Thursday, December 27, 2012

Understanding Grief Is Timeless By James Collins, Sr.

Depending on which study you look at, around 25% of couples that lose a child end up in a divorce. We all handle grief differently and it's also so true that men and women are wired differently. As men, we all have that natural instinct to look after and protect our spouse. We are the ones that are suppose to "fix things", it's in our makeup. When we lost our son, James Collins Jr., we were both beyond grief and there was no "fix".  In the beginning we shared our grief together, but as the time passed, I found myself hiding my grief more and more. There was nothing I could say or do to make it better. My Mom had been a nurse and witnessed many still births. The advice to me was to be strong and to help my wife "get over it". The less said the better and time would heal. HOW WRONG I WAS TO LISTEN TO THIS ADVICE MUCH LESS ALLOW IT TO GO ON!  Maybe I was young and ignorant, but if any of you ever wanted to have a "do over" somewhere in life, this one is mine.  I grieve for my son and my daughter and there are times I think about how they would look and what they would be doing. I have a strong belief that James Jr. would look very much like his younger brother. My daughter would be so special to me,my beautiful princess. For my wife that carried and felt the life of our children, I know she has a connection that is much stronger than mine. She has that special close bond and the longing for those that are not here that is reserved only for mothers. It's been 37 years and there is one thing I can tell you guys. Until the end of your time together understand her need to talk about, cry about, recognize those special dates, and let her know that you are there for her. I would like to thank all of you that have read and supported Gale with her blog. It's been 37 years but the support you have shown, the response you have given, and the understanding you have lovingly given has meant more to her than anything since our loss.   To each of you on your baby loss I'm sorry and extend my heart felt sympathy....Sincerely James Collins Sr.   

A Point of View Coming Soon From My Hubby of 42 Years

I have been asking James to be a guest writer for my blog.  I wanted him to share his point of view having a stillborn son and later, his only daughter, plus dealing with a wife in mourning and hormones flying everywhere.

I wanted him to write also, so he can deal with some feelings he has.  So, look forward to reading what James has to say.  I know I am.

Thanks in advance for writing, hon!

Monday, December 24, 2012

First Christmas Without James Collins, Jr.

I don't know how in this world I got through my first Christmas after James Collins, Jr. died.  He died May 2, but that first Christmas without him was pure misery.

It hurt!  It hurt so much!  No toys under the tree.  No little Santa or snowman shaped cookies for him to take a nibble....if he had teeth by then.  No "My First Christmas" baby outfit for him to wear.  We did the only thing we could do as "playing Santa" for our son.  We had a beautiful Santa made out of flowers for his grave.  We were proud of his Santa that decorated his grave, but our hearts were hurting so bad as we set it up on our dead son's grave.  No one should have to play Santa at their child's grave instead of the Christmas tree.  There are no words that could even begin to describe that experience. 

Christmas with my family was okay.  Since I come from a large family, we get together the weekend before the actual Christmas Day.  My sister-in-law was pregnant with her 3rd child due that March.  I was unhappy I wasn't pregnant again by now.  We were trying very hard, but nothing was happening.
I had been told I was infertile before I had James Collins, Jr. so I was hoping for another miracle.  My family was very gentle and kind to me that Christmas.  My baby was never mentioned.  No one asked how I was doing.  I guess they didn't want to upset me or that they didn't realize the need.  It was so much on my mind, but maybe not theirs.  Grief is just something people don't talk about during Christmas.  That is why having a stillborn baby is so lonely.  The parents suffer their loss alone.  Just a silent hug by someone would help.

The Fitts family had BIG holiday affairs for two days.  We all had to dress in our finest for Christmas Eve dinner at my MIL's.  That's when got into the eggnog, trying to take the edge off.  His family never ever mentioned my baby. Like my family, why should they?  It would just dampen the holiday mood for all.  Ours was already dampened.   James' sister was due to have her baby any second.  I was at my in-laws on Christmas Eve when the call came.  His sister was in labor.  The family was so happy and I was sitting there like a bump on a log.      Her baby was born on Christmas Eve, a boy and very healthy.  I wanted to leave as soon as dinner was over and we did.  I was so upset all of the night.  Why?  Why God did her baby turn out okay and mine had to die?  I took perfect care of myself so my baby would be healthy!    It just didn't make sense to me why my baby had to be the one to die.  Of course I really didn't want anything bad to happen to her baby.  I wouldn't want that to happen to anyone.  I just didn't want to hear about their good news.  Just not in the mood.

The next morning we HAD to go over to his parents house again to open gifts and have breakfast together.  I didn't want to go, but I did.  Thankfully, as soon as we opened gifts, James parents had us all leave so they could go to the mountains of NC (6 hour drive) to see their new grandson. We also had to go to James' brother's house for a dressy Christmas night dinner.  More eggnog!  I was glad to leave.  I don't remember much more of that Christmas, 37 years ago except that I cried.  I cried a lot for my baby.  My heart was broken and my arms were aching.

Computers had not been invented then.  No cell phones, FB, Twitter, nothing.  To call someone who lived out of the same town you lived in cost money.  All of my sisters and my brother lived out of town.  My parents lived out of town.  I was in the deepest depts of sorrow in my grieving.  James did his best to consol me, but nothing worked.  I just prayed I would get pregnant soon.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Let Jesus Be Your Gift This Christmas of Babyloss

Jesus was born into this world for us so in the midst of suffering and evil we would have hope!  Hope for a way out of this mess on earth!  God let His only Son be born into this world knowing he would die an agonizing death for us so we might have life ever lasting in Heaven!

This knowledge made me ever so much more thankful my first Christmas without my baby son, James Collins, Jr.  Because of Christmas my son wasn't in death's grip.  He was alive in Heaven!  I would get to see him again one day.  My hope!  My child had not just disappeared into the ground for nothing.  I did not carry him in my womb for 9 months for nothing.  James Collins was alive and with our Lord & Savior!  Thank you Jesus!  Thank you God for your plan of salvation for us all!

This does not mean I wasn't heavy hearted that Christmas of 1975.  Yes, I cried buckets.  I wanted more than anything to be celebrating under the tree with our would be 7 month old baby boy. Yes, we did put up a tree. I ached for him all over! I was envious of those who did have their children to celebrate the season with. That was my human side. Oh, I hurt that Christmas.  I still hurt today.  We will celebrate Christmas with our grown Rainbow Sons, one which is married and has given us three adorable grandchildren.  We will enjoy our friends this Christmas.  Only myself and James will realize what will be missing.  The extra laughing from our James Collins, Jr and our only daughter, Reita Gale.  James Jr. would be 37 years old this Christmas.  Reita Gale would be 30 years old.  Most likely, there would be more grandchildren looking forward to a visit from Santa this year.  I'll think of that Christmas.  How could I not?  But I will also be grateful that they are alive and having Christmas in Heaven.  They are not gone from me forever.

I would be lying if I said that I am grateful that it is not that first Christmas of 1975 and the Christmas of 1982.  I remember James and I shopping for toys for our sons who were then 7 and 2 years old.  As we went into the store in Richmond, VA to shop for their Christmas toys, we came to the little girl's section first.  Both of our eyes hit the baby dolls at the same time.  Right there in the middle of the store, we both held each other and wept uncontrollable sobs.  We were a mess to say the least. After letting the sobs do their job, we pulled ourselves together and shopped for our sons.  How do you ever forget a scene like that?  You don't.  You somehow get through the minutes and continue on.

That is how we have made it this far.  Second by second, minute by minute, and day by day.  In our case, year by year.

We hear your cries, those of you experiencing your first Christmas without your baby or babies.  This year, after meeting you through my blogging, we hear you even louder.  Our hearts are sad for you.  In fact, we truly hurt for you. 

