I was twenty-seven years old, and death was the last thing on my mind. I was happily
married, and not only did I have an active three-year-old, but my second child was due any time.
I was completely satisfied with the direction my life had taken. I did not know, however, that
tragedy was waiting for me around the corner, nor could I have known that when all was said
and done, I would be the richer for it.
It was a hot and muggy summer day that Friday. I was forty-one weeks pregnant, and
was at what I hoped would be my last prenatal visit. My obstetrician was checking me over, and
everything seemed fine, until she listened for the babyâ€™s heartbeat and couldnâ€™t find it.
I could sense the concern in her voice when she asked, â€œHas the baby been active lately?â€
â€œNo, not really,â€ I replied, beginning to feel a little uneasy; â€œI just figured it was settling down
for birth.â€ She handed me a lab slip and said, â€œIâ€™m sending you down to radiology for an
ultrasound; Iâ€™d like to get a better look.â€
I was overcome with fear as I laid in the darkness of the exam room. I told myself not to
worry, that this test would prove everything was fine, but as the radiologist scanned my round
belly, the screen sat motionless. My obstetrician, who had been watching the monitor, soon
turned to me and said, â€œIâ€™m so sorry Donna, but your baby has died. Would you like to call your
Suddenly I felt as if I were out of my body, and that I was floating above the room. My
dazed mind tried to comprehend what I had just been told. I quickly asked her how soon until
she performed the c-section. â€œIn a case like this we donâ€™t routinely perform a c-section,â€ she
quietly said. â€œWeâ€™ll give you medication to induce labor, and if all goes well youâ€™ll deliver
normally tomorrow.â€ I was speechless. I had experienced labor once before, but the outcome
was well worth the pain. How in the world would I get through it this time?
But get through it I would, and in the end I had a son whom I named Tyler. The nurse
brought him to me wrapped in a pale blue receiving blanket; she placed him in my arms, then
quietly left the room. As I held him I was amazed at how perfect he was. He looked like a
normal baby, not hideous or disfigured, as I had imagined. I counted his fingers, and marveled at
his billowy brown hair. How could someone so close to life suddenly die? I wondered. What
was the point of these past nine months if only to end like this? It made no sense to me.
My husband was sitting in the chair beside my bed. As he looked upon his son I saw a
few tears fall from his eyes. â€œIâ€™m sorry, but I canâ€™t help you right now,â€ I said to him. I felt
dead inside, and I didnâ€™t know how I was going to help myself. How could I go on without this
child that I had so patiently waited for?
A short while later the nurse reappeared, and I knew the time had come to say goodbye.
As I kissed his forehead, I could feel his silky hair beneath my lips. â€œGoodbye Tyler; Mommy
loves you,â€ I whispered to him. Then I handed him to the nurse. As I watched her carry him
away, I felt as if someone had torn my heart from my chest.
Later the autopsy would reveal that he had died of asphyxiation. Apparently the
umbilical cord had become wrapped around his neck so tightly that it had cut off his oxygen
supply. I found it ironic that the cord which was to sustain his life would in the end claim it.
The weeks that followed were horrible. I could never have guessed that the death of an
unborn baby would have such a profound effect on me. I found myself drowning in a sea of
anguish and despair, all the while wondering why this happened to me. I was convinced that I
would never be happy again, that my life would be devoid of joy and laughter forever.
But I was wrong, for little by little the days became easier to get through, and the once
bitter pain gave way to a dull ache. I began to read thought-provoking books, as I searched for
the answers that had thus far eluded me. Slowly I began to gain a clearer understanding of the
essence of life. I was maturing, becoming wise. I could better empathize with others who were
in pain. But perhaps most surprisingly, I began to feel at peace with myself.
Itâ€™s now nearly a decade later, and the pain that I once knew has been replaced with
bitter-sweet memories. I marvel at the fact that, though Tylerâ€™s stay was brief, he managed to
teach me so much. He sent me on a journey of self-growth, and Iâ€™m happy where I ended up.
Thereâ€™s a saying that goes: â€œSome people come into our lives and quickly go, some stay for
awhile and leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same.â€ I fancy that if I could
peer into my heart, I would surely see a couple of footprints that Tyler left along the way.