“Is this it?” I asked a nurse.

What Now? What Do You Do After Your Baby Dies?

Photo by Cindy Johnson Family Photography
Photo by Cindy Johnson Family Photography

Leaving the hospital without Shaundi was a completely unnatural feeling. I didn’t know what to do. I had just been through the longest, most traumatic, most terrible experience of my entire life. I lost a piece of my heart, I lost every tear from my body, I lost my confidence, I lost my baby. During those incredibly long (but oh so quick) 15 hours, there were many people that were a “part” of it all – doctors, nurses, specialists — all of us thrown together unwillingly in the fight for a life.

What do you do when you leave the hospital? It’s like checking out of a hotel, do you leave the key in your room and shut the door? What if you left something behind. Do you drop it off at the front desk and say goodbye? What if that’s weird?

Do you hug the nurses and doctors and say goodbye? Do you say thank you? Do you say, see you later? What exactly are you supposed to do? What exactly IS the next step? When I came in here, I had a little tiny baby named Shaundi, I shouldn’t be leaving without her, right? Other parents were pulling their children to the exit in wagons or carrying them and I had no baby to carry. No infant in my arms, just a box of paperwork and “remember your dead sister toys” for the girls.

“Is this it?” I asked a nurse. “Do I need to sign anything, tell you anything? Do I just leave? Will we see you again? Will we hear from you?” It felt like the ending to a date that you just weren’t sure if it was bad or good.

“That’s all,” she said, “this is it.”

“Okay, thank you.”

They do their best to make you feel less empty when you leave, They fill your arms with blankets, boxes of mementos, footprints of your baby, books on grieving. And despite leaving with my arms full of these things my arms were so empty.


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