#2 was born 10 weeks too soon. My sweet son who was due at the end of February actually arrived in the middle of December. Barely over 3 pounds and struggling for every breath, he was delivered by c-section 6 days after my water broke. Six days in a hospital bed with my feet higher than my head to keep the fluid from running out of me. Then the fluid was gone and he had to be delivered within the hour. It was the shortest hour I've ever known.
How young and naive I was that even then I just assumed everything would be alright. My life had been touched by tragedy, but it had never really touched me. Even the miscarriage I had gone through the year before was not enough to convince me that my baby could die. I was walking through life bulletproof.
Then I heard this cry in the operating room, thin, high, and shrill. This gangly bloody form was thrust into view over the top of the blue curtain and then disappeared again just as quickly. My husband brought over a blanket wrapped bundle with our son inside. All I could see was a strip of forehead between the oxygen mask and his hat. It was a nice looking forehead, and I worried about the boy it belonged to , but I never thought he could die.
For two weeks we were not allowed to hold our son. He lay in the open warmer with tubes sprouting from all over his body. We could only touch the bottom of his right foot. It was the only part of his body not covered with medical equipment. I could stroke his foot. He would scream in pain from the IV needles and I could touch his toes. This was the worst it could get, I knew it.
My heart yearned to feel his small body pressed against mine, my arms ached in their emptiness. My world swirled around my small girl at home and this impossibly small boy. I leaned on the Computer Guy for strength and he leaned back. I felt too weak to carry this burden, but this was the worst. Just keep walking and eventually you come to the end of the tunnel.
I fell into bed each night exhausted and completely terrified, terrified of the midnight phone calls I made to check on him. The "What ifs?" had just begun to enter my mind. Babies die in NICU's. I know because I've seen it happen. I saw it then. My baby was no less sweet, no less loved, no less perfect. He could die. He could die and we would be unable to stop it from happening.
My fears rose to the surface when I got the phone call, "#2 is dying. You need to come so that when he does go, he can die in his mother's arms." How bitter was this pain. Hold him at last, feel the weight of him at last, kiss him at last...tell him good-bye.
I broke. I drove to the hospital and don't remember the drive. It took 18 minutes to get there, it should have taken 40. I ran in and saw my Beloved holding the hand of our son and telling him "If it hurts too much, if the pain is too great, if you're too tired...it's okay to die. Your dad gives you permission to quit the fight. You've fought it hard and long, and you have nothing more to prove. You are already a man I am proud to call my son. If you need to die, I'll hold your hand."
The nurses had to hold me back to keep me from attacking the father of my child. The anger of the situation flooded through me and directed itself squarely at him. I felt betrayed by the only person who understood my situation.
At last I prayed.
In a jumbled torrent, I asked for help. I pleaded for my boy and for the strength he would need. I bargained my own life for his. I wept painful tears. At last I had been shoved to my knees. At last, my stubborn pride was broken. At last, I allowed myself to be a child. To be a child and ask for my Father to fix things in the magical way that only daddies can fix things. He did.
It was in the quiet of the morning as my tiny baby slept fitfully upon my chest that I remembered the prophesy of my own dear grandmother when she had pronounced me a stubborn and prideful girl and begged me to bow willingly before God or he would remove everything that held me up until I fell to my knees before him. Unfortunately for me, I've always been a "Shoved to them" kind of girl.