I am awake and this is still my reality. I just wanted to share the story of our little boy and what he means to us. I am still trying to come to terms with this, but though I'm still somewhat in shock, I feel oddly at peace. I know in a few hours, or days, I may not feel the same, but for now, I want to share my story and let everyone know how special my son was to us..and always will be.
After talking with the chaplain yesterday and doing some research, I actually found a place to cremate the baby for little over $100 (thank you, Stella). I will get to keep the ashes and put some in a ring or pendant, and some in a tiny urn...this makes me happier than the memorial garden (which is great, don't get me wrong), but I am selfish and want my son with me. They actually burn a piece of wood with the baby and mix the ashes so there is a little more there since he is so small. My little Andrew Douglas, so-named by my daughter and husband, was born at 2 oz. 57 grams last night at 9:12 p.m. He was 7 inches long and it was obvious what a perfect little BOY he was...and as Doug pointed out, definitely a Cannon - leave it to the man. :)
I had a really hard few hours of labor with pitocin (and have bad reactions to pain medicine and refused it, so it was really intense. Of course, the nurses never stopped trying to give me something to get through the pain and were always there for me). As bad as the physical pain was, it was nothing compared to the emotional pain. Seeing my son was not easy at first, I won't lie, but as I became a little less frightened, I couldn't let him go and didn't want to. We took several pictures of his hands, feet, and even boy part (YES! WE DID!) pictures and then the nurse placed his body in a little crocheted booty that one of the nurses makes for all the special little angels. So sweet and nice to be able to hold him that way since it was hard to actually touch him with him being so fragile. The nurse positioned his hands and you could look real closely and see the fingernails..even the nail tips! He had a perfect french manicure already, even though his fingernails were the size of this . ! :)
We spent a few hours with the baby, taking every possible picture we could, talking to him, crying over him, telling him how much we loved and missed him and wished we could have met him a few more months down the road, wishing I could cover him in kisses, but letting him know that we would never forget him and we knew he was in Heaven with his brothers and sisters, watching over us, and his brothers and sisters here that already miss him dearly. My children had brought tiny stuffed dogs up earlier to give to the baby, so we arranged them with the baby and took pictures so that the kids will feel they were a part of this. They had also brought me a bear with an "I Love You, Mom" heart on it's hands, so we took pictures with that as well. That bear has been in my arms all night.
We finally decided it was time to send the baby on and time to say our final goodbyes. A truly difficult decision to make, knowing I would never see or hold him again, but it was time. I wish I could keep him and never let him go. I have to add that my nurses were beyond exceptional. This hospital went above and beyond my wildest expectations. From the moment we got here. we were informed that the leaf on the door was to symbolize a leaf that had fell from the tree, and a teardrop on the leaf was to let everyone coming in our room know that our leaf fell way too early and to be more sensitive to our situation. I only wish I were in this birthing room under far different circumstances, but I will not give up hope that one day soon, I will be...
The loving nurse took our "sweet, little baby" with all the care and loving she would give a full-term, living infant. She never once tried to rush us along, and even offered up more ideas and said how special everything was. She even offered to keep the baby a while in case we decided to bring him back in, but we had to let go...it was time. She took the baby and a little while later brought us in a memory box full of wonderful little things to memorialize our son. Everything in the box shows how special and important, AND REAL, my son was. There is a Bible, a small ring that is donated from a family who has lost two children as a way to remember our babies, a ruler cut to the size of our baby, a birthcard and ID bracelet with our son's information, the bootie that so lovingly was crocheted by a nurse that allowed me to hold my son until I was ready, and the blanket that he was held on. The box is beautifully hand-painted by volunteers. So much love has went into making this moment with my son so special and meaningful, and I can't tell you how much my heart has been touched. I am waiting for the chaplain to return because she has a stuffed animal lamb for us that was blessed, held, and prayed over by another parent who has also lost a child. They collect these lambs once a year from a church ceremony, and it is not only meaningful to us, but to the other grieving parents who pray over these lambs, as well. Again, that really touches my heart.
Once the baby was gone, I was able to gather myself a bit, eat FINALLY, and after they brought me in a nice, comfy bed, and the nurse arranged my pillows to help me settle in even more, she brought us in a FAN! If the situation were different, I swear I would vacation here! I was actually, for the first time EVER, able to sleep comfortably for HOURS in a hospital! I would have never imagined that sleep would come at all after the last few days we've had, but then again...I guess, that also explains exactly why sleep DID come so easy. My body, mind, and heart needed a break. Anyway, I tell you, I cannot say enough about the nurses and this hospital. My doctor is another story, but I won't even waste my time marring my experience with that story.
I woke up this morning dizzy and not feeling perfect, but I am going to get through this. I am still in disbelief that the son whose heartbeat I was listening to just a few days ago, who was wiggling and kicking on the sonogram just over a week ago, with dreams of our future together, is actually gone. I know this is the calm before the storm and I will have many rough days ahead, but having to have gone through this experience, I couldn't have asked for a better experience, as contradictory as that sounds. I will forever wish my little Andrew could have been safe and full-term in mommy's arms, kissing those big little feet that I couldn't wait to kiss after seeing them on the last sonogram....but at least, I have this experience and the memories that have been given me so that I can at least hold him in my heart forever.
Thank you again to everyone who has reached out to us. It means so much to know that people are thinking of us, our family, and little Andrew.