Monday, April 9, 2007

Leah's Story

This is how it all happened. Where to start? Conner and I had a very busy weekend planned. I was taking him to his very first Natick High football game with all the girls. He had a great time and of course, they won. Then we slept over my parents house and hung out at the yard sale on Saturday. We went to a bunch of yard sales and got some great stuff. As I watched tv I think I remember feeling Leah kick once or twice. The next day we went to Grampy Gal’s 90 birthday party at the Chinese food restaurant. All of the Melchiorri’s were there and I got to show off my pregnant belly to everyone and tell them all I was having a girl. They thought it was perfect, one boy and one girl- great! After we got home I mentioned to Joe that I hadn’t felt the baby kick. We didn’t think too much of it because I had been busy and tired, falling asleep early so maybe she kicked then. It was on my mind for the next couple days. Joe looked it up on the internet and it said you may not feel the baby kick one day and then you will the next. So I waited to see if she would kick. I drank sugary Kool-Aid to see if that would make her kick. I remember mentioning it to my co-worker Melissa and saying that I hope nothing was wrong and wondered if I should call the doctor. I didn’t want to seem paranoid but then I didn’t want to let it go. I think deep down I knew something was wrong.

It’s now Wednesday morning. I fell asleep early the night before so I had to get up and take a shower before I went in to school early for extended Wednesday. I put on a pretty maternity dress and sandals because it was going to be nice out. I was running late but stopped at Dunkin donuts anyways. I remember feeling pretty and pregnant and telling another teacher that I couldn’t wait until January, I was counting the weeks and taking into consideration vacations from school, I only had about 14 weeks left to work, I was excited.
After our meeting I wasn’t feeling well, felt pukey and just something came over me and I didn’t feel well. Even another teacher said I didn’t look well. While I was teaching math I felt very lightheaded, arms weak and I just didn’t feel right so I sat at my desk and had the kids come up to me if they needed help. I sent them to special and decided I should call the doctor.
I finally talk to someone and I am crying telling them that I haven’t felt the baby kick in a couple days, and the nurse said “And you’re just calling now?!” That made me feel HORRIBLE. They called me back and said that Dr. Wilson was only there until 12 and that I should come right in. I go back to tell Melissa and try to organize things for whoever was going to come in my room. Melissa asked if I was coming back and I said yes, she told me I should just take the rest of the day. So I figured, okay, I will and I grabbed a couple math books to look at while I was home…thinking everything was going to be fine. I go to the office and I tell them I have to leave and of course I am crying. They make Melissa come with me, thank goodness someone was there. I rush to get there before 12.

