Before The Rainbow

Debra Jo Myers

© Copyright 2024 by Debra Jo Myers

Photo courtesy of the author.
Photo courtesy of the author.

 He was enraged. “Why can’t we speed this up?”

Eight hours she cried in pain and anguish. I felt helpless, like I had disconnected with what was going on right in front of me.

When my son-in-law called me sobbing yesterday, which was something I’d never seen him do in the last ten years, I left immediately. Five minutes to the hospital, but it took forever to get out of my car and walk into utter heartbreak.

Mama, Mama!” Tiffany called out as I went in. She couldn’t and wouldn’t let go of me.

My oldest daughter was pregnant with her first child, my first grandchild. I was going to be a grandma. We were all overjoyed when we found out it would be a little boy.

Tiffany went for her monthly prenatal appointment yesterday. It was then that I got the pleading call from Jeff, her husband. Her doctor had stopped an ultrasound, telling them something was wrong. The nurse had alerted him, when during her initial examination, she couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat. He confirmed it. My grandson had died in vitro at 21 weeks.

I couldn’t get myself to cry. I wanted to have strength to help my daughter. Tiffany was a tender-hearted young woman. I remember when she was little, if we saw a dead animal in the road, she would cry. Once she found a dead bird, a victim of our cat, and she insisted on a proper burial. But this…

The doctor asked us to come with her while the nurse gave Tiffany an injection to calm her down to sleep before what was to follow. Jeff, Tiffany’s dad (my ex) Mark, and I followed Dr. Jayne. She explained that because Tiffany was in her 5th month, they would have to induce labor and deliver the baby. She couldn’t abort the fetus without risk to my daughter. She would start in four hours.

The three of us didn’t leave the hospital. Jeff went to make calls, so Mark and I went to the diner. We had divorced twenty years earlier, and we made a pact when it came to our two girls, we would both be there. We sat in silence and drank our coffee.

I broke the silence when I saw tears running down Mark’s cheeks. I felt everything he did, and I couldn’t console him. I don’t know why, but in trying to start a conversation, I said I mailed baby shower invitations.” Then regretted saying it.

I don’t care about a baby shower! I don't know how to help our daughter” Mark shouted. Then lowering his voice he whispered, “Our grandson is gone. That's what I care about,” he said and laid down $2 and left.

Sitting alone, emotions flooded me. This little boy I loved, my grandson, I wouldn’t ever rock in my arms. For four months, I was consumed with becoming a grandma. I had an adrenaline boost of youthfulness and energy pulling on my heartstrings. He was my baby too.

Jeff was quiet, withdrawn, and distraught. He told us he wasn’t sure if he could do this. Mark assured him that we would be there with them. Jeff told us that by law he had to name his son, and he had to decide whether to bury him or cremate him. The doctor also had asked him if he wanted to see the baby, and if he thought Tiffany would want to. He began to weep. He couldn’t decide. He didn’t want to do it.

Tiffany woke up crying in pain. Jeff and I went to her bedside, and Mark went into the hall to get the nurse. She came in and said she was administering the drug, and Tiffany would be in active labor soon. And so, it began. We stayed with her as she was shaking, sobbing, crying out in pain. It wasn’t only active labor; it was active labor of her baby who had died. She didn’t only have physical pain she was grieving too.

As Tiffany’s mama, I was strong helping her through each contraction. I held her in my arms and told her my grandson was in a wonderful place. He was being taken care of by our relatives who were in heaven too. Jeff sat on the other side of her bed in a daze. Mark was pacing the floor becoming more and more enraged. He took off out of the room.

I could hear him pleading at the nurses’ station for someone to do something about his daughter’s pain.

Give her stronger drugs. She doesn’t need to go through this.” Then getting louder. “My grandson is gone. Drugs won’t hurt him. Please help my daughter now!”

Tiffany started to get out of bed. She said she had to go to the bathroom. Jeff grabbed her and helped her. She sat on the potty and let out a shrilling scream.

Help me! He’s in the water. My baby!”

Jeff ran to the hall and yelled for help. I told Tiffany to sit still, and I knelt down next to her holding her hand. I looked into the toilet, but all I saw was blood. She was hyper-ventilating and started to whisper.

Mama, he’s in the toilet. He came out. I saw him.”

Tiffany’s doctor came and asked us to stand back while they tended to her. It took forever. In my mind, I was imagining the grandma I wanted to be - a safety net for him if he needed me, a cheerleader in all he did. A grandparent who's open to anything, and a playmate for patty cake or ‘Go Fish.’ I would share stories with him, memories, our history. I snapped out of it when the doctor came out.                                                       

She said it was over. Their baby boy weighed ten ounces. He was completely formed, and Tiffany was holding him. She asked Jeff if they had a name. He shook his head no. Mark told Jeff to go in, but he wanted us to go with him.

I reached my daughter first, and there in her hands was my tiny grandson. She was crying softly, now in a different kind of pain.

Do you want to hold him?” she asked Jeff. He couldn’t. I took him. He was wrapped in a blanket, and I held him up against me and said a prayer.

My first grandchild’s name is Peyton Samuel (after his Jeff’s favorite football player and Tiffany’s favorite grandpa Sam). He was born and cremated on June 2nd after we said goodbye. He is now and always will be his grandma’s angel.

Tiffany and Jeff’s rainbow baby, my granddaughter, was born two years later. During her pregnancy, Tiffany was scared it might happen again. As she progressed, so did her excitement and love for her baby. And this grandma started to feel like one, especially when I rocked her and told her about her big brother.

My grandparenting skills mirror those I imagined when we lost Peyton. Now I have nine more grandchildren – six grandsons, three granddaughters. I share those stories and memories, cheer for them, and play with them. I’ve created an environment with the freedom to trust their ‘Nana’ with anything. That’s the name I gave myself the day I held my tiny grandson in my hand. “Nana will always remember you and love you, Peyton.”

I am thrilled that my goal to become an author that I set for myself 50 years ago is finally starting to happen. In my spare time I direct plays for Ole Olsen Memorial Theater, a community theater here in my hometown of Peru, IN. I am also a member of the Indiana Thespians judging high school theater competitions. Peru, Indiana, is known as 'The Amateur Circus Capital of the World' and houses an arena where every summer 200 local youth are trained and perform. I was part of it from ages 6-16. My participation culminated in being in flying trapeze. It's an experience I wish children all over the world could have. I gained confidence, a sense of teamwork, and stories to tell for years to come. My absolute favorite pastime of all is spending time with my ten grandchildren ranging from 2-22.  I am married to Alan, a man who is my soulmate. In 2016 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and it forced me to have to go on disability and leave my job managing a grocery store. It was then that my writing became something I wanted to pursue. I've had articles published on author Liz Flaherty's blog online. I recently began submitting to sites like yours and magazines, and currently I am working on a book full of my stories, including my journey with MS, that I hope to self-publish before the end of this year. 

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