Blessings and many hugs going out to each and everyone of you hurting.
James & Gale Fitts (@Fittise)

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Unexpected Interview To Teach Again

I had always planned to be a mother who stayed at home to raise her children.  I had dreamed of this ever since I was in high school.  No, maybe ever since I was a little girl playing with my dolls.  I wanted to be like a Donna Reed or June Cleaver mother!  So when I left school to have James, Jr.  I resigned from my teaching position.  Now, with the stillbirth, I assumed I would continue on with my teaching the following year.  So I reapplied for my teaching position.  I knew there wouldn't be a problem.  I had a phone call from Central Office to come in for an interview.  It turned out that my school had a new principal.  He had insisted on interviewing me as just a formality.  I know the superintendent and the assistant superintendent had planned on hiring me back.  I assumed there would be no problem with this new principal.  Wrong!  Oh, he hired me alright, but not without insulting me and threatening me first.  He knew why I had resigned my job and about my son's death.  He brought this up during the interview.  He wasn't kind or sympathetic.  Instead, he threatened me that if he ever saw any sign of grieving or depression while I was around the students, parents, or other teachers he would put me up to be fired.  I was never to speak of my baby.  Oh, like my friends weren't going to ever mention it!  He must never see me falter for a second.  I had NO intention of ever acting that way around my students!  He made me feel like because I had a dead baby I wasn't suitable to be around students!  That insulted me to know end!  I was a good teacher!  I would continue to be a good teacher!  I let him know that during that interview.  He also could tell how insulted I was.  I wasn't hurt, I was down right insulted!  If I didn't feel capable to return to teaching, I would have never applied to come back.  It ended up that I had a great year with my new first graders that year.  I gave those children the best I had in me.  I still hear from some of those students.  Some are teachers and some have children of their own.  We bonded in a special way.  I didn't retire from that school because we moved from north central NC to the coast of NC.  I still keep in touch with that principal on occasion.  I bet he doesn't remember that interview.  I bet he has no idea how that made me disrespect him as a leader or human being.  That interview took place in July of 1975 and I can still picture the room we were in with its polished chairs and smell of real leather.  Yep.  Bet he has no idea.

Business Trip to Disneyland Two Months After Baby James Died

In June, a couple of weeks after burying our sweet baby boy, my husband was told by his dad that he needed to attend a business meeting in California coming up in July.   James worked for his dad in the sales of appliances, lighting fixtures, TV's, and commercial/ home wiring. It was a long time family business.  One of the lighting fixture companies they dealt with was having this business trip. These trips were designed for wives to go also. The family and James thought this was a great opportunity for the two of us to go and enjoy ourselves. I would have thought so too, however this was a trip flying to the west coast to Disneyland!  Disneyland was a place for taking your children and mine had died.  Not such a good idea in my mind!  In the 1970's Disneyland did not have the adult aspects that it later developed.  That began with the opening of Disney World in Orlando, Fla.  I can tell you up front that I wasn't excited about this trip.  Actually nothing excited me.  Having fun wasn't in my vocabulary yet.  The family insisted that James just had to take this trip and he shouldn't go alone.  I agreed to go.

July arrived and we were off to California.  I have to admit that it was good to get away.  The flight was my first.  James and I were really alone to enjoy each other.  We were also trying to get pregnant again. Just maybe this trip would work out after all.  First,  we went on a tour bus going to Beverly Hills to see the famous movie stars' homes on the exact bus that Lucy & Ethel took on the "I Love Lucy" show.  I began to get excited at this point.    I did enjoy myself during the tour. Later, I went on another tour with the other wives who had come on the same business trip.  This one was to Universal Studios.  The movie, JAWS, had just been released.  We got to see the mechanical Jaws they used in filming the movie.  That was pretty cool. So far, this trip was really going well.  California was a beautiful place.  All was going well until we arrived at Disneyland.

Why I agrred to the Disneyland part of the trip beats me.  I immediately became uncomfortable.  What in the world was I doing here?  This is where children's dreams come true!  My child would never get to see this or experience this place!  How could I as his mother come enjoy this when he couldn't?  We should have left and done something else.  But we didn't.   As we made our way through the park, I got sadder and sadder. All of the usual Disney characters were walking around greeting families. These families included small children having the time of their yong lives!  It was just the two of us.  Again, what were we doing here? Yes, it was a beautiful and exciting place!  But that was what made me sad!  Our child wasn't with us!  We weren't sharing this place with him!  Get out of my way!  I need to leave now!  When we went through, It's A Small world After All, which is a water ride through a beautiful tunnel while small children sing, I began to tear up.  I couldn't tell how James felt, but I knew it wasn't like the feelings I was having.  I cried in the tunnel.  I felt like we shouldn't be at a freaking famous theme park for children.  I think James felt like we should just be enjoying ourselves.  Some friction began.  He enjoyed our climb up "Swiss Family Robinson's Tree House" as far as I could tell.  During the entire climb, I just kept thinking how much our son would have enjoyed this magnificent tree house.  But he would never get to climb one, and I was feeling very guilty about doing it.  James just didn't get the guilt trip I was on.  I thought we should leave the theme park.  I honestly don't remember if James was ready to leave or ticked off at me for wanting to leave.  I do remember being a real drag while James just kept trying to cheer me up. He became tired of having to cheer me up. He didn't understand that I couldn't be cheered up! I didn't want to feel this way, I couldn't help it!  We did buy a Winnie the Pooh teddy bear and a Mickey Mouse hat.  I don't know if we bought these children items just because it was what we would have done if he were alive or just to make me feel better.  It doesn't make sense why we did it, we just did.  We took pictures of these gifts.  Don't know why we did that either.  I just kept having waves of deep sadness sweep over me. My face showed grief.  You can't hide grief even when you want to.  Your facial muscles just won't let you.  It is in your eyes and body language, too.  You just naturally slump your shoulders and hover.  You have lost your bouncy self.  At least, that is how it was with me for almost two years.  I just couldn't shake it and James got tired of it.  When we got home from our trip our lives began to change even more.  I didn't think things could get worse, but they did. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Heart Goes Out to Newtown, CT

My heart is heavy with grief and horror for those affected by the tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary.  I can not go on blogging without mentioning this evil.  This took place last Friday as I was blogging, unaware the unthinkable was happening to these most precious children and adults who took care of them while at school.  As the pictures of these children are put on TV, I look into their innocent eyes and my insides get sick for what happened to them.  Oh the gut wrenching hurt their parents are going through!  I can't begin to imagine!  My son and daughter died of stillbirth quietly in my womb.  I know how bad that hurts.  These children faced a monster!!!  The worse "boogie-man" ever and he was real and killed them.  My Father in Heaven, please receive these children immediately and give them peace!  They were so innocent and never deserved this! Please God, hold on to their parents tightly and love them through this!  I grieve with you, but I again can not begin to understand your horror.

I have been retired from teaching middle school children for 4 years now.  I have been through the frightening drills of "Shooter on Campus!"  I have trained for just this type of event.  Just this drill of lockdown would take a toll.  Trying to explain why we were having these drills and hiding in the classroom without frightening my students was next to impossible.  This was an age group that could put two and two together.  It was imperative to stress upon the students how important it was to be absolutely quiet and to stay hidden in their assigned hiding place.  I always hid them in groups, never alone.  The police would come by our classrooms and shake the doors trying to get in as an intruder would.  This was the part of the drill for the students to practice being their quietest at probably the scariest moment.  The intercom was turned on and we could hear gun shots firing and screaming.  Students were not at school when this part of the drill happened!  I was and in my room alone and scared out of my wits and I knew was just a drill. 

Were the drills and preparation needed? As you can tell by what has happened in Newtown, CT  they were.  Teachers saved lives by knowing what to do.  Do these drills cause our children to lose a bit of innocence?  I believe they do.  Unfortunately, evil lurks around our schools and we have to be prepared.

Tomorrow morning my granddaughter will go to her second grade room.  I will be praying! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thank You & Pictures

I am so thankful for my blog readers!  Your comments, emails, twitter messages have meant the world to me.  I feel like someone is actually listening to me after my 37 years of silence.  It is time I get my feelings out and heard.  It is healing and I had no idea that I was still grieving so much inside.  It is like I just have words hurrying to get out so I can rest at last.  My husband, James, is so supportive of each post I write.  It is healing for him also.  It is better late than never!  Can you believe I was only 24 when our son was stillborn and now at age 62 I am just tellling my story?  I know 62 sounds old, but not in today's world.  I feel young.  I love life!  I have a great husband to share  it with and for that I am so very thankful!  I have my two sons, my daughter-in-law, and 3 of the most precious grandchildren you have ever seen!  Lawson is 71/2, Wesley is turning 5 in Jan. and Cailyn is turning 2 in Jan.  I also have my blog & Twitter friends and you mean the world to me.  Thank you all!  I am blessed!

