I’ve thought long and hard about how to title this, because to me a title on here really sums up the entire post. But I can’t think of a better way to put what happened than calling it a miracle – and I hope you all will think so too.
Friday Sam was off and we were in a frenzy trying to get out the door to mail our homestudy paperwork before the post office closed and then head to Target for a couple of things.
My phone rang, and not recognizing the number, I hesitated at first. But seeing it was El Paso, I went ahead.
“Hi, Mrs. Stone? This is _____ calling from the hospital from Labor and Delivery.”
Right there my heart fell through the floor.
“I’m calling in regards to all the May births we had. Doing a follow up…”
At this point I kinda spaced out because I was crushed and beginning to be very angry. What the heck – they were doing a survey or something and couldn’t figure out in my records my boys were dead? That no matter how lovely that room was I ended up being wheeled out their doors empty handed? Couldn’t this hospital do anything right?
Her voice broke through my thoughts, “And you left without signing the paperwork to receive your son’s birth certificates.”
Way to rub it all in. The one thing I’ve longed for right under having my sons back was the proof that they lived on this earth. It’s been the thing I’ve struggled with so hard each day.
I started to cry. “I… I don’t get them because they were born at 19 weeks and 4 days. My file should say that.”
There was a pause and then she said slowly, “Well, yes, but your Dr. recorded they both were living and took a breath before passing. So in that case they would both be able to have birth certificates.”
I think while she was talking I found myself in a chair, where I tried to fully comprehend what she was saying. Because I don’t remember the first few minutes of their birth well, I thought Julian was already gone when he was born. My mother had said a few weeks ago she had pictures of him before he passed, and I told her he hadn’t ever lived outside of me. She was pretty convinced he had, but I didn’t remember.
I started to bawl. The lady on the other end took it the wrong way and said kindly, “Oh, you don’t have to! We just thought you might want them, but please don’t feel you need to if it’s too much. We just need you to go ahead and name them, so we can have a record. Do you want to call me back later when you think of names?”
“Oh no,” I gasped between sobs, “We have names, we had a memorial service, I just never thought we would get anything for them official because they were so little.”
I managed to spell out their names, ours, cities of birth, etc while she patiently took it all down. She told us we could come in Monday to verify all the information, and then as I cried she said, “I am so very sorry.”
After we hung up, I stood in the kitchen, laid my head on the counter, and sobbed and sobbed. For my babies, for the certificates, for the fact that they would always and forever be real – to everyone now. That they would never be forgotten in history or in our family because they would be recorded. And I have no idea if they ever took a “real” breath, but I will never forget that my Dr. made the decision to put that down for us. Her choice changed our entire lives in so many ways.
I waited to write this because I was so afraid Monday I would go in and she would tell me it had been a mistake, but when we got there, the papers were waiting for us to sign. Through my tears I looked at their little names spelled out so perfectly, the time they were born, the typing below assuring us we were their parents. I signed and she took them while telling us we could pick the certificates up in a month and should receive Social Security cards around the same time.
I can’t explain what this means to me. Yes, it’s so painful that they’re not here. That the next step is getting a real death certificate for them. But this was on my heart and mind every day since their birth. It ate away at me. Part of the reason I’ve continued to write about them in such detail is in hopes I could create a life the laws didn’t allow them to have.
And now? My weary, tired heart has some peace. Some joy.
As I’ve contemplated this the past week, I think I’m closer to knowing what I want to do with what we went through. I want to make sure no woman has to deal with her babies not being recognized in any way. I want to make sure if you get a death certificate, you get some kind of birth. Or life. If your baby died, your baby lived. Period.
I don’t know how to go about this. I have no idea how long it will take, if it will happen in my lifetime. I know it’s not going to be easy, but I’m determined that no baby born should be forgotten or parents have to struggle to keep their memory alive and recorded in a way. Maybe this is why we went through it first.
This is my promise to my boys and all the other children whose mothers and fathers have written me, blogged about this, posted on the message boards I read as they struggle with understanding why, or simply suffer with the knowledge the little one they held is gone. I will make this right.