It’s just over three weeks until B-Day! I’m like a one-woman Laurel and Hardy show, where I find myself bumping into things and getting stuck in places, because I just can’t seem to get used to my new size.
As I described in my last Belly Report, when Heckle was the same age as the baby inside me, we entered a kind of Groundhog Day. We waited while he inched his way to strength. However, in that time I met another beautiful boy and his mother who changed my life. I’ll call him Jonathon to maintain his privacy.
I had seen a few babies pass away – that’s what happens when you hang out in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for 96 days. As amazing as the will to live and all the medical technology is, some do not make it.
Jonathon was born at 26 weeks, a beautiful, lithe boy. His humidicrib was next to ours. A few days after his birth, I told his mother how gorgeous he was and she beamed. She looked at Heckle and said, ‘He’s so big.’ I smiled and explained he had been the same size as her boy when he was born. We laughed about how strange it was to end up there, in the NICU and the similarities of our road there.
Over the next couple of days, Jonathon’s monitors beeped more often and extra equipment gathered around his humidicrib. His mother told me the doctors had given her and her husband a choice of when to turn off the life support. I don’t know any more details as she was unable to speak the words, they caught in her throat. All I know is that there would have been a very substantial reason for her to be faced with such a hideous decision.
Over the next four days, I saw her wrestle with the biggest decision of her life and her courage floored me. Her husband came to the decision that it might be best to turn off the life support and still she wrestled. She cried, she sobbed, she asked, she talked, she rallied, she argued.
On the seventh day, the nurses set up the white, cloth screen around Jonathon’s humidicrib and pushed the big armchair in close. I had seen this set up several times before and knew what it meant, the first and last cuddle.
I gave Heckle an extra squeeze and kiss and whispered my goodbyes to Jonathon and left.
Jonathon’s humidicrib was empty the next morning.
I said to the Nursing Manager what an amazing and courageous woman Jonathon’s mother was. The nurse nodded and said the mother had sat and held Jonathon for six hours until he took his last breath. They lived a lifetime together in those six hours, and previous seven days, and she will carry him in that embrace for the rest of her days.