Broken Baby, Broken Dreams

Originally published on my blog in December 2011, two years after the loss occurred, and had been in the process of being written and re-written for over a year. Was then published in Exhale Literary Magazine.


Broken Baby, Broken Dreams

The minutes are ticking by, slowly. It's just before 3 am and the sedatives have done nothing to calm my mind. Beside me, my husband's chest rises and falls rhythmically and I resent his ability to sleep so soundly. Listening closely, I can faintly hear the whistling snore of my two year old daughter slumbering peacefully down the hall. I roll over and our cat leaps off the bed, creaking a floorboard when he lands. The house is otherwise silent and I am alone with my thoughts.

Four days ago, a routine ultrasound showed that our baby would not survive past birth or even the remainder of this pregnancy. I saw what the doctor was pointing to on the screen: no amniotic fluid, no urine in the bladder, no notable blood vessels heading in that direction. An otherwise perfect baby with one major flaw: no kidneys.

"Not viable", the doctor stoically explained.

I heard the words, I processed them even, but I didn't believe them. I wondered how he had the ability to clearly explain all of the medical facts while remaining so sympathetic and kind. I admired and appreciated his bedside manner. I let my thoughts wander for a moment, then the reality of his words started to set in and everything went grey. I cried, but the tears didn't seem enough for the magnitude of the situation.

I couldn't bear to look at my husband. If I did, I would have to accept that this was real. I turned to see his head in his hands. Yes, apparently this was actually happening. How?

The doctor began to talk about our options but I didn't need time to deliberate. Although we had until twenty-two weeks gestation, two weeks from now, to contemplate, I looked at my husband and knew without speaking that he would support me: surgery as opposed to induction, and as soon as possible. I wanted it over quickly and the pain to be dulled.

"Some need the closure of meeting and holding their baby", the doctor carefully cautioned us.

"I do not", I told him, knowing I would need to live with this decision for the rest of my life.

"She'll take good care of you, she's the best there is", he replied, speaking of his colleague who would perform the procedure.

I nodded in response through blinding tears as he compassionately patted my hand. The arrangements were made.

Now, lying in bed the night before surgery, I'm not sure of anything. Have I made the right choice? Am I being a coward, avoiding labour? Will my little one know, without ever being held in my arms, how much she is loved and wanted? I tell myself I'm going to get through this, but I don't believe my own words. I cannot bear the thought of it all being over, nor can I bear the slow passage of time until it is. "This isn't fair" and "why me?" play on repeat in my mind.

My back is aching and my throat is dry from crying so I reach for my water next to the bed. As I turn I feel a series of kicks. I cringe; the baby is awake. I put the heel of my hand on my belly, pressing down hard. I silently will the movement to stop. The gentle flutters that brought so much excitement and promise days ago bring only torment now - a painful reminder of the life, and the dreams, being taken from me.

The next afternoon it's done. A mother's confused body, two tiny footprints, and later ashes are all that remain. A daughter and hopes for our future, vanished.