The next forty-five minutes went by kind of slow, and my husband left the OR so he could talk to the physicians caring for our child. The next thing I knew, I was in a recovery room with some kind of pump in my hand talking to someone that must have been a nurse. She was telling me how to use this pump, and I wasn’t sure what it was for. She told me it was a Morphine drip, and that every ten minutes, the pump will allow me to dispense more medicine into the IV and into my body. I saw my husband come in the room and I was sooo happy. I can’t remember ever feeling that happy. And it wasn’t because of the drugs. It was because we had our family. Me, my husband, and our little babydoll.
I was wheeled up to my room after six hours in recovery and the next morning, the nurses came to get me out of bed, and walking around. Hello that was the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my life. It was almost as if someone was facing me with their hands in the slices of the wound trying to pry the two pieces of my skin apart. But I had to do it. Over the next few days, things took a turn for the worse. Our baby, besides being three-and-a-half months premature, had an infection, and a 2x2 brain bleed (think about how small his head was, that takes up half the size of his head), and he wasn’t doing well. His heart rate couldn’t stabilize on its own, he was on a ventilator, and feeding tubes, and the scans weren’t showing any progress. I in the meantime became very ill, from some bacteria in my body that the hospital wasn’t sure where it came from. I was being poked and prodded and stuck in every area I could imagine. They had taken all my blood, I was sure, where were they going to get anymore from, and why did they keep trying? I wanted to see my baby and my request was granted.
What a sight he was! Naked with a diaper on the size of my palm, big purple UV light padded glasses on, and just kicking his legs away. In a humidifying ventilator hood. Under special lights. With tubes coming out of him. Heartbreaking, I know. But somehow, I was so happy to see him, I wanted to touch him and hold him as if there was nothing wrong with him. But there was. There certainly was. He was christened with his paternal grandparents as his godparents. My husband and I were allowed to rub the holy water on his head, hands, stomach and feet, and we kissed him ever so gently. He was being given his last rights. He was being blessed by the pastor in order to receive God and ultimately to be with God.
Our little boy passed away on February 8, 2008, two short days after he was born. He made a world of difference in the lives of those who loved him and us. It was such a hard time, especially for my husband, because he was trying to deal with his wife, whom he just married three months prior, the craziness of all that’s happened, the death of his child, and the possible death of his new wife all in the same day. Apparently my infection was so bad, my fever was spiking, hitting above 103.5 degrees F. I don’t remember any of the packing me with ice bags, or laying on the air conditioned bed mat, or the shivering, hallucinations of holding my child and changing his diaper, talking to him. No, I don’t remember any of that. Everyone else in the room remembers that though. And are heartbroken for us to this day. This event changed everyone’s lives for good.
I finally beat the infection after being administered one of the strongest antibiotics available, and was allowed to go home after being in the hospital for ten days. I was sent home with a PICC line in my right arm, ready to pump more antibiotics into my body for the next three weeks. I spent my maternity leave having this pump, severe headaches from the spinal, and no baby to bring home or to visit in the hospital. My husband took me back to the hospital where I was given an epidural blood patch to patch the holes (yes, the anesthesiologist poked me twice), that my spinal fluid was leaking out of, causing me the severe debilitating headaches. I then went home in less pain. According to my husband, he could see the relief in my face.
My husband and I comforted each other, and looked into attending some support groups, but we never went through with them. We participated in our own support group: a week after I went back to work from maternity leave, I signed my team, Paul’s Pals, up to walk in the March of Dimes Walk to Save Babies on April 29th 2007. I raised donations, and recruited thirty-five people to walk in honor of our baby Paul and all babies born, healthy and prematurely. We finished the six mile walk, crying as we walked under the arch. Our feet were killing us, we were tired, thirsty, hot, and blistered. We felt as though we weren’t going to make the finish line. But we told each other, the last half mile, this is nothing compared to the pain he was feeling. Keep going. Keep going. He’s sitting on your shoulder. Feel that wind, that’s his hand, pushing your back to keep you going.
And we crossed the line, holding hands, hugging each other, with crowds of applause. It was the best feeling, to know that we accomplished something in his name, since he couldn’t be there to do it himself.
We’re trying to have another baby, and it’s been pretty uneventful. Since September 2007 we’ve been trying for another baby, and nothing yet. But we’ve got our fingers crossed. And we’ve got our little Pauly to give us good luck. He’s watching over us. He’s our little hero. He had the courage to come out early, educate us, and change lives forever.
(Part 1) | Part 2