They made me wait a couple minutes in the office and I’m thinking- geez, he said he was leaving at 12, it’s 12, get me in there. I finally get in and then I had to sit and wait for what seemed like forever for him to come in. But I was thinking to myself, you’re overreacting, everything is going to be fine, he’ll come in and put the Doppler on my belly and we’ll hear the heart beating away. He comes in and asks what’s going on and I start to cry telling him I haven’t felt the baby move. I lay back and he asks where do we usually hear the heartbeat- high or low, I don’t know! We could only hear my heartbeat. He keeps looking around and around, I am crying. He is taking my pulse to see if it’s my heartbeat or the babies and he keeps looking as I lay there crying. He tells me that we’re going to go get an u/s done. I cry all the way to the room. I lay down and they put the goop on me, there’s my baby girl, no heartbeat…. I am crying and they are silent, then they are talking to each other asking some question about what they see. They see nothing wrong except the heart is not beating. I am still crying and Dr. Wilson gives me a hug and we go back to his office. The u/s technician went to get Melissa in the waiting room. We go back to Dr. Wilson’s office and I am bombarded with all these things- induce labor, which medicine, when to go, after we’ll do genetic testing and an autopsy to figure out what happened, etc. He says that I can wait to go into labor myself, go in tomorrow or go in tonight, Wednesday, October 4 at 7pm. He gives me his phone number in case I decide not to go in tonight. He tells me to go home and discuss everything with Joe and he gives me another hug.
I am in shock. I cannot believe this. I thought I’d hear the heartbeat right away and then Melissa and I could go to lunch or Barnes & Noble and look at books for school. No, now I am driving her back to school to get her car and thinking all these horrible thoughts about how my baby is not alive anymore. I try to call Joe from the parking lot but he is on his lunch break, I call him at home in case he went there for lunch, no answer. So I can’t get in touch with him, my parents are on a plane to Las Vegas and I don’t have my sisters new work number in my phone. All the way home I wait until I can call Joe and wonder what I am going to say to him. I finally get in touch with him and I tell him I went to the doctor and the baby is gone, we lost the baby. I told him that I can go in tonight to be induced to have her. I am at a loss. I get home and go to the bathroom and I am already spotting a little bit. Joe gets home right after me and then Melissa pulls in to make sure I was not alone and that Joe was there. Joe and I hug and I explain what Dr. Wilson had told me and we decide that we should go in tonight. 7 o’clock was far enough away now, it was only around 1:45. We don’t know what to do. All I can remember is picking up Conner’s toys and the living room a bit. I called my sister to tell her the bad news , it is also her birthday. She starts crying on the phone. She arranges everything so that she can leave work, pick up Avery and then come sleep over to watch Conner. I went on to Fertility Friend and made a few posts about my situation asking for help and advice on what to expect. This was a huge help. The ladies told me what to expect, what I should do- what they wish they had done, everything. Since it was Wednesday and I had my meeting, Joe got Conner ready. I had put out a couple of outfits for him to pick and I wanted to know what he wore so I asked Joe. Conner was wearing his “I’m the Big Brother” t-shirt. I tear up. Joe and I hang around before we decide to pick Conner up at daycare. When we get there he is having so much fun running around jumping onto the couch and tackling the other boys. Then they go outside to ride bikes, all along I am trying to figure out how to tell Judy what has happened. When we finally get Conner ready to leave I tell her that I am not sure if Conner will be there tomorrow because my sister will be watching him because I have to go have the baby tonight. I told her I lost the baby. She gives me the biggest, tightest hug and says “oh no!” and “I’m so sorry” and she keeps hugging me.

We get Conner home and Joe plays with him outside for a bit, I think I may have too but I don’t really remember. I remember packing my bag and wondering what to pack, how long was I going to be there? Where are my tight sports bras? My milk was still going to come in and I was going to need them. Annemarie didn’t get to our house until right before 6:30 so Joe and I shove the Wendy’s down our throats and get Conner situated. Of course he was crying when we left so that didn’t make things any easier. He waved goodbye to us out the living room window and I just cry. We get a little bit into Westminster and my cell phone rings, it’s Am. She wanted to tell me that Conner already stopped crying and was playing cars, drinking his milk and watching Caillou with Avery. That made me feel a little better.

I told Joe I didn’t want to do this, I was scared. Then I remember thinking- geez, he is driving so slow, now I just want to get there. Dr. Wilson said 7 o’clock and I didn’t want to be late, I didn’t want him to have to wait. We get to patient registration and only had to wait 2 minutes. It’s Lynn’s friend Tara that is checking us in. I sit down at the window and she says to me “you’re not due yet!” and all I say is “I know.” I get all my paperwork and she tells us how to get upstairs.

We get to the labor and delivery floor and a bright and cheery nurse buzzes me and Joe in. They tell me to walk down to the second desk. Those are the people who know what’s going on with me because as soon as I get there I am crying and they stop smiling. I give my paperwork to Dr. Wilson and my nurse, Anne, comes and gives me a hug and tells me she is so sorry for my loss, I say thank you. They bring me and Joe into my room and we sit down. Dr. Wilson explains things to me and Joe about what’s going to happen, labor and after the baby is born all the different tests we can do and the options of what to do with the baby after she is born. It is a lot to take in. The nurse has me get into my gown and into bed. Dr. Wilson examines me and then gives me my first dose of medicine (mesiprostal) to induce my labor. He tells us that he will check back around 11pm. They will check me and give me meds every 4-6 hours. The nurse starts an IV drip on me to keep me hydrated and then if they need to give me any drugs for pain I already will have an IV. She explains to me that the lab will be coming in to do blood work also.
Anne is great. She is on a team of nurses that deals with infant loss, she heads the team actually . She has been doing it for about 11 years. She knows exactly what to say and how to make me feel a bit better. She tells me that “it bites” and she is exactly right. Anne showed us this special magnet they have hanging on the outside of our door. It has 2 big hearts that stand for the parents and then a small heart in the middle for the baby. This is their way of letting the people at the hospital know that we lost our baby so that when they come in the room they don’t make a hurtful comment or anything.

