It was a quick journey to the delivery room. The nurses got me onto the table. The doctor coached me with one hand pressing down on my abdomen. I pushed and as soon as she could get her hands on the baby, she pulled and Allison tumbled forth into that quiet room. One more push to expel the afterbirth and it was done. I had begun labor around 2:30. Allison was born at 4:50.
The doctor handed her to Cliff and said, “I’m so sorry.” She left the room very quickly. We learned later that this was the first child she had ever lost, too.
A very dear woman had been with me in the labor room. She had patted my hand and said, “Darling, I know where you are. I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there twice myself and I just buried a grand baby.” Now she handed Allison to me and left Cliff and I alone.
I held this sweet, lifeless child in my arms and let tears roll down my cheeks. I counted her toes, kissed her head, and and opened her eyes to see the deep blue irises. I wrapped her little fingers around mine and held them there. She was perfect, nothing unformed, nothing distorted, except for the fact that there was no breath in her little body.
I whispered a small, quiet prayer. “Thank you for letting me hold her, for giving her to me. Now I give her back to you.”
My husband, whose faith in God’s love runs deep and true, took her in his arms. Tears streamed down his face, too. I watched him touch her face and kiss her cheeks. I listened as he prayed and asked God for her life back. We’ve seen a miracle or two in our time. My faith for this one was far less than his, but I knew he would ask. I knew there was no harm in asking. That we could ask.
He waited, watching to see if there would be any sign of life returning. After a few minutes, he said, “I think God spoke to me. I think he said that she lived her full life in the womb. And that God would use her death more than he would have used her life.”
I took it as a promise. At that point, in the quiet of the delivery room, holding her, I needed one.
Our kind nurse returned to see if we were alright. “You need to cry, you cry,” she said. “Don’t hold anything inside.” She offered to cut a lock of Allison’s hair and make a footprint. I was so grateful, because I wouldn’t have thought of it in my state of mind.
Then she asked if we wanted a funeral or if we preferred for them to take care of the body. I didn’t know exactly what “take care of the body” meant. I think I shocked family and friends, but I knew I couldn’t handle anything else.
Cliff handed her back to me. I held her for a moment longer and gave her back to the nurse. “Please, you take care of it.”
I have been asked since if I regretted that decision, but I never have. I have wondered sometimes what did happen to her, but I knew, even then in my grief, that which had eternal value was already with God.