remember that umbilical cord that everyone said was working just fine? It did work fine, and even though it was getting pinched sometimes, I always recovered. But. . . I, um, sort of did something with my cord that I shouldn’t have. I don’t know how–maybe because it was so dang long–but I got a knot in it. And while I was trying to figure out where my bath water kept going, I did a lot of turning and twisting around, and. . . I kind of got the cord wrapped around my neck. . . twice. I think it might have gotten under my arms, too.
As you can imagine, I was pretty worried when I first realized how tangled I was. I didn’t want to frighten anyone, but I was scared. That’s the only reason I was willing to leave behind my newly filled bath tub. And wow, what a ride that was! One minute I was in my tub and the next minute I was getting untangled and rubbed down with blankets.
Then just like that I was in the world and crying. I had heard you say you were worried about my lungs, so I made sure to do my best cry. Mom, I could hear you smiling you were smiling so big. After the nurses wrapped me up and put a hat on me, they put me in your arms. It felt so nice to be near you both (but without the tangled cord or the beating hoofs). I could hear Dad smiling as he took pictures. I wanted to smile, too, but this funny little body only lets me do certain things called “reflectses.” I guess that means I’m reflectsing your smiles with all these funny movements I make.
Thank you for inviting me to the family. I’m going to stay as long as I can, and I think life will go pretty smoothly from here on out.
By the way, you kept saying my siblings couldn’t visit in the hospital. What are siblings?
[A note to the many parents and grandparents who have lost babies, whether it was before or after birth: We did not expect to be telling this story. We were so convinced that we would not get to bring this baby home that we had actually begun looking at nearby funeral homes and wondering where we would bury our baby. All of those feelings of preparing for the worst left us the day we knew our baby would be born. We have no idea how we actually would have dealt with the loss of our baby, but we know that we were never left alone in our struggles and questions. We have also been humbled by the care, concern, prayers, and service from friends, family, and strangers throughout our experience. Please count us among those that mourn with you for the child you did not get to bring home.]