Thursday, August 6

That morning...

Thinking back to the morning we lost Connor is such a blur.  I can't even really remember the time of the morning that it was.   Around 4:30am I think is when Kristy came into the room to tell us that something was wrong with Connor and they wanted us upstairs.  I think at the time I knew it was bad... why else would they wake me up when I was being drugged up for an infection?  I was immediately nervous, and I think that nervousness must have resonated in my voice because only one yell woke Johnny up.  I had tried over and over and over to wake him the night before when I was coming down with my infection. 

I remember getting upstairs and there were so many nurses and doctors in his room hovering over him.  The nurse bagging him was so calm, but I as I watched the numbers I knew that something was terribly wrong.  We hadn't yet been there long enough for me to really understand what the O2 levels meant, but I knew they were low and the doctors just kept mentioning how they were terribly low and that they were going to force another transfusion in to him.  Usually the transfusions take 3 hours... they pumped it into his tiny 2lb 9oz body in 10 minutes.  The whole time Connors little eyes were open watching us.  I wanted so badly to hold him... but at the same time I was terrified to even touch his hand.  Johnny kept telling me to tell him how much I loved him, but I was scared to.  I was scared that that would mean the end.  But as I watched those numbers for those hours I think I realized early on that this wasn't going to work and that this really was the end for our little guy.  He just didn't look right... but those eyes just kept watching us the whole time.  It was calming and terrifying at the same time.  I remember staring at those O2 numbers.  The doctor said she'd love to see them in the 80's.  They were in the low 20's most of the time.  I remember wishing and praying so hard that they would jump.  Occasionally they did and I'd get a flutter of hope, but they dipped right down again.

As he laid there watching, Connor squeezed my finger a few times.  But we still knew we were losing him.  At one point the doctor said we could try a 3rd transfusion to get the numbers up, but she really didn't think it would help.  He had too much bleeding.  We asked her to try anyhow.  Maybe this was selfish on our parts, but we needed to know that we had done anything for Connor that we could possibly do.  Again, they forced this transfusion in, but the numbers stayed low.  We made the decision then- when the doctor said there was nothing else she could do- to unhook him and hold him until he passed.  His tiny body was placed into our arms and we watched him.  He still managed to open his eyes a little to look at us.  It was so hard to watch him... part of me knew this was best, but I also knew that we were in for a life of heartache and sorrow.  It was hard not to be selfish and let him be.  As we held him, his body was so full of the 3 transfusions and the internal bleeding that occasionally blood would trickle from his nose and mouth.  It was terrifying, but it gave me a sense of purpose and mothering.  I could wipe his nose and mouth just like any mother.  

Once he was unhooked from all those wires and leads he was passed from me to Johnny... the first time we got to hold our little boy was when he was gone.  I also got to give him a bath.  I wanted to hold on to every possible thing I could.  Once our family got there he was passed all around.  He was so loved.  It was a good distraction for me.  I was able to hold it all together until it was time to say our final goodbye.  That was the hardest thing for me to do-- to pass my little boy off to the nurses.  I knew the next time I would see him would be his funeral and that would be it.  

When I got back up to my room that day a little after noon I couldn't believe that it was so early.  The morning had been so long that I was sure it had to be later.  I was just numb.  Completely and totally numb.  I laid in my bed and just stared.  Johnny laid with me... but there were no words really.  We talked a little about arrangements, but I knew I couldn't deal with them.  Again... selfish, but I couldn't handle the thought.  Johnny handled talking to everyone.  I just laid in the dark and stared.  I couldn't believe what had happened.  I couldn't believe that I was just over 25 years old and that my baby was gone.  Totally and completely numb.

I drifted off and on, but every close of my eyes brought images and sounds of beeping and the NICU and doctors.  They weren't even really flashbacks... they were just images and sounds that I couldn't escape.  Those images continued for several days.  Now it's been long enough that when I close my mind I can think of Colby and his eyes and his touch.  But at first I could only focus on terror.  

