Today was the day. I didn’t think it would come this soon. I was getting ready for work when a call came through from the nurse that helped me deliver Madison. She called to let me know that the room was available if there was any way that I could come to the hospital right then. Thankfully I have a flexible job and I was able to get my things together and head right for the hospital. I first called my husband to let him know that I could wait until Friday and he would be able to come with me…but our nurse would not be able to be there with us. Or, I could go today by myself and she would be there. He thought it was really important that I get to see her, so I went alone. I could not hold back the tears and my heart raced with fear.
I met Debbie just outside the elevators on the second floor and we walked to the Labor & Delivery unit. She asked if the spur of the moment was better than having too much time to think about it and I agreed. We chatted small talk as we walked slowly toward room 225. I just walked in…I have only stood outside that room since the day I left the hospital empty handed, without my baby girl. Just a small green memory box in my hands…I wanted to throw that box. That room has been a source of fear for me all these years…the subject of countless recurring nightmares, and the cause of some very difficult emotional and mental problems that led to deeper psychiatric problems. Without going into detail, I didn’t even think of returning to that room EVER until her 16th birthday. The timing has just not been right until now.
Until today…I walked in and set my things on the counter. I turned and faced the bed and swiftly dissolved into tears. This room…the very place where I lost my biggest dream, my biggest hope, where the very worst day of my life occurred. It was surreal to be there again. I sobbed and could hardly catch my breath. The door was closed and Debbie stood nearby in silence. Then I just started talking. We shared memories back and forth for the next 30 minutes. I pointed around the room to various spots and remarked about what happened there. The corner where they took her to weigh, bathe, and dress her. The window spot where my Daddy carefully carried his 9th grandchild to sing “Jesus Loves Me” to her like he did every other grandchild. The bathroom where I stood in the shower the morning of her birth, sobbing and staring at a very pregnant belly that now held a dead child. The bed…that I was confined to most of my time there because of the meds taken to relieve the pain of back labor, and the pain of the damage to my body afterwards. A chair in the same spot where I woke to find Debbie praying for me when everyone had left the room for a lunch break.
After our time of talking I asked if I could take some pictures. Debbie said she would leave me alone to do that, and she left and closed the door. There I was…left to face my biggest fear…alone. I covered every inch of that room with my camera. What memories are not forever etched on my mind, I will be able to see in pictures. There have been changes…but it’s the same place. The only place my sweet girl touched. The place where I got to hold her and love on her for a few glorious hours. I wept and laid my hands on the end of the bed…that spot where we laid her to undress her to her diaper and prepare her to leave us. We counted toes and fingers, planted enough kisses to last a lifetime (is that even possible?), wrapped her in a new blanket and watched in utter despair and heartache as she was wheeled out of our room and we got our last glimpse of her.
When I was done taking pictures, Debbie came back in and one of the aids took a picture of us together. It is the one I will share with you. This angel of mercy who cared for me and prayed over me in my time of need. This sister in Christ who didn’t normally work afternoons, and “just happened to be there” that day. This sweet lady who remembers that day like it was yesterday…just like I do. This one who made this incredible visit possible for me.
Before we left the room, we both laid our hands on the end of the bed, and Debbie prayed over me again. We made our way down the hall and visited the room where we got the news that our dear little girl had died. I did not need to stay there long. That room was somewhat “redeemed” to me when our little niece Athena was born there almost to the day eleven years after that horrible night. On our way back through Labor & Delivery I stopped to take a picture of the room number.
Then Debbie walked me down to the front entrance of the hospital, we shared one last hug, and I left.
I walked on sacred ground today. A very special little girl darted in and out of our lives in that room and I will never forget. We celebrate her and remember her pretty much alone these days…as a family. There is no mention of her or remembrance of her to us by either side of our extended families. It has hurt me deeply for years, but I am ready to let that go. We are happy to have her all to ourselves and celebrate her life the way we want to. I have a dear friend that makes jewelry and she made me a special pair of peridot earrings (August birthstone) to honor this year that Madison would have graduated, and her 18th birthday. I put them on this morning before I even got the call to go to the hospital. God knew…
I am so blessed to have had this opportunity today, and I’m so grateful to Debbie for making it possible for me. It is not a scary place to me anymore. I don’t think I’ll have those dreams anymore. Today the sunbeams were shining through the windows, and it was a place of peace for this Mama. It was a time for remembering the beautiful moments of that day and how God worked it all out for our good. I’m so grateful…