We were given a folder that had information about support groups, a letter from a mother who had been through this before and a special little baby book that we could use. Instead of sitting and chatting about what the baby will look like, who is going to come visit and talking about formula and bottles, we are filling out death certificate papers and talking about autopsies and funerals! This is unfair, my baby was perfectly healthy, we had the special u/s to make sure and now this. We have no idea what has happened to our baby girl and we won’t know until I deliver her; we don’t know how long that will take either. As Anne was talking to me about everything I can remember thinking, “what time is it? Is Lost on? Does she have to tell me all this now, I just want to watch Lost.” How horrible, I just did not want to go through with this. I wanted to keep my baby. I remember thinking-- oooh, did she just kick me? I kept feeling what I thought could be kicks and then this would all be fine, of course they weren’t kicks.
I don’t remember how long it was before I started having contractions. They weren’t too bad, I just felt a little bit crampy. We had the tv on, which came in terrible, and I lay in bed and Joe is on the recliner. Time went by so slowly and we just sat there thinking about what is going to happen. Dr. Wilson came back around 11:30-12 o’clock to check me again and give me more meds. He told me he would be back in the morning. I can’t remember when they gave me stadol for the pain but I remember that it did make me relax a little bit, it also made the room spin, but it allowed me to relax and doze off a bit. Joe slept in the recliner and they gave him blankets and a pillow. I remember coming in and out of sleep throughout the night. Jennine, my night shift nurse came in to check my vitals a couple of times. When I woke up early that morning I remember the dream I had. I had a dream that I had my baby girl but she was still alive! She was a little small but alive. I had been thinking about how big or small she was going to be, I didn’t know what to expect even though they tried to help us out. I can’t sleep anymore and it is early in the morning, Cops is on tv. I keep waiting for the time to pass by and Dr. Wilson to get here and tell me how much longer. He comes in and checks me and I am about 1cm. 1cm! That’s it!!? I can’t believe that’s all I was. He gives me more meds and will check back around 11:15. I am tired and bored but I can’t sleep. Joe is asleep on the chair, I wish I could sleep. I am getting anxious, I still do not know what to expect. I only have to dilate to 5cm because the baby is so small. That is so sad. The nurse brings me in some magazines, some are from 2004! I flip through some but I don’t really have the patience to read them. I decide I am going to go for a walk. I put some underwear and shorts on and roll my IV stand down the hall. Before I leave I ask if I can go out for a walk and they said yes and if I fall off the radar they will come get me. I don’t know how they would know how far I went because there was nothing attached to me except my IV. Anyways. Even though I know it will be hard, I go look to see the babies that are in the nursery. I won’t be able to hold a baby like that, my baby will not be in the nursery. I’m looking in the window and I see a baby girl. She is laying in her little bassinet with a pink blanket and cute pink stuffed animals. That would’ve been my baby. There is also a boy and another baby or two, not many. A worker comes up to the window and asks if I just had a baby and I start crying and say no. She walks away. I go over to the couches and sit down. Those chairs are more comfortable than my bed. I see that they have magazines out here in the lobby so I get a recent Parent’s magazine and try to read it. I am too distracted so I just watch the people come and go. After a little while I decide I should go back to my room. They let me in and I have to pass a girl in her wheelchair with her husband pushing her down the hall. I hear a few babies crying, I start to cry a little bit. I get back to my room and Joe is still asleep. I get back into bed and just wait. I keep waiting, waiting to dilate, waiting for more meds, more contractions, waiting to have my baby.

