Hand to Hold

Hand to Hold

It was a slow night on the labor and delivery unit, and under dim lights in a Northern California hospital, a young mother planning an unmedicated birth breathed evenly through painful contractions,subsequent her husband by her side. The couple learned shortly after their arrival to the hospital, and the labor nurse's exam, that the mother Nicole was in true labor at about 5 centimeters dilated. Shortly after this exam, it was their OBGYN who had to meet their eyes, and tell them devastating news. Inexplicably, unrighteously, their son Carter, had died some time before they came to the hospital. There were no answers.

Hours later, Carter Jack was born weighing 8 pounds 6 ounces with his father's face, and if you didn't know better, you would have thought he could have reached out and held his mother's hand. He was beautiful. The hospital staff took his footprints and handprints and made a memory box for his parents, Nicole and Jason. The doctors and nurses did what they could to ease the pain, but even with all the things Nicole and Jason were given to take home there was no shaking the fact that they were, in truth, going home empty-handed.

It was later learned that Nicole had a rare, treatable complication in her pregnancy. With hearts of warriors--equal parts courageous and heavy, Jason and Nicole decided to brave another pregnancy. After conceiving successfully, thirty-eight weeks of gestation ticked by under the careful watch of her doctors. But if those moments of fear, anxiety, and cautious hope could have been added together on the scale of human will, those weeks would have added up to "forever."

Chloe, Jason and Nicole's daughter screamed to high heaven as she was transferred to the warmer in the operating room. She had arrived to the world via Cesearen section after the anxious waiting of her family. She weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces, and was beautiful, angry, and boldly alive. She had no idea how loved she already was, nor how many had waited with baited breath for her arrival. She came kicking into the world and ready to eat!

The first time Nicole and Jason went in to the hospital to have a baby, they came home to aching silence. It wasn't until little Chloe was home safely from the hospital that they really believed that they were parents.

"We just looked at each other and said, 'we get to keep her,'" Jason said. They were newly unorphaned children themselves with this new baby, and giggled together in joy, as if they had stolen a cookie from Life.

Chloe recently became a sister to her little brother, Kurt. He weighed 7 pounds, 9 ounces, took well to breast-feeding, and is a happy baby with a protective big sister, and eyes that light up for his mama.

When Jason was asked what the hardest part of taking care of this ever-growing pack was he responded, "having to go to work and be away from them."

Days after the C-section that brought Kurt into the world, Nicole welcomed a question from another mother and delighted in the fact that she was really a part of this land called Motherhood. "It was like, 'wow, I'm passing the torch here!' I'm really a mom!" she said about advising another mother.

We tend to like grief and sorrow quarantined. We send cards and flowers, and casseroles, but it is difficult not to want to keep our distance from someone else's loss for fear we might catch it. Friends and family often avoid even mentioning a tragedy once a little time has passed, as if they'd like not to stir it, or anger it. Today, in Nicole and Jason's home, the name of their firstborn isn't something profane. When someone says "Carter" either deliberately or unintentionally in the presence of his parents, there are no uncomfortable silences and no dark shadows in the room. Carter Jack's mother and father welcome his memory with contentment and hope. For some couples who have experienced loss in this way, the grief is so overwhelming that they can only bear it separately, and it divides them. But some combination of love, bravery, and strength of spirit kept Nicole and Jason together as they saw one another through their darkest hour. They made it, and are continuing to make it, with a joy that is a gibe to the pain that wouldn't break them. Nicole and Jason found a way out of the thickness of their loss--they reached out and held each other's hand.

 Dedicated to anyone who knows the sorrow of a child born sleeping...to the day when you are able to see the colors again.

--Shannon Jacqueline, RN


Comments 29 comments

diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

What a lovely story..."Beautiful, angry and boldly alive," Sounds a lot like the author, too.


ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Thank you very much, diogenes. You know, because of your comment on one of my previous hubs, I had to look up diogenes--what it or who it was...glad I did, very interesting. I had permission from Nicole to publish this article on hubpages, but I went back and forth about whether or not I actually would. I can not begin to explain what this story means, but I do know that I'd like for it to be read. They are amazing people.


cathylynn99 profile image

cathylynn99 5 years ago from northeastern US

bittersweet, like life. great story. thanks.


ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Agreed, cathylynn. The bitter can not be ignored, but the sweet wins in my view. And so we keep on. Nicole is on FB talking about the mischief of her daughter, (she went to warm up the car and came back to find Chloe inside an empty box of diapers), and how much her son already idolizes his sister. The pain and loss happened, it's real, and it matters. But the light ahead always matters more.


Jai Warren profile image

Jai Warren 5 years ago from Dallas, Deep Ellum, Texas

Very beautifully told story. Life can have it's ups and downs. And these parents seemed to understand the risks associated with unconventional method... and accept the the blessings and consequences. SJ, I admire your courage in passing this on.

Ciao!!!


ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Hi, Jai!! They conceived the old-fashioned way, but the pregnancy involved more monitoring, and more doctors. It didn't really take any courage for to me write this, but thanks. The struggle I had with this one was that nothing I wrote could be big enough for what they did, and nothing I said would say it well enough. The whole of this, the real strength in this story belongs completely to Nic and Jay.


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether

wow. wow. wow. wow. amazing hub. amazing story. i can't even imagine what it was like for them to lose Carter, but bravo to them for never trying to forget his name...for keeping his memory brilliantly alive. life is sweet but it can also be painful, displayed in this story. thanks for sharing the beauty with the world. voted up and beautiful, once again. you have a way with words, and with people.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Shannon, This is such a beautiful story, teaches us never to give up, never to stop hoping, eventhough we may have disappointments, we can find a light. God is good. Thank you for sharing your nursing experience with us.

Love and Peace


ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Kitty, they are amazing people, truly. I wanted to include a video of us sitting down to talk about this, but I decided not to. Thank you so much for reading this.

You got the point, Ruby, and thanks for reading. The story really is beautiful, all I had to do was take notes. Losing a child is as bad as it gets, and they are doing so great. They are my first story in a pregnancy initiative I'm doing, and I picked them specifically for this reason. I got some slight flack for my first story being a loss...but I've never been scared about a little flack ;-). I was so happy when they said yes.


Triplet Mom profile image

Triplet Mom 5 years ago from West Coast

Absolutely wonderful and moving! Thanks for sharing!


ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Thanks a lot, Triplet Mom. Took a long time to sit down and finally write this; it stirred in my head for months. Meant a lot to me.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 5 years ago from Bishop, Ca

Shannon-this is such a lovely, poignant story that you live daily. I can't imagine the courage it takes to be a nurse. Kudos to the parents of dear Carter, such a loss. I know the fear of losing a child; as I grow closer and closer to my new 6 month old grandbaby, Quinn, the unspoken dread of SIDS is constantly on my mind. But as you said, we tend to keep these fears in the back of our consciousness, hoping to rob them of their power.

Thanks so much for this tale of courage and life!


ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

I love the name Quinn. I was there for Carter's birth, and Kurt's, but not Chloe's. She's so cute. Her grandmother says she's going through this phase of putting her finger on her chin, looking at the sky and going "hmmmm..." every time she's asked anything. Whether it's 'Chloe, do you want to eat,' or 'Chloe would you like to go outside,' here comes the pondering. So cute.

I am making a great deal of ziti right now for a great deal of people, but I need to send you an email later. Thanks for reading!!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, what a fantastic story of courage and endurance, I am so pleased that it all worked out this way, and the children are gorgeous, well done for an amazing hub, cheers nell


ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Yeah, they are gorgeous kids. And both did amazing for this shoot, it was weirdly hot that day, and at 2 years old (with no nap!), and 1 month old. They were stellar. These are not the best pictures of the shoot, but I figured I could use them for hubpages. They are wonderful people.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

ahostagesituation, what a pity it would have been had you not published this story. It began with pain and ended with hope. What a truly heart warming story. My first child was stillborn. It took a long time to come to terms with it. It took the birth of my oldest daughter to help me begin to heal. Rated up and beautiful.


ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Thanks for sharing, KKG. I'm deeply sorry for your loss. I told Nicole just recently that those of us in obstetrics deliver thousands of babies in the span of our careers, but it is the losses that stand out. I've been a labor and delivery nurse for almost seven years now and I can recall the losses in vivd detail. I wrote about fearing grief in this because it was my own experience--coming into this field at a young age with nearly no life experience. I was afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing...a 'loss patient' was the short straw for me, and some of the other nurses. Today, I find myself drawn to and protective of the mothers and families of babies born sleeping. I choose them. I've gotten some mail over this, and and publishing this here seems to be the right call for now. Thanks for reading!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

“We tend to like grief and sorrow quarantined. We send cards and flowers, and casseroles, but it is difficult not to want to keep our distance from someone else's loss for fear we might catch it.” How very true; and other people mistakenly think we should just “be getting over it.”

Arresting and beautifully written story.


ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Thanks so much, Genna. I've never lost a child, but any time we lose someone it does make us wonder when "you'll get over it" begins. I figure any day now. I'm looking forward to seeing your work. I decided to add a video to this hopefully some time next week. Either Nicole and Jay talking if we can sync our schedules, or myself.

Thanks for reading!

SJ


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 5 years ago from Bishop, Ca

Hey Shannon! How was the ziti? ;)


ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Lol...freaking awesome. Am I allowed to say that when I made it?? I'm really crtical of my own food, if I say it was good...it was. Thanks for asking, you just made my busy little day!


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 5 years ago from I'm outta here

Thank you for being strong and sharing this with us. Strength in numbers and may we maintain the most positive thoughts and energy that this works out for the good of all involved and the thoughtlessness around them may go unnoticed and the positive be absorbed. Thanks again for the enlightenment! :) katie


ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Hi Katie! Thanks. I think one of the things we can take away from them is that you can not stay under the lock and key of grief forever. Look what else you miss if you do. Who can deny the bad things going on in the world? But then there's the dawn...

Thanks for reading, Katie!


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

God bless you dear ahostagesituation!


ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Thanks, Micky Dee. I appreciate that. He has.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

This happened to a friend of mine - she delivered the dead baby all by herself... Touching hub... Voted up and awesome!


ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

I'm sorry that happened to your friend, Martie. How is she now? On my first job in obstetrics one of my favorite residents--cool, easy-going, and kind to the patients, used to wear these tiny golden baby shoes on a necklace. I always thought it was just to represent her work as an OB gyn. She later told me it was because she delivered her own stillborn in her bathroom at 36 weeks along. From this loss, she became an OB doctor. This happens more than people talk about. These bad things are supposed to go to grief island I guess. But she was able to channel the pain in such an amazing way. Last year I went through a lot, I built a freaking metropolis to the angst of it. I look back and realize that's what I was doing, but man, not a bad way to get through it.

Thanks for reading!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

Dear ahostagesituation, my friend lost her firstborn in 1976 – after she was sent home by a doctor who said she was imagining her pain and discomfort. In the meanwhile the baby was already dead in her. He was for FOUR days – at 28 weeks – dead before her body rejected him. She was a medical nurse – still is. Six years after that horrible experience she gave birth to a healthy son and thereafter a daughter.

It seems to me that many of us are currently trying to recover after we have bult a freaking metropolis to the angst of it. I hope you have already started to build the next one.... for it seems to me building them is our jobs on this planet.... (I’m kind of tired and fed-up :))))) Take care!


ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Were they giving medical licenses out in cereal boxes in 1976?? That numbnut could have killed her! She could've gotten completely septic and died. That makes me so mad.

Sorry she had to go through that though. So very sorry.

I'm snickering at you mirroring ' freaking metropolis to the angst of it.' My mouth is going to get me killed one day. Either that or saved.

Rest up, Martie Coaster! You are one of the ones that is emboldened by the forces of evil, rather than crippled by them. I know because I'm on that club's recruitment commitee. I hear a metropolis being worked on as I speak... :-)

SJ

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