Friday, February 03, 2006

Bringing Bailey Home

Before I got pregnant with Bailey, I had already decided that I would not find out whether it was a boy or a girl this time around. My entire family was frustrated by this, but it just seemed like fun to me. Once I got pregnant, and we found out the date that the ultrasound would be in which we could find out what we were having (Feb 17), it became a challenge to me as well. I planned to take a videotape, like I did with Ray, but to not watch it until after Bailey was born. I could hardly wait for the moment, during childbirth, when the doctor would say either "Its a boy" or "Its a girl."

One of the many incredibly heartbreaking moments during the induced premature birth and death of Bailey was when the lifeless little body was delivered out of the birth canal, and the doctor quietly said, "Its a boy." The moment I had so looked forward to turned into the most tragic event of my life.

The induced labor took all day on Monday, January 23. It was sometime during the long wait that Preston and I decided that we would cremate Bailey's remains and keep them with us at our home. I couldn't bear the thought of the hospital "disposing of him" as they phrased it. On the following day, we met in the hospital with the funeral home director and Preston picked out an urn for Bailey.

This past Monday evening, Preston waited until after dinner and then turned to me and said, "I'm bringing Bailey home tomorrow." My heart stopped. For the briefest second, I imagined it was 10 years in the future and that Preston was talking about picking Bailey up from Little League or school or whatever. Instead, of course, Preston was talking about bringing Bailey's remains home to us. Bailey is, after all, gone. All we have left are ashes.

Preston called on Tuesday afternoon to let me know he was on his way home from work. I asked him if he would be picking up Bailey's urn on the way, but he said no, that he had picked the urn up earlier that morning. "He's been riding around with me all day," Preston said. Once more, I felt my heart crack.

The urn is marble, and so very small. Bailey's full name is inscribed on it, along with only one date,that of January 23, 2006. Since he was stillborn, there is no birth certificate and therefore no death certificate. According to the funeral home director, Bailey's death was considered a fetal demise, and so there will be no public record. This doesn't make a lot of sense to me because, after all, I held his little body. To me and Preston, Bailey did exist, if even for the briefest time. It saddens me greatly that so many people will never even consider his life. Will my parents count Bailey when people ask them how many grandchildren they have? Will Ray count him when classmates ask how many siblings he has?

We have put the urn on the mantle in the kitchen for now, next to one of our favorite candid wedding pictures, a black and white print that my was taken by my best friend from childhood. It is oddly comforting to have his remains with us, home with our family. I had to make myself leave the house the next morning. I felt I should stay home with Bailey, or even take him with us if we left the house, and I knew I was on the verge of being very irrational about the whole thing. This urn is not a baby, but the earthly remains of a life that has already left us. While I got the diaper bag together, Ray followed close on my heels with his arms up like he always does. And, like I always do, I kept saying, over and over, to reassure him, "I'm not going to forget my baby. Mama's never gonna forget her baby." This time though, there was a whole new meaning to the reassurance.


Mary said...

I couldn't help but cry as I read this. Your journey is a difficult one yet at the same time a comforting one, as I relive my children's all too short presence in my life. Bailey will always be remembered, and a piece of him will live on in all our hearts -- even those who did not know him.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that you and Preston chose what was the best way for you to remeber and honor your son. Even having the special name you chose for your baby engraved on the urn is a testimony that he was a human being who had life and who passed away. I would encourage you to design your own birth and death certificate for your memory book of Bailey. Making a "baby book" for him might be a way for you keep his history more "tangible" for the future. I never thought of doing this for our baby, though my miscarriage was without the opportunity to actually meet our baby, even in his or her death. I know you will do what you need to do, in order to honor this child you were dreaming of and planning for.
nancy b

Anonymous said...

I remembered something else...My mom has a special card framed in her bedroom. It's of a cherubic little boy, with stars twinkling in the baby blue sky behind him, a lamb by his side. She saved this in memory of my brother, who died after 32 hours of life. He was born five years before me. I have one older brother and sister. When I was old enough to realize why Mom kept this card, it was always a special way for me to remember that I once had another brother. When I miscarried, it also encouraged me, knowing that another woman, my mother, was honoring the child she never got to raise. I am hoping that one day I will be the one who gets to keep this framed card, but will work it out between my siblings and I. Honoring a life that was lost, no matter at what stage or age, is one of the most important things we can do as fellow human beings. My brother has a gravesite, and it has always been an interesting mystery to me to visit and see his name engraved in marble, wondering what our family would have been like to have one more boy in it. I am sorry my brother never had the privelege of growing up with a brother. Instead, he got two kid sisters. He is a great guy.

Linda said...

Unbelievably, it really IS the tough, hard times that God uses to mold us into the compassionate people He wants us to be... I would not be able to truly understand your sorrow if it hadn't also happened to me.
Jesus said, "I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble; but take heart, I have overcome the world!" John 16:33
Peace Be With You, your family is in my prayers,

Sheri said...

I ercently had a friend who lost a baby after almost 2 months of a fight. I can't imagine the stress an courage that you and Preston have. God Bless You both.

You can check out my tribute to Nathaniel at