Saturday, January 12, 2013

I'm proud of myself.

This post follows up on Taking the Bullet, that I wrote last night.  

Today my best friends and I somehow navigated an impossible situation together.  Yet navigating this impossible situation was oddly smooth.  So you know from my previous post that my best friends, Mike & Jenn, had their beautiful twins at just 27 weeks gestation yesterday.  Today we discussed whether a visit would be OK for one another.  You know, given that I am pretty much proof of their worst nightmare...and that they are currently living a similar experience to what caused my trauma.  But Mike & Jenn are pretty much my brother & sister - they are Auntie & Uncle to my children, and I am surely Auntie to their Katherine & Lucas.  So a visit was fitting.  And for that I am thankful.

I drove into Boston & prayed to God to give me the strength to do this.  Thanked him for strengthening me - asked him for me to be a source of strength for my friends, rather than fall apart myself.  I was with them for 4 hours or so.  As I checked in with security they rounded the corner to join me.  We rode the elevator up together and the door opened.  I stepped off and realized that this was the exact floor I was on for 10 days in May.  There was "my" room, the room where Ethan lived safely inside of me.  Someone else was in it now, obviously, and I walked right by it.  The visit was excellent, not overly triggering for me.  It was beautiful to sit in the visitor's chair this time.  To see my dear friends, who have fought long and hard for their family, to be in the bed this time.  To be the new parents.  It was a blessing.  I left her room for a minute to get a cup of water - and it brought me right back to my time there.  When I went in the hallway I thought of the last time I was there - being brought on a stretcher down to labor and delivery urgently, trying to save Ethan.

Then they said that I would be welcome to go with them to visit the babies, if I wanted to.  But no pressure.  I love how our friendship includes the "no pressure," and actually means it.  I said I would love to go, which was true.  It's a different NICU than the one Ethan was in - perhaps not a bad thing for me.  Offering slight distinction in experiences.  Jenn led the way to Lucas' bedside.  And later to Katherine's.  They are so beautiful.  In every way.  How can people not believe in miracles after seeing newborn babies?  I just don't know.

They are smaller than Ethan - at just 1 pound each.  But what struck me was how much healthier they are than Ethan EVER was.  I mean in every way.  Sure, they were born a week earlier than he was & weigh less than half of what he did, but they are clearly healthier than he ever was.  I am so thankful and find it reassuring for the babies, Jenn & Mike - that they are genuinely doing as well as they could hope for.  At the same time, this experience - seeing 1 pound babies, being so fragile, made me realize just how sick Ethan really was.  From the moment he was born, my poor, sweet Ethan was so very sick.  So sick...

I brought them each a small butterfly cut out of card stock.  They were a gift from a friend who had come home one day & found over 100 of these butterflies cut out & strewn across her dining table.  They were not there an hour prior and nobody had been home in the meantime.  When this friend saw the butterflies she knew they were meant for me.  Click here to read more about this.  So, I picked out a butterfly for Lucas and one for Katherine.  They taped them to their incubators as a way for sweet Ethan, their angel cousin, to watch out over them.  Ethan is right there with them, keeping them safe.

When I opened Katherine's incubator and gently touched her left leg I was brought right back to doing the same thing with Ethan.  It was strange, in a comforting way.  I knew she wasn't Ethan.  But a smell came back to me, one that I associated to the NICU experiences with Ethan.  I can't really explain it.  It filled me with a warmth over me, felt that Ethan was right there with me.  And you know what?  I think he really was.

So I prayed over each of them, and asked that Ethan stay with them.  Especially when Jenn and Mike could not be right by their side.

I was OK until I turned and saw this lovely family sitting in the NICU with their big, full-term baby on the same type of ventilator that Ethan was on (it shakes the baby actually) and the baby appeared sedated.  It was heartbreaking.  The parents were sitting there, holding hands.  That must have been what Josh and I looked like back in May.

I'm proud of myself for going - honored that they invited me, and damn proud of myself for going & doing so well.  Oddly, I feel that Ethan has a job to do now.  His job is to keep Lucas and Katherine company and to offer them strength.  I'm proud of Katherine, Lucas, Jenn, Mike, Josh, Ethan and myself.  That's not too bad for one day.

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