I wish I held her longer

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.

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4 thoughts on “I wish I held her longer

  1. Meghan,
    This post makes me so sad for you. I can feel your anguish through your words. At the time you knew deep down inside that it was time to let her go. Even if it doesn’t feel that way now, trust that you did what was right for you and Mabel. Like you said, you were exhausted, and you did what felt right. Looking back it may seem that you were trying to do the “right thing” for the nurses, but trust your instincts and know that you did what was best.

  2. I think Amanda is spot on with her reply. You dealt with the situation as best you could have at the time and I hope you can forgive your past self for anything that doesn’t feel right now.

  3. I agree with the comments above, but also – I too identify with that odd, misplaced need to be the “exemplary” patient. I too, wanted to be liked, to be the mother who grieved the “right” way. I’ve thought about that a lot since – that in striving to appear to be the “good mother,” was I actually a good mother? I don’t know. I think there will always be those “I wish I had done X, Y, Z” moments, no matter how long you had held onto her. Each one begets another, a “if I had done this, then I would have gotten to do that” mentality. I hope you can forgive yourself for not spending just a little more time with Mabel that night. In the end, I think, it would never have felt like enough.

  4. Right before I stopped in here to see how you were I was literally sobbing with my own thoughts of “I should have done this or that different” the “I wish I had…” cries that just keep coming in different forms. It’s because we loved them so much, it makes me feel more like his Mommy. They are Mommy tears and they are okay. Love you sister.

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