Life After Death.

My life is a joke.

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.

At least my nurses thought Jesse was hot.

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.

Jesse and I were always really open about sharing the c-section photos. We know this made people uncomfortable, but to us it was so cool. The moment when a baby moves out of a uterus and begins to thrive outside of it. It’s amazing. Kayla looked through Jesse’s old photo’s and tried to mimic what he did the best she could. This shot is pretty cool.

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.

Thanks for letting me see my kid for 5 seconds. Sometimes c-sections suck.

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.

These made me laugh. Chloe and Oraia are like oil and water. Only they could get in a fight over text about their baby sister.

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.

I’ve always been good at keeping every document, every card, photo. I’m glad I am this way.

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.

Commence fights over holding the baby.

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.

Wren Jesse Pitts ❤️

How Do I Raise You, Wren?

Thank you Jessica McKelvie. I wouldn’t have had it in me to do these without you.

Dear Wren,

I am so sorry for what I am about to tell you, but your father died before you were born. I don’t know what I am doing so I am apologizing ahead of time.

You will never have a photo of him like the ones your sisters have above. I will not understand your pain but I will try very hard. I do know you will hurt so badly sometimes and I am so sorry for that. You are already so unique and you have not even been born yet. Your dad always said he loved you and he held you from the outside, but I know you did not actually experience this. I did.

He was there. He existed. I promise. That is you.

You will eventually come to know many girls who their father is not present in their life, you will relate on a surface level, but not a core level. Your dad wanted to be there for you. When we found out you were a girl, he was so very happy. He was so happy to have another girl.

I will keep you safe. I will feed you. I will make sure you have every material thing I can give you. I will make sure you have a schedule and you do well in school. I will make sure you play and join a fun activity.

However, when you are born, I don’t know if I will wrap you as tightly as he could. I will not be as warm as he was. I will love you and adore you, but not like he would.

When you are a bit older, I wont be able to throw you up in the air to the ceiling like he would. I won’t be as fun or creative as he was. I won’t put a pumpkin on my head when we are done carving it to make you laugh. I won’t be as easy-going as he was. I won’t allow you to sneak unhealthy snacks like he would.

It’s not that I will not try. It’s that the yang, to my yin is lost. If this was reversed, your dad would be scrambling to make your schedule. He would be scrambling to keep up on everything in the house and practical things would fall through the cracks. He wouldn’t wash your bedsheets once a month, if ever. That sounds extremely silly, but we both had our own duty or chore that was ours for years.

You will be able to learn how he was through your family, but it will never replace actually knowing him. Your dad never wanted you to know how cruel the world can be, but sadly you will know it the minute you take your first breath. He won’t be there to follow you around as the nurses wipe you off. He won’t touch your little feet and think you are so sweet when you suck your thumb. He won’t sleep on the uncomfortable couch in the hospital room exhausted, waiting for you to cry so he can wake up and hand you to me. He won’t be there to capture his favorite shot- the exact moment the doctor pulls you out, where you aren’t yet clean. We always made sure the second your siblings were born he took the shot. I hope whoever stays with me during surgery will get it for you.

He will not record a horrendous video of me in labor and be telling me to say “happy birthday Wren!” Or take photos of me during contractions. This always drove me nuts when he did this. But I honestly probably would have done the same. When I am driving to the hospital (odd to type, I never drove he did) he won’t slap my knee like we are just best buds on an adventure and say “are you ready babe!?” While I would stare at him blankly and shake my head telling him “no I am not. I am about to have major surgery you fool.”

He won’t be there to encourage me to get out of the hospital bed. After a c-section, you are able to lay in the bed for about a day but after that the nurses tell you that you must walk to begin healing. I hate this part because the first time I get up the burn from surgery feels like hot oil being thrown on my stomach. It is one of the worst physical pains. Your dad was the only one who could ever get me to do things I did not want to do. He was very gentle but firm. He would help me stand up even if it took an hour. The nurses will have me push you around the hallways to walk, and he will not be next to me or waiting for us in the room when we get back.