Joe wakes up and he goes to get some lunch and a soda. He goes to Barnes&Nobles to get some books for us both to read, some baseball and retirement or money type book and then a Chicken Soup for the Soul book that ends up being about alcohol recovery, not the kind of soul healing he thought. He also got me a magazine to read. By now I am feeling sleepy, I don’t know if it was meds or just me being worn out but I dozed off for a little bit. At one point I made Joe lay in bed with me because I felt alone. I felt bad laying in bed because my back was to him in his chair, I didn’t want him to feel alone either so he came and lay down with me. My day nurse, Kathy, came in and asked him if he wanted any lunch but he didn’t feel like eating, plus he had just had some snacks. I was not allowed to eat but Kathy snuck me some graham crackers to go along with my apple juice. I could only eat one.

At my next check in with Dr. Wilson I was still only about 1 cm but my cervix was thinning out and becoming shorter so he was glad I was making progress. The contractions were getting a little stronger and I was feeling them in my back and in my stomach. This was not comfortable but I figured I would not go through getting an epidural because I only had to go to 5 cm and who knew how long that would take or how much it would hurt, I didn’t know so I decided not to get one. They could give me other things to help with the pain a little bit. It was around 11:30-12 o’clock and I decided to text message Melissa to tell her I hadn’t had the baby yet, I knew she would be wondering. I text messaged Am and gave her my room phone number. She called and updated me on Conner. He was being so good she said, holding her hand in the parking lot, letting her change and dress him without a problem, eating, he was being perfect she said. Am had to take care of a few things because she is selling her house. Then she was going to go pick up a few things for baby Leah, Joe and I decided we would name her Leah. Am was going to try and find some small clothes, get a little stuffed animal and a blanket, little things to give her for us since we didn’t get the chance to do that. The only thing I had bought for her she would wear this winter after she was born. I bought her a hand knitted pink shall with matching mittens and hat. That was the first thing I bought her when I knew she was a girl. She would’ve looked so cute! So Am was going to take care of those things and bring Conner and Avery back to her house for naps. She would come to the hospital later with Conner. I also text messaged my mom to find out if/when she was coming home. I gave her my phone number and she called me. We talked and she said she would be home Friday or Saturday. There was no way they would make it home in time to see Leah anyways.

Now my contractions are starting to get more intense. I still decide against an epidural. I am making more and more progress and I am wondering when this will happen. Dr. Wilson says sometime tonight. He is leaving from 5-6 for his bag pipe lessons but he gives Joe his cell phone number in case they need to get in touch with him to come back. This time waiting seemed like forever and the contractions were closer together and hurting in my back and stomach. They give me some morphine but only a small dose because I don’t want to get sick or be too out of it. It doesn’t help much, I didn’t relax and I could still feel pain. I had to wait a certain amount of time before Kathy could give me more. As soon as she could, she gave it to me.

Now we have been warned again at how small the baby is going to be. How she might slip out easily since she is so small and since it is my second baby. But she said not to worry, and call if I feel the need to push. I keep looking at the clock wanting Dr. Wilson to be back because I feel like it’s time. I call Kathy to come in and I am in such pain she checks me but I am only at around 3-4 cm. I can’t believe it, I feel like I am ready. My contractions are getting worse and I am holding on to the bed railing tight and at times hitting it because I can’t stand the pain. Now I have gone from not wanting to do this to feeling like I need to get this over with because I can‘t stand the pain anymore. No more waiting, we want to know what’s wrong with the baby, and what’s going to happen.

