I’m sad I didn’t keep my daughter longer. I can come up with many reasons why I gave her up when I did. I was exhausted, literally falling asleep. She was getting cold and stiffer. Her lips were turning the dark crimson that happens after time to a dead baby. I wanted to remember her just as she was at that moment and not hours later when her color and body were changing more. But honestly I feel guilty I gave her up so soon. At one point very shortly after she died, the nurse was saying take as long as you need. I can’t remember exactly what I said but it was something along the lines of “I can take her up to my room with me, right?” And the nurse responded with a hesitant yes- I could tell that wasn’t what they usually did.
With babies who are born still (this is a term I’ve heard mothers use to describe their stillborn babies and I think it’s such a beautiful way to put it), we let them keep the babies with them as long as they need on Labor & Birth. Hours and hours. But they are in a labor room. There is a bed and a bathroom and lots of room. I had one patient who was so unready to give up her stillborn baby, that they took him with them to their postpartum room. After 24 hours the nurses were concerned about the smell and the parents’ reluctance to say goodbye.
We had been with Mabel after she passed for several hours (I don’t know how long- time was lost) and I think I didn’t want to be that person who refused to give up their baby. I wanted to be the exemplar patient. I was somehow wanting to please the nurse. My desire to be liked won out over my desire to keep my baby longer. What’s wrong with me? Maybe I wanted it to be done. It had been months of waiting and unknown. So much worry and hope all leading up to this moment and when we finally had the answer- she died- I wanted to just be done. I don’t know.
I cry over this now. If I kept her longer, I would have more memories. I’d have more photos. Some more of my family could have met and held her. I could have put her in a bassinet and have her wheeled up to the postpartum floor with me. I would have crawled right into bed, like I did without her, but she would have been beside me.