I’ve Seen Death

I’m up late, way too late. I cannot take the medication that mercifully puts me to sleep at night because of this, so I figure I’ll turn to my outlet: writing.

I have seen death and grief in one of the hardest places to see it: a hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, NICU for short. Babies born before 37 weeks that need medical intervention to survive enter this ward, some never go home.

Last year my youngest son was born. He was born 35 weeks and 6 days during a snow storm that was supposed to create massive accumulation but was more of a joke. With my water breaking at 6:20 PM at home, alone, and a 30 minute drive through less than favorable conditions, I was transported via ambulance. We finally arrived to the smaller of two hospitals (my choice!) at 7:30 – Captain was there to meet us. Thank heavens for my Obstetrician being on call that night, because she was able to deliver Brother at 10pm that night via cesarean. Many more details go into that story but I’m sure you see my point.

With Brother being a full month early, NICU from the bigger hospital had a Neonatologist there to assist in saving his life. I was not able to hold my son for almost 24 hours. He was transferred to the bigger hospital and I had to wait for an open bed or to be released. Talk about emotionally frustrating. I was not anyone’s favorite person.

Skipping ahead to the worst part of our stay. Several nights into Brother’s stay, I had made my way down to the NICU to work on breastfeeding. Upon my arrival I went straight to my babe, since it was 2 am. As I was leaving, I looked into the nurses station. There was a baby incubator covered in blood, two men (I’m assuming dad and granddad) so visibly upset and nurses were missing. It did not take much for me to put it all together: a child had suddenly died, and most felt completely lost. During my walk back to my room I prayed so vehemently. I prayed for the family, nurses, and my son. So easily that could have been my situation, but God had seen us through.

Most days I can go through life without thinking on that day, but as I near his birthday it is getting harder.

Many hospital officials had come to apologize for what I had seen – but I was no monster. I realized that God helped me to be grateful for our “mild” situation, I knew that those parents were suffering, and no nurse or doctor would want to subject another human to hurt over this either. No apologies were necessary, except my condolences to the family.

Our NICU has a support group because many families going through long NICU stays are subject to long-term effects. These families are incredibly supportive, however. Captain and I decided immediately after we got home with him that rather then ask for gifts for our son’s first birthday, we would ask for donations. These donations will go directly to our local NICU to help support families required to travel and/or deal with their situation.

Captain and I are blessed to have Brother in our lives. Not a day goes by without me thinking of how fortunate we are through his year of tribulations.

My very first time holding my sweet angel

I don’t write this to upset or offend. I pray it does not trigger anyone either. I write it so you know that you’re not alone. So that you know that life is scary, but we can do our part to help one another. Have a blessed day.

Xo, Chelsea

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