He will not be there after to wash my hair when I can finally shower or run out and get me whatever I want the minute I want it.

I know how he would act down to a T… but it will never replace him actually being here. It will never replace you never being to actually see him, no matter what you are told by well meaning people.

I hope you see him through your siblings. Chloe is very intelligent, just like him, and she will try to take short cuts in school. Oraia is very impulsive, just like him, and it makes her so funny. Raiden is caring, just like him, and he will make you feel so special.

I hope you see him through your aunt. She has fun, just like him, she will suck the helium out of your birthday balloons first and then speak to you in a squeaky voice- I will just throw them away. If you two play a game or dolls, you will think you are the only person who exist during it, just like he would make you feel. I hope you see him through your grandma, if she makes something for you she will be diligent and thorough, like a birthday cake or a painting, just like your dad would have been. I hope you see him through your grandpa, he is understanding and empathetic, just like him.

I know this won’t come close, but I don’t know what else to do for you. As your mom I will admit all of these things to you and validate all of your feelings, just like your dad would have done.

But none of us are your dad and I am so sorry.

I tried to get as many pictures of “you and him” as I could. It’s total shit. I am so so so sorry this is your reality. I am so sorry that you lost your father and whatever other chaos comes from it. That you will not know how things were before.

There are so many things I want to tell him about you already. He has been gone for about two months and I cannot tell him you are about four pounds. I cannot tell him your due date is scheduled to be March 18. I cannot show him how cute your clothes are or that I bought you the biggest bows. I cannot tell him I am so scared to go into the operating room without him. I panic even putting on the gown. I hope on that day I can calm down.

Of all the scenarios I have ever thought of in my head- I never thought of this one. I never thought of a little girl without her dad like this. I could not have changed anything anyhow, but I live in a nightmare. When you come out you will already be part of a nightmare that you will not comprehend for awhile.

Do I teach you to say Dada by pointing at his picture? Will that confuse you? Do I play videos of him and then take a video of you so his voice is near you? I don’t know and this causes me so much pain.

I will see and know the first time you coo. The first time you hold your head by yourself. The first time you clap. Roll over. Say a word. Have a tooth. Sit up. Fall from sitting up.

I will know how you sound. How you will look. I will know what funny words you mispronounce. Your dad and I would have used whatever those words may be back to you all the time. But now it will just be me.

In a weird way, your siblings are more involved with you now. Prior to this, Chloe and Raiden were apprehensive of you. They told me they were worried you would get all the attention. I told them they are correct for a little while, you will get most of the attention because you cannot move or feed yourself. This helped them understand.

This has changed. They have to go back to school and they were most worried about you. They said they needed to be here for you. They needed to help raise you when you got here. They sounded worried. It makes me proud of them that they are concerned with you and they all have plans to take care of you in their own way, but also very sad because they once just acted like kids and were just jealous of you.

Prior to any of this happening, your dad was worried about me. This is a high risk pregnancy. The doctors say I will likely be fine, but there is still a concern. Your dad was worried that something would happen to me during it. I was worried too.

But now I am worried for different reasons. I still worry about that, but I am more worried that if something happens to me- what will happen to you and your siblings? You will have no parents. I wish I could say “ah how unlikely.” But after this, these are very real possibilities in my head. Who do I trust you with? This one scares me the most. Where would you go? Who would honor our values best and not their own? I don’t know.

I am worried something will happen to you. Your dad and I lost two babies before, so naturally this is a worry. I wish I could say “ah, how unlikely.” But after this, it is again a very real possibility in my head. No amount of prayers or medical technology saved your dad. Any glimmer of faith I had in overcoming difficult events has vanished. Any chance at miracles does not exist anymore to me.

So with all of this and with every shred I also left out. I am not sure how to raise you. I will take it minute by minute. I will ask myself before I do something how would daddy have done this? But I am not your dad and I am so very sorry.

I love you. Love Mom.