This is another hard post for me to share. It has to do with the harsh realities of being with a dead body. Again, a little graphic. I know it’s strange that I’m sharing these details. But there may be people who are (will) going through a similar situation as I am and I want them to be aware of what happens, how it feels. I wish I had thought to ask someone what to do in these situations. No one tells you how to preserve a body, but still spend time with it. A really awful and weird thing to talk about. Fair warning.
“After our family left, David and I spent time with Brielle. We snuggled her and I took a nap with her as well. We could tell that her eyes were starting to deteriorate and it broke our hearts.
Matt (our nephew – David’s brother’s son) had told us he would come down after work on Friday (from Chattanooga). He arrived around 9:30 PM. It was really nice to see him. David and I both commented on how serious he was and that it was the first time he had looked his age and even looked old. That made me a little sad. He’s easy going like David and generally looks young and carefree, I didn’t want him to carry our burden too. He held Brielle and was very somber. He seemed happy in a sad way. Happy to meet her, but sad that it was this way. This was his first female cousin and really the only one he would have spent much time with. He was very gentle with her. It was sweet.
By the time Matt left, Brielle’s eyes were so fragile they were about the consistency of jelly. Just touching them and they felt like they would collapse at the slightest touch. It broke our hearts. I texted Lauren and asked her what to do. She told us to wrap her in ice, in this very elaborate way, and then to put Vaseline on surgical gauze and cover her eyes with the gauze and then put a hat on top of her eyes. It tore David and I up, thinking of covering her eyes forever. We took last pictures with her with her eyes exposed. I cried the whole time. All I can see is my beautiful daughter, it breaks my heart just thinking of having to hide her face to protect it from decay. Awful, awful moment. One of the worst times in our lives.
We took lots of pictures and then put her in her bassinet. We took a long video of her cute little body. I documented every little part of her and described what it was all like. We looked at every part of her and I cried over each. She truly is beautifully and wonderfully made. She’s perfect. Perfect hands, perfect feet. Beautiful legs and arms. She had such a strong body. I’ve never seen a baby with such a strong body. After we videoed, we wrapped Brielle in her ice pack swaddle. The saddest thing we ever did.
The ice swaddle was difficult to figure out at first and then made perfect sense. We had the nurse bring us gallon bags of ice and we used chux pads that were in the room with me. And then three receiving blankets. As I was doing this my hospital band caught Brielle’s leg and cut her. I nearly fell on the floor crying. I know and knew at the time that it didn’t hurt her, how could it? But it hurt me. It felt like a knife to my heart. I had inadvertently hurt my baby. I had damaged my sweet perfect Brielle. I put a band aid on it, to make it better, I’m her Mommy that’s what I do. Then I realized if it’s pulled off it might peel her skin off. At that point I curled up on the bed and bawled. Horrible, stabbing, heart wrenching pain. David wrapped his arms around me and told me it was okay. He did his best to console me.
We then covered her eyes with gauze and Vaseline. That was even worse. We lost half her face in the process and it tore me apart. I know David felt the same. We couldn’t bare hiding her. Covering her face. It felt like we were betraying who she was. I know it was for the best, but that doesn’t change how it feels. And it was awful to lose that. It felt as if we had lost another piece of her. Like she was slowly disappearing in front of our eyes. It still rips us apart. Had I known at the time that I’d get to see her eyes again it might not have been as hard, but I didn’t know that. David and I thought this was the last time we’d see Brielle’s face. And it felt like goodbye. This night felt more like a funeral for us than her actual funeral did.
After she was covered and her body prepared for preservation, I gathered all of her toys and opened the Rachel’s Gift box. Inside was a beautiful blanket, very soft, a gorgeous knit bonnet, and another toy for her. I called that toy her Angel Dragon Bear. I’ve never understood why bears need wings. Which is why that bear’s name is Angel Dragon Bear. I get my awesome naming skills from my Indian family.
We wrapped her up, tucked her in tight, and propped her on her side so that I could see her as I slept. I put her elephant in the bed with her with it’s arms on her side, guarding her. Her purple rubber ducky on the top left corner (the left corner near her head) and I snuggled the two teddy’s the Angel Dragon Bear and the pink fuzzy bear that Linda gave us, at her feet. I made sure everything was perfect for her. And then I sobbed. And sobbed. David and I tried to comfort each other, but it was just awful. It felt like we had ripped our own hearts out for the betterment of Brielle. I think this moment may have been worse or just as bad as when she died.
David and I went to bed that night completely heartbroken. I didn’t sleep with Brielle that night either, but kept my body and hand as close to her as possible. This broke me. This night was impossible and I’m not sure how we got through it.”