We continued to lay there embracing each other for what seemed like an eternity before my mother-in-law walked in the room. I remember letting her know that the doctors had already talked to Lindsay (we both had made an agreement to keep it together until we could tell her about the diagnosis) and she hurriedly went to her daughter’s side and pulled her daughter close and kissed her forehead, ensuring her that we would all get through this together.
I fell back onto the couch in the OB delivery room that we were assigned to due to my son also going through this traumatic experience inside his beautiful mama and began to get angry. How could this happen to us? What did we do to warrant such a terrible situation be placed as a bump in the road in front of us? It was about that time that my Mom came in the room, which was a much-needed distraction from the anger starting to build within. My Mom gave Lindsay a big hug and then came over to me with her tear-filled eyes and told me how much she loved me and Linds as she gave me a big hug, reassuring me that we would get through this and we needed to stay strong. I walked over to Lindsay and held her hand, letting my mind wander back to a state of anger. The anger quickly turned to an almost drowning sense of guilt. Why her and not me? Why is there nothing more I could do than just exist next to her and stay positive for her? I began to feel nautious but pulled it together just as the nursing staff came in to start setting up Lindsay’s room for what would turn out to be a two night stay.
They began by setting up an IV and getting some pain meds to drip, as Lindsay was now in some pain from surgery. Due to the cyst actually being determined to be a cancerous tumor and the way in which it was being removed, they had to make a slightly bigger incision than originally planned, it was about 4 inches long, running vertically down from her belly button. As the pain meds began to take effect, they drew a few vials of blood for the various follow-up testing after surgery to make sure both mama and baby were healthy and reacting well to everything. Before surgery, our son’s heartbeat was right around 155-157bpm. A nurse that we’d seen before surgery earlier that day came in to take the fetal heart tones, as they call them. I was an absolute mess inside as she came in because this was the first verification that our baby boy was, in fact, still doing as well as he was before surgery. She put the sonogram “jelly” (that’s what I call it anyway) on Lindsay’s still tender-stomach and began to do her best to find the heartbeat. Due to Lindsay’s incision only being an hour old or so at this point, she had to be very careful and gentle around the incision which proved to be very difficult in allowing her to find the heartbeat. She placed the listening device to the right of Lindsay’s incision and began to move it slowly around that half of her stomach, searching for a heartbeat with no luck. My heart-felt as though it fell out of my chest and shattered on the floor in front of me. “PLEASE GOD, PLEASE do not do this to us; I am not strong enough to experience that sort of heartbreak in one day”, I thought as I looked up to the ceiling. She moved to the other side of her incision and began to search with no sign of a heartbeat. I started to feel as though I might pass out or throw up or maybe both so I just grabbed Lindsay’s hand and squeezed tight. Lindsay was staring straight up at the ceiling, tears at the ready, undoubtedly asking God the same thing I was. The nurse then moved down low, under the incision; Lindsay and I’s ears were quite literally hanging on every single fuzzy noise being emitted form the fetal hearttones monitor. The silence was almost deafening, the sights, sounds and smells were being seared in my mind. It’s as though I was out of my body, watching everything happen and feeling completely and utterly defeated. The all too familiar question of “Why?” came back, I may have even said it out loud; the nurse seemingly responded to my question by stating she was “Having trouble finding a heartbeat due to the baby most likely being under the incision”, which wasn’t of much comfort. All we wanted was to hear our little son’s heart beating with that distinctly rapid “thump, thump, thump, thump” but the doubts began to creep in. I leaned down and pressed my head into Lindsay’s shoulder and waited, and waited, and waited as the nurse kept searching.
In reality, it was probably only a few minutes of searching but dear LORD did it feel like years. Soon, I thought my ears were playing tricks on me when I heard a few quick flashes of “thump, thump, th…” then a “thump, thum..” and finally she found the heartbeat and we heard that familiarly healthy “thump, thump, thump, thump” that registered at 149 bpm. At least some of our prayers were answered that day; at least some of the news we got that day wasn’t life-alteringly bad. My Mom and Mother-In-Law, who had both been out in the hallway searching for their respective husbands came back in the room and we all shared a few personal conversations before beginning to make sleeping/logistical plans for the night. I was miserable most of that day until later in the afternoon when Lindsay’s pain began to lighten up slightly and she began to doze off every chance we gave her. I told my Mother-In-Law, Father-In-Law, Mom and Dad that rest is the best thing for her and they agreed so we all sat there and either had very quiet conversation or just sat in silence, happy to be sitting in the company of our loved ones. It became clear after Lindsay was unable to eat much of anything that we would be in the hospital overnight. At this point, my internal organs had taken a toll on me and I was in and out of the bathroom, unable to go when I thought I had to. I had never experienced stress-induced digestive issues but man was it awful. Our parents stayed with us until later that evening, visitors also came and went, people already showing their love and support without knowing the entirety of the news that we had received just a few hours prior. We didn’t do much healing that first day, it was all too fresh, too painful and too much information all at once and we needed some time to process. I woke up about 4-5 times that night to different nurses coming in for various check-ins on Lindsay and our baby; I don’t think either of us slept a combined 2 hours that night.
We woke up the next day and there was a new battle of pain for Lindsay. I’m not sure how everyone else feels but one of the worst things in this world is to watch your loved ones (especially a spouse) lay in pain and not be able to do much, if anything, about it. Lindsay was extremely anxious and unsettled at this point, wanting to be home in our house with our fur babies and me, alone, so we could curl up together and ease the pain. Finally, after many different options of food being delivered the previous day and night for Lindsay to try, she was able to hold down a banana and some of a bagel. The nurses, sensing our frustration and uncomfortability, said they felt satisfied enough with where Lindsay was in her recovery to write-up some discharge paperwork and grant us our wish. My Mother-In-Law was there with us, waiting on the discharge paperwork with Lindsay as I walked out to retrieve our car. I couldn’t help but feel lost as I walked out of the hospital alone. “Where do we go from here?”, I remember asking myself, “What do I do next?” I got in our car and took a few deep breaths and reassured myself, “You can’t go anywhere but up and you can’t do anything but stay strong, positive and supportive of my wife.”
I pulled the car up to the curbside pickup and helped Lindsay get out of her wheelchair and into our car for the “long” ride home; I say “long” because we live less than 10 miles from the hospital, just across town. We pulled up to the garage and opened the door and I got out to help Lindsay get out of the vehicle and get inside safely. We opened the door to Joey and Pacey greeting us by very excitedly barking and running around in front of us. We were home. We were in a safe spot. We finally had time to let the gravity of our news sink in and subsequently begin to heal. I could almost feel the sense of relief in both Lindsay and I as we settled her down into our reclining couch and turned on some mindless TV show. I reached over and grabbed her hand, pulled it close, looked her in the eye and said “I love you with all of my heart and we WILL get through this.” She agreed and squeezed my hand tight and we both mutually remained quiet for a while afterwards, taking a moment to take in and enjoy the first moment of normalcy that we’ve had in quite a while. The question still was at the back of my mind, “Where do we go from here?”…