The rest of the day continued in the fog.  I was still so numb.  Walking into Colby's room with no Connor didn't faze me the way it does now.  Seeing Connor's name gone on the wall didn't bother me like it does now.  Talking about Connor didn't upset me like it does now.  I guess I needed a few weeks to get over the numbness to really feel the weight of his loss.  Or maybe now I'm only willing to feel it.  

Those first few days I did a lot of counting.  That was my trick to keep from thinking or crying.  I just counted as high and long as I could.  I counted as I went the funeral home.  I counted throughout the wake.  I counted as we left.  I just counted to keep my mind occupied.  I was so terrified that if I let myself really feel the loss that I would completely lose it and breakdown.  (Not that I didn't have a few breakdowns along the way... but I think they were less than they would have been.)

And now I'm forced to deal with the why.  

Why did I end up on bedrest?  Why did they come so early?  Why did Connor pass away?  

Did I do too much at school?  Did I not take it easy enough?  Did I really not realize how serious it was to be pregnant with twins?   Did I have an infection?  Did I miss something I was supposed to recognize?  Should I have realized that my backache the night before was more serious?  

It's a cycle that's not likely to end and questions that aren't likely to be answered any time soon.  But I think of them often.


Michele said...

The questions can drive you mad. Even now, I still find myself going over the litany of questions and of what if I'd done thises and what if I'd done thats. I wish that it was as easy as saying "try not to think about it" but we are their mothers. We will always think about it. We will always wonder what else we could have done.

In the end, the only thing that we have any control over is loving them. Loving them in the womb, loving them on earth, loving them when they arent with us physically anymore. We have complete control over that and, as long as we continue to love them with all that we are, we can never fail them.

Sending you hugs today and thinking of your precious boys.

Jenn said...

Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us.

You and your family remain in my thoughts and prayers.

ashley said...

Still thinking of you and still praying God gives you strength.

Jen said...

Thanks for sharing your story. It is heartbreaking but I hope that sharing it lets us hold some of the burden with you.

There is so much beauty in the time you had with him even though I'm sure that's hard to see from your perspective right now.

I know I would be questioning myself if I were in your shoes but if it helps to hear it I assure you it was nothing you did or didn't do.

You all continue to be in my thoughts.

Jen PN

Infertility is Hard said...

Thank you for sharing this very personal experience. All I can say is that you did nothing wrong. These things happen sometimes, and unfortunately, we don't always know why. But please have comfort that you did all you could, and that you were the best Mom in the world to Connor.

You have had to go through so much at such a young age, and I'm so sorry for that.

Constantly thinking of you and your family.

Bill said...

Hey stace. . .thanks for sharing. What a horrible experience.

But please fight those doubts. There's no way you can blame yourself!!

You were a good mom, you are a good mom, and there's no doubt at all that you will continue to be one.

Shinejil said...

You did not do anything to bring this on. You didn't. Horrible things happen sometimes, even when we've done everything perfectly. I know it's hard not to blame yourself, but you are not to blame.

I can't help but think that something good will grow out of your grief eventually. Not that the pain and heartache and longing will ever go away, or that you'll "get over it" (what a stupid, stupid thing to imagine--and if anyone ever says this to you, let me punch them, please), but that alongside the sorrow, something else will emerge and will enrich and strengthen you. That will be Connor's gift to you, and through you to the world.

I wish I could do something to ease your pain. I am so sorry you've had to face this.

Jen said...

Please don't question yourself or consider your choices selfish!!!

You were in a once in a lifetime nightmare experience.

Please know that your family continues to be in my prayers and thoughts!!!


Mer said...

Please don't ever question yourself or what you could have done. You love your boys and everything you did was guided by that. I'm so sorry about Connor and that you have to go through such pain.

Catherine W said...

I go through the same questions myself. But as everyone else has said already, you loved your sons. You loved them and every decision you ever took was made from your love for them.

I'm so sorry. Just so sorry. Connor & Colby were so loved, I wish that both your little boys had made it out of the NICU. xo