We were discharged from the hospital the next day. Our sweet, compassionate nurse wept as she handed me a small brown teddy bear. He was the consolation prize for leaving the hospital with empty arms. At first, I didn't want him. I was numb with grief and sorrow. I didn't want a stupid teddy bear. I wanted Owen!
My grateful husband took the bear in his arms and held him for me until my arms were ready...Owen's teddy.
I don't remember her name. I don't remember anything about her except the look in her eyes and the sadness I found there. She had difficulty forming the words but eventually we understood that she was telling us that she could take us out the back way; down the emergency stairs, away from the other moms and their happy endings, away from the nursery window with the crying newborns. I wept with gratitude. I had dreaded this moment from the very first step I had taken into the maternity ward.
No wheelchair. No walk of shame past the other mothers whose babies were still alive. She had given us the most precious gift.
I don't remember her name, but I remember her compassion.
I took the brown bear from my husband and wrapped him in my arms. This was all I was leaving with, but at least my arms weren't empty. I had the love and the compassion of a sweet nurse, my husband's arms around me, and the memories of a precious little boy who left us way too early. My arms were ready.
Down the stairs, out into the cold November air, into the unknown of after, I carried a physical reminder of my son's existence in my arms...
I carried my son in my heart.