|Big sister Bug loved her little sister Solveig...she misses her so much.|
Last I wrote about our story of Solveig, I left off here. The following is the fourth installment in the story...it's kind of long, but this is our story...
After our photography session with Jen and the family members, we spent a bit of time with the family and then they left. It felt so quiet and empty when our family left us there. Now it was just us three. We would not realize just how tender those moments were until we would sit in reflection and gratitude that we continued our time with our daughter for almost a whole day longer. It was so peaceful just the three of us, and Erik and I took turns holding and rocking Solveig. We talked to her and sang to her like she was still with us. I don't remember a whole lot about that evening, except that there was one point at which I just sat looking at our daughter and I once again broke down weeping in realization that she was gone. Erik came and wrapped his arms around me and held me in reassurance and love. He pulled out our computer and turned on the i_tunes and what he chose at that moment was so appropriate. It was Steven Cu_rtis Ch_apman's album "Be_auty Wi_ll Ri_se," the one he wrote following the tragic loss of his daughter Maria several years ago. The song, "Jesus Will Meet You There" came on and I wept...knowing that He would be with me, no matter how dark things were and would get. There is great comfort found in music. I encourage you to click on that link above and listen to that song if you haven't heard it. I may be a classical singer, but I enjoy and appreciate almost every genre of music, including contemporary Christian. And since I grew up with listening to good 'ol SCC, I feel like he's my buddy and I find comfort in the text of his songs.
That night after the delivery, we decided to stay in the hospital. I probably could have chosen to go home as some people do following a still birth, but I really wanted to maximize my time with Solveig. That, and odd as it may sound, staying at the hospital was in a way comforting. It felt safe there. And there was the knowledge deep in my mind that when we left, we'd be leaving our story and leaving our daughter and heading back into the world...which I was not ready to do. Erik fell asleep pretty easily. For me however, it was not quite so easy. I was obviously exhausted physically and emotionally, but I wanted to stay awake with my daughter. I didn't want the next day to come. I didn't want to miss any minutes with her. She was wrapped up like a little burrito laying next to me in the hospital bed. I needed to be close to her...and this would be the only night that I would get to sleep with my little baby girl. I wanted to keep her warm since her warmth was gone hours ago from her body. The coldness did not deter me from wanting her near...she was still my baby...part of me. I caught a few hours of sleep, finally.
Morning came all too soon and the barrage of nurses and doctors came too. I was glad to see my sweet Dr.'s L & M again. Dr. L with tears in her eyes hugged me and then held my baby girl in her arms. The kindness of these two sweet women reached into my soul. Their story will always be woven with mine and I'll always be glad for their place in my life. Thank you dear doctors.
We had to meet with a social worker to discuss plans and sign some papers. After a few phone calls, we got some things straightened out and made an appointment for our funeral director to come and meet us at the hospital to sign the baby out. Before he came, however, our dear pastors Sid and Rich came and met with us to work through the funeral plans. It meant so much to us that they could be with us in the hospital in some of our darkest hours, showing us love and support. We had been planning Solveig's funeral service for a few days already, since we found out that she was gone, and it didn't take long to get things settled with the pastors. They prayed over us and we felt like our time was so sacred with them. Thank you, Sid & Rich. You are dear men of God and we respect you immensely and thank you for meeting us in our need.
After our pastors left, the time was quickly approaching that we would have to leave the hospital. We were by this point quite ready, yet at the same time my spirit was hesitant. I knew that it was going to be difficult to leave our safe refuge in our room at the end of the hallway...but we packed up our things and got ready to meet our funeral director, Dan. The plan that we made was that I would ride with Dan to the funeral home. Due to hospital, state and funeral home policies not lining up, the best scenario we could come up with was that I could help escort our daughter in my arms if I was willing to ride in the car. Having grown up around funeral homes and the funeral business, this really didn't bother me too much as I imagine it might bother many other people. My dad used to sell music systems for funeral homes, so we saw a LOT of funeral homes growing up while we were on family vacations and he would make business calls. In fact, the very funeral home that we worked with for Solveig's funeral is one that I got to see and tour upon its grand opening. Never did I think they'd be helping me do a funeral for my own child.
Dan arrived. Standing outside our door were two of our sweet nurses ready to help push me out in a wheelchair, a police officer who had to be there to make sure the dead body wouldn't get stolen or tampered with or something...interesting...and Dan, the funeral director. It was such a strange and grim scene, and so surreal. But it was real. It was very real. I held Solveig, wrapped in her pretty white blanket, and a blanket was placed over her and me so that people wouldn't know that I was carrying my dead baby underneath it all. We went down a sort of "back" hallway so that we wouldn't have to go past the nursery...so grateful for that. But while we were going out, there was a woman pushing a stroller, chatting away happily with her husband. That was really hard. It was so extremely odd and different that instead of joyfully holding my new baby and heading to the car to go home, I was holding our deceased baby and heading instead to the funeral home...in the white Cad_illac...with my husband following behind in our car. Dan was incredibly kind and respectful, as was the police officer.
I held Solveig in my arms all the way to the funeral home. I was not about to let someone else take her and escort her any other way. We went inside and made our funeral plans with Dan. We wrote Solveig's obituary quickly so that it could make it into the paper for the next day's printing deadline. We talked about cemeteries and caskets and burial plans. Because our daughter was so tiny and had already endured much being born still and dying inside of me, we decided that we would not embalm her little body and would therefore not do an open casket funeral. Growing up with funeral business being talked about around me all the time, I have come to agree with the idea that seeing the body of the deceased is an extremely helpful thing for people who are grieving. Sometimes that is not possible, but when it is possible, it is so helpful. When we can see the body of the one who is gone, we can more fully come to terms with their death and its reality. When we don't have that chance to see the body, it can sometimes feel like perhaps the person never really died or maybe we'll see them again somewhere, somehow. I didn't get to see my grandparents' bodies as I wasn't at their funerals, and I honestly think it was harder for me to come to terms with their passing. Anyway, that's something for you to chew on and consider for you and your loved ones. For us, at least some of our family members and our pastors were able to see our baby's body...so it was very real for them.
After a few hours with Dan, we had to leave Solveig. It was extremely difficult for me to relinquish my daughter into Dan's loving arms. He treated her with such respect and kindness...but I didn't want to leave her there. I could hardly let go. But I had to. I'm sobbing as I write this portion because I can so clearly remember that pain. Solveig's body had to remain at the funeral home until the burial. After leaving, we went and visited three cemeteries. Finally when we reached the third stop, we knew we were in the right place. We love our tiny little country cemetery. It just feels so comforting. If you've never lost a loved one and haven't hung out in a cemetery much, you might not be able to relate to that part. But when that day comes for you, you'll know what I mean...that you can find comfort knowing that your loved one is safely laid to rest.
How odd to have a baby and not rest afterwards. But that was the journey we would be on for the next several days until her burial...to be continued...