                                   Gale (Grammy) Fittsie with Lawson
                                  Isn't my DIL beautiful as she holds my youngest grandchild, Cailyn?  Love you Maridith!   

                        My Rainbow Babies All Grown Up  Collins (born in 1977) and Taylor (born in 1980)  I Treasure My sons!
James and I with our precious grandchildren last Christmas
                        James with you see the love here??!

                                         James and I Last August
Love, Gale (Fittsie) a mom and Grammy                                                       

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Am I The Only Mother of Baby Loss Without Family Support?

I have been in a funk for the past day.  In reading all of the blogs and Kindle books, I have not found one mother who did not get support to help her through her mourning period.  It is bad enough to have a full term stillbirth, but without some kind of support system to help one get through this is just doubling the pain and loss.  I had friends to stop by for a little while, then go on with their lives.  I had not a single soul to talk to.  James had been told by his mom NOT to bring up the subject with me.  If we didn't talk about it, it would just go away.  She told him that we should forget this and go on thinking about the future.  James' mother had always been a person you could count on to help you in any situation.  I had wanted to be a mother like her!  But the death of our son brought out the worse in her.  She didn't deal well with death, so she avoided anything to do with it.  Well, I HAD to deal with death because it came knocking on MY door.  I had no choice!  James followed his mother's advice and never brought up the subject.  When I brought it up, he tolerated only a few minutes of talk before changing the subject or telling me that we shouldn't talk about it.  I should just get over it.  I hadn't even been in for my six weeks check-up yet and I should be over this?  I felt like James didn't love our son we had loss.  That made me very angry, especially when I was up all night because I just couldn't sleep and he was just snoring away.
One night about two weeks after baby James died, I needed to talk so badly to someone and James was sleeping.  It was around 11:00 PM.  I knew my mother stayed up late so I called her long distance in Washington, NC.  She finally picked up the phone and was immediately concerned with what was wrong.  I was crying.  She wanted to know why I was crying.  I told her between sobs that I missed my baby and that I needed someone to talk to.  People, this is just so true that it hurts me to say this in writing.  My mother said in an irritated voice that I had interrupted her watching her favorite movie, "On the Waterfront" and that IF I had been a good Christian, my baby would not have died.  She didn't know what was wrong with me because she had birthed 6 children with no problems.  I needed to live better in order to have a baby!  I was so taken back with what she said that I just hung up the phone in disbelief.  Was there something wrong with me?  How cruel of words could a mother ever say to her own child?  I must be  a misfit for her to do so.  James' mother treated me the same way.  I must be a really bad person. Non-deserving. I had no support from my family.  Dear God, what had I done to deserve this neglect?  I wasn't asking for the moon!  Just some private talk time to get out my emotions and have my son validated that he was a real baby born and died.  I was not fit for James because I could not give birth to a "real baby" for him.  At least that was what my MIL told me.  I didn't believe her or what my own mother had said over the phone.  I didn't get these people!  They didn't get me!  What I have never understood is why James listened to his mother and actually did what she said.  How could he be so full of grief and it not show?  There was no way I could begin to hide mine.  How could he?  Or was he not grieving?  I later found out he grieved in private but not in front  of me because he didn't want to upset me.  Well, it upset me more that I didn't see his grief!  When I had my son, it was in May of 1975.  At that time, fathers never went with their wives to doctor appointments.  It was just not proper for men to show up in an OB/GYN office.  It was indecent!  It was that way for everyone.  Women did this pregnancy and childbirth thing alone.  Fathers just passed out cigars after the wonderful birth!  We had no ultrasounds or pictures of our baby.  Nothing.  I can see where James was not as connected as I was.  He hadn't experienced the pregnancy or delivery.  Fathers were left completely out of the loop back then.  However, I needed compassion from somewhere. 
We moved into a new home in June.  That meant that I had to agree to take down the nursery.  We bought an antique trunk that I cleaned up and painted blue, pink, and white to match the now former nursery.  I covered the inside after dusting it with baby powder with baby themed contact paper.  Then I stored my most precious of all things, my baby clothes, diapers, toys, blankets and all nursery items.  I put the trunk at the foot of our bed in our new home.
Our new home was located near the cemetery which pleased me.  I could walk to James, Jr.s grave everyday and sit with him and talk.  Our new neighbor's saw the baby crib coming into the house and wanted to know when we were expecting.  I had to explain that we had just loss our son to stillbirth the month before.  I was always explaining where my baby was to the people at the grocery store and other places I frequented.  I was even asked to come back to my school to visit my students so that they could see I was alright.  Those kids showed more compassion than anyone.  They could not grasp what had happened or where my baby was, but they were just happy to hug me and see I was okay.  They were truly sorry that my baby could not be with me.

Well, I am at a point where I don't know if I should continue with my blogging.
I thought that my blog might help some new mother out in blogworld get through the grief of stillbirth and realize that life does go on and that one day there would be true laughter again.  But as I said earier in this post, you moms have support so I know you will survive.  But will I ever get over the trauma of going through my grief alone?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My First Day Home Alone

Silence engulfed me after James left for work.  Home alone to be with my thoughts and actions.  I love my husband, but I needed to explode for once by myself.  I was glad to be alone so I couldn't be judged on how I was handling my grief.  I let all of my grief stream out in anyway I felt like it.  I could cry all I wanted, but instead I just went to the nursery and touched the changing table table.  I felt the diapers and smelled the freshness of them.  I then just let my imagination go to where I couldn't in reality.  I stood there and imagined myself changing baby James' diaper and how soft his skin would feel.  I picked up his silver hair brush rubbing my fingers along the baby fine bristles.  My son was born with a head full of brown hair.  I should be brushing it this sunny Monday morning in May!  I picked up one of his light weight receiving blankets and held it to my face.  A wave of reality swept over me deep in my gut.  I would not be using these things.  My baby was dead.  Oh dear God!  Help me!  My son is dead!  I need to hold him now!  I need to mother him!  Still clinging to the baby blanket, I climbed into his white crib with my lavender bathrobe on and just curled up and cried.  Sounds very weird I'm sure.  I wanted to know what his crib would have felt like to him.  I wanted to feel closer to my baby by being in his crib.  I knew if anyone saw me in this state they would think I was crazy.  I didn't feel crazy.  Just so much in the pain of loneliness and longing for what nature had been building me up for during the past nine months before snatching it away.  How will I deal with this?  I have always been a happy person full of laughter!  I loved life!  Now I just hurt so much!  Was my life as I had known it over?  I was too young to experience death in this cruel way!  In a flash, I had aged way beyond my age of 24.  Laughter was not in my vocabulary anymore.  Life for others was going on as usual all around me.  Hold on everyone!  Didn't you get the memo?  My baby had died.  Stop living as usual people!  The world should stop turning because it sure had for me!  I honestly believed I would feel this intense agony for the rest of my life.  In fact, I was sure I would because I didn't have a clue as how to climb out of this nasty hold on me called grief.  Nothing mattered to me anymore.
I climbed out of the crib and walked down the hall into the bathroom.  I picked up my toothbrush and began to brush my teeth.  Life is moving on.  The birds are singing and the white puffy clouds are making shapes in the sky.  Help me.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Night My Baby Spoke to Me

We finally walked into our own home for the first time since I entered the hospital in late April.  It was now May 10th.  I went straight for the nursery.  There it was.  Our beautiful nursery so clean and pure in its blue, pink and white.  I looked at the empty crib.  I turned on the mobile to hear the music that broke the silence.  We cried.  My arms never felt so empty.  My body's mothering senses had kicked in full speed ahead and I had no baby to hold and mother.  James had suggested that we might want to take down the nursery.  I panicked.  Never!  My baby had been taken away, but the nursery would remain until ......well until.  Nobody better slip in and touch a thing!  I went out on our patio to lie on a lounge chair.  I watched as James brought out some of the azaleas friends had sent us.  We arranged and then re-arranged where they should be planted.  My neighbor, Jenny brought her sweet daughter whom James and I adored.  She hugged us and asked where my baby was.  How do you explain this to a three year old when you don't even understand yourself?  As simply as possible.  They left.  We were glad they came over.
Later that night, after we were in bed, it started raining for the first time since baby James' funeral.  Were the tents still up to keep him dry?  Would he be chilly?  I began to get frantic with worry!  I woke up James.  He reminded me the baby was fine.  I still worried and went back to the task of trying to sleep.  All of a sudden in the night I awoke with a startle.  I heard a sweet angelic voice saying the word mother.  I sat up in bed.  There at the foot of our bed was my baby son floating above the bed.  He even had on the blue outfit with the white kite on it that he was buried in!  I clearly remember his saying with kindness but also authority, "Mother, do not not worry about me!  Don't you know that I am with my Father in Heaven?"  He disappeared.  That message was for me.  I was not to worry.  My son was safe with God.  He was just fine.  It was me that was a wreck full of grief.  I never did worry over my baby's well-being again.  It was my grief I had to contend with now.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cruelty Beyond Cruel

