Francesca Joy Molitierno: Part 4-- Forever and always, my angel you'll be.
September 23, 2016
When the time came for us to be moved to the postpartum floor, Jessica came in and woke us up to inform us of this. As much as they didn’t want to have to move me next to the nursery and newborns, they were in need of labor & deliver rooms, so we had no choice. I was calm & at peace, so I felt okay with this & we were told we would be in a corner end room so there wouldn’t be a lot of traffic past our room. The brought in a wheelchair & this… is where it gets hard for me as a mother.
Protocol at the hospital is that when moving from labor & delivery, you carry your baby for security purposes. I didn’t think twice about this, I love holding Francesca and wish I could hold her in my arms forever. But, as we began what seemed like a 5 mile trek down the hall, I began to feel all of my motherly defenses kick in. People were in the hallway, people were looking at me with my baby girl in my arms and people didn’t know the reality of our situation. My baby was in my arms, but she was cold. Her body was no longer warm and I just wanted to protect her. I found myself pulling her blankets up a little higher over her sweet face to shield her from human eyes who may not be able to handle her beauty. I didn’t take my eyes off of her the whole time, even when someone in the hallway tried to congratulate us, I kept my eyes on Frankie, I wasn’t going to let anyone come near my baby and try to tarnish her beauty with their human fear.
Once we were in our postpartum room, we met our new nurse (I cannot remember her name and it is tearing me apart! She was so giggly and sweet). She made sure we got into bed, Frankie’s bassinet was beside me where I could see her and Dave was all set up in his recliner chair and she told us she would be back to check on us and take my vitals again in a little bit. I really liked her, but our time with her was brief. She came back in around 6:30am, checked my vitals, and told us, once again, there would be a shift change happening at 7. Before she left, she did something that melted my heart. She walked over to Frankie, she looked closely at her and looked at me and said “She’s so beautiful. I have twin angel babies of my own”. She told me about the remembrance ceremony that takes place every October at he hospital for all babies born sleeping and wanted to be sure I was invited to this years on October 9th. Every year, she helps organize this ceremony and lights two candles for her twins. In that moment, I didn’t feel alone. In that moment, I realized out there is support. There is a whole community of Angel parents and while I never wanted this community for myself, we are learning that it is full of some of the most special people I will ever encounter. I realized that the weekend of this celebration would have been the weekend of our baby shower.... I felt Frankie tugging at my heart saying, "Go, Mom! Go celebrate like you would have at the shower. It's okay to be proud!"
When the shift change happened later, we woke up, had my vitals taken once again and we ate breakfast. I’m not quite sure what time this was, but our new nurse, Becky had some serious pep in her step! She made us laugh from the moment we met her and it was a nice break in emotions, for sure. She also peeked at Frankie and made sure she was snuggled in nice in her blankets. This shocked me, but she, too told me of her angel baby. She was older & when she had him she was in the military, so she told us how she never got to see him or hold him. Back then, they thought it was better for the mother to refrain from allowing this to happen. She said anytime she gets the chance to meet a baby born sleeping, she encourages the parent’s to do exactly what we were doing— not letting her leave our sides til the very last second.
At some point in the morning, there was a knock on the door. Our families weren’t here yet, so we had no clue who it could be. I got up and I went to the door and standing there was David, the man we met on the first night in the waiting room. Dave had run into him in the hallway at some point and he filled him in on the fact that his father did pass in the night, they did have their baby boy and everyone was doing well. He just stopped by to see how we were doing and he was holding a green bag plastic bag wrapped up tight. We made small talk and then he told us that him and his wife had not stopped praying for us and they wanted to bring us something to help us. I opened it and there was a beautiful little statue of an angel— with a quote about faith. I hadn’t really cried in the hospital yet, but this kindness brought me to my knees. I remember getting shaky, feeling really emotional and doing my little quirky thing I do when I try not to cry— I plug my nose. I couldn’t believe that after EVERYTHING this family was going through, they were thinking of us. They were praying for us. They barely knew us, but they were there for us. I will forever be grateful for this family. I have no clue if our paths will ever cross again, but I will always keep them and their family in my prayers and hold them close to my heart.
