Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day.
I have lost four babies through miscarriage and three babies through ectopic pregnancy. My novel, Emily’s Hope, is the fictionalized true stories of myself and my great-grandmother, and the story of loss and triumph. This excerpt describes Emily’s loss of baby “Seth.”
“I need to push.” She wanted so desperately not to push, to allow her baby to stay inside of her, and for her to continue to nourish and nurture her child, but her body wouldn’t allow that. She pushed only twice and her small child was born. Emily heard a sound like a kitten crying, then realized that her baby had let out a small, soft, weak cry.
As soon as the umbilical cord was cut, the nurse immediately carried the baby across the room as the pediatric staff attempted to work on their child. Emily and Jason sat quietly, their hearts heavy with emotion. A few minutes later, she felt another contraction and her placenta was delivered. She could hear a nurse referring to “him,” and realized that their child was another boy. After a few minutes, the doctor brought him back, his small form still hidden in the blue hospital blanket. He spoke in a hushed, almost apologetic voice, “There is nothing we can do for him.”
He handed the tiny one-pound baby boy to his mother. Jason held on to Emily’s shoulder and watched as she cradled the smallest baby they had ever seen. He was so perfect and looked identical to their oldest son, Jake. His small body was covered with minute white hairs. He was perfect as he struggled to breathe. He was perfect as he opened his mouth to cry. Emily held her new son as gently as she could. Jason reached over and poured a few drops of water on him and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Emily could feel the vibration of his tiny heart beating so fast.
The nurse came in with a Polaroid camera and asked if they wanted her to take a photo of their child. Emily nodded as the nurse took a photo of her and Jason and their tiny son. She gazed in awe at this miniature human being and marveled at the fact that even though he was tiny, he was so perfect. His little hands looked like a doll’s hands. She removed the baby blanket and laid his small, warm body on her chest. She could feel his heart beating rapidly. After several minutes, she wrapped him again in the small blue blanket.
Then, in an instant, he was still. She could feel that his heart had stopped and he wasn’t breathing, but he continued to feel warm and soft. He looked like a sleeping angel.
If you have lost a baby through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or infant death, please click on the link above “Baby Loss” for resources and helpful links.
In memory of our seven little souls in heaven: Baby H Twins (June 1986), Baby H (February 1990), Baby H (June 1990), Mary Elizabeth (June 1993), Seth (March 1998), Lucy (March 2006).
Copyright 2005 Ellen Gable (Emily’s Hope)