On September 15, 2011, at 2:10 AM, my water broke. I knew immediately that there was no going back, no delaying what was about to happen. The first thing I said after calling Eddie over to me was, “I don’t want to do this.” He said, “I know. But we need to get to the hospital.”
I had been watching a show where they were talking about the next Bachelor, whose name is Ben. They kept saying his name, over and over again. I pictured my Ben as a grown man, looking for love (although I hope it would have been through different ways than reality television…). I turned it off because I couldn’t take it anymore. I stood up to take a shower before going to bed, and that’s when it happened.
It’s important to mention that I’m so grateful that he decided it was time to come. We didn’t induce, we didn’t force it. We didn’t rush into this moment in an attempt to spare ourselves the hurt of waiting. We just waited for him.
I waited in the truck while Eddie packed up our things. It was, of course, one of the few times that we didn’t have everything ready to go at a moment’s notice. We drove to the hospital, and I was so grateful that it was the middle of the night and there was no traffic. Some very small, painless contractions started while we were on the way there. I called ahead and the nurses started preparing for us to arrive. We were put in the same room where I was when we got the news about the chromosomal abnormality and canceled the induction a week and a half before.
The hours in between consisted of a lot of the normal things that happen when waiting to deliver a baby. We got to listen to his heart beating for a little while and recorded the sound on my phone.
I think it was about 10:00 AM when they started the Pitocin to help labor progress. I was at 4 centimeters and my natural contractions had stopped coming at a regular pace. The Pitocin certainly did its job.
Around 6:00 PM, all of my parents came in, along with my brother, Guy, and my grandfather, Dwayne. Everybody had the same emotion on their faces: excitement, fear, and sadness. If ever there was an elephant in the room, this was it. This was also around the time that things became very real for us; the time was getting very close, and we were about to see exactly how things would unfold. It’s something all of us have been wondering and worrying about for quite a while now…and being this close to it was pretty surreal. For everyone.
The doctor predicted that I’d start pushing around 8:00 PM, and he was pretty close. At 8:45 PM, I was almost fully dilated and 15 minutes away from pushing. I wanted to wear my contacts so that I could see him as clearly as possible when he came out, but I had forgotten that I used lotion…so when I put my contacts in, they were very cloudy. Eddie ran to the truck (which was 6 floors down, in a parking garage) and brought me a new pair of contacts. Much better.
At 9:00 PM, I started pushing. I will just say that this experience included all kinds of new sensations. Eddie was an incredible coach, just as much a part of delivery as I was. I remember thanking everyone for not screaming at me to push, as I had seen in so many TLC birthing shows.
At 9:50 PM, he was crowning…and Dr. Z was called in. I’m sure that it only took him five minutes to put his gear on and get ready, but it seemed like five hours. We had the most amazing midwife, Karen. I was a little worried at first because I was hoping we’d have one of the midwives we’d already met the night we came in, but now I wouldn’t have traded her for anyone in the world. She made us laugh at a time where smiling was difficult. She knew exactly what she was doing and exactly what we needed. I heard her tell one of the nurses to tell Dr. Z, “Tell him to get in here; we’re having a baby!”
I physically could not wait any longer and had to push, so Karen caught our baby boy.
I have always wondered how mothers seem to completely forget the pain involved in delivering a baby. It seems so impossible that something that huge could happen to your body and have the memory of the pain associated with it just melt away. And yet, it did. I saw the back of his head before he was even all the way out, and yet there was no pain. Just him. Now I understand.
He didn’t cry. He didn’t move. I was terrified that he hadn’t made it, even for a short time. But the nurse checked and he was alive.
They placed him on my chest and it was as if I had been lifted into a different world, very far away from what was about to happen. His beautiful face, his red lips, his soft chest, his long arms, and tiny versions of his father’s fingers. He smelled like campfire and marshmallows.
Eddie was able to cut the cord – an experience he was not going to have if Benjamin had been intubated and passed to the NICU team. Karen told me she was going to deliver the placenta and needed to do a few stitches, and that I didn’t need to pay attention to what she was doing. I barely heard her.
Eddie was all around us, one arm behind me and the other around Benjamin. We both told him how much we love him, how beautiful and amazing he is. We kissed his head and hands and rubbed his cheeks and forehead. He heard us, and responded to our voices. And with each tiny movement, our hearts soared.
At 10:16 PM, a doctor from the NICU checked for a heart beat. He whispered, “I’m not hearing anything. He’s not with us any longer.” My heart was swollen with love and broken with loss. We thanked him for the time he spent with us, and told him again how much we love him and how incredibly proud of him we will always be.
Our family came in two at a time to see him, touch him, and say goodbye to him. They had all just become grandparents, an uncle, and a great-grandfather.
The photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came in. She was incredibly compassionate. I’ve received a few of the pictures she had taken and they are incredible; I can’t wait to see the rest of them.
Eddie bathed him, and did such an incredible job. The nurses were still talking about it the next morning. Benjamin’s skin was so soft and perfect.
Before we said goodbye, I told him that my godmother, Bubby, and my best friend that passed away as a teenager, Jason, were already looking for him. That they’d take good care of him until we got there.
For a while, the joy of meeting him seemed to alleviate some of the pain of losing him. The realization of what has happened comes in waves. The problem with having a baby that you don’t get to keep is that he leaves your body, you spend some time with him, and then he’s gone. I have found myself subconciously reaching for my stomach to feel him, and where my hand used to rest is already gone. It’s like walking down the stairs and missing a step; your foot is expecting a surface, but it just keeps going down…and you know that you’re going down with it.
I was discharged this afternoon. My body seems to agree with delivery and I’m simply a little bit sore, mostly from pushing. They gave us the option of staying another night, but we agreed that we wanted to leave. So we packed up our things and walked down to the truck. I realized on the way that we were leaving without our son, but with a box full of the only tangible memories we’ll ever have with him. As I said, it comes in waves.
In 15 minutes and no words, Benjamin taught me many things. But the most amazing lesson was about miracles. Everybody, including us, was hoping for some kind of miracle. That there was some kind of mistake and we would somehow enter this parallel universe that would allow him to survive. And as he crowned, for second I thought that there was no other way for things to be – that there had to be a miracle. That he would be okay.
I realized, looking down at his peaceful, angelic, perfect face…that the miracle had already happened. The fact that he was conceived after three long years of waiting, every kick, every smile he brought to our faces and so many others, and that he held on long enough to meet us, if only for the most incredible, amazing, breathtaking 15 minutes of our lives. All along, it was him. He was and is a miracle.
We love you so much, my darling Benjamin. We miss you dearly.
Date of Birth: September 15, 2011 – 10:01 PM
Date of Death: September 15, 2011 – 10:16 PM
4 pounds, 12 ounces of beautiful. 19 inches of amazing.