The silence was almost deafening and darkness was all around me. My heart began to beat loudly, breaking the silence as fear pushed into my body with each pulse. Was I still in the hospital? Where was my son? I reached over to turn a light on, but I couldn’t find it. I tried to call for help, but the words never left my throat. I sat in the stillness, hearing my heart race faster and beating into my ears. I knew I wasn’t alone. But I was not in the company of my son or my husband. All I felt was complete terror.
I heard him whistling and laughing behind me. No, no please someone help me!
I opened my eyes and sat up in bed, with sweat pouring down my face. The horror from the nightmare still overwhelming me. I looked over at Jason who was sleeping on a cot next to me. Behind him, there was a beeping noise, from the monitor that was hooked up to my belly, recording my heartbeat and contractions, as I continued to labor. I felt my stomach churn as I looked at the screen. There was only my heartbeat and the other was measured in silence. Fresh tears sprang into my eyes and I put my hand over my belly, feeling his lifeless body. My son, my sweet boy.
No! Please, no! My mind screamed, but the room remained silent against my expressionless face. I felt numb and as dead as my son’s body was inside of me. My heart seemed to stand still as I remembered his kicks only the day before, happily jerking against my womb. Our son, Joseph Michael, had passed away, at 26 weeks’ gestation. What I did not understand though was that within this painful loss, how something else was opening a door in my dreams and consciousness for the first time in thirteen years. My past. Something I had worked very hard to keep locked shut behind that door. The nightmare I just woke from was one of many, that I had already experienced in the last twenty-four hours, since I lost my son. Fresh tears began to build up behind the old ones that were still wet on my face. I couldn’t take much more and didn’t know how to control it all.
My mouth was so dry, so I reached for water. A small laugh got caught in my throat as I took a sip and randomly thought about how I couldn’t drink water during Joseph’s pregnancy at all. Grape juice was the only beverage I was able to sip on while plagued with hyperemesis gravidarum. This juice would spark him into a kickboxing match with my stomach. The laughter instantly turned to sobs. I bent over in my hands, screaming as the pain of his loss sent merciless grief through my body.
It was day two and my body was shaking with fatigue from trying to labor and release him. There were many unexpected complications, so his labor was taking much longer than the doctor anticipated. Should I just go back to sleep? The reality of his loss was too intense to bear, but the horrors of what nightmares could come up, terrified me to fall back into the comfort of sleep again. I had nowhere to turn for relief. The nightmare I just had was a gruesome memory from my past and it was too much to handle. I began to cry even harder and the tears of both grief and frustration, spilled through my eyes. Jason woke up and slid into my bed behind me, pulling me back against his chest. I heard him stifle a cry as he leaned into my neck, whispering a prayer to help me find relief. It didn’t.
I looked up at the ceiling and my mind was racing with thoughts and pure panic set in. How did I get here? Hadn’t I been through enough already? The whistling from the nightmare echoed in my ears. I closed my eyes for a moment and begged it to stop. Just stop! A contraction hit me and I flinched in pain.
“Breathe, just breathe through the pain,” Jason whispered, as he took big, deep breaths in and out for me to follow. The stable rhythm of his cleansing breaths began to steady my racing heart. I started to breathe in sync with him and felt my body shake out the anxiety. Jason knew that breathing exercises were the only thing that helped me handle my paralyzing attacks of anxiety that I have suffered with for many years. “Release him darling, let our Joseph go,” he continued and held me tighter. “Let him work through you. You see my love, he has you now, you don’t have him. Let him guide you out of this darkness. But first, you need to let his body go.”
Taking a deeper breath in, I breathed out the shock of what was happening. Trying to birth my son, my dead son. Our dead son. I couldn’t bear to look into Jason’s eyes since we found out. I felt like my body failed and I was so ashamed. Each second that passed, took me further and further away from Joseph. I didn’t want to deliver him and let him go. How could I? How the hell does a mother give birth and say goodbye to her baby? I sat up with another contraction and clenched my body, while bending over, burying my face into a pillow. I screamed into it against the contraction.
Paul McCartney’s lyrics softly fell into my ears as my husband sang:
Oh, let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
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