**Caution, description of deceased infant call***
Some calls never leave you no matter how many years have gone by.
With each strike of my foot on the pavement I breathe, counting 1,2,3,4,5 and out 5,4,3,2,1. I’m in the zone where I feel as if I could run forever. My legs start feeling numb and I know I need to stop and walk. The need to push almost overrides me and as I slow to a walk I feel dizzy and want to sit down. My hands go over my head and I walk in circles to give my ribs room to breathe deeply.
I’m shaking with the exertion and the pictures press in as my heart slows down. The 3 day old baby laying on the handmade blanket on the floor. The mother sitting on the couch in shock and looking to me, out of all the people in the room looks at me and mouths “please”. I begin to run again, I need to get away from my thoughts, I need to run forever. This time however I end up sprinting past the police cruiser going slowly down our street and he flashes his lights at me as he usually does and waves. I wave a hand back and kick hard to run faster.
I want to get away, I need to get away. But there is no escaping from my own thoughts.
Walking up the driveway a neighbor yells a hello and I wave back going into the house. I’m streaming sweat, it’s trickling down my back. Stripping off my clothes quickly in my room I get into my bathrobe and start the water in the tub. The fridge has held a leftover box of wine from a porch party a month ago and I search the cabinet until I find the glass I’m looking for. Hesitating for a moment I almost change my mind then I turn the spigot and fill the glass.
The tub is full and I sink into it slowly savoring the heat of the water. I sip from my cold glass and lay back. Rest, I just want to rest. Closing my eyes I lean back until all my body is under the water. It’s a brief moment of rest then my mind fills with so many images. The mother’s soundless words directed my way. My trembling hands as I handed the wrong pads to the paramedic in charge. The trembling hands of the fire fighter who handed me the right sized ones and his look into my eyes of sorrow.
The image of this tiny newborn baby on the brightly colored blanket and the knowlege inside myself with that one look this baby was never coming back. My eyes fill and tears begin streaming down my face splashing into the water. Sobs come up from deep inside my chest and I am grateful the kids are with my Mother for movie night.
I turn to my side in the tub and sob so hard I almost vomit into the water. The images will not leave me. Like a loop in a movie they keep coming. The EMS supervisor meeting us at the E.R. with the saddest of looks in his eyes, the screams of the mother down the hall as they told her the baby was gone. The feel of the infant in my arms as the paramedic tried his best in the ambulance to bring back this life which was already long gone.
I am haunted by these things.
Tilting my head back I swallow the rest of the wine in the glass and get out of the tub, dry off and put my bathrobe back on again. Using the soaking wet washcloth I again wash my face. Turning I see the woman in the mirror who looks so beaten, so sad and has the bathrobe pulled around herself like a favorite blanket as if she will never be warm again.
I go down the hall to the living room and settle in on the couch cuddling up with a big blanket. Television stations flipping past mindlessly as I try to keep my mind empty. I hear my mother’s car drive up and car doors slamming shut. The keys turn in the lock and the happy sounds of the kids returning home and my mother coming in with them.
Taking a deep breath I let it out, schooling my face I turn towards them as they round the corner, smile and say “How did it go? Tell me all about the movie?” And I settle in with my kids on the couch as they tell me all about the movie they’d seen with their Grandma.
It is all I can do to … Just breathe.