  Lunch is being served in the den and I am finally able to eat a little.  I can see through the window as James drives up.  He comes through the front door with a small grin, gives me a kiss and brings out of his pocket a little package wrapped in noticeable Jewel Box paper and bow.  James looks into my eyes and tells me ( we are alone) that this is for me from him and James, Jr. in honor my first Mother's Day which is Sunday.  I open it up and there is a beautiful emerald ring with diamonds.  It is just perfect!  Not too big or small....just perfect and it fits!  I was so excited and very moved at this unexpected gift that I start up with the crying again....but with a peak of happiness and joy in spite of my grief.  That was my James, so loving and thoughtful.  How could he even think of picking out a ring for me during his own grief?  But he did think  of me, the mother of his firstborn son, his namesake.  My MIL mother walked in about this time wanting to know what all the commotion was about.  I showed her my ring with joy!  My gift remembrance of our stillborn son from James  The first words out of her mouth to me was that I couldn't accept that expensive ring!  She said I shouldn't expect James to have to pay for this kind of gift.  What?  Why did she have to be so negative and mean?  I hated her for ruining my special gift!  And she did ruin it.  She went on and on about we needed the money to put on a new house and the bills it would entail.  I relented with her guilt trip and asked James to take the ring back for something less expensive.  Perhaps a baby charm to wear around my neck.  So that is what he did. 
Friday came.  It marked the one week anniversary of James, Jr.'s stillbirth.  I was in a real funk.  James and I wanted to spend the day by our son's grave and then go home to our home.  Oh no!  We were to stay at my in-laws until Sunday.  I am weak with grief and so is James.  What could another night or two do?  As we soon learned, alot!  Sunday morning arrived and we prepared to go home.  After my morning soak, my MIL tossed an outfit at me.  She told me I was not to put on maternity clothes anymore, but regular clothes.  This outfit had elastic pants and I should be fine.  I told her I was just going to wear my robe as we were going straight home.  Oh no we weren't.  She informed James and me  that we were going over to JA's house because she was having the family over for a Mother's Day lunch.   What I needed was going home to suffer through Mother's Day by myself, not in front of a bunch of people glaring at the mother of the dead baby!   Unfortunately, when a baby dies, people do look at your every move to see how you react to things.  It is not that I imagine this, it is reality.  It happens!  My MIL was relentless is hammering away at us about going.  Then James said that we would drop by for a little while.  I could not believe my ears.  James just didn't want trouble.  Neither did I, but look who kept causing it?  The strain of what happened in the next few hours caused me years of emotional trauma.  Before we left the house to go the Mother's Day lunch, my MIL pulled me aside and said that I was to never speak of my my baby again in her house, around her or my FIL, friends, our minister or anyone else.  They wouldn't want to hear my woes.  It would embarrass the Fitts family name, and most of all I was not to burden James with talk of the baby.  He had to get to work and not have to be worrying about me.  I can not begin to express how I felt at that moment.  It was unbelievable!  I was flooded with all kinds of emotions.  The hurt was like a knife just chopping me up into tiny pieces.  Here was a woman I thought loved me and cared for me.  I had not only loss my son that week, but the mother-in-law that I had loved and looked up to for the past five years.  I just had no idea she could be so cruel.  But she was going to get that knife out again at the luncheon and finish me off. 
I felt like a fish out of water at a Mother's Day lunch just a week after I had buried my son.  My mind was in a whirl.  Why did JA have to have a big affair about Mother's Day this year?  She never had before.  Why did I have to attend?  Why did she have to invite so many people that I didn't even know?  Why she had turned this into one big party!  I endured the lunch at the dining room table with the silver, best linens, flowers, gift table to one side, laughter and such.  THEN MY MIL SAID IN FRONT OF ME THE CRUELEST OF ALL THINGS AS PRESENTS WERE BEING OPENED BY THE OTHER MOTHER THERE FROM THEIR CHILDREN.......  AND I QUOTE, " ISN'T BEING A MOTHER THE MOST WONDERFUL THING EVER?"   May God have mercy on you woman for being so cruel.  You too, JA because you just had to have the party!
I got up and walked out of the house.  James followed.  My MIL wanted to know where we were going.  I mumbled something about sitting too long for my hurting bottom.  I have never gotten over the trauma of those words, that party, and the denial of my son's birth.  I went home delirious.  My mind went wild.  I couldn't cope with my son's death and the way I was treated.  I had always been a good and thoughtful DIL.  Where was this coming from?  I  never got an answer or apology.  I didn't go back to her house or see her for many many months.  James did, but not me!  Then really bad trouble came when my SIL AW, brought her baby to town, remember the baby she told me she was pregnant with less than an hour after mine had died? 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dedicated to Those That Take the Time to Help the Grieving

I honestly was amazed by the graciousness of so many people.  Food and flowers arrived in great abundance.  I was thankful to be remembered in my time of mourning.  Friends came out of the wood work to visit me.  Some even told me that they had loss their own baby and had just never talked about it.  I wanted to hear every word about their loss because I needed to know I wasn't the only woman that had to bury her child.  I hurt for them as they revealed their ordeals.  It was healing to me.  I think it was for them also.  Do you remember my friend that went into labor and we rode up the elevator to maternity together?  Remember how jealous I was of her?  She sent me flowers.  I learned shortly after getting those flowers that her daughter, which had been born alive and crying, had now been diagnosed with Downs Syndrome.  My heart went out to her.  We are still friends many years later and her daughter has been such a blessing to us all.
I was physically feeling better now even though it had been less than a week since I delivered.  I was over-whelmed with cards and letters.  I read each of the messages so intently.  So many people taking their time to write me, come visit, make food or order flowers.  I was humbled.  Their gestures were so appreciated.
I have kept every card, note, gift book, little cards off of the flowers, and the list of who brought food and what they brought for over thirty-seven years now.  I get them out more often than you would think and go over every word.  They still touch me today as they did then.  I guard these treasures and have taken them with me every time we have moved or been evacuated for hurricanes as we live on the coast of NC.  One friend in particular that I grew up with wrote me two different cards filled up with her wise and loving words.  Later in life she faced her own tradegy.  First, her husband died of a heart attack at a young age.  Just a very few years later, one of her two sons was killed in a car wreck when he was about 18 or 19 years old.  How does one deal with that?  My heart aches for her even now. 
I guess this post is just dedicated to the people who HELP those grieving either by written words or visits or flowers.  THANK YOU!  May God bless you for taking your time to help.  I am living proof that your acts of kindness live on long after the tradegy takes place.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Physical and Emotional Trauma Day Three After James, Jr.'s Birth

