The day after Cole died, I was sitting at the NICU computers, talking on the phone with Zina. She knew things were bad, and she called to find out what had happened and how we were doing. I was bawling as I told her we’d lost our precious little boy. When I hung up, a woman sitting next to me told me she’d overheard and she knew how I felt, because she’d lost one of her twins too.
Her boys were born at 26 weeks, back in July. One of her babies had died in utero and had kicked off her labor. After he was born, his brother was already on his way out and they couldn’t stop him from coming. He’d had his share of complications, but he was doing alright.
His due date was coming up in November. That’s the magic date in the NICU. Your due date. They tell you that if all goes well, your baby should come home close to his or her original due date. On Lina’s due date (January 8th), the doctor told us she might be ready to come home within a week. On January 9th it all fell apart. But that’s not what I’m writing about.
Little Michael wasn’t ready to go home by his due date. He struggled. He had a lot of issues with his little lungs. He was on and off the vent. But he’d made it that far, I was sure he was close to going home. I always stopped by his bed when I needed a little lift. He was so big and cute. He was a reminder that my itty bitty Lina would be ‘big’ one day, too. When we left for Greenwich, I couldn’t find Patti, so I left a note with my e-mail. She was shocked to see us back just a few days later. She watched us during that horrifying, miserable two days. And she prayed that she would never find herself in my shoes.
Yesterday, I got this e-mail:
This Friday at 10:50am our little precious boy Michael James passed away. Despite our dreams, hopes and prayers he lost the fight to join his loving family and all who awaited his departure from the hospital. During the nearly 8 months he fought for life, he inspired his doctors, nurses and family in his tenacious fight.
I am heartbroken. I had imagined him finally home with his loving family. I spoke with Patti, and I found that I didn’t know what to say to her. I thought I would, but I could not come up with words that expressed how sad I felt for her. There just are no words. But my heart knows what her heart is feeling.
The first thing she asked me is “How do you get through it?” I’ve asked that question a million times. Because it doesn’t seem possible. How DO you get through it? I’m not through it. So I don’t have the answer. But it’s true that time takes the edge off. A little.
This should not happen. To say it’s ‘not fair’ is pointless, but it isn’t. IT.IS.NOT.FAIR. This should not happen to babies. To parents who love them more than anything. I wish I knew what to say. I wonder if I ever will.