The nurses are in my room I can’t remember why, but I have to go to the bathroom so Anne helps me (she is early for her shift). I go to the bathroom and then I tell her I feel like I have to push, she says Ok. Then I say not now, I don’t want to have her on the toilet, she said she knows, its okay. It stings, I can feel it is time. I get back on to the bed and I tell them I have to push. They tell me to push and I do, and in one push, at 6:18 pm, Thursday October 5, baby Leah is born and then a few seconds later the placenta comes out. They are checking her and they say something and call her a him and I say “it’s a girl right?” I remember seeing them move part of the cord and they check and yes, it is a girl. I am crying, Joe is crying. The nurses and Dr. Wilson are telling me to look at the baby. They are amazed at how many times the umbilical cord is wrapped around her neck. It is wrapped tightly around her tiny little neck four times! My poor baby! They quickly wipe her and wrap her in a blanket and hand her over to me. I can’t believe how small she is. I am kind of scared to look. Her eyes are open, I can’t tell what color they are and I do not see the whites of her eyes. Her tiny little mouth is open and I see her cute tongue. She has the tiniest hands with long fingers and cute tiny little feet. Even though her nose and lips are small I can tell they are just like Conner’s. I want to hug her and squeeze her so hard because I love her so much but she is too tiny and fragile, I am afraid. So I just hold her gently in my arms and give her a tiny kiss on her head.

In a way we are relieved that the reason her heart stopped beating was because the cord was around her neck, but it is still devastating. We decide that we will not have to do the autopsy because she looks perfectly fine and it was because of the cord. They will still do the blood tests on me and send the placenta to pathology to have that tested and make sure everything is ok.
The nurses ask me if I am hungry and I say yes- I haven’t eaten in 24 hours! They ask what I want and I said last time I got some kind of salad with chicken, she is not sure if they will have that so I said anything would be fine. Dr. Wilson decided he would go buy me a chicken salad at the local family pizza. He asked Joe if he wanted anything but he didn’t, he also offered him his roast beef sub that he had gotten on his way back here but Joe didn’t feel like eating.

I don’t remember how much time has gone by now but Leah is wrapped in her blanket wearing her pink knitted hat and she is placed on the baby bed that is in the room. I ask Joe to go over and take some pictures of her. This is hard. The nurses tell us that Annemarie and Conner are here so we bring the baby out of the room so Conner doesn’t see her. We decided it would be best if we didn’t show him the baby or say anything because he is too young and doesn’t understand. He didn’t usually remember that I was having a baby unless we asked him. I visit with Conner. He is so excited to see me, he looks so grown up and cute! Joe takes Conner for a walk so Am can see Leah. She holds her and cries. She shows me all the cute things she has gotten for her. The outfits are too big but everything else is perfect. There is a little white bunny from Conner that says sweetheart and it rattles, and Am picked out a cute tiny pink bear holding a blanket that says God Bless Baby, she also got a guardian angel pin with the October birth stone and a baby set of Rosary beads.

Patty and Liz are here so they see Conner for a minute or two and Joe takes him for a walk. The nurses bring Leah back in so they can see her. They place her on the end of my bed and unwrap her from her blanket. She is wearing what they call their “angel outfit”. The hospital has volunteers , mostly other mothers that have been through this, knit small outfits for the babies to wear. Leah is wearing a mostly white knitted dress with small bits of pastel colors in it, pink booties on her feet and a pink knitted hat. We look at her on the bed and we all cry. Patty says she is beautiful and we all comment on how she has Conner’s nose and lips. They each get to hold her. While they are here Melissa from school comes in. She is a wreck. She comes in and gives me a big hug, she asks if she can look at the baby, she does and she cries. Then she tries to cheer me up by telling me about school but when she tells me that Evelyn and Marcia told our classes I start to cry. She called a staff meeting on Wednesday afternoon to tell all the teachers and they were just going to tell my class that I was sick but when Melissa found this out she decided she needed to go in to school Thursday because the kids needed to know. Evelyn didn’t know they all knew I was pregnant - hello- you couldn’t hide it! Melissa told her how I made up a worksheet with a puzzle on it for them to figure out I was having a baby in January. So they decide to tell them the truth, at this point though they do not know what happened, just that my baby had died.

