When your son only lives for 20 hours and you spend most of that time in a morphine induced slumber, how do you make it feel real after the fact? It’s been almost 5 weeks since my little man came and went, and when I look at pictures of my beautiful son it’s like I’m looking at a child I don’t know. I mean, he has my nose, plain as day, and he has my beloved’s chin and body shape – he obviously belongs to us – but I don’t know him. I never got to hear him cry or coo, I never rocked him to sleep, I never changed his diaper - the poor little thing never even opened his eyes.
We had no bonding time. I was in recovery for four hours after the birth – slipping in and out of said morphine induced slumber – and when I did see him for a precious few moments before being taken to my room, I feel asleep. I feel asleep while my son struggled for life. He lay in his little incubator hooked up to every piece of machinery imaginable and I lay on a stretcher beside him…and fell asleep.
I slept through the night and didn’t see him again until about 12:30pm the next day, by which time we knew there was no hope. No brain activity. That’s what they told us. The only activity in his brain was producing seizures that were wracking his tiny, perfect body. And so we decided to let him go. And I held him, for the first time, as he died.
But even then I couldn’t stay awake. The loss of blood, shock and morphine once again stole time from me and my son that I’ll never get back. When they told us it could take two hours for him to die I asked if they could take him back and call us when the time was close. I wanted to hold my son while he slipped away but I was too weak to wait it out in the tiny, cluttered office they let us use. I needed to rest. I couldn’t stay awake.
In the end, he went without us there. It happened faster than they thought and our little boy died in the special care nursery without us. It breaks my heart – but what I almost can’t bear is the fact that he never knew we were there at all. He was brain dead. I held him and he never felt my arms. I kissed him and he never felt my lips. I loved him and he never knew it. I love him still – with all my heart.
I know that now, finally, he knows. But now I don’t know him. I remember him inside me, kicking and rolling and poking, and I remember the grainy images on the countless ultrasounds I had. That’s the boy I know.
So how do I make it real? How do I connect the boy I know to the heartbreakingly beautiful boy in the pictures? Will I ever make the connection? Will I go crazy trying? Will it all fall into place and somehow make sense one day? I guess all I can do is hope and pray that it will, one blissful day.