The Birthing of a Name
“When it feels like surgery
And it burns like third degree
And you wonder what is it worth?
When your insides breaking in
And you feel that ache again
And you wonder
What's giving birth?” (Jon Foreman)
When a woman goes into labor, there is a gamete of emotions. There is anxious excitement. There is anticipation. There is fear, but it is overcome by joy. And there is pain--but often only physical, or so one would think.
When a woman is in labor, the room is filled with the sound of the intimacy between the man and woman who are bringing this journey into fruition. With the support and encouragement of a husband who is seeing his wife through this labor of love.
There is the sound of the baby's movements on the fetal heart monitor...the thump of a kick, the swish and rhythm of a steady heartbeat, the audible progress of the baby moving further down the birth canal as the mother prepares to meet her long awaited little one.
But labor is much different when you find out that your baby has died within your womb. Labor is much different when you are unexpectedly induced, because your baby no longer has a heartbeat. Labor is much different when there is no excitement, or joy...there is only immense fear, confusion, emotional pain, darkness, suffering, and endless questions.
The waiting to meet your long awaited little one quickly becomes a waiting for it all to end...for the nightmare of the event to end, so the nightmare of your life can begin.
When a baby dies within your womb, the room is silent. You hear the sound of the clock ticking, and you stare in disbelief. Why is there no crucifix to stare at, instead? Isn't that what delivering a dead child is? A crucifixion?
The silence is stark, deadening, unnatural, morbid, and so indescribably painful. The darkness is all consuming. The sounds of your baby's cries are replaced with the sounds of the mother and father's laments. Wailing. Hard, ugly tears. Grappling for questions to be answered. "What in the world happened?" A sigh of relief that the labor and delivery has finally ended is heard. Then, a moan of regret that it actually concluded, as the voice of reality begins to settle in that your baby is no longer within you, no longer connected to you, and is in fact...no more. There is no "congratulations" offered--only, "I'm so very sorry."
When a baby dies before it is born, there is no breath. The life is gone. Your baby is not born breathing.
Stillbirth. Silent birth. Born sleeping. So many names. None of them are fitting for the welcomed arrival of a much loved, longed for, and awaited little baby delivered two weeks before her due date without a heartbeat or a breath of life due to a knot in her umbilical cord. Unbelievable.
In that moment, and in the ones that followed and continue to inhabit my life, of physically feeling like I would die, I had to choose to keep breathing. I have had to choose to take each moment as it comes. I have had to receive each pounding wave of hurt, shock, and heartache, and breathe through them in order to make it to the next breath. So here I am. Still Breathing.