Let me tell you what it’s like to deliver your baby when your husbands dead (hint: it sucks!) It boggles my mind that I am here and about to explain how I felt. That I am the one really living this.
My sister-in-law, Kayla, helps me a lot now. She didn’t sign up for that. Just like her husband didn’t sign up to be a widow whisperer (I’m not the only widow in his life unfortunately). But both of them do as much as they possibly can for the kids and I.
So my sister-in-law was the person who came with me to get my caesarian done. She was newly pregnant and blood makes her want to vomit. She was exhausted and wants to sleep 24/7. So she is a total champ for being up at 6:00am to watch a c-section be done (late I might add) at 12 then monitoring a newborn in the NICU until 5. She didn’t even eat that day.
I was really anxious about my c-section. Jesse was my calmness through it. While his sister tried she is not Jesse. I’ve had 3 prior c-sections and the thing that stood out most to me this time during surgery was the noise.
I had never heard the noise before. The “scalpel”….”scissors,” being requested by the doctor. I never heard the doctor tell his assistant “see theres the bladder- its a bit scarred” (what does that even mean?). I never heard the cutting noise. It is like getting kitchen shears and cutting a piece of meat. It makes a snapping noise. It was really horrible to hear and despite Kayla’s presence I did focus on it. I didn’t realize how much Jesse actually calmed me down until he wasn’t there… Calmed me down or at least distracted me because he kept getting up out of his chair to see what was going on and was *yelled* at by the doctors to sit down.
I also felt the pushing much more intensely. When you have a csection, the doctors push and pull on your stomach area to get the baby out. You feel this pressure but not the pain. The pressure was extremely heavy and made me feel as though I was going to pop. Again, not my first rodeo, it’s my fourth- but my senses seemed to be more keenly aware of touches and sounds.
When Wren came out, the feeling of pure bliss and love did not happen as my experience 3 times before. I felt practical concerns- I was worried if she was okay or not. I did think she was beautiful. I knew I felt love for her. But I just also felt such confusion. Where is your dad at Wren? Why is he not here to see this? I know for a fact if he was still here we would both be beaming. We would have our typical private discussion that we had the most beautiful children. That they were so perfect and we were so lucky. We were a little biased and I miss it so much.
Instead it was silent as we watched the doctors get you to breath. Your aunt said you were so beautiful. I am not sure what I said. I know I was worried about your breathing but I also knew you would probably be okay. I had some hope. I also desperately wanted the xanax they had promised me. My mind kept going back and forth from “check Wren,” to “give me the medicine,” over and over. I was extremely worried that I would have a panic attack if I did not get it soon.
Unfortunately Wren could not breathe on her own despite numerous attempts so the doctors told me she would have to go to the NICU. Again, I was obviously concerned but I knew this also happened to babies born at 37 weeks- it wasn’t too out of the ordinary.
What I wasn’t expecting was that I could not go to the NICU with Wren and she would be there longer than 30 minutes. 1-3 days they suggested.
They put Wren near my cheek and then took her away. They allowed Kayla to go to the NICU with her.
After Kayla and Wren left I was stitched up and wheeled back to recovery to stay for two hours, where the nurses kindly pushed on my newly cut open stomach the entire time to insure I wasn’t internally bleeding. That was more painful than surgery.
Once I was wheeled back to maternity, I was fortunate enough to hear a few newborns crying and subsequently see their fathers rocking them. I literally had to laugh that I was being wheeled back to the room with “no baby” and no husband. No anybody, just my phone. Throw in COVID restrictions- God was determined to make sure I was absolutely alone, apparently.
Back in the day Jesse would take the baby out of the operating room, Id come out and nurse the baby- then he’d let me sleep a few hours. The surgery always exhausted me.
That didn’t happen this time. My adrenaline was ramped up completely. I was wide awake from 6am on 3/18/21 and stayed fully awake until 4am on 3/19/21.
At 2am on 3/19 I made myself stand up. This hurt but the staff told me if I could stand I could go see her. So I did and really quickly. Again, not my MO… my MO used to be I didn’t stand until like day 2 and when I did Jesse made sure I didn’t even pull up my own underwear. TMI- but if you’ve had a c-section you would appreciate that. Everything hurts with a c-section, when you move it feels like someone is pouring hot oil on your stomach- so someone pulling up your underwear is a bonus.
But no- instead after 12 hours I stood up and walked to my wheelchair. I was finally allowed to see Wren at 4am. I held her for 5 minutes and instantly fell asleep. I suppose my mom adrenaline was just kicked into full gear so once I had her I shut off.
I woke up in the NICU chair realizing this probably wasn’t a great idea and placed her back in her little NICU bin. I told myself I would sleep for 2 hours and then come back.
