Then, this IM from Tammy:
please call Frank
I told Shannon I had to go, and called Frank on his cellphone. Voicemail.
Frank called back...and the news was so very sad.
At the routine 16-week OB appointment, Tammy and Frank found out that their baby had not survived (and had probably expired in week 12 or 13). Tammy was already admitted to the hospital, and they were going to start the procedure to deliver the baby.
I expressed our sorrow (the Mister was temporarily inconsolable), and offered any assistance and support they needed. Frank said he'd call back when he had more news to share. He asked me to call Tammy's sisters and tell them what was happening.
Those were two of the most excruciatingly sad phone calls I have ever made. How I wish I could have hugged them through the phone!
I tried to concentrate on my work, really I did...but it was next-to-impossible.
I only recall feeling this helpless and hopeless once or twice before in my life (rest assured, it had to do with The Boy's difficulties). A while later, Frank called to say that they'd be at the hospital for an extended period of time, and that the boys' daycare provider would need to leave by 5 pm.
I offered to watch Seth and Russell, and could spend the night if necessary. I sent an email to my project manager explaining the situation, left my work unfinished, and headed to their house, not knowing how long it would be before I'd know how things were progressing.
Tammy and Frank have no home phone; I have no cell phone. I would receive no further updates, and would have to wait for Frank and Tammy to come home. Miss Sitter (not her real name) knew about as much information as I did. We both felt conflicted about what to tell Seth, one of the most inquisitive kids on the planet. I knew he'd ask why mom and dad weren't home from work. I didn't know if I should say anything - maybe Tammy and Frank wanted to tell the boys together.
I went into Grandma mode and played with the boys. We had dinner and watched DVDs and acted silly, like always. Seth and Russell both asked where mom and dad were. Seth informed me that "Mommy always comes home first, her work is closer than Daddy's."
I feigned ignorance, and said that they must be really busy. I was able to keep them entertained and distracted enough that they didn't become too fretful.
Seth kept me on the straight and narrow path, filling me with tips and instructions to make sure things were done the right way.
The well-laid plans went to Hell at bathtime. OMG.
Seth and Russell were engaged in shenanigans during their bubblebath. It was utter chaos, with cups and sand buckets full of water being tossed willy-nilly. Laughter rang out - until I attempted to rinse Russell's hair by duplicating Seth's technique (dumping the bucket of water over Russell's head). Needless to say, I must not have attained Seth's level of finesse, because Russell was not pleased with my actions.
I likened the sound of their cackling laughter to the sounds made by the Barrel of Monkeys in Toy Story 3.
I ended up half as wet as the boys.
I now understand why Tammy and Frank have the cleanest bathroom floor I have ever seen, as it gets a good mopping nightly.
On my next attempt at bathtime, I'll insist that Tammy and Frank provide me with a wetsuit, goggles and a squeegee - right after they install the commercial-grade floor drains.
I survived that ordeal, and bedtime preparations were begun. Teeth were brushed. Pajamas were located and put on. We made the pilgrimage to Russell's room for the reading of the first book, then relocated to Seth's room for the ritual reading of a few chapters of Captain Underpants.
I am sure that this is SOP...it's not like Seth would play me for a fool, would he?
Yes, he would.
Reading done, it was time for a last-minute trip to the potty. Hugs and kisses and the alignment of plush loveys and favorite blankets took place. Both boys went to bed without incident. I glanced at the clock: 8:30, their usual bedtime. Before the boys went to bed, I told them that if mommy and daddy were still busy, then I'd be there in the morning.
I washed dishes, and cleaned up approximately one zillion crayons that Russell thought looked better on the floor than in the metal can they usually resided in.
And I waited. I only had quiet and my sad thoughts as company. Time slowed considerably. I took a "waiting book" out of my purse (a book I read when I have free time in waiting rooms or parking lots), and started to read.
Finally, about midnight, the book slid out of my hand as I dozed, and I got some fitful sleep on the couch.
A nudge to my shoulder woke me. "Grandma, the sun is up! Happy Thanksgiving!"
Detailed breakfast instructions were given, and I got to work. Russell soon joined Seth at the table for oatmeal and conversation.
"Seth, I bet Daddy will be home first", thinking that Tammy would be staying in the hospital.
"No, Grandma, Mommy always comes home first."
He was right. A short while later, Tammy came through the door, and Frank followed.
"Hi Mommy! Happy Thanksgiving!" Seth rushed to give mommy a hug and kiss. Then he asked, "Where have you been?"
Russell was thrilled to see mommy return, too.
Tammy explained that they were in the hospital.
Seth then said, "You had to go to the hospital for them to take the baby out of your belly, because it was already dead. Now, it's an angel baby."
I had not said anything to Seth about the baby, and have no idea how he knew everything. Tammy and Frank assumed that I had told him.
Somehow, he just knew.
Baby Taylor Alexis was delivered at 2:30 am on November 28. The baby was three inches long, and weighed .4 oz. The baby was too young to be able to determine the gender, so I'll just refer to him/her as "the baby".
Tammy and Frank brought home a blanket that held the baby. They got to spend some time looking at the baby before they said goodbye. A nurse wrote a lovely note to Tammy and Frank, and they brought home a bag filled with pamphlets about surviving pregnancy loss.
Although we are all saddened by the baby's death, we take some comfort in knowing that the baby suffered no pain, and that Tammy's and Frank's experience was as life- and hope-affirming as it could be.
Seth still has some questions and wants Mommy and Daddy to get another baby, as he continues to think that Russell and any new sibling are his babies, too.
A burial/memorial service is on Tuesday morning, and we'll all gather much like we did on Thanksgiving, and express our love and support by honoring baby Taylor.
An angel in the book of life wrote down my baby's birth,
Then whispered as she closed the book,
"Too beautiful for Earth"