Peace of Mind, Peace of Heart

Last night, Ben and I found ourselves sitting outside Labor & Delivery waiting to be checked in, just as we had done 17 months earlier with Elliot. This was our first visit to L&D with Brynn. I’m relieved to tell you everything is okay.

Yesterday morning started off great. I went to my weekly OB appointment. Brynn’s heartbeat was strong, as usual. The doctor told me I have a very active baby, which is not news to me. 🙂  I went to work after that and expected a pretty uneventful day. By the afternoon, my lower abdomen started feeling a little sore, like I had been doing sit-ups all morning. I guarantee there is no way I can do anything that even resembles a sit-up these days. I tried to tell myself that it was probably round ligament discomfort, nothing that I should worry about. But then the little voice inside me head, the one that often comes back with the what ifs started up and I couldn’t ignore it. I called my OB and the nurse asked me a bunch of questions.

No, I’m not bleeding
Nope, no contractions
No fluid leaking either
Yes, the baby is moving as she normally does

The nurse wasn’t too concerned, but told me to go in for an evaluation the next day. What was meant to be reassuring actually worried me more.

They want me to go in?
What if something really is wrong?
I can’t wait until the morning, what if something happens over night?

I know the nurses and doctors won’t ever tell me everything is fine without doing an evaluation. It just won’t happen in my case, which is reassuring. I don’t ever want them to tell me Brynn and I are okay without doing a physical assessment to confirm it. But it becomes overwhelming and nerve wracking when I can’t get an immediate answer. I need to know that everything is okay in this very moment, otherwise I’m going to completely lose my shit. And guess what, I did.

By that point it was after hours, so I called the answering service. I explained what was going on to the nice woman on the other end. I also told her why I was a complete mess over it – I lost my daughter at 41 weeks, every little thing makes me nervous, and I could not wait to be seen. The attending called me back less than three minutes later. She told me it sounded like what I was experiencing was normal uterine stretching, but she’d add me to the list for triage to put my mind at ease.

This is what PTSD looks like. Me standing on the corner in the South End, crying over something that is seemingly normal, but not being able to help it because of my history – Elliot’s history. In those moments, I felt a little crazy. But I’m not crazy. I’m a grieving mother trying to get through this pregnancy with a living baby and my sanity intact in the end.

I was still nervous, but I felt better knowing that I’d be seen that evening. I was feeling Brynn move so I knew she was okay. But now that I know about the different kinds of complications that can come up during pregnancy, I was still concerned.

As Ben and I waited outside L&D, there was a shift change for the nurses. We saw several arrive. A few minutes later, one of the nurses that passed us on her way in came back out. She asked if I was Lori. I told her yes. I thought she was going to bring us to our room. Instead, she knelt down in front of me and told us she was there with us in the room that morning when we came in with Elliot. She said she wanted us to know that she helped take Elliot’s photos and that she and the other nurse took really good care of Elliot. She told us how beautiful Elliot was and that they haven’t forgotten her. They will never forget her.

I couldn’t hold my back my tears the moment she mentioned Elliot. Being back at L&D was a painful reminder of what we went through with Elliot, but it is also reassuring to be cared for by people who were there with us that fateful day. The same people who want nothing more than to help us and see Brynn come into this world the way her sister should have.

I thanked the nurse and told her I needed to hear those things. She apologized for making me cry, which was not necessary. I always want to hear about Elliot and the impact she’s had on other people. My tears were mostly from overwhelming appreciation. To sit and talk with someone who was there in the room with us when we found out Elliot’s heart had stopped beating brought up feelings I can’t explain. To look into her eyes and see tears too. To know Elliot is thought of and remembered by people outside of our family and friends. It did something to my heart. It was comforting, yet so much more than that. She was there with us and shared in our experience. There was only one Elliot in this world, and this nurse was there with us during a pivotal moment of her story. Ben and I weren’t alone on those moments, even though at the time, it felt like we were the only two people left on this earth. We were with people who truly cared about us and Elliot.

I can’t help but believe Elliot played a part in making sure our paths crossed with that nurse last night. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, who is also a bereaved mother, spoke to the funeral home employee who cared for her daughter, Maggie, last year. It was a random encounter, but one that brought my friend so much comfort. She got the reassurance she needed, something all grieving parents should have. Maggie was well cared for and loved the entire time she was in their care. I was so glad for the comfort this brought her. At the same time, I felt sad that I never got to talk with the person who cared for Elliot when she left the hospital. The funeral director was very good about keeping us updated with every step – when Elliot was picked up from the hospital, when she was taken to the crematorium, and then when she was back at the funeral home. I truly believe they handled her with the utmost care and respect. But still, I really wanted someone to tell me, face to face, that they took good care of Elliot. Then this nurse appeared and gave me the peace my heart longed for.

Then another nurse gave me the peace my mind longed for. She hooked me up to the monitor and we immediately heard Brynn moving around. Oh goodness, this girl is going to be a force. We were there for quite a while because Brynn would not stop moving around long enough to get 20 minutes of uninterrupted monitoring. She was boxing, swimming, doing ballet…being her little busy bee self. Finally, after some coaxing from a midwife/baby whisperer, Brynn settled down and we got the reassurance we needed. The sound of her heart beating is music to my ears, heart, and soul. As was Elliot’s.

It was a long, emotional night. But well worth it.

Thank you to both of my girls for giving me the peace I needed last night.

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