Luckily (loose word) my friend, Amanda, worked in the NICU so that morning she was assigned to Wren’s room. I felt a bit better that she wasn’t alone and someone who knew me was with her.
Later that day Wren was given a bath and Amanda did her hand print along side her fathers. I am so thankful she happened to be working because otherwise it would have been more stressful.
My mom and mother-in-law were also allowed to visit her, but due to covid that was it. I couldn’t have anyone else with me. The nurses and social worker commented that I seemed to be doing “okay” given my circumstances. I was “okay” I suppose because of my anxiety. A social worker came in and evaluated me also. I have seen many a social worker since this happened. I can tell honesty isn’t something they hear often because when they ask the “do you have suicidal thoughts?” question I usually say “yep.” They always seem so taken back by that. It kind of shows me that a decent amount of people are lying…My husband just died and I am in the NICU with my baby that can’t breath. I’m not okay.
However, I won’t carry out the deed. I’ve made that abundantly clear. It doesn’t stop the feelings though.
Despite “doing okay,” by objective standards, I began to decline when my mother-in-law held Wren. That crushed me. My mom had already held her a ton, but for some reason the fact that Jesse’s mom was meeting Wren before Jesse…and Jesse would never meet her, just really screwed with me.
Wren was released later that day. I brought her back to maternity and tried to breast feed her. She was on formula in the NICU and Jesse was not standing next to me- so this resulted in Wren and I both crying for the next two hours. I kept trying to get her to latch and suckle but it was a struggle. I supplemented with formula (which she is almost weened off of) but it was not easy. Additionally, breast feeding increases my depression. This may sound weird as mother’s say it’s a “joy” to breast feed but for me it is not. When Wren latches it increases my sadness ten fold. It’s really strange. Usually when she feeds I will hyper focus into my phone because the sadness is so intense. Distractions are my best friend.
On Saturday, 3/20, I was asked if I wanted to leave the hospital. I said no but I had to- because of my other kids. They had not seen me but on Facetime since 3/18- and the last place they saw their other parent was a hospital bed so I had to make sure they knew this was different.
I sent pictures of Wren to her siblings and they were instantly in love with her.
Once the staff knew I was going to leave, they started preparing the discharge papers. That’s when the lady who had to complete birth certificate information came. Usually Jesse did this.
This time Jesse could not do the birth form. No big deal right? Wrong. The woman began to tear up and she told me she was so sorry and that she had been dreading coming to my room all day, but under “father,” they had to write “unknown,” as Jesse and I were not legally married.
(I have a separate blog on this issue, see Marriage).
So Wren has his last name because I could put that down, but legally she has no father. *cue Maury*
Obviously I am fighting this. It won’t be too difficult to correct but just another pain in my ass thing I have to do, like I don’t have enough shit to deal with.
When it was time to leave, my parents were the ones to pick me up. This was so triggering. Jesse always wheeled me down and then pulled the car around. I am glad I have my parents but it felt so weird.
I started crying so hard. I probably looked crazy but this was so painful for me. My nurse came up behind me and put her hand on my shoulder and said “honey I am so so sorry.” My nurses were pretty great and I am glad for that.
Bringing Wren into my home felt so cold. Everything was so ridiculously quiet. It is crazy that a house with 4 children- one being a newborn- is so eerily quiet, but it was and still is. It’s one of the things I hate the most. Jesse was so warm and bright, so it felt like I was bringing Wren into our prison.
Despite this, the kids were absolutely thrilled to see her.
Since then, it has been about a month. Wren makes the kids so happy and I actually have slept more since I had her. That sounds crazy… that I am sleeping a bit more now that I am a single mom to a newborn- but that just shows how upside down my life is. I am in no way getting good sleep, just a tiny bit more.
Wren has definitely helped our entire family. She is a bright light to us. I do struggle with mixed feelings of happiness and sadness constantly though. Happy to have her, but then sadness that Jesse does not have her. It is not fair to him.
Many people, myself included, think Wren looks just like Jesse and that she has very mesmerizing eyes.
When I stare into Wren’s eyes I see something different though. I see Jesse’s lifeless eyes in the core of her bright and alert eyes. I cannot unsee it. I stared into the eyes of my soulmate so intensely as he was declared brain dead by doctors. Then subsequently stared into the eyes of our last child as she was declared born and well by doctors.
One thought on “Life After Death.”
Wren will have your words to comfort her and these pictures that support your story
about her birth, father, siblings and a mother who endured, loves and can see into her
eyes the life she had and the life that is yet to come. Rochelle, you are amazing and
grace is being given inside you to balance all the pain and suffering you are experiencing.
I am in awe of your womanhood and the ability to write with such passion.