Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Sometimes learning can be just as painful as not knowing."

Isn't it strange when you scream at the universe and it responds? After my post on guilt and wanting to know why Charlotte died I came across the line that is the title of this post in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. (Amazing book, one of my top reads for this year). And I thought I may be able to live with the unanswered questions surrounding Charlotte's death. Perhaps knowing would satisfy my curiousity, but also lead to more hurt. If I can have a second baby and he or she lives, maybe not knowing is okay.

Then, yesterday, late afternoon, the autopsy report arrived with the mail. I ditched my Zen attitude regarding knowledge and hardship and tore into the envelope. No answers. I didn't think there would be. I think we would've been notified by phone had they found something significant, but I am human and we humans tend towards hope. The main finding is that "it looked as though she had lungs of those of a stillborn." We were told this over the phone a few weeks ago so that was not a surprise to me. However, when I think about those words I wonder if she would've died in my womb if I carried her past 38 weeks. I went into labor naturally, my water broke, but in that alternate universe that exists somewhere in my mind I wonder if I am a mama of a baby born still at 40 weeks gestation. But then I also have another alternate universe in some other corner of my mind where I am a mama to a living baby who will be 11 weeks tomorrow. (If someone could tell me how to get to that universe I would gladly follow them).

Here is the amazing bit about the autopsy report: receiving it didn't flatten me. I was happy all day, and I was still happy after reading it. I didn't cry. I didn't feel angry. Mostly I felt shock that I will never know C's first word, her favorite book, her favorite color, the person she would be at 2, 26, or 40, but I do know how much her brain weighed and that her heart was perfectly formed.

In a way, and this is going to sound rather strange, reading the autopsy report makes me feel like I know C a little bit better today than I did yesterday morning. I know she was 18 inches, not 19 as the hospital told us. I know exactly how long her feet were and that she did not have any birth marks. Her eyes were dark blue and she had "extremely fine, light brown hair, up to 1/2 inch in length." I remember sitting in the hospital bed, in the room off the ER, stroking her head and thinking about how much hair she had. That bit, that one line, leaves me longing for the little girl whose hair I will never brush, or braid.

When your baby dies life takes a strange turn. Autopsy reports become important. As you read through the coroner's reports on your baby you wonder if he thought she was a beautiful baby. Because she was. My beautiful, sweet, darling, little girl.

I am still okay. Not as happy as yesterday, but nowhere near that dark forest either. I am making it through this. Somehow I am living even though C is not here with me. I just wish I could've breathed for her until she had the strength to do so on her own.

I miss what she would've become.

10 comments:

  1. I love this post, Angela. I wanna say that I feel proud of you because you handled the report so well and you didn't let it take you to that place we all know so well. I know exactly what you mean when you say you feel like you know her better after reading it. My husband and I actually got a disc of the ultrasound photos that showed Avery had passed away. We waited until last night to finally view them, 4 months later. Seeing her faded image and reading the notes they made and the measurements they took of her made me feel close to her again. I always go back to the same claim... when your child dies, you'll take what you can get!
    Keep your head up, Angela! :)

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  2. It's so strange what our lives become after baby loss isn't it? I remember getting Lily's death certificate in the mail and feeling that this it's so unreal. Glad you were able to take it as well as could be given the circumstances. Thinking of you & sending love.

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  3. I am glad you got to know Charlotte a little better by reading the report. She is beautiful and mommy knows her best!

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  4. Ah, the autopsy report. Too bad it doesn't look quite so nice framed on the mantel as a first birthday picture. Ha.Ha.

    But yes, I second Nicole's comment previously, that I'll take of my son what I can get. Even if it's only the knowledge of the weight of his heart.

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  5. one of the many things i second-guess is our decision not to have an autopsy. i wonder if it could have given us any helpful information, but ultimately kenny would still be dead, so i try not to dwell on it.

    as far as the alternate reality, i'm forever wondering whether in some other universe, i'm still 38wks1day.

    hugs.

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  6. I've been turning something over in my head lately. The knowledge that Freddie, despite being slightly overdue, came when he did was not because he was ready, like my others (who ranged from due date to 2 weeks overdue). My body and he started to work together, my waters broke, because he needed to come. It was a last ditch attempt of the two of us working together to try and get him out safely. Only I didn't know, because I'm not fitted with an alarm. I didn't know it wasn't just "okay" - I didn't hear the alarm.

    But I am a little comforted by it; he tried to make it out, my body tried to help him. That's why it was quick and easy and seemed so right.

    I find it just a tiny bit comforting. Our last effort together.

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  7. I am glad that you are at peace today, despite the circumstances. You are a strong role model for me. You are are surviving and giving me hope. (((HUGS)))

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  8. I am glad that you are at peace today, despite the circumstances. You are a strong role model for me. You are are surviving and giving me hope. (((HUGS)))

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  9. I love this post, Angela. I wanna say that I feel proud of you because you handled the report so well and you didn't let it take you to that place we all know so well. I know exactly what you mean when you say you feel like you know her better after reading it. My husband and I actually got a disc of the ultrasound photos that showed Avery had passed away. We waited until last night to finally view them, 4 months later. Seeing her faded image and reading the notes they made and the measurements they took of her made me feel close to her again. I always go back to the same claim... when your child dies, you'll take what you can get!
    Keep your head up, Angela! :)

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  10. It's so strange what our lives become after baby loss isn't it? I remember getting Lily's death certificate in the mail and feeling that this it's so unreal. Glad you were able to take it as well as could be given the circumstances. Thinking of you & sending love.

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thank you!

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