Our Little Angel
He went to our bed, face down, crying soft tears. My eldest boy had just come from Tae Kwon Do classes.
“Did anything happen, dear?” my wife asked.
“None,” he replied, burying his head in the pillows. “Did you get hurt or anything?”
“No,” he replied again.
“Are you sad for mommy?” my wife asked further.
“Yes,” he cried, and began such a heart-rending wail.
We had just gotten home from the hospital. We came from the delivery room to get mommy checked. A week ago, we found out we were pregnant. A few days later, she began to bleed.
My eldest boy was so happy when we broke the news of a new sibling. He shared the news with everyone he knew. He knew we wanted a girl. He would be the big Kuya, caring for this newest member of our family, the best way he knew how. We were 5 weeks into the pregnancy when the bad news came.
“We lost the baby,” we told him, speaking gently and reassuringly. We lost our little Angelina.
A flash of surprise, then denial, then defiance crossed his face. “It must be a mistake,” he said. “We must do the ultrasound again!”
We spent a few anxious hours in the delivery room, waiting for the test results. I can read an ultrasound, a perk of my job. I could not believe my eyes when the image I saw was not something I wanted to see. I wanted to hear it from the doctor’s mouth. “I cannot see the gestational sac anymore,” she explained. “There’s a bit of fluid that looks like blood. I’m sorry.”
And our world crumbled.
A member of the nursing staff from my unit approached, mumbling her apology over how the improper scheduling of procedures led to some patient dissatisfaction this morning. I looked at her, numbed. I ignored her, looked away, because I had bigger problems today.
“Yes, we did the ultrasound again today,” we said. “She’s not there anymore.”
We held him for close to an hour, as he cried his heart out, until his grief settled down. We cried ourselves too, sharing in his sadness. We cried because the hurt was too raw, too sudden. We cried because we now felt incomplete and inadequate. We cried because we felt guilty, of maybe doing or not doing something that led to her demise. We cried because maybe we had not prayed enough. We cried because it was unfair to be given such a wonderful gift… only to be taken away too soon. We cried because we miss her, who was yet to be born, whom we have begun to love.
In the meantime, my third boy entered the room.
“Why is Kuya crying?” he asked.
We told him that Kuya was sad because our baby was gone.
“I’m not sad,” he said. “I know our baby is an angel in heaven now.”
My second son said, “Daddy wait, how do you know that this baby was a girl?”
“We don’t,” I said, “but we’ve always wanted a girl.”
“Then maybe,” he began, “we should also use a boy’s name, just in case. Can we call him Angelo?”
And our two younger boys smiled and went on their way. In a while, Kuya joined them.
Little by little, we are trying to move on. It’s a work in progress. It gets hard sometimes. You may see me walking around the hospital, withdrawn and pensive. Don’t ask about the puffy eyes, though, unless you’re prepared to listen.