“All Dressed Up”
The following is a story share with me from a fellow grieving dad. We all dream about the “what-if’s” and “what should’ve been”. Most of us had no idea when we woke up the morning of losing our children that we would be thrown into the traumatic nightmare of losing a child. But here we are, trying to put our lives back together. Show this dad some love and support. Peace.
A Father’s Rosebud
“We apologies for losing your shirt Mr. Gooden, we will credit your account to replace your loss.”-said the manager of the cleaners. To be honest I didn’t care about the misplaced shirt, I had so many things on my mind that morning. It was around 10:15 am April 23, 2018, my wife was 40 weeks pregnant with our daughter Rose Danielle and 2 days past her due date. I wanted to stop by the cleaners to pick up some clothes because I planned on being sharp as a tac when my baby girl entered this world, like why not? If I was invited to Barack Obama’s 58th or Sean Carter’s 49th birthdays I would be dressed up with the best clothes in my closet. I figured since Rose would achieve way more than those two gentlemen, I could at least wear my Sunday’s best. I walked out of the cleaners that morning so excited to meet my wife at the doctors, because this day wasn’t a normal baby appointment. Rose’s due date was April 21, so at this appointment we would find out if we could be induced or if we would have to wait until Rose felt like making her grand entrance.
When I finally arrived at the doctor’s office, I noticed my wife had already been called to the backroom which was normal seeing how I usually showed up late since Monica would have to do a Non-Stress Test at the start of each appointment and I wasn’t allowed back there due to limited space in that specific room. I sat in the waiting room for about 10 minutes, but it felt like an hour, due to the excitement I had about the thought that we would get to be holding Rose within the next 24-72 hours. The nurse finally came to get me to escort me back to where Monica was and where we would be meeting with the doctor. “Nick?”, the Nurse said as she scanned the room to see who and where I was. I jumped up and said in a cheerful voice, “That would be me!” She said, “come on back, how are you doing today?” I said, “great, just ready to meet our daughter.” She said, “Nice, Monica will be in this ultrasound room.”
I walked into the room and the nurse closed the door behind me. “No! No! No!-Why?!” My wife yelled as she covered her face. I scanned the 10X6 room and there were about five nurses and one doctor all surrounding Monica which never happened usually there was only one nurse that would conduct the ultrasound. I looked for the ultrasound monitor that showed Rose in the womb and she was just floating there, which was somewhat normal because she would always be sleeping in what looked like a fetal position, but this time she wasn’t in that position which was not normal. She was just there, not curled up or anything. In the moment I thought to myself “Nick stay calm, identify the problem and make a decision.” I just relied on what I was taught during my time in the Marine Corps. But still I stood there in shock- I was stuck I could not move at all, I felt as if I was in a dream and my arms were slow to move and I had no control over my body. I looked down and noticed my wife reaching her hand out to me, so I walked up to the side of the bed and looked at her as she tried to make words, but she struggled because she could not catch her breath, she finally said, “they cannot find Rose’s heartbeat.” I looked up at the screen again, pinched my left forearm and right cheek to see if I was dreaming. Then the nurse closest to the screen said, “I’m sorry I have been trying but I cannot find a heartbeat.” Then the doctor told us, “we are so sorry, but your child has passed away.” Monica laid there with tears in her eyes and yelled, “Why! Why! How could this happen?”
I could feel my body starting to heat up, I could feel the sweat coming over my forehead, and the first thing I remember thinking was, what in the entire fuck just happened! Like just like that all the excitement, all the buildup, all the hopes and dreams of Rose being my little track star, the thought of me carrying her up the stairs to her bed after she fell asleep watching a Disney movie for the millionth time, the thought of me sneaking into her room and peeking into her crib and having Monica whisper that I better not wake her, the thought of seeing Monica rocking Rose to sleep, the thought of picking Rose up from daycare, the thought of dancing with her on all her birthdays to Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely”, the thought of my mother and father being so happy because they are finally grandparents.
All of that in one snap just gone and never to be experienced. In that moment I lost all faith, I didn’t look up and ask God why, I didn’t try to pray this away, I just accepted the moment and part of me still thought it was a dream. I lost my happiness-just like the cleaners lost my shirt earlier that morning. Maybe that was the universe giving me a warning sign of what was to come.
Photo Credit: Robby Virus Flickr via Compfight cc
Thank you Nick. Your story is essentially the same as my own. My wife and I went the entire 9 months and in the blink of an eye all the excitement, joy, and dreams of having our son Kaiden were gone on August 20th 2021. Your dreams of what you expected to share with your daughter hit me to my core. I am still so broken that I haven’t been able to put pen to paper and write about Kaiden’s death and all of my thoughts ans feelings pre/post stillbirth. I am a clinical psychologist and am unable to work until I feel strong enough and let more time go by. I send my love to each and every father who is a member of this tribe.
My 22 year old son’s tag line was, “Dad, I want to change the world. I’m not sure how or when, I just know that I will….” Little did either of us know that his impact on this world would be donating his healthy organs to other unhealthy people, thereby giving them a second lease on life. Jason was a happy, kind person who unknowingly (and in a moment of weakness) died as a result of a simple sniff of fentanyl laced heroin. He was not an addict or a problem child. Rather, he was a good boy that made a bad decision and paid with his life. The void in my life is enormous and there are days where I feel like I can’t go on. I will never be “right” again, not without my Jason. But then I remind myself that there are 3 people living as a result of Jason’s organs, 2 people have sight as a result of his corneas…and from that, I take some comfort. J has changed the world but in a way neither of us could have ever imagined. I miss him so much!
I too lost my first child, at just 9 weeks, I understand every bit of your story and grieve with you. Some people actually think its not that bad losing someone so young because you didn’t have so many memories (I have literally been told that by a grandfather (father) whose own daughter lost a young baby).
But to your point it is a loss of your hopes and dreams for them, of all the things you planned on doing with them, of how you as a family where going to have such great times. Up until that point of loss they were our future and at that moment our future was gone.
I hope somehow life has become a little less painful for you and your wife, that the sheer raw devastation of such a loss has tapered off somewhat.
Take care brother
A loss of a child is painful no matter how old . My wife and I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks about three years ago that really stung and still does . Two years ago my soon to be first born son died three days before his due date because of an umbilical chord issue. I went into the operating room and held my son when they took him out . Life less … all those hopes and dreams I was thinking about all those 9 months were dashed in a flash … gone . My life was shattered and changed. Some for the good , some not . No one has the room to give advice on how you should grieve or feel. Everyone experiences it differently, and copes with it differently. There is no right or wrong playbook , only survival .
My heart goes out to you and your loss. On 21st Dec 2018 I lost my 15yr old daughter to meningitis unexpectedly. All my plans for our future together, gone, and my happiness along with it.
I am sorry for your loss. I have no words as all of us do this journey different. A book I have read nine times that has provided guidance is “It’s Okay That You’re not Okay” by Megan Devine. Peace.