I was having a pretty good week.
I was writing a blog post about my daughter's upcoming birthday party.
I was taking one of my many breaks from writing the post and discussing our closet with my husband in order to finish the first challenge in Project Simplify.
My phone rang downstairs. My daughter ran it up to me, but I missed the call.
It was my mom. I was still talking to my husband and readying to call her back when the phone rang again. It was my mom calling me right back.
I knew something was wrong.
My mom said "We are on the way to the hospital. J (my middle sister, 30 weeks pregnant with her 6th child) is at the hospital and it doesn't look good."
"What doesn't look good? Is it J? Is it the baby?"
"I don't know," my mom said "That was all B (her husband) was able to get out when he called. We are just heading there."
"I'll meet you there" I said and hung up the phone, shaking.
"What's going on?" My husband asked again. As he had when I was on the phone.
"I don't know. It's J. I have to go to the hospital now. " I started getting my stuff together and calling my older daughters. I was upset and shaking.
"I'm driving you," my husband insisted "you're too upset to drive."
I knew I was fine to drive, but I let him take the lead. I wanted him there. And being a Police Officer, he was adept at maneuvering through rush hour traffic.
We gathered everyone into the car and headed to the hospital as I fielded calls from my older daughters.
I was worried that something had happened to my sister. Had she been in a car accident? Her office was downtown, but the hospital was in the west suburbs, so that was possible. The other possibility, that something had happened to the baby, I just couldn't fathom.
She had already been through the hell of one stillbirth, a girl they named Ivy, three and a half years ago. It had been devastating to her, her husband, their children and our family.
Then Their son R was born, five weeks after my own TJ. He was happy and healthy and the pregnancy had gone smoothly. His arrival seemed to help with their healing.
This pregnancy had been a huge surprise, but she was excited and planning happily for a shared nursery for the baby and older brother, R.
As with all of her pregnancies, my sister did not want to know the gender ahead of time.
As we pulled into the hospital my phone rang. It was my mother.
It was the baby.
I had a small sense of relief that my sister was ok physically.
She had not been in a horrible car accident, but she was in the middle of another devastatingly horrible experience.
I really did not know how she would handle going through this again.
I went to her room. I saw her husband first. I hugged him and told him how sorry I was. I didn't want to let him go. He, more than anyone, had never truly recovered from Ivy's death. He had been the one holding everyone else together. Only recently had he seemed willing to start really living his own life again.
I went to my sister. She was upset, but also resigned. They were going to do a C-section as they had done with Ivy. I held her and cried with her.
Soon the nurse came in and told us they were going to prep her for surgery so we went to the waiting room.
It was difficult holding my tears back while the other families in the waiting room celebrated the happy, healthy births of new members of their family. We would never have the chance to know this little one.
I had to keep busy doing something.
I remembered a post I had seen on Facebook.
It was a post by a good friend of mine who had also had a stillborn daughter within two weeks of my sister losing Ivy.
A photographer friend had joined a group called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, in honor of their daughter. It is an amazing organization that provides professional photographers, who have been specially trained, to families suffering child loss before or very shortly after birth. They come to the hospital and provide - free of charge- a photo session for families going through this horrible loss.
After a couple of tries I was able to reach the area coordinator. They already had a photography team at the hospital. They were doing a session with another family.
It stunned me that another family was at this very hospital going through this awful experience.
But it also meant that they would already be there and be available for my sister and her family. I gave the coordinator my sister's name, and they handled everything through her nurses.
Then we waited and waited.
My husband took my younger children home.
We finally saw them wheel my sister down the hall to the operating rooms. Her husband was with her.
We waited some more.
The nurses had closed the waiting room so our family was able to use it exclusively. Soon the room that she would be brought to after recovery was ready and we went to wait there so we could free up the waiting room for other families.
Family members came and left.
We finally saw her husband.
He and my sister had been spending time with the photographers and he came to get their 4 older children to be a part of the session as well.
Their daughter, Guinevere Romini, was born asleep. She was shockingly large for 30 weeks gestation, at 9lbs 9oz.
The doctors had no answers, that may come later.
Soon we were able to go in to meet, and say goodbye to,Guinevere.
She was lovely, with thick black hair and chubby cheeks.
I held her tiny body wrapped in a pink fleece blanket.
I cried for this little girl we would never know
Who would never experience all the love and fun her family has to offer a little one
I cried for her mom and dad, who were experiencing a devastation that a parent should not experience once, much less twice.
I sat with her mom as others held the baby.
"V said,"she told me, referring to her 8 year old daughter, "That at least Guinevere has Ivy to play with in heaven."
It takes the innocence of a child to find the ray of comfort in this impossibly sad situation.