It has been 7 months since we said hello and goodbye to our baby boy and I have yet to write even one word about our hospital experience. Not the birthing center where he was born, or the ER where we said goodbye. The hospital, where I spent three days recovering from Preeclampsia. People have asked me why. And it’s always come back to the fact that maybe I don’t feel like I’ve fully healed yet.
My grief has always been very intimately tied to my body. To the point where I cried after getting a clean bill of health at my 6 week postpartum check-up. And they weren’t happy tears. I cried big, splashy tears of grief, because in my head, an all clear from my doctor meant that this part of my journey with Titus was officially over. My pregnancy was over. My body had “healed.” All signs of Titus were gone. I wept in the car with Kent after the appointment. And then he reminded me that all signs of Titus weren’t gone. He reached out and touched my hair, “He had your hair,” then with a gentle smile, “and your nose,” touching his fingertip to my nose. And still to this day, I know that if Kent touches my hair or my nose, he’s thinking of Ty.
So the fact that I haven’t written because I don’t feel fully healed makes sense to me. But now, as I sit here, I think it is equally about my heart, too.
One of the absolute best things that came out of the hospital experience was what Kent and I call the “triple dose.” For the first couple days of my stay I laid in bed, unmoving. At first, because of the saddle block they gave me to numb my body from the waist down during surgery, but then because of the pain meds, the exhaustion, the catheter, and the 24 hour magnesium drip I was on to treat my Preeclampsia (talk about feeling feverish and completely out of it). Needless to say, hugs and cuddles were not part of our hospital routine. So Kent would show he loved me by giving me a kiss on the forehead. I remember smiling up at him, cheeks rosy from the magnesium, mind groggy with meds, and saying, “Mmmm, that’s like medicine.” He kissed me on the nose and I smiled more. Then on the lips and I said, “It’s like a triple dose!” And it stuck.
It gives us a physical action to signify something internal. It says, “I see your pain. I’m with you. And I love you.” And sometimes, even if only for a little while, it helps to ease the throbbing in our hearts.
Needless to say, this “treatment” came in handy many times in the hospital.
Part of my recovery was constant blood pressure monitoring. Every hour, the machine would beep, my cuff would squeeze tight and release, revealing those two important numbers. Every hour. On the hour. By the second day, my right arm was bruised. I would cringe when I heard the machine beep, knowing that pain was coming. Enter the triple dose.
I also had a heart rate monitor taped to my toe. If my heart rate rose above a certain number it would start beeping at me as if to say, “Calm down…” Coincidentally, every time I cried it would sound, forcing me to stop crying and take some deep breaths. It was incredibly frustrating. Especially since I just wanted to have a good cry! Enter the triple dose.
The second morning of my stay we woke up and decided it was time to announce our son to the world. He deserved an announcement, just like any other baby. Kent sat by my bedside and we wrote it together. “He was 9 pounds and 21 inches of absolute perfection…” my breath caught in my throat. For the first time I’d admitted, out loud, that he was gone. I started to cry. My machine began to beep. Kent leaned over. Enter the triple dose.
My machine calmed down, and I looked through tears at this sweet man, shoulders hunched, defeated and broken, eyes so full of love for me. And I pulled his tear-streaked face close to mine … for a kiss on the forehead, and the nose, and then the lips.
God showed up in that hospital room in so many ways (ways I intend to write about eventually), but one of the most tangible was the loving presence of my husband and the healing balm of the “triple dose.”