Here I sit, at my desk, watching the snow blow by.
Wednesday. The middle of the week. Only two more until the weekend. Whew..
Things have been pretty somber at our home this week. Saturday evening our kitty passed away. The best kitty ever. Sunday, DH dug his grave. In the spring, I will landscape and plant some shrubs. Get his stone in place.
DH and I are having a hard time with this. My DH has never known me without my cat. I once told him when we were dating that the cat came first. *wink* He said he already knew.
When our son passed away, our pets were our comfort. They were there when you needed to cuddle. When your arms where so very empty. He has never left my side in 18 years. Slept with me every night. Laid with me with I was sick. Greeted me at the door every night.
Losing something that means so very much stirs up all of the memories of losing “C”. The emptiness, the loss. We feel these things every day, but days like this just make it so much closer to the surface.
It is our journey. We are grieving parents.
I have been absent for some time. I have reverted back into my shell existence. The one that is protected and no one else can enter. Get up… Go to work.. Come home. Maybe cook. Read hundreds of books on the old tablet. When I read, that pushes the reality around me into the background. I do not have to think about today or yesterday or even what tomorrow will bring. I can just be part of page 215.
Yesterday, marked the beginning of my fourth year as a Mother with empty arms. My son would have been 3 yesterday. I will say that I now consider myself an expert at this… And those that ply you with the “it gets better with time”….”You will learn to deal with it”….. Blah blah…. I will be completely honest with you…………………………………IT IS A LOAD OF CRAP!
You will never get used to having empty arms, an empty bedroom, an empty backseat as you travel in the car.
You will never get used to the memory of your child leaving this earth.
You will never get used to the quiet in the house in the mornings..
You will never get used to being the one to blow out the candle on his birthday cake each year.
I am ever grateful for what I do have and the memories that I cherish daily. I know that despite all, I am the lucky one as I got to touch and hold my child even for a short time. This, however, does not ease the pain or take away the sadness.
On the weekend, I baked my son’s birthday cake. My version of a Spiderman, with blue cake and red frosting and webbing on the top. I took a pot of white tulips and a birthday balloon to his grave. I took the day off of work and spent it with my family. My husband and my son. We hung balloons in our kitchen and we lite his candle. We took pictures and said wishes and prayers.
Today is day two of my fourth year. Today, I add another notch to my belt.
Sending good thoughts and wishes to you all.
Today is April 23rd. Four days from today would be my son’s 2nd birthday.
The anxiety is greater, the pain is ever-present.
Crying happens often.
The constant thoughts, wishes, memories flashing by as I sit at my desk.
Hearing my husband whisper in my ear “We have a son.” His first cry. His eyes as he searched for me, looking at me, when they wheeled him in his isolette to the NICU. Less than 2 minutes after his birth. My husband showing me his picture while I was in recovery. How his little hand felt when he wrapped his figures around mine for the first time. He was 3 1/2 hours old. Watching him open his eyes and stare as his father each time he heard his voice. The way his head felt next to my cheek, the first time I held and rocked him. The way Husband’s face shone the first time he held him. Rocking him to sleep for the last time.
What is a club? A club is something you want to join. A place you gather with people who have like interests. Sometimes you become part of a club not by choice. 21 months ago my Husband and I became members of a Club. This was not our choice and fortunately/unfortunately there are many people in this club far and wide. The price to join this Club was our son’s life. Today friends have joined new… Clubs of their own. Please know that this was never their choice nor is the membership refundable. We may never understand what it is like to belong to someone else’s “Club” and speaking as a member of my “Club” I do hope you never do. As that would mean you have walked in our shoes.
Today my friend joined the club of a Single Father, Loss of a spouse, Loss of a family member to Suicide, among others. His children are now, Children who have lost their mother, Children of a single Father, etc…
Please remember as you go about your daily life, you just do not know what Clubs everyone belongs to. Or what burdens they carry.
…..Here is the rest of the story. Or well I will back track a bit. As many of you know, any number of things can happen with the birth of a preemie. They can be born with brain bleeds, etc. C was born, infection free, and with no bleeds. All of his blood and skin samples came back ok and his ultrasound, that was completed within hours of his birth, was clear…
The day we found out he was sick….
