Friday, March 26, 2010

August 1st, 2007 - When Roxy Died (part 4)

I never wrote anything down, at the time, about the delivery. I just couldn't do it. But it happened. Two and a half years later, I still find that day completely enveloping, but I still have trouble putting the details into words. I'll do my best.

The worst part was the silence.

I told the nurse at the labor and delivery station who we were, and two nurses immediately appeared at our side. One, Su, was the mother-in-law of a friend. She hugged us. The other, a smaller red-headed woman, Ro, looked us in the eyes and told us how very sorry she was, and they both ushered us to a big corner room of the L&D area, and they put a purple flower on our door (and incidentally, I still can't look at a purple flower without feeling death drip through my body). Su and Ro (I am still very grateful for those two), sat with us while we were given a gentle but lengthy prepping from a "bereavement specialist" named May (how do you fall into THAT line of work?). It was explained to us the different ways that parents choose to go through this "procedure" (you know where you have to deliver, say hello and say goodbye to your dead child, all in one tiny set of moments). I felt sorry for May. She really felt it when she told us that any way we chose would be the right way, although I didn't really know what that meant, "the right way." And then suddenly stopped talking and hugged me, and just said "I'm so sorry you guys..." and I felt my self heaving, and I hugged her back. (This woman, 2 plus years later, still leaves us sweet messages wondering how we are on our answering machine.)

After May left, we sat in the room, totally silent, twitching, inanimate, wild.

Finally, finally the anesthesiologist came in, gave us his spiel and we were taken down to the same L&D OR where Mason was delivered. Same procedure, with Terra taken into the room for prep, and me sitting, motionless outside the doors. The same. fucking. clock. This time as I sat, didn't tell myself everything would be alright. I became mildly aware that my head was shaking again. Shake shake shake. Shaking away the reality. No No No No No No No No No No. No way. No. Suddenly, Terra's parents were in front of me, as well as Sf, the wife of my cousin Mike. I was hugged. Sf walked away sobbing uncontrollably. Someone asked me if I thought I was going to pass out. I knew I wouldn't somehow, because then Terra would be in there by herself when the time came.

And then the time did come.

Terra's eyes, wild and darting. Buzzing sound. Squish, squish. In a fluttering moment some voice in my scraped out stomach started screaming "MISTAKES HAVE BEEN MADE BEFORE!!! MAYBE SHE WILL CRY!!! THE WHOLE ROOM WILL REJOICE IN TEARS, AND SHE WILL BE PINK AND KICKING AND SCREAMING SCREAMING SCREAMING SCREAMING!!!!! YES!! YES!!! COME ON..."
Then another voice, this one out loud: "stop it." Again, I felt my head shaking. No. No. No. No.

I had been avoiding looking at, well, anything. Then I caught Roxy's pale gray flesh out of the corner of my left eye. I looked quickly to my right to see a young female orderly's eyes exposed between her scrub hat and mask. She was looking right at me with an expression that said "how will the father live?" or maybe just "I'm quitting this job today." I felt my head shaking and my breathing turn to gasping.

I looked right at her. I looked right at my beloved Roxy Jean. She was gray and somewhat translucent. Her skin was cracked in places and peeling, and blood from the delivery pooled in the cracks. Her hair was ample, and matted darkly to her head. I noticed, right away, that she looked NOTHING like Mason. Nothing. She was and is all her own. Suddenly, a sad, resigned, gushing tranquility washed over me, and I took her in my arms. Even as she lay limp and silent in my arms, no breath in her... I felt suddenly at peace. She was mine. I walked her to Terra, weeping and I smiled. "Look at all that hair. She looks just like you, Terra." I kissed them both, and we wept quietly together, our heads touching Roxy's.

The rest of the day was like watching people fall from burning buildings all around me while I seized, wide-eyed, in my coffin. Roxy stayed with us through the evening and then she was taken away and all we were left with was the collapse of everyone and everything around us. Wailing, shrieking, cursing, and I remember my mild mannered father’s stomping, angry feet. The room had gone mad in, and smelled like flowers. It would not have surprised me if the entire earth burst into flames. I silently dared it to. I remember trying to watch an Entourage box set someone had left. I took my mother in law’s xanax and slept in my clothes. Terra just lay flat on her back, never moving. She didn’t even cry.


  1. Kenny and Terra, As I have read Roxy's birth story, I have cried such tears. Your love and heartbreak pour through these words. I cannot imagine how difficult, and hopefully, cathartic, it has been to revisit this time.

    The quiet of the birth was haunting for me too, especially as it was juxtaposed against birthing my other live child. The darkness and quiet. I remember being very afraid of seeing my daughter dead, but after she was born, all I could see was how beautiful she was, how peaceful and beautiful, and how much I wanted to keep her. Roxy sounds like a gorgeous baby. Someone wrote this quote on their blog a while ago, and it has been something I cannot shake, "What most people don’t understand is that holding, seeing, touching our dead babies is the 'fucking highlight' of this experience: it’s the living without them for the rest of our lives that is truly awful." Indeed.

    Again, thank you for sharing your story with me, and introducing me to Roxy. She will not be forgotten.

  2. Bless you Angie, thank you- that quote is SOOO spot on, and yes, the only relief we had during that time was the one day we got to spend holding her... I remember watching this documentary about chimps once, and there was this heartbreaking bit about how when a baby died, the mother would carry the baby around with her for days. I totally get that.