when i first realize the moment that there was something wrong, i didn’t even register that what was wrong was more profound that i can imagine. even while the doctor was doing the ultra sound to find a heartbeat, i even thought that it was just momentary and that it would be okay later. the first time it did finally hit me was when the second doctor came in to verify the other doctor’s finding. then it finally dawned on me that my second born was dead. i remember crying but in hindsight, i was still shocked and in disbelief. like thinking that the baby would move again in the evening when the doctor wasn’t looking.
even as we discuss our options on the weekend, i was still in a state of denial. i had brief moments of realization that i wasn’t in a nightmare and this was really happening. at first, the surgery option sounded great because it would only take about an hour and we would be home in less than 3-4 hours. the option sounded less appealing once we found out that the baby would be ‘vacuum’ out of the uterus. i am glad jen stood strong with her intuition and opt for labor even though i thought that it would be even more emotionally devastating. in the end, the labor process was what we needed to work with our grief.
when i jen told me that the hospital told her to come in on tuesday afternoon, i was caught off guard. in my mind, the more time i had to ‘prepare’ for the eventual moment, the better. i am sure it was just my mind playing some aversion games. still, jen was getting on my case about the funeral and names and stuff and i didn’t really want to think about any of this stuff. i know i was busy distracting myself with work tasks and etc. i had gone to see my therapist on monday and although we talked about the tragedy, i felt like i jumped all over the place in the session. i think somehow i was able to avoid dealing with in the session. jen told me that i acted different after the session and in hindsight, i think i was frustrated that i avoided dealing with the issue in the session. i was still caught up in my defensive mechanism and my emotions were being pent up and i couldn’t find an outlet. during the session, the issue of my mother came up again and i told ken that i still had feelings of resentment towards her. i think i left the session feeling sorry for myself and my family. i was thinking about all the shit we went through with the war, being refugees, immigrants and lastly separation from each other as a family. and to bring it all back to the present, the lost of my daughter and the challenges of my marriage so far. i was beginning to feel that i was going to fail as a family man no mater what i did.
i had no desire to go to the mortuary even though jen had brought it up. after watching six feet under, i felt a bit weird about going especially if such a young baby. even at this point, i had secretly wish jen had chosen to go the surgery route and we can have the hospital take care of the baby afterwards. i just thought the whole funeral home thing was over the top for a 20 week baby and with extra expenses on top of it all! to in reality, the funeral home was first sign post in me having to deal with the reality of the situation. all along, i had been able to not deal with my emotions but i finally broke down at the funeral home. i was plesantly surprise by the person helping us with it. he didn’t seem pushy and seem sincere enough. and after we learn how cheap the cremation was, i felt better that we choose to creamate the baby instead of leaving it up to the hospital. at this point, even the idea of an urn for the ashes seem over the top. i entertain the idea of looking over the baby urns and went along with picking one. i mean i wasn’t overly against it but i figure if jen wanted one, then it was fine. once we pick the urn that we were going to use, the intanigble concept of lost finally had a phyiscal manifestation and i broke down. the fact was, i didn’t want all these ‘over the top’ things to remind me of my lost and the urn was the first of this reminder. i left the funeral home pretty drained emotionally and to think we had to go through the labor process on the same day. what the fuck were we thinking? of course part of me, was like, just get it all over with.
