I decided to use the writing prompt for today's NaBloPoMo and kind of debated (and am STILL debating) whether or not this is a topic I want to write about. The writing prompt of the day is "Has anything traumatic ever happened to you?" I am sure many things in my life have traumatized me in some way or another. The stupid boy in high school who cheated on me or maybe even my parent's divorce. But none of those thoughts popped into my head when I read that question.
Just reading the question makes my heart sink a little and my stomach turn into knots. Because I see the first thing that comes to mind and it is, to date, the most awful-painful-almost unbearable sometimes-life changing event-life shattering event...And it still can make me cry at the drop of a hat. In fact, just sitting here thinking about it, but not really thinking about it has a few tears forming inside of my saddened eyes. In fact, I have thought many times of writing on this and just could never bring myself to do it.
So, can I do it now? When prompted by some random website that is telling me to write about it? I will try. In a nutshell at least. I probably could write a short book with all of the lucid memories I keep inside but for this post I want to keep it short.
We always think "it will never happen to me" about awful events like a car accident, AIDS, homelessness....Well This is one tragedy that I thought would NEVER happen to me.
I lost my son. My beautiful baby boy Kellaen. I lost him before I even knew him. But he was here with me for a short period of time. He spent almost eight months growing inside of me - kicking, jabbing, squirming. He spent another month outside of me - doing nothing that a baby should do.
I went into into early labor at 35 1/2 weeks. There were no signs of distress before the fact and up until he actually came out of my body we had no idea that anything was even wrong. It was awful. 2:00 in the morning and I was having the worst contractions ever and started to bleed. I had to wake up my boyfriend and tell him. He said, "Just go back to sleep." I said, "No, we HAVE to go to the hospital." we awoke our (then) five year old daughter and went to the hospital. My son was born at 5:30 (ish) that same morning on June 6, 2009. He was not breathing. I didn't even know what to do. I just remember looking at my boyfriend with probably the most scared look. Our daughter just sat there watching everything. They whisked my baby away and intubated him. And he was breathing. Then they took him from the room and we did not hear anything for a good few hours. They said he had suffered brain damage but could not give us any more details and he was going to be taken to another local hospital with a NICU unit. I couldn't even hold him but they did bring him into my room in his incubator before they transported him
An initial MRI showed some serious brain damage but the doctors said that we would have to take it day by day and see how he/or if he would improve. He was diagnosed with neonatal encephalopathy. They had no reason for the cause or when it happened or anything. But we had hope. No answers to all of our questions, no peace to our agitated minds, but we did have hope. Funny thing with hope...Sometimes when you feel like giving up, something happens to keep you going. Our son was only alive for a month and I felt this way almost every day. As each day passed and there were no improvements I would lose a little more hope. He had no reflexes. He could not swallow and had a NG tube down his nose to feed him. I pumped breast milk everyday for him to have. I did get to hold him a few times but he was hooked to so many tubes and I was always worried that I would hurt him. He looked so fragile at his weight of 5 pounds 5 ounces.
As the days passed he just seemed to get a little worse. It came to a point where he had to constantly be suctioned to stop him from choking on his own spit. They had to "bag him" once. I was not there to see it and I am glad. But we kept on with hope that some miracle would occur. You hear stories of babies who are on death's door and make these amazing recoveries and I always hoped it would be mine.
We were faced with some very painful decisions. Try what we can to keep him alive knowing his quality of life would never be anything? Take him home to pass with us in privacy? Just walk away and never look back? You would be surprised how many little babies were in that NICU without anybody visiting.
About 3 1/2 weeks after he was born we decided to go through with a surgery to put a feeding tube in his stomach to help him eat. He was transferred from out local hospital to U of M children's Hospital (the most wonderful place ever, even in that desolate time). It was there that they gave him a second MRI and the results were not good. The doctor told us that the brain basically ate away at all of the dead tissue and showed us the picture of his scan. There were big black holes all over in his brain. And here is this doctor, along with the residents and nurses, everybody just staring at us - like they are gauging our reaction. I just cried and cried. There was no hope anymore.
It is just the worst feeling to be so helpless and not able to protect your child from something so destructive. I can't even count how many times I heard a doctor, nurse, friend, family member, total stranger say "don't blame yourself".
So, we were given a private room and they unhooked all of his tubes and gave him some morphine so he wouldn't be so "air hungry" as they put it. They did keep his nose breathing tube in with an oxygen tank. And we layed in a bed with him for a few hours, just loving him the best we could. Then the dreaded moment came. I looked down at him and then looked over to my boyfriend and said, "I don't think he is breathing." And he put his head down on our son's chest and looked at me and he didn't have to say a word. I already knew. It was then that I picked him up and held him with the vigor I had wanted to all along and cried. And held him until I knew I had to let him go. My son had heard me weep many times but I never heard it back from him.
In a sense, I felt relieved. He was no longer suffering. The fight was over. But so were all of the dreams. What was once normal never was again. Life has become a new normal. He passed away on 7-10-2010. Ironically, that was my due date. We had him cremated and I still have his ashes. Someday I would like to spread them somewhere beautiful - as beautiful as he was to me.
I also found this great website called "To Write Their Names in the Sand" and they made a picture of his name in the sand for us.
We dedicated "Let it Be" by The Beatles in our son's honor. It just seemed so fitting. It has been a hard recovery and I don't think it is something I will ever get over. But I have learned to accept it for what it is and not dwell on any what if's.
I delivered my **rainbow** baby girl in October of 2010. She was healthy and beautiful (and still is!!). I really appreciate everything more this time around because of the loss I experienced. We also had our oldest daughter (now seven) attend the most recent birth to show her that not all babies are born sick and not all babies die. It was really hard on her and still is. She saw things that no child should see but we are very open with her. Anytime she wants to talk about it, I am there to listen. And she is a wonderful big sister. So helpful!!
I hope that in writing this I can help others out there who have been through what I have. Whether it be a miscarriage, a stillborn, a childhood death or later....a mother's love is still the same.
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