So, eventually I was dilated to 9. We were just going to have to wait a little bit longer to meet her. Rose, the nurse from that day was coming back because she wanted to be with me when Caroline came. Iris, our current nurse was just doing her absolute best to take care of us so well…and they all did. Finally, it was time. I was dilated to 10, it was time to push.
“Breathe real deep, and push as hard as you can.” That’s what they told me to do…and that’s what I did. I had Rose holding one leg, Iris holding the other, and my mom, Arthur, and Arthur’s mom there cheering me on. I pushed for about 30 minutes in all, then at 7:27 pm, my beautiful girl was born. She had her umbilical cord wrapped TIGHTLY around her neck 3 times. Not 1 time, not 2 times, but 3 times. I couldn’t believe it. The doctor had to cut the cord to be able to pull her out, then it was wrapped one time around her abdomen, and then another around her leg. She apparently never even had a chance. But then I saw her…I could see her face. They put her directly on my chest…she was BEAUTIFUL. I was completely taken aback by her beauty. She was prettier than I ever imagined a child of mine could be. She looked like her daddy. She had her daddy’s eyes, forehead, chin, cheeks, lips, hands, fingernails, toes….she was her daddy’s daughter. I couldn’t believe how proud I was of her. I was so proud to be her mommy. I was PROUD. Arthur held me and her together. We were together as a family. It was the most amazing feeling I’ve ever experienced. We just held her and talked to her and loved her. Caroline Elizabeth weighed 6 pounds and 11 ounces and was 21 inches long. She was tall like her Daddy too!
We allowed the nurses to clean her up and get all her weights and measurements. They also got her hand and footprints. Then we allowed everyone to hold her and talk to her. Everyone enjoyed just getting to have the opportunity to meet her, love her, and say their goodbyes. We had our girl for about 4 hours, then we had to give her back. It was time to let her go. Iris’s shift was ending and we wanted her to be taken to the nursery by someone who we knew was going to love her like we did, and we trusted Iris.
The funeral home director came to Knoxville himself to pick her up. He took great care of our sweet girl. Arthur and I had decided that we wanted to be able to remember her as she was at the hospital, so we didn’t want to have a viewing, but Arthur’s side of the family wanted to get to see her…most of them weren’t able to be at the hospital. So they had a viewing. They all said she was angelic. I’m so glad that they were all able to see her. I wish the whole world had been able to see her!
When we discussed payment for all the funeral plans, even the grave digging; we were told that they wouldn’t take our money. We couldn’t believe it. Again, we were struck by the generosity. We have certainly seen an outpouring of love and compassion. It’s renewed my faith in humanity.
Friday, October 22 was the day of her funeral. It was a beautiful fall day. The temperature was perfect, the sun was out. We all gathered on the hill. I don’t even remember walking to my seat…I remember sitting there, but honestly don’t know how I got from the car to there. When I say that I cried, that would be the understatement of the century. Arthur carried her little casket/vault to the grave. Her Daddy was her pallbearer. It was sweet…I don’t know where he got the strength, and I’m so proud of him. Arthur’s uncle Bruce spoke, and did a great job…Arthur even wrote a little something up that he wanted Bruce to read. It was a very nice service. I put flowers on her vault, and told her that I loved her, and said goodbye to my baby girl. Walking away felt so strange. I was so thankful for the family (and friends that are like family) that gathered there to support us and to love Caroline. I was thankful for all the support that we were getting, all the love that everyone was pouring out on us.
Caroline’s life was so brief. She never even got to have a life outside the womb. But that little girl changed my life so profoundly. She is always and forever going to be my first child, my angel baby, and part of our family. Letting her go was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I never imagined that life could feel like this. I never imagined that I could lose a child in such a way. But here I am, in the middle of one of the biggest valleys a person can walk through…trudging my way through. I’m getting a lot of help from family and friends, and I’m learning a lot about my relationship with God. I’m receiving grace from Him, and peace that passes all understanding. While I have that peace, I do still question sometimes why this had to happen. How could this really happen? I will understand how all of these things will work to the good…possibly when I get to heaven too.
As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in the mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
the maker of all things.
- Ecclesiastes 11:5