James and I came back to his parents' home after he took me to our son's grave.  I went straight upstairs without acknowledging them.  They knew I was extremely upset about being kept from my son's funeral and I THINK my MIL knew she had done wrong in making that decision for she wasn't.  At the moment I hated her. I had never been impolite to them before now.  I had been married to her son for 5 years and had always loved her, but in this moment I hated her.  I was so full of grief for losing my first born son over something as stupid as a knot in his cord!  A stupid knot!  Grief set in big time.  I didn't want to eat, couldn't sleep at night, just stared at the four walls because the curtains were drawn.  I didn't talk to anyone but James.  Leave me alone in my grief because you don't get it! 
But oh no!  My MIL decides for the first ever to throw James a birthday party the day after our son was buried!   She invited James' brother and his wife, who had not spoken to me since my baby had died.  JA and I had never gotten along from day one. JA didn't even like the other SIL in the family.  She had told James after we were married that she didn't like me.  Soon the feeling became mutual.  I think she wanted my MIL for herself.  She also invited my other SIL I'll call AW whom I had always been great friends with, until she walked into my hospital room announcing she was pregnant.  So here was a celebration of my MIL's son's birth the day after his own son had been buried.  Did she once think about how James might of felt about this?  How about me?  A party.....Really????  Get real!  I was greatly pressured to go downstairs to the dining room, sit across from the SIL from hell and my prego SIL.  Everyone talked about life as though I were not in the room.  A big beautiful cake was brought out to James with real flowers decorating the ones on white icing.  James blew out all 25 candles.  I excused myself saying the chair was too hard for my sore bottom.  I went back upstairs, took pain pills and I think I slept 'til the morning.
Ahhhhhh......the next morning.  The maid came bursting in my room.  James was gone to work.  Oh yes!  His mother had said he needed to go to work to get things off of his mind and leave me to her.  He left and I don't recall seeing him leave.  I was brought breakfast in bed.  Never touched it.  I was in horrible pain!  My milk had come in even though I had been given a shot to dry it up.  It was just pouring out and no baby for it.  I cried.  I was so swollen from the trauma to my body that I couldn't pee.  I was in agony!!!  I had to get into a warm tub for some relief.  My body looked horrible....still pregnant looking, big milky boobs and I wanted some privacy.   Charging in the bathroom  without knocking (no lock on the door) was AW, the prego SIL.  She looked at me and said how awful I looked and was that what pregnancy did to your body!  Get out!!!  My breast were bound and I had to be helped out of the tub.  Ladies, I was bad off.  My stitches hurt.  My heart hurt.
My emotions were all over the place.  I got back into bed.  Please help me my dear God.  Oh Jesus, please take care of my baby.  I know how much you love the little children. 
By then, company started arriving.  First, Marshall, our minister for forever.  I was suppose to walk down the stairs to see him.  I said no way.  If he wanted to see me, he was welcome to come upstairs.  It wasn't as though the house wasn't clean and just so beautifully decorated as my in-laws were well off.  No, my MIL insisted I go downstairs.  Now this going up and down the stairs from the woman who said I wasn't well enough to go to my own son's funeral?  How was it that I was all of a sudden miraculously cured???  My morning was going rough physically as it was and I did not go downstairs.  The minister left.  MIL was livid!  I just closed my eyes, turned over and closed my tearing eyes.  My MIL had not even mentioned my loss to me... just a get over it attitude.  That night, she asked james to try to talk some sense into me.  I just wondered what her neighbors and friends would think of her now, but she kept these things privately and so did I, until now, 37 years later.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

And Then They Came Home From My Son's Funeral

I heard the front door downstairs open.  People were pouring in the house after the funeral.  I wanted to see James so he could explain why I was left behind.  I also wanted to know every single detail about the funeral down to the very smallest tiniest thing that went on.  My family began coming up to my room, sister by sister and also my brother with their own families.  They were all very comforting and loving to me.  The first to see me was my twin sister.  She wanted to know why I didn't come to the funeral even though my family had been told my MIL's reasonings.  My twin just thought I would fight to be there.  She didn't know nor did anyone in my family know that I didn't know what was going on until after the fact.  My twin was furious!  My whole family was when they found out.  They just did their best to comfort me because there was no changing now what had been done. I would have to live with not attending my son's funeral for the rest of my life.  That was 37 years ago.  I still struggle with it at the age of 62.  I was 24 when my son died. My daddy came into my room, put his arms around me and just cried.  I had never seen my daddy cry like that.  We both cried together.  My mother walked in as daddy and I were crying.  She didn't like what she saw.  She didn't think we should be crying like that and said so.  What was up with the two women I depended upon most?  My MIL was acting unlike herself and now my mama!  I would have thought the two of them would have understood most of all!  It was like my son's death had cramped their life!  Mama did beg me to come home to Washington with her and daddy so she could care for me.  I was once again torn.  I did want to go back home with them, get in my bed there, let my mama take care of me.  I wanted to see my friends back home in Washington, my neighbors there, church friends, school friends and their mama's plus my sisters were there!  It would have been such a comfort, but I couldn't do it.  I think that was why mama was so upset.  I just could not leave my baby or James and go to another town away from them.  Plus, physically I was in no shape to travel the hour and half to get there.  So, I didn't go.  I regretted that decision and it haunts me to this day.  I do believe I would have gotten the mental and emotional care I needed if I had of gone home with mama and daddy.  I believe I would have healed quicker because I would have been surrounded by friends and family that cared about my well- being.  If only I could have taken my son with me...I know that sounds morbid.

Finally, the house cleared.  I was so very sad to see my family go, but now I could talk in private with James.  His mother had pulled him aside just before the funeral and told him that she needed to talk with him.  She said that since she had been an RN (back in the day) that she knew the dangers of my hemorrhaging at the funeral and that I would die before reaching the hospital.  Well, that scared James.  He did remind his mom that Dr. Forbes had said I would be safe.  She said she knew better and I stood a good chance of bleeding out if I went.  Not wanting to chance it, James went along with his mother.  I could understand James being scared, but that didn't stop me from what I did next.  I put on a robe, walked down the stairs never looking or speaking as I passed my in-laws, opened the door and walked straight to our car where James helped me get in.  He took me to our son's grave site.  I burst into tears when I saw the little mound of dirt covered with flowers.  James helped me to lay down by his little grave.  Between sobs and sobs of tears streaming down both of our faces, I saw little blue lambs, baby pink roses, and many other flowers.  Who had sent them?  Who was at the funeral?  It hadn't even been in our hometown paper yet.  Who would know to come?  James told me all he could remember about the funeral.  As he had walked to his chair, his dad had to hold him up because he was weeping so hard.  James said he could barely walk.  He doesn't remember much about seeing anyone since his eyes were blurred with tears.  Our minister gave the graveside service, but James doesn't remember a word.  I was very frustrated because I wanted to know what I had missed and James couldn't tell me.  He did get to say good-bye.  His dad had to lift him off of our child's casket and back to the funeral home's car.  I wanted to get get the chance to do that!  I needed to cry at my child's funeral, to see his flower covered casket.  What kind of flowers were on the casket?  James couldn't tell me.  My sister later tried to remember to help fill in the details, but I wanted the details that only a mother would pick out to remember.  While we were at the grave, out of the blue two little old ladies appeared out of know where.  Now when I say "out of no where, I mean it!"  Our son's grave was in a new section of the cemetery.  It was clear all around it.  You had to walk to get to it on just plain empty land.  You would have seen someone coming.  But there they were.  They were like angels.  They told us that God doesn't make mistakes.  James was just in awe of what they said.  He was even more so when they just disappeared as quickly as they appeared.  Now two elderly ladies would have been slow walking and we would have seen them walking away.  But we didn't.  They were just "gone!"  To this very day, we both know without a shadow of doubt that these ladies were angels sent by God to comfort us.  James often speaks about this.  We took our time at the grave with our son, mostly weeping more tears than we thought possible.  It was a warm sunny spring day, May 3, 1975.  It was the day our son had been buried.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

They Quietly Left For My Son's Funeral Without Letting Me Know

I was upstairs resting while waiting to leave for my son's funeral.  My sister called me from the funeral home where my family had gathered to view my son.  Remember how James and I had closed the casket?  My family asked if I would tell the funeral director to open it for my side of the family.  I was in anguish again!  Of course I wanted them to see sweet little baby James, but I was torn!  James and I wanted to be the last ones to see him........oh what should I do?  I love my family so much and they had driven from all over NC to come.  What to do?  Why hadn't they come earlier to view?  It broke my heart, but I said no, don't open the casket.  I was afraid they might find something about him to criticize as my SIL had done.  I don't think they would, but my mind was in a daze.  Right or wrong, I had made the decision.  I can say now looking back, that I regret not letting my family see sweet baby James.  I hope they have understood and forgiven me.

