What would you change if you could?
This was the question I was asked that set all of this in motion. Feeling stuck in the grieving process, I turned to a a friend who is a bereavement counsellor. She asked me simply, if there was one thing you could change, except the outcome of course, what would you change about that week? Without really any cognitive thought, I simply said "something to dress her in".
That week is a blur and mix of feeling like I was trapped in a nightmare or awake and in the unbearable, inescapable pain. Coming to in the Intensive Treatment Unit, not knowing really where I was, when it was or what had happened, only to have it all hit you literally like a tsunami wave, I just wanted to pull out all the machines, IV's, blood transfusion lines and be let go. And then I realised and remembered...
I remembered Matthew and Christopher, Craig and Cam and Ben, Nigel and my mother. I remembered all those people praying for me to make it, asking for some way to help us all through this catastrophic loss, all those who it would be so incredibly selfish to fail by dying.
I'm not saying that that realisation made anything any easier, in some ways, in that time it made it worse. I picked up the responsibility to "see my family through this". Egomania, yes but my whole live was in a state of mania, and rational, reasonable thought is impossible.
And in the midst of this, the day comes when you have to leave the hospital with out her. It dawns on you in a flash, we have one last day, one time alone with her to do all the things we can fit to take the place of raising her. And it becomes clear that you were rushed to hospital in an ambulance, the days since have been a fight to keep me alive, then monitoring me and getting me to a stage to go home - no thought for what "arrangements" would be necessary.
This is something no parent even wants to think about, so you certainly can't be prepared. We had nothing that would have been small enough. We were fortunate to know someone with an independent baby shop. We were calling, emailing, texting all hours and she was so wonderful to meet my husband and open the store for him. She had two premie outfits in stock that she had to go down to the basement to even find. He was so stressed, worried would I like them? will the fit? Frantically running across the Borders. And in the end, we realised she wasn't really a premie size, more tiny baby, but we made it work. As stressful as it was considering the garments are not made to cope with the needs of a lost baby. The physical changes that mean regular baby clothes are difficult to put on. My hands were shaking so badly I had to stop more than once, praying all the time "please God don't let her break in my hands."
Those few acts of bathing her, dressing her, putting my cross on her, wrapping her in the blanket my mother knitted for her and holding her as long as possible until we had to let her go would be all we would ever be able to do for her. Washing her face with my tears and whispering over and over again, "God I'll do anything you want for as long as you want, just please let her wake up. Please give her back."
Ultimately, the answer I think had more to do with wishing there was more I could have done for her, wishing for more time, but the solution came in the form of the garments. Had we had things on hand, to chose from, that would have save my husband from needing to go find it and worry about it; had we had that time together, with Sarah, and had they been made so that dressing her didn't need to be scary and stressful because the gown would be made for what we needed, maybe we would have had just a few more hours together with her, we could have focused on her and not how not to hurt her.
So when I answered my friend's question, her response was simple, "then that is what you do something about." I still pray, still beg that I could please wake up on December 14th, that it is all a nightmare I'm going to wake up from, for God to give her back someway. But if I can know that one family has had this make any difference for them, I can have some measure of peace until I see her again.