when we were having lunch before going into the hospital, it felt like our last meal before going to be executed. the admission process to Labor and delivery was uneventful and reassuring enough once the doctors talked about what usually happens in cases such as ours. as it turns out the first two nurses working with us were buddhist and we felt good about it. jen was being very inquisitive to everyone about everything and although i understood why, i wish she would just trust the process and them more. anyway, for the first 10 hours, things were pretty slow as they kept dosing jen up with the drug to make the contractions. once we found out that jen had an infection, things started getting more emotional as she started experiencing the temperature swings and etc. i was beginning to feel at lost on how to support her and she had reprimand me for not being more supportive. by now, i was feeling pretty tired and irritable and i just felt like keeping my mouth shout would be the least disruptive act. so at this point, moments seem more surreal because of the tiredness and the situation we find ourselves in. i had pretty much given up hope that it was going to be a ‘quick’ one because i thought with uma’s delivery less than a year ago, jen’s body would just do it’s thing rather quickly. after the water broke, we got a bit excited that it would happen pretty soon but after an hour of thinking it was going to happen any moment, my tiredness had gotten the best of me and i wanted to just lay down. i remember that jen’s water had broke like 15 hours before uma was delivered, so i was thinking, well, it won’t be that quick so let’s get some shut eyes so i can have some energy when it finally doesn’t happen. i was in a half sleep state when i heard the nurse come in and help jennie go t the bathroom. when i heard jen’s voice from from the bathroom that the baby had came out, i was in total shock that this was actually happening. it was like your worse delievery nightmare because i was sleeping and it was happening while jen was in the bathroom. i think the next 10 minutes was all a blur while i rushed to get the doctor and jen was being escorted back to her bed by the nurse. the sight of the nurse carrying a bloody towel, holding the baby in place, while helping jen back to her bed burn inside my head. i was like, this can’t be fucking real. how bad did we fuck up our karma to have to deliever a baby like this. it was like all the worse case scenrios where being played out and all in this surreal half slept state. things finally settle down a bit. luckily the baby hadn’t dropped on the floor beause that would have been the worse of the worse. the nurse was able to remove the baby from jen’s body and clean it up a tiny bit and had brought her to us. my gut instinct was that i didn’t want to look at all. i was scared of what i was going to see. i was scared of how i was going to react. jen was still strong enought to want to see the baby. she lead the way for me again. she’s always been the emotional and spiritual leader in our relationship. i felt like a rotten teenage boy compared to her intutition. when i finally saw the baby, i was simply shocked by the state of the baby. it look so alien and unlike my association of what a new born should look like. i really forced myself to look at the baby. i finally had to face the horror of this experience head one. we had been talking about pema chodron and her advice to work with the fear and this was my moment. to look into the face of my undeveloped child and fully experience her death. i don’t think i broke down and cried until the nurse left and gave us time along. i finally found myself crying to my heart’s content while holding my dead baby. i never thought that i would wanted to do such a thing but it felt so right and necessary. jen wasn’t able to cried and we figured it was probably a combination of things that was leaving her shell shocked. i ended holding the baby for quite some time while the nurse was tending to jen and all that stuffed. at some point we started talking about if i should take a photo or not. i didn’t want to because the image of my baby had already burned in my mind and i didn’t particularly wanted a photo graphic reminder. so after we decided that we were going to look at the hospital’s photos any way, i figure i may as well do sometime better. my first couple photos of jen holding the baby was the hardest. i felt emotionally torn because i was separating myself from the experience of feeling the lost to documenting it. the thought had come through my mind that i didn’t want to photograph anything so i can fully experience it. i felt like i was betraying the experience of my grief by being a photographer at that moment. i am sure i will be glad that i did it down the line but i still don’t feel good about it right now. i had only didn’t a few photos of the baby and felt it was enough. meanwhile, the nurse was preparing the baby for the foot/hand imprinting and she had asked me come to take photos of the baby’s feet because she had arranged it ‘nicely’. at this point, i really didn’t want to do it but jen wanted to really have footprints of the baby so i wanted to do it for her. so after a couple of sessions of trying to get a good image, i was feeling frustrated that my lens and camera wasn’t functioning properly. anyway, i was pretty done with whole photographing experience and when i nurse called me again to photograph the baby, i wasn’t at my edge. when i saw the baby set up next to a heart pillow and all naked for the first time, i was in utter disgust by the arrangement and situation. it was bad enough to see to baby’s underdevelopment mostly covered up by cloth before but to see her in full view with a heart pillow, i almost hated the fact that i was a photographer. at this point the next few frames was the most heart wrenching frames i ever took as i look at my baby in her full form and to make something pretty out of it. i pretty much gave up after 3-4 shots. after the doctor had didn’t the placenta out, we were in the clearing and i was looking forward to finally crashing. by this time it was close to 5 am and i felt so bad that jen still had to put up with the nurses coming in and having to poke at her stomach and etc. she had gone through hell and back and held it all together without subcoming to taking drugs. i was like fucking wow. i would i have opt for all the drugs as soon as the opportunity came up. and now, i am only beginning to realize how powerful my lover really is. how powerful woman are in general. to be honest, i can’t even being to imagine how much strength and power she has within herself to deal with so so much emotionally and physically and still have the capacity to love the way she does. i know that if i keep that in my heart, i may live up to half the person that is already. she had told that man learn to have respect for their wives after going through the labor process and honestly, i think only have this fucking insane experience has that truth hit home for me. for her to have the strength to choose to give birth to our dead baby. i am committed to spending the rest of my life honoring her and my baby. as much as the birth of uma is a life changing experience for me, i think the death of jacqueline will be the spiritual life changing experience for me. my past and present has finally collided into this moment and this is my greatest opportunity to lost if i don’t take advantage of it.