We have the nurse take Leah back, they are carrying her in a cute basket with special bedding that has bears on it that another mother made. Everyone has left except Am and Conner. We visit for a few more minutes and Conner keeps saying “mama doctors”. The nurse comes in to take my blood pressure and temperature, she gives Conner a doctor’s hat, mask and thermometer cover so he can play. He is excited, he also got a Popsicle! They all thought he was the cutest. He was being so well behaved too, it was great to see him. He got a pillow from Joe’s chair and climbed up into bed with me. I had the stuffed animals with me and he moved them so he could lay down with me. That made me happy for a moment. We decide that it’s okay for Joe to go home with Conner, I will be ok in the hospital, I will go to sleep and see him semi-early in the morning. I had the choice of going home that night or staying. But it was already late and I felt more comfortable staying, especially since I was bleeding and all that, I did just give birth! And now that I think of it I am glad I stayed because we had a bunch of things to do the next day at the hospital. So I said good bye to Am, Joe and Conner and Joe told me he would be back around 8:30-9:00 and he took my phone number down just in case.

A little while after they left Anne came in to talk with me a little bit. We talked about where Leah would sleep. I told her I was a little afraid of having her sleep in my room but I didn’t want her to be all alone, I was crying and confused. She said all this was normal. I asked her if she weighed Leah and measured her yet, she hadn’t and said she was going to do all of that right now. She brought all her equipment in the room with Leah. Leah weighed 1 pound and 6 ounces and was about 13 inches long. Then Anne explained to me about taking Leah’s angel pictures. She took many pictures. They send them to a company to process them and they do some in black and white. They will be ready in about 4 weeks and I come to the hospital to pick them up. (I really wish they were ready now.) I was tired and feeling a bit woozy from the drugs and I fell asleep while Anne was taking the pictures.

I woke up again in the middle of the night just as Jennine was coming in to take my vitals, she again told me she was sorry for my loss. I was up for good around 6am. I was anxious for Joe to get there. Dr. Wilson stopped in again to check on how I was doing. We chatted again on the decision to just test the placenta and do blood work, no autopsy is needed because we know it was the cord that caused Leah’s death. I asked him how long I would have to wait before we could try again, thinking it would be a year because I’ve always heard that you should wait a year. He said I didn’t need to wait that long, he said wait a few cycles (for some reason I keep thinking he said 4). Since I am young and healthy he said I don’t have to wait a whole year. And he also said that “next time , because there will be a next time, we will do lots of ultrasounds” and stuff like that, check the cord blood flow and everything, not that we could’ve done anything this time, but doing all those things next time may give us a little peace of mind, help calm our fears a little bit. I will see him in his office in about 4 weeks.

Once Joe got back Kathy asked us if we wanted to see Sister Cathy and have Leah blessed, we did. So Sister Cathy came in and our nurse Kathy stayed too. I held Leah while she blessed her with Holy Water, just like she was being Baptized. She also blessed us and we prayed. Joe and I said a little blessing to Leah also. Joe said most of it, I did not know what to say. He told her how excited we were to have her and for her to know how much we loved her and that we will always remember her. This was very difficult. We received a certificate of blessing for Leah. We stayed with Leah for a little while. This was very hard. We each held her again and took a couple pictures. It was hard to see her because she was so wrapped up in her little blanket, mostly just her tiny head was showing. It was getting too hard to handle, she started to bleed a tiny bit near her little nose, I wiped it with one of my tissues. This was just too sad so we buzzed Kathy to come and get Leah.

The social worker came in to talk to us but to tell you the truth she didn’t really help much, the nurses were more help. She did give us her card and she contacted the priest in Ashburnham for us. Kathy contacted the funeral home to let them know our situation and that we would be calling soon. After she left we took care of some paperwork and Kathy went over my discharge instructions. Joe went to get the car and I asked Kathy to see Leah one more time before I left. I am so glad I did because this would be the last time I would see my baby girl. She looked so cute and peaceful laying in her basket. She looked even more beautiful than the last time, she was positioned so cute and I touched her cute little hand but I was sad to see that there were some blood stains on her dress. This made me cry. I kissed my hand and touched her one last time. Kathy took Leah away and walked me down to meet Joe. She said this is going to be hard, as we walked down the labor and delivery hallway. I was crying. We took the elevator down and instead of carrying my baby out I was carrying a small gift bag the nurses had given me that was filled with Leah’s things- a blanket she layed on, her blessing certificate, her “It’s a girl!” birth card, the measuring tape they used to measure her, the book with her footprints, and a small purplish-blue bear the nurses gave me. This is not the way it is supposed to be.