My next door neighbor and best friend, Jenny was with me upstairs as I lay in resting mode.  Mrs. Fitts' best friend, Lois Rook, was also with Jenny to keep me company.  I loved both of these women so much and was glad to have their company.  I was reading in The News & Observer my baby's obituary, when the time of the funeral, 2:00, reminded me that it must be time to get ready.  I looked for the clock in the bedroom to see what time it was.  The clock was gone that had always been by that bedside stand.  I asked Lois and Jenny would they help me get ready and to check on the time.  That is when I heard the most horrible news ever!  Everyone had gone to the funeral and left me, the mother of the child being buried behind!  I jumped up in a fury!  I told Jenny to drive me to the cemetery that minute!!!  I can't begin to put into words the betrayal and raging anger I felt!  Lois and Jenny held me down and I fought them and cursed them.  They told me that my MIL  (yes, her again!!!) had said that she was afraid that I might hemmorage during the service and die, so they were told to keep me busy while the others quickly and quietly left for the funeral.  My baby was having a funeral I was being kept from!  I needed to be at the funeral!  I needed this experience or closure.  They were robbing me of this!  The only reson the doctor released me from the hospital was because he knew I needed this for healing purposes!  Why did James and MY family let my MIL get away with this????  Mama!  Why didn't YOU help me from that woman???  I fought and fought until the horrible afterbirth pains started again.  Pain killers weren't helping.  I made Lois and Jenny leave me alone.  I made it to the bathroom to get me a hot water bottle to put on my belly to ease the pain.  They almost stroked out when they saw it.  How was I supposed to know the heat could cause me to hemmorage andbesides at this point in time I didn't really care.  I just wanted to be with my baby to say good-bye before they lowered him into the deep dark ground and put all of that dirt on top of him.  Oh God in Heaven!  Please be with my son!  Keep him safe!  Welcome him into your waiting arms!  I just fell into a fetal position and cried my grieving angry heart out!  I would never forgive my mother-in-law for going against my doctor's orders and keeping me from my firstborn son's funeral!   James would hear about it.  Everyone would!  Just you wait til they got back!  Nice Gale was gone.  The fury of a mother's grief was in me and would be for a very very long time.

Leaving the Hospital and Going By the Funeral Home

Dr. Forbes came into my hospital  room late Friday night, after my morning delivery.  He told me that if everything went well with me physically during the night, he would discharge me the next morning so I could attend my baby's funeral.  I asked him if that was safe for me and he told me yes.  I was beside myself that I would be able to go to James, Jr.'s funeral!  I ate my supper and anything else the nurses recommended  to make me stronger.  I wanted the "go ahead" from the doctor the next day!  I needed to show my strength!

The next morning came and I was discharged!!!  Before leaving the hospital, my mother-in-law (MIL) came into my 202, I'll never forget that room number.  I was alone when she walked through my door, crying to myself.  How normal was that?  Very normal for a new mother whose son was to be buried that day!  She was very stern asking me why was I crying.  I said that I missed my baby and was crying over my loss. She told me that I had better stop my crying, my baby had died yesterday and from now on she had better not see me crying anymore! What had happened yesterday was over and I needed to get on with my life for the sake of my husband, James, and everyone else.  Nobody liked being around a grieving woman.  I could not believe my ears!  Why would she say that?  I told her it was normal for me to  be crying and I would continue to do so, as nicely as I could utter the words.  It wasn't exactly as if I had control over my spilling tears!  Then, she left my room. I thought to myself how she was acting so strangely.  She was otherwise such a compassionate woman, but now she was acting just plain mean.  James came in shortly, and we were on our way out of the hospital.

Funny how all of the mothers appeared to be leaving with their newborns at the same time.  It seems the staff would let the mother leaving with empty arms go first to spare her watching the other happy mothers with their arms wrapped around their babies.  But no, dig it in and twist the knife already in my heavy aching heart and empty arms by putting me in the elevator with these other mothers full of laughter and joy.  Look, I am truly happy for them.  I wouldn't wish my pain on my worse enemy.  No one should suffer like I was!  I mean, James and I were so numb with grief that we couldn't make small talk or force a smile if we tried!  As for the other mothers, how could they have known that our son had died?  Thank goodness for finally being able to get into our car and drive away.

We didn't drive home.  Instead, James took me straight to the funeral home so I could be with our son.  Embedded in my heart and mind forever is what happend next.  As we pulled up, I saw my sister-in-law and my best friend, Jenny with her.  James got out of the car and came to my side to help me out.  I was slow moving since I was carrying with me a zillion stitches.  As we were taking baby steps inching our way towards the doors, my sister-in-law spoke out that we should just go and not come in to see our son because he looked really bad.  What?  She could see my son and I couldn't?  Who was she to tell me that my son "looked bad?"  I remember just falling against a tree and crying against the bark with cars passing by.  What could have happened to my baby to make him look so bad that I shouldn't see him?  He was perfect yesterday.  Jenny motioned for us to come on in and we did. I truly loved Jenny and still do. The funeral home director, dear Mr. Branch, had a chair by the casket waiting for me.  We came closer and looked into the small white casket.  There was our beautiful son.  He still looked perfect!  He seemed to have a tiny smile on his lips. His hair was light brown.  He looked so much like my sister's son, Todd.  There was a small triangular tear in his skin on his left wrist, but I already knew about that.  It happened right after delivery.  Was that what my SIL talking about?  It was so small in the scheme of things!  I reached in the casket to touch my son and felt his cold skin.  I straightened out his already straightened outfit, the blue one with the kite on it.  Where was his yellow pillow that played "Rock-a- bye Baby?  He needed that!  Where was the white receiving blanket to warm his cold skin?  I asked  for these comfort items that belonged to James, Jr. to be here in his casket for him!  James quietly told me that his mother said, "not to waste them because we would want them for our next baby!"  What?  I am the hurting mother of this child and I should be the one making decisions for my baby!  Why are people making everything so much harder for me?  I was trying to be nice and considerate of them.  Give me just a little break here please! Who knows better for me and my son than me, his mom?  I was mad now mixed in with the grief.  There was nothing in the casket but my son, and all I wanted was some baby things with him.  My bottom was hurting, my heart was hurting and now I was angry.  This was not a time to provoke a mother looking at her dead son.  I reached into the casket to pick up my son to hold him.  I heard gasps from around the room.  What people???  I am just going to hold my son that after today I will never be able to hold again!  He was heavy, so Mr. Branch was about to help me when "you know who walked in", my MIL.  She stopped everything saying it was time to leave so we could eat before the funeral.  She was frying chicken and needed to get home to attend it.  She wanted plenty of food for all of the people (she meant my large family) who were coming in.  Forget the chicken!  Let the neighbors who were willing do it! The last thing on my mind was food! She was this child's grandmother! Didn't she want to come see him or comfort her own son who had tears in his eyes?  Mr. Branch looked at me and my MIL and said if I felt I needed to hold my son, he would stay by me and James and take us home if needed.  Then my MIL said that if I wanted to go to the funeral, I needed to get home and rest and get some food in my body.  Now, she had been an RN in her earlier days, so James looked at me like maybe we should do what she says.  Not wanting to cause any trouble, I went along with what she said.  James and I closed our son's casket because we wanted to be the last ones to see him before his burial.  I don't know why, I just didn't want anyone else touching or messing with him.  With that we left to go to my MIL's home where we would be staying.

The first thing I noticed when we drove up to my in-laws home was that there was no white wreath on the house signifying that there had been a death in the family.  I was told that my MIL decided we wouldn't have the wreath since it was only a stillborn baby.  She preferred not to have the wreath on her house.  That was a defining moment for me.  I had given birth to "just a stillborn?"  Was that all it was to her?  My perfectly formed full term son was a baby!  A real baby!  A human being!  Things started adding up to me and I should have never gone into her house.  I should have had James take me straight to our home.  One of the reasons Dr. Forbes had released me was because he knew she had been a registered nurse and I had to agree to go to her house.  But I still should have gone to our home where we had some control!  I shuffled my way up her long brick walk way and in I stepped not realizing how much I would regret it a few hours later.  I pushed my food around on my plate and went upstairs to rest.  James stayed to greet friends and my family as they arrived.  I asked James what time would we be leaving to go to our son's 2:00 graveside funeral.  He said he would let me know as soon as he knew.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

We Named Our Baby James Collins Fitts, Jr.