As the morning continued, I was poked and prodded for more blood work, shots because I have Rh- factor, getting my IV’s removed, etc… basically, lots of little physical jabs to remind me of what my body just experienced. As the morning continued, I also began to feel more and more anxiety when I would look at my sweet girl. Reality was really setting in. My baby was not in that body beside me, she was elsewhere. I felt my Mom instincts telling me it was time. Francesca was deteriorating and it was time for me to start making decisions about her release. We wanted Frankie baptized as soon as we could get our families there and as soon as that was completed, I would release her to the hospital. Around this time, we realized the room next to us that was previously vacant now had a new family with a newborn. I had been in communication with Katie, I knew that Ezra was here, but I wasn’t sure where they were exactly at this point. I heard a baby cry and just as I felt that pang of sadness that I never heard a noise from my own, once again, Jon Isaac showed up at the door. The family next door to us was them! I heard Ezra cry again and I smiled. I remember hearing her cry and smiling because I realized the baby next door was one I would be able to love on and watch grow up and always parallel to my own sweet Frankie. I texted Katie and asked her if I could come visit once Frankie’s baptism was over & she agreed. I was so comforted when I was able to see Katie and hold their precious gift & this all brought me so much joy. I couldn't help but KNOW that maybe our baby girl told Ezra it was time to enter the world... and the be "little helper" that she was born to be-- just like the name Ezra means. In her short few days, she has already been more than a little helper for me. I can only imagine what she will do for the rest of her life.
We got in touch with the chaplain and she organized with us for her baptism to take place at 11:30am. Our families came in and I couldn’t help but once again, feel so much pride as I sat there filling out the information for her baptism certificate. How many parents can say they are baptizing an angel? Before we got started, I found my pink rosary from my first communion I received from my grandparents. I always keep it in my car and I had Dave hang it in the labor and delivery room where I could see it should I lose focus the night before. I draped my rosary over Francesca Joy’s little body & then I felt ready for her blessing to begin. It was short and it was brief, but soon, our angel was baptized and I was ready. Our nurse came back in and asked what I wanted to do next and I told her I was ready whenever she was for Frankie to be released. She said okay and went to do whatever she needed to do to prep for that to happen. Our “goodbye” was brief. I looked at her one last time, I whispered to her how much I love her, and I watched them wheel her out of our room for the final time. As I type this part, I have tears rolling down my face, but when it happened, I didn’t feel this way. I felt love, all of the love in the world I felt for my baby and I never considered it a goodbye, more of a sending her off to be at peace. Becky brought her clothes back to me in plastic bags— her dress, her hat, her booties, and her yellow blanket which were all knitted and crocheted for me to keep.
And just like that, it was time to go home.
Dave sat me down in a wheelchair. We loaded our bags up on my lap and in his arms. And we started out the doors of the postpartum floor into a completely different world than we entered the hospital. We were now parents. And our baby was not leaving in our arms. This would become so clear to us before we even made it out of the elevator.
As we were leaving the department, Becky went with us to the security desk. She whispered to the guard the words I knew were coming… She had to explain why we weren’t leaving with a baby. I tried not to make eye contact with the guard because I wasn’t sure I could keep it together, so I kept my head down. I kept focused on my feet and we continued to the elevator.
In the elevator, we were joined by a man who was trying to make small talk. “Going home?” he said. “Yep” we both replied. We knew what was coming…. “Where’s the baby?!” he asked. I knew Dave probably wasn’t up for the answer to this question, so I took it on. “Heaven”. I replied. To say the rest of the elevator ride was awkward is an understatement, but this just made me feel empowered. I spoke the truth that I would speak about our baby girl for the rest of my life until I get to see her again.
When we got outside the building, I couldn’t get out of that wheelchair fast enough. I got up and sat on a bench while we waited for our car, but I couldn’t help but stare at the family a bit away from us. The mom was in a wheelchair. There was a blue balloon tied to the back. She was holding a newborn baby boy. In the books our nurse Katie gave me, it talked about this. It prepared me for the fact that eventually, it would hit me, that I was leaving the hospital with empty arms. It told me to carry something to try and help this void… I was holding a white box tied together with a bow. In my box was my baby. Everything we had to remind us from her was in a box. Reality really started to hit me and by the time we were in the car, I was broken. Dave consoled me, he told me to cry and it was okay. I cried and I yelled “we just left her in there. We just left our baby in that huge hospital in a freezer or something”. He didn’t try to change my mind. He didn’t try to tell me it was okay. He just held my hand, wiped my tears, and said “I know”.
We went home.
We spent the night with our families.
We ate ice cream to celebrate my Mom's birthday.
We consumed a lot of ginger ale.
We knew our nightmare wasn’t completely over because eventually, we had to deal with the reality of burying our baby….
& no mother…. no 28-year-old mother is EVER prepared for that.