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Monday, February 9, 2009

I didn't even cry when I held Jenna

Six months ago, I was still pregnant. In fact, if you go by the day of the week, we found out on a Monday that she died, and she was born on Tuesday. Since the actual number dates are on Wednesday and Thursday, I thought I could spend the next few days blogging about this.

Something has haunted me since Jenna died. I didn't even cry when I held Jenna. I looked over her body, being very careful not hurt her skin which was very fragile. I wanted to look under her cap, but the nurse recommended against it. I'll go more into that a little later.

For months I was filled with guilt over that, over the fact that I didn't break down over her dead body and thought others were judging me for it, too. I felt so guilty that I didn't take very long to hold her either. I just couldn't. Delivery hadn't been very kind to her. A muscle in her leg had already torn, and because her brain and skull hadn't developed, her head collapsed. The nurses did the best they could to keep me from seeing it, but I knew something was wrong with her head. I couldn't bring myself to ask about it. My aunt and momma took pictures of her with the little cap on and off, and when I could bring myself to look at them, I did and I cried then.

I had held it all together at the hospital, only breaking down once. Brian broke down in the nurses' arms. I'm not even sure what they had been talking about, but she hugged him and he clung to her like a little boy who hadn't seen his momma in ages. Everyone in the room cried over that one. My mom came up and wrapped her arms around his back, since his own mom COULDN'T (yes, she could have been but she chose not to) be there to comfort him. My aunt came and put her arms around me.

I wasn't alone at the hospital very much at all. I was also pretty well drugged up. They allowed me to have as much as I could safely. So, maybe that contributed to me not crying in the hospital.

However, as we were leaving the hospital with an angel figurine, a packet of photographs of my dead baby and information about support groups for women who have had later term losses instead of my baby girl, I broke down after I got out of the wheelchair and into the front seat. I looked back and saw Tessa's old car seat, one that goes from five pounds to 40. We still had it in the car even though she had moved onto a booster seat. We were going to use it for the new baby. As soon as we pulled away, the tears started, the kind that rocks your body and won't let up. I cried because I was sad she was gone. I cried because I was happy she wasn't in pain anymore. I cried because Tessa was never going to get to see. I cried that my little baby was being transported to a funeral home to be cremated. It just hit me so hard.

Looking back at that time, I know I was just numb in the hospital. Part of me was relieved that it was over, and my desperation to keep her out of as much pain as we could was over. I know when they placed her in my arms, all those emotions just built up and built up and built up and instead of letting it out, I bottled it in, just like I did in the weeks before when people asked me how I was, what I was going to do, what exactly Trisomy 18 is, etc. I couldn't very well break down in front of those people, many of whom were just asking to be nice. I would be numb all day until Brian and Tessa were asleep, and then, I'd loose it and sob, biting my fist to keep from being so loud. I didn't want Tessa to see me that way, and Brian was having to deal with his own grief and trying to help me through mine. He didn't need to see me, the usual strong one, breaking down.

He was great in the car that day. He just held my hand. He asked if I wanted him to pull over. He even offered to go buy a pack of cigarettes if I wanted one, knowing I hadn't smoked in years. I didn't want a cigarette or anything like that. Suddenly, he pulled off the side of the road, put his arms around me and just let me cry. I guess being together almost 13 years means something when he knew exactly what I wanted.

So, in all honestly, I really have spent the last six months feeling guilty for not crying while holding her small still body in arms. I've felt like I didn't love her enough or something. I still feel guilty about it, but I'm planning to spend the next six months working on getting rid of that guilt, the illogical guilt of feeling as though I did something to cause her to have Trisomy 18, the guilt I felt for not saying goodbye early and ending her pain earlier, the guilt for wanting to terminate at all and any and every other pieces of guilt I've felt since July of last year when we received the diagnosis. That's the goal of the next six months.


JenJen said...


This post has brought tears to my eyes, because I feel your pain through these words. I am so sorry that you don't have Jenna with you, and that the day that you did get to meet her that it wasn't everything that we daydream about when we find out that we're pregnant. There isn't any appropriate set of behaviors for how you should behave during this type of event. You held yourself together the best you can, and as women, we feel that we have to be strong for our families. Don't feel guilty for not crying when you held her, because you have cried a million times since then and will cry a million more times before you see her again. There may be some women that never cry because we all handle our stories in the best way that we know how...

a million ((hugs)) to you~

The Adventures of Jing & Ying said...

Please don't feel guilty about not holding Jenna long enough. No amount of time would ever be enough. I wish I could have held Chloe for longer, but I can't change things. She knows how much I love her. I didn't cry, either, when I held her. I was so numb and it didn't seem real at the time.

Jenna knows your heart, and knows how much you, Brian and Tessa will always love her. That's what's important.


Karissa said...

I haven't posted to your blog for a long time, but have followed your story since last summer on BBC. Your post also brought tears to my eyes. Please don't feel guilty for not crying when you were holding Jenna in the hospital. You can't control your reactions to something so incredibly tragic and shocking and wrong. You just react how you do at the time, and you process it all later. You were in shock, and your emotions don't usually function so well in that state. You are focussed on just surviving the moment. I have followed your blog on and off, and you have been very healthy in your processing of Jenna's death. Cry when you feel like you need to, laugh when you feel like you need to, and reach out for support from those around you who know how to do it well. It sounds like your hubby is an awesome support for you, and you for him.

KaraY said...

Please let go of the guilt you feel for not crying.

*Because* you didn’t cry, you remember. Because you didn’t cry, you have memories of your beautiful baby. Because you didn’t cry, you had moments to bond with who Jenna would have been. She knows you love her. She didn’t need proof from tears. Its already in your heart.