I was soon wheeled back to my hospital room.  James' parents were there, but I don't remember anyone else.  Where was James? Had he called my parents? I was told he had gone home.  What had really happened was that he had escaped.  You see, when our son was wheeled out in his bassinet for the family to view, James just went into a great despair.  When he saw our beautifully made son, dead, it finally hit him that his son wouldn't be here for him to be a dad to.  The family immediately started telling him that it was for the best, God had a reason, our son probably wouldn't have been "normal."  James just couldn't take it and left.  He went home so he could scream out his mourning and weep.  He didn't feel like he could do that at the hospital.  All he wanted was his son back to hold and love.  Empty arms ache and his heart was racing with horrible hurt.  His brother came by to check on him, but didn't know what to say and left.
Back in my room, I was given shots for pain.  Not even drugs can stop a broken heart that was so heavy in my chest.  Tears just kept coming down my face.  I had not been back in my room long, when my sister-in-law poked her head in my room.  Here was my favorite SIL!  She was a welcomed sight to my eyes.  Then she did something unimaginable.  She just looked at me and said that she was pregnant.  She had just found out.  Her exact words were that her baby would take the place of my baby!  Was she nuts or just plain stupid?  I had just given birth to my dead son less that an hour ago!  How hurtful was she trying to be?  Or in her  mind did she believe it to be true that another baby could take the place of mine?  No baby would ever be James Colllins Fitts, Jr. but himself!  No baby I would have in the future would or could ever take the place of my firstborn!  How cruel!  I didn't say a word to her and she left.  We have never talked of what was said that day.  Think people, think!
James was back with me now.  I told him what his sister did and he was beside himself.  But he had other things to deal with more pressing.  We had to name our son.  James Collins Fitts, Jr. was decided on.  The reason was that it was the only thing we could give our son, his father's name.  So we did.  James' mom tried to talk us out of it when we told her, but we stood firm.  Next, I had to tell James what I wanted our son to be buried in and where in the nursery to find it.  I wanted James, Jr to be buried in a little baby blue Feltman's Bros. outfit with white trim and a little white kite  on it.  It was hanging in the nursery closet.  I gave instructions about wanting a small yellow wind-up musical pillow to put in the little white casket with our son.  It was a gift from a college friend that I also taught school with.  It played "Rock-a-bye-Baby" when wound up.  I wanted little white booties and a cloth diaper that was soft put on him. I also wanted a white receiving blanket.  Everything had to be soft and cozy.  James left to go pick up these things to take to Branch Funeral Home, pick out our baby's casket ( they were out of baby caskets so one had to be brought in from Rocky Mount) and to pick out a burial plot. We were only 24 and 25..... so young to be picking out a burial plot for your child!  I was left  to deal with "afterbirth pains"  Never giving birth before, I had no idea what these things were.  Like labor pains!  Pain was hitting me from every angle and in anyway it could! I did get comfort from the phone calls my family made to me.  They were scattered all over NC. (I come from a family of 6 kids) A long time friend from my home town of Washington came into my room while I was sleeping, not really sleeping just laying in torement.  Her mother had called her to tell her about my baby. My mother was getting the word out. She tried to get me to wake up.  She kept calling out my name and shaking me!  I didn't move a muscle.  I didn't want to face her.  I couldn't talk to anyone about this yet.  It was nice to know she had thought enough of me to come by, but she  should have called first. She stayed for a long time and I never moved.  She left.  We talked about it years later.  It was decided from James' mother that the funeral would be the next day, May 3, 1975.  The very next day!  Where was my say?  That was too soon!  I was told the reasoning was that the 4th was James' birthday and he wouldn't always want to associate his own birthday with the funeral of his son. Monday, the 5th , well that was just too long to wait.  My MIL wanted to get this whole thing over with so she get on with her life.
Without my knowledge all of this took place and James, so numbed by our son's death, just did what his mother said.  Now my MIL had always been very kind and caring to us.  She was a kind and caring person and well respected in our town.  She thought she was doing us a favor, but she was so very wrong this time.  Little did I know that her absolutely worse mistake towards me was soon to take place.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Hospital and Four Days of Labor

Morning arrived and I dressed for the dreaded trip to the hospital's ER.  James' mother and James drove me to Halifax Memorial Hospital,  just across town.  I went bravely into the ER and got into a hospital gown.  The nurses were hustling around as the new morning shift began.  As I waited for Dr. Forbes, I learned from James that he was in with my friend, Grace.  She was in labor and just about to go up to the maternity ward.  She popped her head in to say hello to me, not knowing our circumstances yet.  After Dr. Forbes came in and examined me, he finally told us that the baby appeared dead.  No hope.  Soon I was dressed and on my up to maternity.  Grace and I were on the elevator together.  She was in active labor.  I was going to be induced.  I wanted to be in her shoes, expecting a live baby.  I was about to go through labor for the first time, so scared of the physical pain and would not have a baby to take home.  James was getting some paper work done, so his mom and my sister-in-law were with me.  As we were walking, I noticed the bright kelly green walls that had fresh paint on them.  I was lagging behind when I just suddenly dropped over and leaned on the new walls crying my guts outs uncontrollably.  My head rested on the wall and I noticed black mascara running down them ruining the new paint.  I couldn't help it.  I just sobbed and sobbed as people walked by me.  Oh dearest Father in Heaven, please please help me!  How do I do this?  How did this happpen?  Please God, no!  Take this awful painful burden from me!  I can't live through this!  Oh, it hurts so bad! 
I made it to my room where I was prepped for my induction.  I couldn't believe this was going on.  Was I dreaming?  It soon became apparent that I wasn't as needles and IV's began sticking in me.  The induction had begun.  I waited for the first labor pain to happen.  I had never had a labor pain and had no idea what to expect.  I was doing this in 1975.  No Lamaze.  No Mommy and Me classes.  No husbands allowed in.  I was alone and scared and wanted to go home!  I had some contractions which were just the hardening of my belly muscles, but felt no pain.  The day ended and so did the IV induction.  I was to get a good nights rest and try again tomorrow.  No food, not that I could eat.  James visited with me that night, but had to go home when visitors hours were over.  I was left alone to cry.  Every shift of the nurses brought on a new group to look after me.  Each new group did not read my chart enough to know I delivering a stillborn, so they came in all cheery asking all kinds of questions a new expectant mother would usually be glad to answer.  I had to explain my situation each time.  Then my room was left completely alone since no one wanted to be near the mother of the dead baby.  That is the way it was in those days.  Very hush hush.  Get that woman in, get that baby out, and then get her home as quick as possible.
The next morning, I was induced again, but with a stronger dose of potocin.  It didn't work.  I was in misery being in this hospital, not delivering, coping as best as I could with a dead baby in my body.  The baby was getting heavier and heavier to carry.  The next day, again nothing.  So if the induction didn't work on Friday, I would have a C-Section.  Did I mention that each day I had been taken to a sterile labor room on a steel hard table to labor lying flat down all day long alone?  It  was horrible. 
Friday came.  May 2, 1975.  I was given a tremendous dose of potocin.  The pains came quick and hard.  I was on that hard little narrow table and couldn't even move on my side to help endure my contractions.  I did have a spinal injection.  I wasn't allowed to move my head up.  The pain was still searing my body at 11:00 A.M. as it finally gave way to my son.  He was so beautiful!  Just perfect!  He just didn't cry.  He wasn't pink and wiggly.  He was purplish white and very still.  He had a head full of brownish hair.  Then I saw the umbilical cord!  It had a figure 8 or double knot in it!  So that is what killed my beautiful precious son!  A knot!    Dr. Forbes said the knot had probably been there since 3 months or earlier while he was still small enough to keep looping through and around.  A son!  I had a son!  A boy!  My baby boy!  Oh how I loved baby boys!  He was put in his bassinet ( I wasn't allowed to hold him) and carried out for the family to see.  James would see our son for the first time without me.  Barbaric!  What would he think when he saw him?  Meanwhile, delivering an almost 8 lb baby boy that had been dead for 6 days had taken its toll on my body.  A normal live birth, the baby is supple and can help out.  A stillborn baby like my case, the baby is just dead weight and I had to do all of the pushing out.  I was in pretty bad shape physically......lots of stitches.  Even more tears.  I thought the worse of it was done.  Not so.  You won't believe what happens in my next posts.

