We met with the neonatologist this week. She and the others were staffed by the high risk OB department on us, and they wanted to meet for more information on our case and explain what would happen should Charlotte be born from now until about 35/36 weeks.
If you are a doctor/nurse/professional in a medical field and you’re reading this or passing it along to someone who is – please know that your words to people who have experienced a loss mean SO much. I can’t tell you what it does for Sam and I to be told by someone who sees every aspect of human life and death, “You have been through something we can’t even imagine. We’re going to do everything we can.” Those kinds of words are incredibly validating in this experience.
After we were done talking and giving her more information on ciHHV-6, she asked if we’d like to tour the NICU and Labor & Delivery. I side eyed Sam because this was something we hadn’t discussed doing, we had actually planned on going to L&D with our therapist.
For those who may not know – I’m having Charlotte at the same hospital where I had the twins and all the mess that came with it. So all kinds of triggers and memories there, and I’d never been back to that floor in the three years since.
We both agreed we were ready – as ready as we’d ever be. So along we walked to the NICU (Kaden was at a different one, and then Dallas, but they all tend to have the same kind of things going on) and all I could think of was how many times we walked through the doors, signed in, washed our hands, gowned up, masks on, and rounded the corner to see him with our hearts in our throats.
Walking through those doors was surreal. Little incubators, tiny feet, special blankets, nursing mamas – I felt like I was having an out of body experience. I kept telling myself, “Hold it together. These people have enough stress without you walking in and sobbing your way through their babies.” And I did – we both did.
Then we came to an open bed with a little one hooked up to multiple monitors, a breathing tube, all the things Kaden had. I couldn’t take my eyes away as it waved its little hands and looked so uncomfortable, and then the machines beeped.
I just started to cry, because for a moment I was right there. At Kaden’s bed. My insides all twisted that he was so uncomfortable all the time, his little lips always dry and his eyes always searching, the medical tape on his face holding things in. Trying to shut off every maternal instinct to rip all the tubes from him and just run and run and run with him in my arms.
I turned slightly away and the neonatologist stepped forward to hug me as I pulled myself quickly together. Sam grabbed my hand and held on as we walked out.
After that we headed to Labor & Delivery, where this entire pregnancy I’ve dreaded having to go back to. I think I was so numb and overwhelmed at that point that it didn’t hit me as hard as it might have had we gone there first. Yet still, being on that floor and seeing the exact room – I walked in and glanced at the bathroom where I’d first seen their little faces. The bed where Sam told me he could still feel them moving that first night I was there. I looked around and thought, “It seemed a lot bigger in my mind.” It was still beautiful, as all the rooms there are. It didn’t hold the sense of doom and terror that I’d equated it with for so long now.
After, I headed to pick up Bella while Sam went back to work. That night, and today in our therapy session, we talked about what we’d experienced. Sam had the same feelings as me of wanting to keep Kaden comfortable and knowing he wasn’t, and that sense of helplessness as we tried to parent him around the nurses and tubes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “All your child knew was love.” Sam and I agreed that from us, that was all Kaden and the twins knew, but we also deeply understand our little boys suffered and hurt and experienced pain that can only come with dying. As parents, that’s almost too much to try to think on for long.
It was a hard day. Very hard. I wrote that evening on Instagram – seeing those little ones the same gestational age as Charlotte is now (27/28 weeks), it suddenly hit me that we’re going to have her. We might not know the outcome, but one way or another she’s going to be here. We thought Kaden was coming home while he was here, so we didn’t take much to the NICU, and then when he transferred to Dallas I needed to pack very light or the flight crew wouldn’t be able to take me at all. So I packed almost nothing.
So most of the things we have that were his, he never touched or wore.
I love what we do have for him, I’ll cherish those little outfits, hats, his pacifier forever. No matter what happens, I know I’ll want that with Charlotte. I started a small registry on The Land of Nod for things I want to buy for her in the coming weeks, Sam and I talked about switching around rooms in the house to eventually make one hers. It wasn’t anything enormous, but small steps in acknowledgement that we’ve all made it this far, and our hope is that we get to bring her home to a family that would do just about anything to get her here.
It was so strange to stand in the hospital I’d had Preston and Julian, looking at a baby that reminded me so much of Kaden, while carrying Charlotte. Like all three of their little worlds collided for just a few moments in time.