Perhaps it was the whiplash. I grabbed a tea with a friend yesterday at lunch and Gabriel and his death came up. The article – the whiplash as it were – was from a study reported in a national paper. The headline published on twitter. I read the article not quite an hour after my tea. Strange to think of my baby’s death twice in one afternoon.
It took me 3 years to come to terms with the facts – that my son suffocated to death and suffocation is a painful death. It is a death that we did not allow his grandmother to face. We gave her drugs to ease her pain and her fear. We didn’t hasten her death exactly, but we did smooth it. I made sure she was not alone and modern medicine made it as pain and anxiety free as it could be. This is what we call dignity in these rough and raw places. The article, with it’s references to accidental live births came crashing into my life.
The use of accidental is, well, it’s curious to me. It’s not wrong. No one intended for these babies to be born alive, no one even expected them to be born alive. That’s not what’s supposed to happen.
Except, let’s be clear, it’s not like any of this is planned. Planned is giving birth to a living, healthy happy baby at 40 weeks. Planned is a knitted hat and a cute outfit and birth announcements from Costco. I think that those of us who live through the whole debacle that is perinatal demise have long since left behind anything you might call planned. Planned fled down a dimly lit corridor. We got dropped off at another destination. I think I saw the name “survival” as they threw me out of a moving car. Call his live birth accidental. I don’t know what else sums it up.
I’m not angry that it wasn’t offered. We walk the path we walk. We do what we must. On the whole of it, the nurses in the delivery room were kind and compassionate. Gabriel was loved and held and never alone.
But if his father and I could have chosen no pain? If he could have died in time with the heart beat that he had always known? I rather suspect that his father and I would have given that to him.