Friday, October 26, 2012
October 28, 2008
The day our world stopped. The day we were told that part of our baby boy's brain had not formed. The day we had to make the most unimaginable decision of our lives.
We were scheduled into the high risk pregnancy hospital that afternoon for a number of tests because an ultrasound had shown that the ventricles in our baby's head were larger than normal. My husband and I made the 1/2 hour drive into Toronto and, to be honest, our spirits were hopeful. We certainly had a million questions, but how bad could it be right? I was 33 weeks and had several ultrasounds throughout the pregnancy - every single one was "fine" - until the last one. How could something so catastrophic not been seen earlier??
When we got to the clinic I had blood taken, then we had the amnio... and then the "detailed ultrasound" performed by one of the head doctors. He studied our baby for a long, long time (all the while making small talk). I remember him telling us about his daughter and a big house they had bought not too far from where we lived...I look back now and wonder how in the world he could talk so casually when he could clearly see the trouble our baby was in.
The doctor was called away for what felt like hours and during that time my husband and I tried to remain calm... we didn't know anything for sure at this point. My husband looked at the transcript from the previous ultrasound and figured things were fairly positive (he has some training in the medical field and can read the jargon). When the doctor finally returned he probed my belly again and asked if he and the doctor we had been seeing (who was now in the room) could speak with each other freely. Sure. I didn't understand a single thing they were saying, but something deep in my soul knew that none of it was good. I kept looking at my husband for some kind of reassurance.... nothing. He just kept shaking his head and looking really concerned. When my husband looks concerned I know there's trouble.
The doctors finished up and we were sent to wait in the waiting room... for what we now know was the worst news of our life.
We were taken into the genetic councilor's office and shut the door. Oh God...
"Part of the baby's brain has not formed at all" the words went through me like a sword. "There was some kind of insult to the baby", probably during or after my emergency surgery at 20 weeks, "There is a high chance that the baby will not make it through labour or for very long once he is born" .... my vision is blurry now, I am staring blankly at who knows what, I don't hear them anymore. "If the baby is born alive we cannot guarantee what quality of life he will have... with half the brain missing...." "Everyone has different views and ideas of what quality of life is....there are options for you." Options, are you serious??!!!
After a while we were left alone in that office.... to scream, to sob, to shake uncontrollably. Our first and foremost thought was that we did not want our precious baby boy to suffer. We did not want him to be born gasping for breath, struggling to stay alive. We did not want him on life support and we did not want our beautiful boy to be attached to tubes and needles. We also felt like we had to think about our two boys at home... there were 5 people to think about. I will never forget my husband saying that. I don't remember too much, but that I remember. It struck a chord and resonated in my breaking heart.
The decision to let him go, without a doubt, was the most heart-wrenching, soul-searing, horrendous decision we have had to ever, ever had to make, but I truly believe we made it out of love. I have to believe that we spared him the pain, the suffering that he would have inevitably endured, regardless of the outcome.
I pleaded with the doctors not to send me home that night.... I really didn't know how to face anyone. But there are policies, of course. We were sent home to writhe in our pain... to start grieving our little boy who was still actively kicking and pushing his mommy's belly.
We waited 4 days to get an MRI scheduled. The MRI was to 110% confirm the findings (which we were all for).
That was Friday, October 31, 2008 - Halloween Day. And that is for another post.
My heart and soul ache for you Nicholas..... we love you more every day... xo
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
We remember Nicholas every day. We light his candle every night. We say goodnight to him on our way up the stairs. The kids blow kisses to the sky. I create Angel Wings in his memory and continually work on the Comfort Boxes for the hospitals. We say his name often. He is included in our family pictures. His Nana and Papa hold him close to their hearts and his Aunt, Uncle and cousins lovingly remember him as "Rocky". He has allowed us to connect with other bereaved families and has given us the strength to offer comfort and support in their journey. He is such an integral part of our every day life...
Then October rears it's ugly head and I feel unravelled. I succumb to the grief. The ugliest memories become much more vivid again. I can smell him with every breath... I can feel his every kick. The guilt begins to eat at me. I remember, in no uncertain terms, that my body failed me when my baby needed me most. How does a Mother do that? Deprive her own child of the necessities of life? I feel rotten. I feel useless as a mom. I feel broken all over again. The fatigue is overwhelming and my mind won't stop racing. My heart is shattered.... especially in that special place that Nicholas resides. The flashbacks are intense... his beautiful, little face so real.
The memory of carrying him that last week before we met him. The horrid knowledge of knowing our sweet boy's fate. The blessed day we held him in our arms. The cuddles, the kisses......... the goodbyes. My primal wail as the nurse carried him out the door for the last time. Wanting desperately to sneak to the "quiet room" for one more glimpse... one more butterfly kiss. Shivering from exhaustion and tremendous shock the entire night. Leaving with empty arms. Facing our family.... our other kids.... falling into my parents arms.
