When we were at the hospital and had Love, I insisted that Andy take a picture of me and Love with our digital camera. He really didn't want to (he was still in shock and horror over what was happening, as was I), but he took one of me and Love, and then one of all three of us. They are OK pictures, but not great.
When Love died, they took her from us and wrapped her in a blankie and took some pictures of her with a disposable camera which they put in her memory box.
That box sat unopened in our hospital room for the week we were there. Then we brought it home with us, and it sat unopened for another 5 days.
When we were in the hospital, we were in total shock and denial over what had happened. We watched TV. We watched movies. Andy's parents came to visit and brought us dinner so we wouldn't have to eat hospital food. We joked. We talked. Hell, we even when out for dinner one night between I.V. treatments.
When we got home, Andy's parents came with us to help take care of Avery, and they provided a nice distraction. We even threw a mini 2nd birthday party for Avery too. All of these things helped me to postpone the realization that my baby had died.
This hit me with full force the night before Andy's parents left, which would have been Thursday night, a week and a day after Love was born. Andy and I went to bed, and I had this overwhelming feeling of emptiness. I started to cry. And the crying turned to sobbing - real honest to god sobbing. I was just so sad that my daughter was gone. I wasn't pregnant anymore. Did that really fucking happen? Did I really give birth to our beautiful daughter, and have her die in my arms????? I realized then that I had to open her memory box. We had ignored her long enough. Andy came with me into the livingroom. We got the box down from the shelf it was on, sat on the couch, and opened the box.
The box contained:
- a little nightie
- two little crocheted roses
- the disposable camera
- her hand and foot prints that they made at the hospital
- her ID bands
- the measuring tape that they used to measure her
- a crocheted blankie
That was it. That was all that was left of my precious little girl. Her whole entire life contained in blue paper box with a little blue bow.
I held on to that blankie for dear life. Had she touched this blankie? Did they wrap her in it? I smelled it. I took a huge inhale into the blankie. Could I smell her? Did she leave her essence on the blankie? I couldn't tell. I continued to sob, the kind of sob that leaves you absolutely spent. Done. Exhausted.
We got up from the couch and went to bed. I took the box with me and put it on my bedside table, and held on to that blankie for dear life. Then I slept with the blankie tucked into my neck. This was what I was reduced to: a 35 year old woman, grieving for her daughter, sleeping with a blankie.
I took comfort in the fact that the camera held photos of our little girl. We hadn't seen everything yet. Even though her life was over, and I was there for each of those 57 minutes, there was still something new left for me to see. For some reason, that felt like a lifeline. I felt like I could leave the pictures un-developed for now until I was ready to see them. I still had her fresh in my memory. I would wait until I needed them...
A couple of weeks later, I decided the time had come. I needed to see my little girl. I took the camera into Squamish, and went to drop them off for developing. I told the lady behind the counter that the camera contained pictures of my little baby who died, and that it was all that I had left, so to please please please be careful with it. Of course I broke down crying, but she said that she had been there too, and she would treat the camera like it was gold. I went to do some errands while the film was being developed, and I was almost excited to see my little girl. I kind of felt like we were having a girls day - just me and her, shopping, and then flipping through the pictures.
The time came to pick up the pictures, so I got them from the nice lady, and headed to my car where I promptly ripped open the package.
But what I found was... horrifying.
I don't know what I really expected, but not this. The pictures were blurry, grainy, and really out of focus. She had some white on her face that showed up a bit on our digital pictures, but it was really prominent on these photos, and made her look strange.
They posed her in little "poses" with her hand on her cheek and her other hand across her chest resting on the other elbow, like she was at a Walmart photo centre or something. Horrible. Only one was "okay" where she was all bundled in her little pink crocheted blankie.
That was the one good thing about the pictures. I now have confirmation that Love was wrapped in the little blanket that I sleep with every night. It is the ONE thing I have that she touched. It has become my prized possession. My one connection to my daughter...
I just wish I could go back in time and do it all over again. Okay, if I was making wishes, I would wish for all of this to not have happened, and to still be pregnant (28 weeks I would have been now), and to have my baby kicking me from inside. But, that isn't going to happen, so I guess I wish that someone had told me to take more pictures. Enjoy my daughter more. Give the nurses our good camera, so the pictures would be so much better, and we would have more to remember her by... We were so horrified over the whole thing that we just wanted it all to be over, to move on, to forget. They offered for us to have a professional photographer come in and take pictures of her. No way! we thoughy. Now I wish we would have done that.
The hardest part about death is that is is so final. We can't go back. We can't get more pictures. We can't hold her one more time. Kiss her one more time. Smell her sweet little head one more time. It's done. Over. And these shitty, grainy, blurry pictures are all I have. Fuck fuck fuck. I feel like I want to have a temper tantrum like a little kid and stomp my feet and pull my hair and scream as loud as I can "This isn't fucking FAIR!!!!!".
But then I remember what my mom used to tell me: Life isn't fair.
No shit, sherlock.