When I delivered Liam, I was in the hospital for a total of nine days. After I woke up the day following the c-section, Liam was brought to me and didn’t leave my sight until the day we were discharged from the hospital. We even transported him to the funeral home ourselves.
At the time I didn’t think anything of these decisions. They were choices we made to survive. We were informed of a device that we could keep in our room to keep him cool. It would allow him to stay in the room with us as long as we wanted. We took it without hesitation.
The device was called a CuddleCot. It was simply inserted into his crib. The majority of these devices and ones like them are donated to hospitals. I don’t think the hospital staff realized we would be staying as long as we did and I don’t think they thought we would keep him with us the whole hospital stay. After hearing others’ stories, I now know ours is different.
Looking back, I can now see how others may see this as strange or morbid. After all, the reality is – he was dead. We kept our dead baby with us for eight days. We took our lifeless son in our van and placed him in his casket ourselves.
There is another reality though. Alive or not, this was our son. And that’s all we saw when we looked at him. And this would be the only opportunity we would get. Those eight days with him in our room allowed me to nap with him in my arms; it allowed his Daddy a chance to care for him; it let our girls snuggle their baby brother and hold his tiny fingers; the five of us got to give him his first and only bath; we changed his clothes; we kissed him… We kissed him a hundred million times, but it still wasn’t enough.
We had asked if we would be able to take him to the funeral home ourselves when it came time to leave. Different paperwork had been filed, but we were given the go ahead. We couldn’t imagine handing him off to someone else, then having to leave the hospital without him.
That last day in the hospital was quiet. When my doctor had made his morning rounds and announced I would be going home that day, my heart sank. I wasn’t ready yet. But our girls were at school, our regular stream of everyday visitors didn’t come until later in the day, so it gave Willy and me precious alone time with Liam. Eventually, as discharge orders were set in motion and errands needed to be run, Willy left to get those things in order. Liam and I were left alone. I savored each minute. I took one last nap with him nestled in my arms.
We were wheeled out a back entrance, that the staff used, to a parking lot. Willy had pulled the van up, and this is where Liam’s Papa and Nana said goodbye to him, along with some of his aunts. Willy and I would go alone to take him to the funeral home.
There was no need for the car seat my mom had bought for us, as Willy drove us. My sweet boy stayed with me. When we arrived, they set up a casket in a private room for us. I carried him into the room and we took our time. His Daddy held him one last time.
And then we placed my son in his casket.
So there it is. We kept our dead baby with us for eight days.
Onlookers may call it weird; others may use the word morbid, but unless you have walked a mile in our shoes, do not judge our choice to take advantage of EVERY SINGLE SECOND we were given with him. I have absolutely no regrets with that choice. I DO wish we would have taken our daughters out of school, once we had found out that would be our last day. I wish we’d given them the opportunity to hold him one more time. I wish we would have gotten a picture of the six of us all together. NEVER have I regretted taking that time with him though.
My hope in sharing this part of our story is to let others know they have choices. If God forbid, you or someone you know go through this horrific loss, there are options. There is no shame in taking two hours with your child or eight days. I will say though, that I don’t think anyone will regret taking more time if they have the chance. There is no right way to do this…
Because everything about losing a child is so wrong.
Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash
About the Author: Chloe resides in Nebraska and is married to her high school sweetheart. She has a stepdaughter, two daughters earthside, two angel babies and a son heavenside. Find her on A Legacy for Liam.