I remember working feverishly on a Memorial for Nicholas. Diving my hands, my mind into something tangible.... something to remember our son. I so desperately wanted everyone to know him. To understand that he was alive.... and then he died. Nicholas mattered. Nicholas does matter. He is one of us and I am incredibly protective of his memory. I remember barely getting through the day... welcoming family and friends into our home. Introducing them to Nicholas..... his memory.
I remember the day we had to go the the funeral home. I wasn't going to see him again, but instinct called me to him.... collapsing beside his tiny, white bed where he lay. I could barely see him through the constant stream of tears, eyes bloodshot and so very tired. I saw him, I touched him, I told him how sorry I was.... how much I love him. And then, somehow, we left... and I envisioned his beautiful body being placed in a fire. Igniting my son. My son. Letting him become ashes with a beautiful blanket and hand picked outfit from Nana..... ashes.
A week later my husband called me from the driveway. He had picked up Nicholas. He wanted us to both "walk" him home..... Another moment straight from Hell. I went to him. It was cold... snowing... dark. We walked with him bundled in a green velour bag to the home where he should have been sleeping in his cradle. To the home that so desperately wanted him... alive and well.
Nicholas now resides proudly on the mantel with his picture and footprints. Beside his brothers and sister.... just exactly where he belongs.
These next few weeks are going to be tough. Just before Halloween we were sentenced to this nasty journey. Halloween day we confirmed it with an MRI.....
I am thankful to have the Lantern Release to look forward to. I am certain it will be a magical, moving evening full of love and inspiration. One to remember for many years to come.
I am also incredibly thankful for our other children. They are our source of joy and light in these rough days.
I thank so many for all the love, support, understanding and comfort that it shown to us every single day. Couldn't do it without you.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
I feel you like it was just yesterday, Nicholas. Your kicks, your rolls, your hiccups.... If I close my eyes and breathe really deep, I can still smell you... still taste the kisses I laid upon your ruby red lips. You are truly our Guardian Angel. We love you.
Please help mommy get through the next few weeks with courage...
This year we have decided to do something a little different to mark the day you blessed us with your presence.
Below is the letter I have sent out to family and friends who have been such an extreme amount of support and comfort over the last few years.
October 4, 2012
I hope that this note finds everyone well.
As we approach Nicholas' 4th Angel Day on November 7th I am both unsettled and at peace. The way that our grief has transformed over the last few years is indescribable. We have been forced to walk a path that no parent dares to imagine and yet we stand strong. We continue to heal our broken hearts by remembering and honouring our special little guy every day. We do this together, with love, perseverance and with the boundless support of amazing family and friends who have been there for us every step of the way.
Four years seems like a huge milestone.
Four years seems impossible.
Four years seems believable.
Four years hurts just the same.
This is the dance grieving parents contend with every single day. An endless contradiction of emotions. It never ceases to amaze me how such devastation and such beautiful glory can co-mingle comfortably in my heart and I am certain that our Nicholas has everything to do with that.
Most of you will remember that we have been marking Nicholas’ Angel Day with a special and unique event each year. Together, with an amazing support system, we have created life long memories on what is an extremely emotional day for our family.
Last year we collected donations to create Memory/Comfort Boxes for our local hospital. We were blessed with many heartwarming donations from dollars to handmade blankets and hats. We donated 6 Comfort Boxes on November 7, 2011 to Southlake Regional Health Center’s Labour and Delivery Unit and as heartbreaking as it is, we have been replenishing them as the need arises. This year we have completed 6 more boxes and will be donating them, in Nicholas’ memory, to York Central Hospital in Richmond Hill. We are more than comforted to know that some families may find some much needed solace from the items we have provided.
In the last few years we have also organized either a run or a walk in Nicholas’ memory. The events have changed throughout the years, but the meaning will always be there. It is so important to us to have a positive focus on what could be a terrible day re-living horrific memories. To have friends, family and supporters with us, enjoying each other’s company, sharing stories and maybe even remembering their own little angels means the world to us. Nicholas’ legacy lives on and that is what it is all about.
This year, once again, our vision is different. A beautiful friend from the U.S. recently held a memorial for little angels in which Sky/Wish Lanterns were released in their honour. The pictures are magnificent and so incredibly moving. I could only imagine experiencing such a glorious sight. So, this year we will be holding a Sky/Wish Lantern evening to remember our baby boy.
We would also like to extend a warm invitation to our fellow baby loss parents to join us to not only remember our Nicholas, but to also remember their baby. We are certain the evening will be magical and we would love be able to watch Nicholas’ friends light the night with him.
If you are interested in attending and/or would like your very own lantern to release, please RSVP by OCTOBER 18th to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will have to know numbers in order to request the correct amount of lanterns. Each lantern is $3.00.
The below link gives you an idea of what these Wish Lanterns can offer…. an invaluable experience.
Jim, myself, Evan, Kyle and Madison would be truly honoured to experience this extraordinary evening with you in honour of our son and brother, Nicholas Warren Reeves…. gone much too soon.
With Love and Gratitude,
Leanna, Jim ,Evan, Kyle, Madison and Angel Baby Nicholas Reeves
“I would rather have had one breath of his hair, one kiss of his mouth, one touch of his hand, than an eternity without it…”