This is my part of Eliott's story:
Eliott was born at 9:27pm on March 18, 2013, the midwife Lauren doing the delivery. As he was born, his cord was clamped, then cut, and Lauren placed him in the blanket I was holding. I started to put him in the isolette… a habit… but then immediately said, “I’m going to hold him” and walked to the rocker and proceeded to hold him for the next hour, rocking him the whole time.
When I got him, he was so warm from Meghann’s body and I held him close until the only warmth left to feel was my own. Then I held him closer, wanting to keep him warm. I looked at him, described his body to Meghann and Brian and they chose not to see him at the time. Meghann ended up not holding or looking at him, but Brian did see his body, from the neck down. No one but me saw the head, which, to me, looked like a bunny. Meghann said she wanted to think of him as a bunny, not as a deformed baby. I understood. Brian held his son after I’d been holding him a little over an hour.
Before he did, I went and got a warm washcloth to clean Eliott of the little bit of blood there was on him. It felt ritualistic to me, bathing the dead. I gently washed his little arms, his back and then his long, thin legs. I wrapped him in the ultra-soft blue and brown blanket Meghann brought for him. He was ready for Brian to hold him. Brian sat on the end of Meghann’s bed, crying softly over his son. It was a tender and precious few moments.
Then the Pastor and his wife came in… family friends… and then Brian’s mom and sister arrived and then Linda, Meghann’s “cousin” came in. As soon as everyone was assembled, the Pastor said some beautiful words about Eliott’s birth and death and how he would forever have an impact on us. After that, Linda continued with a lovely prayer, referencing Meghann’s grandmother who’d passed and whose name (Jacoba) was reflected in Eliott’s middle name of Jacob. Most of us cried through the lovely sentiments.
After the prayer, the Pastor and his wife left, the rest of us spending time together, my holding Eliott again until I passed him off to Brian’s mom, so she could hold her grandson, too.
It was a long time before Brian was ready to see his baby and when he did, I set Eliott up so you could see his body, but not anything from the neck up. His body was perfect; it was his head that wasn’t normal. Brian, Jenny (his sister) and Linda came in and I introduced them to the sweet baby. After a moment, I excused myself, as did Linda, so Brian and Jenny could have some time alone with the baby. Jenny came out, too, giving Brian some time with his son.
After they were finished, I did the newborn procedures with Grace, the RN, in a room off the patient room. We weighed Eliott and he weighed 1.7 ounces and was 5 ¼ inches long. Very tiny. We did foot and handprints on a Memento Birth/Death Certificate and then Grace did a Plaster of Paris of his hands and feet. The whole time, I talked to him and let him know how loved he was and I moved him when he needed to be moved and did the footprints myself. I also got a thumbprint of Meghann and Brian on the paper. Their thumbprints were much bigger than Eliott’s feet.
Grace gave Meghann and Brian many gifts from an organization that gives clothes and toys to grieving parents. Meghann decided on one knitted sock to put Eliott in before he left them and wrap him in a white blanket. Up until that point, I’d wrapped him in the beautiful brown and blue blanket Meghann had for him… soft as could be. Meghann and Brian also had a bracelet that had Eliott’s name as well as a little stuffed penguin that I kept wrapped in the blanket while we all held him. I had put the blanket he was born into away so we could take it. I also took the cord clamp he had on for awhile. Meghann’s keeping the bracelet, penguin and blanket as well.
I left about 4 hours after the birth, leaving Meghann and Brian alone for the first time since we got there that morning. They were ready to be alone with Eliott and I was ready to go lay down.
It was a beautiful birth. I loved holding my grandson, looking at his bunny face and perfect body. It was such a privilege to be with him as long as I was able.
I’m at peace today. Feeling better than in the last week. I will miss sweet Eliott, but am glad to have the experience behind us. It was something no mother should ever have to go through.