I had gone into the NICU with milk at 5 am. I went to sit and visit with him for a while. Preemies very commonly have apnea. In less than 2 minutes he had apnea 5 times. I asked what was going on. They said they were talking about intubation him but were waiting on some tests. I said absolutely not. I want it done now. He was too tired to wait one minute longer.
My husband and I went back to my hospital room and waited, as the Doctor asked, while they intubated him and ran more tests. At 9:15 am, the Doctor finally came to speak to us. She said that it could be Ecoli or Staph. It was very normal to pickup either of these during labour and birth. The following day we found out he had a heart murmur, which is very normal in preemies. More x-ray were ordered and another ultrasound……several hours later the original cultures came back and we found out he has Serratia. To be honest the best thing at that point was the ignorance factor as A) we had never even heard of it and B) had no idea, whatsoever, what this could possibly do. The answer to this question is far worse than anyone can imagine.
Warning… Things get MUCH worse from here. I will just briefly share what happened. The details are far to many. Truthfully, having lived them they are much more than I would wish to burden someone with.
The following day as I was sitting at his bedside. The nurses dry-tapped him and 20 minutes later we noticed blood in his intubation tube. They put the peap up and were able to stop the bleeding. He largely had a good and quiet morning.. Later that afternoon. He had a GM seizure. He was extremely agitated. They gave him a shot of medication hoping it would calm him down. It had the reverse effect. No chest movement so they had to break peap and bag him. They tried a second med a short time later. They had to break suction which caused the pulmonary bleed to start again and they had to bag him a second time. The Doctor sat at his bedside for 36 hours. She is a wonderful woman.
The following day another Doctor called us in, to speak with us. They ordered a lumbar puncture and another ultrasound. Both came back positive. The Serratia had eaten his platelet count down so low that he could not fight off Meningitis which caused the GM seizure and a grade 2 brain bleed. At this point we were told we were facing developmental problems. We informed her that we are a family and he is our son. Regardless.
Over the course of the next 9 days our son fought for his life. Bags and bags of plasma and platelets were given, meds upon meds. He would get a transfusion and his platelets would go up to 18 and then 3-4 hours later they would be back to 2 and 6 and 8. Blood work every 4 hours, 3 IV pumps, 6 lines T into 2 shunts. At points the shunts were in his right arm, leg, left arm, head. He fought. He is my son and he fought to live. Femeral stabs to check liver function, Kidneys shutting down. He gained over 2 lbs of fluid during this time as it went into the third space and the meds would not work to reverse.
Nine days later, as I rocked him, and he and his father held hands, he took his last breath. Our son was gone.
2 hours later we drove home, alone. Never in my life did I dream that I would give birth to my most precious gift and not be the one driving him home. Never, did I think that 3 weeks after he was born would I be standing at his grave listening to my husband read him his last bedtime story. Never did I think that I would be waiting for his headstone to be placed at his grave before the day he was due.
I am most thankful for each and every minute of the 19 days of my son’s life and the 28 weeks that I carried him. He is the best parts of my husband and I and was born out of love. He was most wanted. He is the single greatest gift we will ever know. We are the blessed ones, as we are his Mommy and Daddy.
This is how I became a mother with empty arms.
I am still working on the remainder of my post about Defining Events. I am collecting my thoughts.
I saw a counsellor for a time after my son passed away. I will be completely honest. The number one benefit from speaking to her and baring all was learning for myself that each and every thought and feeling I have is normal. Completely! Grief, hate, love, endless despair, want, need, failure, fear, devotion to name a few.
I know this may sound strange but the one question that bothers me the most is “how are you coping”. I know. It is not meant to be a negative question, but to me it feels so. I “cope” just fine. I get up every morning, I shower, I put on my pants, I go to work, I do my job, I come home and clean, I make meals, I do laundry and I pay the bills. Yes, perhaps tonight I am up until 1 or 2 am but I will get up in the AM and do it all over again.
I call this “living” not “coping”. Yes, I talk about my son. Yes, I use his name. Yes he is ever-present in my thoughts. Yes, many people are uncomfortable with this. I am his mother. It is uncomfortable for me if you choose to pretend he did not exist. Because that makes it easier for you to function in your every day life. He lived, he breathed, he died. He was a person. He is my son. My husband, and me, plus C equals three. We are a family of three.
It is my hope that by sharing our feelings and experiences it may bring you comfort as you yourself may be having a difficult time.. Wishing you all a good night.