Now we are home empty handed and we are at a loss. What do we do now? It is a long weekend so we can’t meet with the cemetery director until Tuesday. Once we meet with him he will talk to the funeral home and we will get everything scheduled for Leah’s burial. The weekend drags on. There are many deliveries of flowers, plants and a few people brought us some food but we don’t really feel like eating. Who can eat at a time like this? I am even having trouble sleeping through the night. I will fall asleep early but then wake up and have trouble getting back to sleep. I feel so alone even though Joe is right there with me, I don’t want him to even leave the room. When I see Conner he makes me smile, he is such a great little boy. I hug him and squeeze him tight and give him millions of kisses, thank goodness I have him. But there is an emptiness because I know I do not have my little girl Leah to hug and kiss.

My parents are back from Las Vegas and they come to visit. It is good to see them but it is hard. They keep Conner occupied and it gives Joe and me a time to rest a bit. They bring Conner to play with Avery so Joe and I can have some alone time. It’s hard to constantly put on a happy face for Conner so I think it’s good that he can go play with his cousin.

It’s now Tuesday and we’re driving up to the cemetery to meet with the director. This is the first time we have been there and we have no idea where we are going. We’re driving through this cemetery and it’s all old gravestones and I’m thinking to myself- “this is where I am burying my baby? Aren’t there any newer graves?” I start to cry and I feel a little scared. We keep driving around trying to find where we are to meet this guy, we haven’t a clue and we end up driving in circles for a minute. Finally we see this scruffy looking guy and I think- this is him? It isn’t, but he directs us where to go. As we drive up the hill we reach the new part of the cemetery, now this is more like it (unfortunately). I start to cry a little harder when I realize what we are actually there to do, pick out a plot where we are to bury our little girl. We meet with Steve who is very kind and knows how hard this is for us and that we really don’t have a clue as to what to do. He goes over the different kind of plots we can buy, where they are and what kind of stones are allowed to be put there. It is very beautiful and peaceful up there with the green grass and colorful fall leaves. It is sad to see that there are a few young people buried there, a five year old boy and a teenager. It is sad to think this is where Leah will be, all alone without her family. We finally decide to get the bigger plot because it will be where Joe and I will be buried also. (hopefully not for a very very very long time!) But we will be buried with Leah. Leah will have her own flat gravestone eventually, I hope to make it a very special one.
Now that that is taken care of Joe contacts the funeral home and everything is set up and we will bury Leah the next day. That is so soon I think but really it isn’t, it has almost been a week since she died. It is very last minute to let our friends and family know and I hope people will be able to come to her service. Of course I worry that they won’t be able to find the cemetery because it’s in Ashburnham and nobody knows their way around and we even had a hard time finding it!

I talk with Cicily, the funeral director, on the phone to make sure there will be a priest to do the service. I am worried about the dress that Leah is wearing because at the hospital I remember that there were some light blood stains on it and I didn’t know if it had gotten worse and I didn’t want her to be buried in it if it was all stained. She said she would call the nurses and get another one if she needed to. I can’t buy her something myself because she was so tiny but I am glad she is wearing something that was made from love from mothers who have been through this horrible time themselves. I can still remember her cute little dress and pink little booties on her precious little feet. I want to see and hold her one more time, but I find out the next morning that I can’t. Cicily thinks it is better that I don’t see her because many things have changed since she left the hospital. She says I should remember Leah the way she was when she was with me in the hospital, even that was hard. This upsets me but I know it is for the best.
Joe and I go to the funeral home the morning of the burial to say our last goodbyes and drop off the things we want Leah to be buried with. We finally meet Cicily who until now was just a kind helpful voice on the other end of the phone trying to make things as easy as possible for us. She shows us to the room where Leah is resting in her casket. She tells us not to be shocked by the size of the casket because they gave her one a little bit bigger because she knew we had a few things we wanted to give her. Cicily had also given her a little lamb to lay with, I thought that was nice of her. It is sitting upon a table with a kneeler in front of it so we can pray. It looks like it is made of white marble, almost like oreo cookie ice cream. It was pretty. We knelt there praying and crying. This is our baby girl in that casket. A part of me wanted to throw it open and grab her and hug her but I knew I couldn’t do that, it would only make things harder. We took out the presents we were giving her and I told her all about them. There was a pretty pink blanket that I lay on the casket. Then I showed her the cute white bunny that says sweetheart and rattles that Conner gave her. I also gave her a little doll that said Little Angel that was from me and Joe and Rosary beads and a tiny pink bear cuddling a blanket that says God Bless Baby from my sister. This was hard giving her these because I would rather see her playing with and eating them than having them lay with her in her casket (of course). We touched the casket for a while and said our goodbyes with a kiss and left. We met with Cicily once again and discussed the writing of Leah’s obituary, meeting her at the cemetery and what was going to happen. She told us that the funeral home was not charging us for anything. The owner has two kids of his own and he always hates to see when there has to be a funeral for a child. They want to make it as painless as possible for the family so they do it free of charge, we were very grateful for that.

