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The Moment I Handed My Stillborn Baby Over to the Nurse

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I arrived at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio early on the morning of March 7, 2016. I checked in, answered all of the nurse’s questions and settled into my hospital room — the room where I would deliver my stillborn baby.

After several hours, Wyatt was born. He was quickly taken away so the nurse could check for vital signs. Though I knew there was little hope, I still held onto a tiny thread that he would be born alive and would be able to be saved; that wasn’t the case. The nurse cleaned him up, and my OB gently warned me that Wyatt’s little body was overloaded with fluid, so he was very, very swollen. She handed him to me and he was one of the most beautiful, little baby boys I had ever seen.

The tears fell freely as I held him. It seems like only minutes, but I know my husband and I spent hours taking turns holding our little boy. We took photos of all three of us, photos of just him, and the hospital casted and printed his feet as well. We prayed, cried, and just talked while we held our son for the first and last time ever. Later that evening, the hospital gave us a basket to lay him in so we could both get ready to leave.

We signed all the paperwork, got our discharge instructions, and prepared to leave the hospital with one person less than we had walked in with. As I held Wyatt one last time, I looked at the basket and couldn’t fathom laying him down and just leaving him laying there by himself. Our nurse was standing there, and without hesitating, she looked at me and knew what I was thinking. She reached her arms out and asked if I wanted her to hold him while we left. I said goodbye to my son and handed him to the nurse. She took him and cradled him as you would any other baby. Her eyes welled up with tears as I started sobbing. She looked at me and said she was so sorry. The tears were streaming down her face as we walked out of the room.

I will never forget the kindness and compassion of this nurse. She treated Wyatt with the dignity, respect, and personhood that he deserved. I can look back on that day and be at peace with how I left my son. I didn’t leave him laying in a basket by himself, but I left him in the arms of a wonderful nurse who cared for him.

So, to the nurse who held Wyatt, thank you. I cannot express how thankful I am for your compassion and kind, empathetic spirit. I’m sure you have probably forgotten about us, but I will never forget you. I will never forget the vivid image I have of you cradling my baby, tears rolling down your cheeks as I walked out the door. You were a bright spot during one of the worst things a parent can ever go through. Thank you.

Photo submitted by contributor.

Originally published: April 3, 2019
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