|Isabelle drew this of our whole family. She said Maxwell is in blue because he is in heaven.|
My IV wound is gone, my incision is healing. My bangs grew out enough to need a trim. Life keeps going and I need it to stop just for a second so I can catch my breath and make sure Maxwell really happened. It feels so far already, and I know I’m forgetting things, and it really does seem like a bad dream.
We spent less than 48 hours at the hospital. I really wanted to get home to my family, to my children, and to my own bed. It’s sort of a blur, thanks to shock and pain medication and sleep. We had a some visitors, a few dear friends, my brother and his wife, and also Isabelle and Lincoln. We cried a lot. We cried together. We went over Maxwell’s short little life and recounted our precious moments with everyone.
My mom was the one that told our children and their cousins. She sat them down and told them that Baby Max was special and that he went back up to heaven and we wouldn’t be able to keep him down on earth. Isabelle said sadly, “But…. I really wanted to change his diaper.” Later she asked if baby Maxwell walked all the way to heaven, or if he took a ladder. Sweet, sweet girl. They came to visit us at the hospital on Friday and it was all I could do to keep it together around them. I want to hug and kiss them and hold them close and cry wet tears on their little heads. They were more excited by the donuts and fancy chairs in our room.
My dad was scheduled to leave for Boston on Thursday night for an annual medical conference. He had planned to stop by the hospital on his way out of town to see us and visit the baby, but of course those plans changed. He cancelled his trip. He stayed with us. He gave us priesthood blessings of comfort and healing. Because he was already off of work (which never happens) he was able to help my mom take care of Isabelle and Lincoln. He was also available to take care of things like funeral arrangements- things that were too difficult for me to even think about. Bless my mother. She kept my kids for days, kept them busy, kept us fed, kept our spirits up, let me sob on her shoulder. I have the most amazing parents.
On the second day, Kelly helped us get a larger and more comfortable room at the very end of the hall. Being near the nurses station was convenient, but painful. We could hear babies being born, babies crying, excited families coming and going. Every time a new baby was born a lullaby would play on the speaker. Sort of salt in the wound, you know.
My doctor came in to visit me every morning and every evening. She held Maxwell for a few minutes when we had him. After she held him, she offered a beautiful and fervent prayer with us- something I’ve never experienced with any physician. She held my hand and cried real tears, mother to mother, and I appreciated her expertise and also her comfort. I can’t imagine going through this process with our old OB- everyday I’m so thankful I switched to her service so late in my pregnancy. That was an answer to prayers. She was an answer to our prayers.
Those two days at the hospital were so hard, but so necessary. The entire nursing staff was so wonderful- they showed so much love and compassion for our situation. They cried with us. They brought me medicine. They made sure Jazz had food at meal times. They were so careful to treat us with sensitivity while we were going through the horrible process of grief. Bless those nurses, those women who took care of us. April, Amy, Carey, Luke, Christina, Kelly and Carol. Thank you.
One nurse stopped Jazz in the hallway just before we were discharged and said what a beautiful baby Max was. She said that after the nurse had taken him from us, after we had held him all day,–that he was cared for in the NICU. Many of the nurses stopped by to hold or sit with Maxwell so that he wasn’t alone. This touched our hearts so much, to know that he wasn’t alone. I know his spirit had already left but as the mama that grew that little body it brought me so much comfort.
Saturday morning I was moving around well enough to be discharged. My recovery was physically much easier than my other two cesareans. Two days after surgery, I walked all the way out of the hospital- I even did the stairs at my mom’s house the day after I got home. I’m not sure why it was so much easier- sleeping helped a ton, and I think Dr. Kang did a beautiful job with my surgery (stitches are so much better than staples!) and I know it was really a blessing from above that I felt as good as I did.
We got into the car and drove away from the hospital. My heart hurt so much. We left without our baby. Car seat empty. Overnight bag full of unused tiny baby things. And there were all these people driving around doing regular things and I wanted to yell at them. EVERYONE SHOULD BE SAD.
But being home was such a relief. Jazz had asked my parents to stop by and move all the baby things out of our room so it wouldn’t be a physical reminder to me of our empty arms. I appreciated that so much. I thought I would want to be alone, curl into a ball and live in a cave the rest of my life… but I found I did better around my family. To mourn with those who mourn. Those days after the hospital went by so quickly- Percocet. Tears. Naps. Food and flowers. A visit to the cemetery to pick out a resting place for our sweet baby. How do you even do that? Arrangements with the funeral home. Visits from friends. Lots and lots of tears.
The first few days after Maxwell died I said that I felt like I ran a marathon, but I didn’t get my prize. Only now I think that the marathon is just beginning, and the prize is still waiting for me at the end.
It feels so far away.