Unraveling, Part 9
One year before…
A simple twinge woke her up in the middle of the night. Jess opened her eyes, rolled over, and heard Kevin snoring softly. Then it happened again. It wasn’t a pain, it wasn’t a cramp, it wasn’t a contraction. It soon developed into an odd sort of feeling. She hadn’t felt well all night and they left the book signing party early.
She laid there for a few minutes staring at the ceiling. At their old condominium she could listen to the traffic softly buzz by, and that was comforting in an odd way if she woke in the middle of the night. In their new house, the dead silence felt eerie, even though the windows were cracked open to let in the cool November air.
Jess stirred for a moment, and then got out of bed. Kevin didn’t notice. He never did. He could sleep through any disruption. She knew she wasn’t going to be able to fall back asleep, at least not until she made a trip to the bathroom.
In the dark, she shuffled to the bathroom and turned on the light. It was then she felt the warm rush trickle between her legs and she knew her water had broken. In a panic, she screamed. “Kevin!”
Minutes later, they were in the car speeding along the highway on the way to the hospital. Kevin barely had time to call the doctor before she dressed and threw some things in an overnight bag. She had planned on packing the bag that weekend— the one the Lamaze instructor told them to have ready.
“I can’t believe it’s finally happening,” he said nervously. “Are you feeling ok?” He reached over and patted her belly gently.
“No, I’m not,” she answered, writhing in pain. Suddenly the contractions hit, and she did the best she could with them, but they weren’t even through Lamaze yet. “Kevin, I know something is wrong this time. It’s just too early for me to be in labor.”
“You’re only a few weeks early,” he said in reassurance. “Besides, this isn’t the first time you thought something was wrong. And the doctor has assured you that it’s all going to go as normal as possible.”
She wasn’t buying it. “I know, but I’m almost six weeks early, not a few weeks. Those extra weeks make a bit difference.” She clenched her teeth trying to control the pain. She knew from her Lamaze training she should try to relax, but she couldn’t. “It’s different this time, Kevin. I know it.” She began to cry, though she desperately tried to hold back the flow of tears.
“Dr. Gilmore said he’d meet us at the hospital, Jess,” he said trying to calm her down. “He assured me everything would be fine.”
She looked at him and winced. She knew a credible doctor would ever guarantee something like that. He was lying to her so she’d be calm. She wasn’t sure if she understood why he’d do that, or if she hated him because of it. Minutes later, they burst into the emergency room. The doctor was behind them, things were moving rapidly, and a few minutes later, she was being examined.
“You’re definitely in labor,” the doctor said looking at the contraction monitor. “Let’s take a look at what’s going on.”
They hooked her up to an ultrasound machine and spread the cool jelly over her stomach. She knew the drill. This had happened at her third and fifth month. She was nervous each time, but not as nervous as she was now. It was really no comfort to know she was in the best hands. People still died even though they were in the best hands. Looking for some sign on the doctor’s face, she concentrated, but could read anything. Kevin was talking, but she didn’t hear what he was saying. She only wished he would shut up.
“We’ll have to take the baby by C-section,” the doctor told her, and then he turned his attention toward the delivery staff as he was shouting orders.
“Is the baby all right?” she shouted, but it didn’t seem like anyone was listening. A nurse had whisked Kevin out the door and everyone else was scrambling about.
“Is my baby all right?” she asked again, only louder this time.
“Don’t worry, Mrs. Montgomery,” the doctor assured her, “we’re doing what needs to be done.
They curled her up the best they could and injected a numbing substance into her spine. Within seconds, she felt nothing at all. Five minutes after that, she was being wheeled into the operating room. She was already numb from the neck down, and the doctor assured her that Kevin was right outside the door suiting up in the robe they asked him to wear.
An hour later, she lay in the recovery room waiting for them to take her to a private room rocked to the very core of her being.
“We’ve given her something to calm her down,” she heard Dr. Gilmore say to Kevin. He didn’t even look like he was listening. “I’m truly sorry, Mr. Montgomery. There was nothing we could do. She’ll probably sleep until morning.”
She wasn’t sleeping. She heard them speaking, but she was too numb to move. It was easier to let them think she was.
She gulped and tried not to cry. “How did this happen?” she heard Kevin ask.
“It’s something no one can explain. The baby stopped breathing, probably a few hours ago because the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. We just didn’t get to him in time.”
“She knew something was wrong,” he said. “I should have gotten her here earlier.”
“Don’t blame yourself, Mr. Montgomery. No one is at fault. Unfortunately, it’s just something that happens.”
God, it couldn’t be that simple, she thought. How could they sum everything up in just a few words–it’s just something that happens? It may have been a simple explanation, but it didn’t feel simple at all. It felt like she died along with their precious baby boy.
She started to whimper, already missing the feeling of life she had carried. She so wanted to feel him move inside of her again. Oh, what she wouldn’t give to have it happen.
When Kevin came in to the recovery room, she was still sobbing softly, but she tried to pretend she was sleeping. He walked over to her, kissed her on the cheek, and walked out. She wondered where he was going, but she couldn’t call out his name. She felt woozy. The drugs had obviously started working now, and she was drifting off…
When she woke, she was in her room, alone. She looked through the glass in the door and saw Kevin talking to a group of people. His parents were there. Her parents were there, too. Then she saw her brother and his wife.
Kevin peaked in and saw she was awake. She watched him walk in slowly with a queer look on his face. Then she started to cry. He didn’t say anything to her, he just looked at her with the saddest face she ever saw, and he started to cry, too.
The nurse walked in and gave her another shot. Jess felt sleepy instantly. She hadn’t even had the chance to talk to Kevin. Right before she passed out she heard the nurse say, “The doctor ordered another shot, Mr. Montgomery. It’s best this way. She will be out for a while.”
Perhaps the doctor was sending her a message. Perhaps it wasn’t proper to cry about her baby. Perhaps it wasn’t proper to mourn. After all, medics could explain it so simply, and it happened to someone every day. Perhaps she had no right to feel anything at all.
A few days later, she was released from the hospital. Kevin had avoided the subject, and on the rare occasion, he did try to talk about it, something triggered in her mind to avoid it, too. Why else would the doctor try to calm and sedate her several times in the hospital if she was supposed to feel any emotion and grieve? Instead, she gave her husband what she thought she was supposed to, and they began to behave like strangers.
To be continued on Wednesday, October 9, 2013…