The service was to start at 2 o’clock that Wednesday afternoon. I hated my outfit that I wore. I even went shopping at Walmart the night before and got a shirt and jacket but when I put it on that day I didn’t like how I looked and Joe didn’t think the dark purple jacket looked right so I didn’t wear it, I was a bit cold but I didn’t care. Joe’s family was already there when we got there and we pulled up and parked. Cicily came over and took the basket of flowers from Joe’s family and the Disney Princess birthday balloon that I bought for Leah, it said “Happy Birthday Princess” and she put them in front of Leah’s casket. Slowly everyone started to arrive. I saw Melissa from school get out of the car with her husband and then I saw my vice-principal and that just made me cry. It was nice of him to come. Christy, Lynn, Mego, my parents, Joe’s parents, Am and Paul, Liz, Jen, Andrea and Mikayla, Shan, her mom and Chad also came. We were waiting for my aunt Dianne before we could start, she was on her way. While we were waiting I passed out little pink and purple heart ornaments that I wrote Leah’s name and birth date on so that people would always remember her. Aunty Di arrived and she placed beautiful white baby roses with babies breath on top of Leah’s casket. We were now ready to begin.
It was extremely hard to listen to the words Father Horgan was saying. Although they are meant to be comforting, that Leah is in the hands of God now, it is hard to take in. We all prayed and he said some beautiful things. I just remember standing in front of Leah’s casket with Joe, holding his hand and grabbing on to his arm very tightly so tight I probably left a mark! I just stared at her flowers and balloon and occasionally looked up at the priest. There were certain parts of the service where you could hear people crying. I was glad I had Joe there to hold onto. I could tell this was just as hard for him as it was for me.

After the service was over people hung around for a bit and we talked with Cicily. She was sorry that my parent’s and sister’s flowers had not arrived at the funeral home before she left. They were really mad with the flower company that their flowers were not there. She gave us each a key to Leah’s casket that had a key chain that said “You hold the key to my Heart”, that is very sweet. We spoke with Steve, the cemetery director, one last time about our payment and he said whenever we get the chance. Everyone we dealt with was very understanding. We invited everyone back to our house for food and desserts since many drove a long way. Joe and I went to pick Conner up from daycare so that everyone could see him. Of course when we got there he was having so much fun he didn’t want to leave! It was great to see him so happy. We brought him back to the house where we got to be around all our loving family and friends, without them, who knows what we would have done! They have been there through everything that has happened in our family and they always will. Hopefully we will only go on to have happy, healthy memories from now on!

We will always love and remember you Leah.
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Here is a poem I found online. I thought about reading it at the funeral but it would’ve been way too hard. I will type it up and frame it for Leah and bring it to her grave. I do not know the author.

Tiny angel rest your wings,
Sit with me for a while.
How I long to hold your hand,
And see your tender smile.
Tiny angel look at me,
I want this image clear.
That I will forget your precious face,
Is my biggest fear.
Tiny angel can you tell me why you have gone away?
You weren’t here for very long…
Why is it you couldn’t stay?
Tiny angel shook her head.
“These things I do not know.
But I do know that you love me
And that I love you so.”

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