Delivering Chet in the same hospital that I delivered Ginny was pretty surreal. A year and a half later we were back at the same place doing the same thing but thankfully under different circumstances. There were a few moments that brought back such vivid memories of Ginny’s birth. That made this experience surreal at times. It was like deja vu, but it felt like a dream instead of a nightmare.
Two of these surreal moments were when I was being escorted in wheelchairs. The first was after I delivered Chet; I was wheeled by my nurse to my postpartum recovery room on the 3rd floor. As I rolled down the hall with Chet bundled in my arms, the memory of rolling down the same hall empty-handed flooded my mind. I remembered being explained that I was going to the 6th floor instead of the 3rd floor so I don’t hear babies crying. I remember being congratulated by well-meaning, uninformed staff as I left the labor and delivery unit. My nurse whispered to me, “I’m getting you out of here. I’m getting you out of here.” I remembered not being pregnant anymore. I remember being so so disappointed. All these memories came back to me crystal clear when I heard staff congratulate me and I replied with a smile and a “thank you”. Wow! I have a baby now. I have a reason to be congratulated this time. I made it! I was proud of myself for one moment. Then I got really sad. I was sad because I missed Ginny, and I should have been holding her down this hall a year and a half ago. I was sad for my old self. I felt sorry for her because she was blindsided, broken hearted, and didn’t even fully know what she was missing. And I also felt sad for every other woman who has to roll down that hall empty-handed. I thought of all that devastation in the same place most people only know joy. That hall can seem so very lonely, but it can also be so joyful. Surreal.
The second time I was in a wheelchair was when I was being discharged. I remember how painful leaving the hospital was without Ginny. I knew her body was getting an MRI, and we were leaving. I couldn’t believe I was going without her. Waiting for me at home were the daunting tasks of facing the nursery, physically recovering, and figuring out how to fill my days without Ginny. Those moments of rolling down the halls, in the elevator, and through the lobby were torture. I just wanted to get to the car as soon as possible. I remember my escort was stopped by a couple of people asking for directions. I was so frustrated at them. The information desk was 10 feet away! I wanted to yell, “Can’t you see that I have been through something traumatic and finally got discharged?!! And you are keeping me from getting home right now!! Ahhh!!” Of course I sat quietly clutching my vase of flowers instead of a baby.
This time was a whole different story. I did have a baby in my arms! As I headed down the hall, I remembered last time. I remembered how painful that was, and I was so happy I have come full circle. Chet had survived, and I was actually taking him home! I never fully believed we would bring him home until that moment. I felt triumphant…until we reached the elevator and I remembered COVID. Oh yeah we are in a pandemic, and I have a tiny, vulnerable newborn in my arms. As we exited the elevator, people in masks rushed by this way and that way. I don’t ever remember seeing the lobby that busy. People would stop or linger staring at me and Chet. “Awww how sweet and cute! Congratulations!” they would say. I just wanted them to step away. Could they be infected?! As I waited for Daniel to pull the car up, I contemplated whether it would be better to cover Chet’s face with a blanket. That didn’t seem like a good idea, but he was so exposed without a mask. I hunched over him and lifted the blanket so he would maybe be more protected at least in one direction. My escort was a feisty older man. He said, “Don’t worry. I got you. There is no way I’m wheeling y’all out of the same door people are coming in.” He proceeded to roll us around the corner and out an emergency exit to avoid the crowds. I couldn’t thank him enough! His thoughtfulness made me feel so much better.
As traumatic as some of the memories of my hospital stay with Ginny were, I’m glad I delivered Chet at the same place. It felt redemptive. I felt strong. I also felt so so grateful to remember those moments. I’m glad to remember them to not only honor Ginny, but also to recognize what a miracle Chet’s life is. This could’ve gone differently, but instead we were blessed with a beautiful, living baby boy. I was also reminded we could make it through anything and God will be with us… even in a pandemic.