Aaron and I sat down to begin making a birth plan. At this point, it is mostly just a list of things we need to have with us at the hospital for the birth. But this is so different from our other birth plans.
With our first-born, we didn't really know what we were doing anyway, so we didn't have much of a birth plan, and it didn't really matter. Our home was 2 miles away from the hospital, so Aaron was able to drive home and pick up whatever we may have forgotten. Our second baby didn't have much of a birth plan, because he came too early, but by our third, we had a hospital bag ready to go. Our fourth was born at a birth center, and we were well taken care of there. Our fifth and sixth were home births, so we had everything we needed right here under our own roof.
This baby's birth will be completely unlike any of the others, though, which makes me feel a greater sense of urgency in creating a birth plan and making sure we thought of everything. Pictures, videos, footprints, measurements, and any other mementos we want, we need to know now, because we have no second chances with this precious little one. Once we hand over baby's lifeless body to the funeral home, we will not have a chance to ever look at or hold baby again. In the few short hours that we are expected to have with baby, we need to make sure we take all the pictures & videos necessary for making a lifetime of memories.
I want baby's footprints embedded in plaster, so we better not leave that footprint kit at home. I want videos of baby. I want to remember what baby's face and hands and feet looked like from all angles. If we forget to take videos, we won't have another chance to do it the next day or the week after, because we're not expected to have a next day with this one. I want a lock of baby's hair. I want baby to be wrapped in a special blanket, because this will be the only blanket that will ever wrap around this little child of mine, and I want it to be meaningful. I can't just go home with baby and choose from among our many blankets that happen to be around.
I want to bring the placenta home. Maybe even bring a piece of the umbilical cord home. I want baby's DNA in my home, in my daily life. I want more than just memories...I want physical reminders/evidence that this baby existed.
I want the funeral home to take baby's body. At this point, we still plan to cremate if baby is stillborn and do a burial if baby is born alive.
I want my kids to see their baby brother/sister whether baby is dead or alive. Since anything could happen any week, I feel like we can't plan any vacations or allow the kids to go away to any camps.
I want to rent a hospital-grade breast pump. My hope is to try and pump and donate breast milk for 3 months post-partum, 1 month for each baby we have had to say goodbye to. I feel like this will also give my body a chance to heal. I also think this will be very hard emotionally, but I'm hoping that it will help me as I grieve.
There are a lot of both big and little decisions to make. Some of these decisions are kind of inconsequential when it comes to a normal delivery, but I feel like in our situation we only have one chance to get it right, so there's such a strong sense of urgency.
I also need everything to be special and meaningful and intentional. Why this blanket? What does it symbolize to me? Is this what I want to see baby wrapped in when I hold baby's body? Is this how I want to forever remember our little one? Because, ultimately, all that we are expected to leave with are memories.
Our arms will be empty, so I want to fill up our hearts and minds with love, adoration, and beautiful, intentional memories of this little child of God.
Those few precious hours are all we're expected to have. There is no tomorrow.