Sunday, April 10, 2005

How do I make it feel real?

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.


Freyja said...

Oh gosh this makes me cry. I know you endured this almost 3 years ago and it doesn't make it any less profoundly sad. I'm very sorry for your tragic loss.

Searching said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your son, and your other children. I am sure you are in a bit different place than you were when you wrote this, but I also know that pain never stops completely. I am sure every moment has the potential to be excruciating.

I am so sorry you were so drugged up that you missed spending every second of his 20 hours with him. You didn't know. No one knew. I am devastated for you that you weren't even able to hold him as he slipped away. I am so sorry for that.

I want you to know that even though you were not there, he was not alone. I used to be a NICU nurse. Babies died there alot as we were a huge unit. No baby was EVER alone. When they started to have problems there would instantly be a team there to start doing everything needed to do what we could. So besides his nurse, the nurses and docs and RTs nearby, there were also many others there with him in spirit. We always knew in which pod a baby was going downhill. You would be hard pressed to find a nurse who DIDN'T cry every time we lost one. I remember too many times not being needed at the bedside but being close watching over other babies, seeing the heart monitor beep slower and slower, the docs stepping back, machines being turned off. I remember holding my babies tighter, trying to protect them, biting my cheeks to keep the tears at bay till I was driving home, but mostly praying fervently for the parents. Sometimes they made it in time and sometimes they did not. I prayer for them all, knowing the battle they faced as their little one lost theirs. He wasn't alone and you were in the hearts of those there when your bodies were not physically by his side. I think there is a sense beyond hearing, touch, seeing, etc. I believe he did know you and felt your love, even with no brain activity.

I am so sorry for your loss. Thinking of you tonight.