Trying to Bargin with Jesus to Save My Son

 My last post left you with me cooking pork chops.  I was really just in denial and trying to keep things in a normal mode.  It didn't work.  The atmosphere at home was very somber.  Finally, the call came from my doctor with my test results.  Nothing conclusive, but since I was due he wanted me in the hospital the next morning.  He would meet us in the ER for one last exam to detect any baby movement.  I told him I did feel the baby moving around, just no kicks.  He said that was just the baby floating around, not actually moving, but he would try for a heartbeat the next morning.

I remember "Happy Days" being on the TV.  We tried watching that.  My in-laws came over and we all had a good cry.  They left and James went to bed.  I could not begin to think of sleeping.  I walked around in my nightgown just rubbing my belly.  This could well be the last night I had my baby with me and I was going to make every second count.  I rocked him in our favorite chair and I prayed liked I have never prayed before.  My nose was stopped up from my constant crying.  Wet spots were on my nightgown from the flow of tears.  Oh please kick me dear baby!  Give me a sign that you are alive!  I sang, "Jesus Loves Me" over and over even changing the words to Jesus Loves You My Sweet Baby.  I read to my baby, showed him all of his stuffed aninals, played his mobile to him over and over as if I would never use it again.  I put on my lavender robe with short sleeves (it was late April) with the pretty pink trim.  My belly was really showing my full term baby sticking out.  I looked at myself in the mirror to memorize how I looked pregnant.  Then in the wee hours of night, I sat down to rock and pray some more.  I remember saying over and over to Jesus that He loved the little children.  I remembered a picture from my Bible with Jesus in a white robe surrounded by the the little children of all ages.  I bargined with Jesus that if he would only let my baby be alive I would be the best mother ever.  Oh how I pleaded!  Then all of a sudden, a bluish mist appeared in the room. It seemed to have come from the air-conditioner unit.  All I can honestly say is that I knew this was from above.  I didn't actually see anything but this mist or hear an actual voice, but there was absolutely no doubt that I was hearing Jesus in my soul or mind telling me that my baby was already dead.  He told me that the doctors would not find a heartbeat.  That was all.  I believed for sure now that my baby was dead.  Tomorrow would be just a formality.  I knew Jesus had heard my prayers, but I wasn't going to get the answer I wanted to hear.  I cried my heart out while James slept in the other room.  This child that I had carried under my heart for the past 9 months would be delivered to me dead. I can not begin to ever described the pain that was consuming every fiber of my being.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Baby Stopped Moving

Sunday night after arriving home from Washington, James and I took some pictures of the nursery, played with the wind- up toys, checked one more time through all of the baby supplies to make sure we were ready, because I had noticed that the baby wasn't moving as usual.  I thought that was very much okay since I had read in my baby books that babies got quiet many times just before birth.  I assumed that was happening in my case. 

The next morning, I called in at Dr. Forbes office and told his receptionist, Peggy Askew, that he should be ready as I thought I was going into labor since the baby movement had calmed down.  She told me to come in to the office right away since the doctor would most likely want to check on me.  This was Monday, April 28th.  I went in for the check up.  At the office window to check in, I noticed how nice Peggy was as I talked on about how excited I was that the baby was coming since his movement had slowed down.  It was a sign!  The baby was coming!  She just smiled and sent me to the waiting area.  Shortly, the nurse called for me.  After Dr. Forbes' examination, he gave me written orders to go to the hospital for some x-rays.  He said I should go right then.  Off I went thinking to myself, he must be looking for twins!

As soon as I entered my assigned area of the x-ray department, I was greeted by one of my grademothers from school named Lucille.  We both smiled at each other.  I started babbling on about I thought the doctor wanted me x-rayed for twins.  I noticed her smile quickly fade away as she read the orders.  I grabbed the orders back and read them for the first time.  The doctor wanted me x-rayed for something called fetal demise.  I had no idea what the word demise meant, but suddenly I didn't have a good feeling about it.  Lucille was trying her best to seem cheerful as she helped me prepare for the x-ray.  Back then, husbands didn't go with the expectant mothers to doctor's appointments, nor had Dr. Forbes told me to or did he make arrangements to call James and meet me at the hospital.  I was alone dealing with something that just didn't add up.  Cell phones weren't invented yet, so as soon as I was allowed to go home, I did and fast! 

Finally walking through our front door, I headed not to the phone, but first to look up that strange word, demise.  The dictionary said it meant dead.  What on earth did that have to do with me or my baby???  I called James and tearfully told him everything.  Tears were in my eyes because I was scared, but I was not crying.  Either I was in shock or just could not comphrehend was everyone was "dancing around."  James was on his way home.  In the meantime, I went to my neighbor's home, who was my very best friend, and since she wasn't home from work yet, I just borrowed her medical dictionary from her housekeeper.  Back at home, I looked up that terrible word again.  Her dictionary confirmed what mine had said.  Oh dearest God up above.  They all thought my baby was dead!  NO! NO! NO!  James walked in about then and saw what was in my eyes.  No, those people were crazy!  Babies just don't die like this!  Why didn't the doctor tell me what he was thinking instead of letting me go home and discover it all alone?  James and I were helpless and didn't understand.  We wouldn't believe it. Then I did the weirdest thing.  I simply went into the kitchen, pulled out the pan and began cooking pork chops for supper.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Waiting To Go Into Labor

 April 1975 was  coming to an end.  In a little over a week  May would arrive along with our little baby.  I could actually go into labor anytime now!  Our nursery was just perfect.  It was decorated in pink, blue, and white ready for either a son or a daughter.  In the era of the 1970's you could not find out the sex of the baby until it was born.  The idea of knowing the sex of the baby before it was born was like something out of science fiction!  We had no ultrasound.  What was going on inside the mother's body remained a secret.  So the idea of pink and blue suited us just fine.  I nested by cleaning every cabinet in every room.  I was going to be the Donna Reed of mothers!  Waiting was getting to me, so I suggested that the up-coming weekend we should go ahead and attend the wedding of one of my best friends, Diana, in Washington, NC where I grew up.  Dr. Forbes said it would be fine since it was only 1 1/2 hours away and there were plenty of hospitals around just in case.  So off we went  to Washington to spend the weekend on James' parents boat, The Edna Mae, to enjoy the water of the Pamlico River, see family, and of course enjoy Diana's wedding!  It was going to be a gorgeous last weekend in April.  We arrived early Friday afternoon and just relaxed. 

Saturday morning, April 26th, around 6:00 I was awakened by the baby kicking extra hard in a frantic kind of way.  I woke James up and told him what was happening.  This went on for several minutes.  Then I assumed the baby went back to sleep, so I did also.  Later on that morning when I finally got out of bed walking out to the main salon, James' mother exclaimed that the baby had dropped down.  I felt my body and she was right!  This little kicker had nested way up high under my ribs for the last trimester of my pregnancy and it hurt!  Now, relief!  Wait a minute!  Since the baby had dropped down into the lower pelvic region, that meant I was really getting ready to go into labor!  We were all so excited!  The baby was coming very soon!  After nine months of waiting, I was ready to have this baby and welcome him/her into the world!  James' mother was a former practicing RN and had helped to deliver many a babe into this world, so I felt comfortable staying put.  In fact, I felt great!
The rest of the morning I worked on my rabbit baby quilt Mrs. Fitts was helping me make.  I needed to work fast now!  Each stitch was a stitch made with love.  This quilt would become a family heirloom for sure.

After lunch James and I got all dressed up to go to the wedding.  Mrs. Fitts had made me some mighty pretty maternity clothes and the particular yellow one I would be wearing today was a favorite.  The wedding was fabulous!  Diana was such a beautiful bride!  Everything made for a perfect wedding including the reception at her home, which is such a special touch to me.  It was great seeing my friends I went to high school with.  My belly was giant!  I had to do some special maneuvering to get around!  Oh I was so happy and enjoying myself so much!  Finally the bouquet was thrown and the newlyweds were off and so were we.  It had been such a busy afternoon that I did not notice that little kicker had stopped kicking.

                      Here I am Saturday April 26th, on the upper deck of the Edna Mae working on
                      the baby's quilt happy as I could be!
                                   Here I am in the yellow dress at Diana's wedding.