Journal entry, Wednesday, June 11, 2003
After about an hour, the nurse came to the waiting room where we were sitting, having NO idea whatsoever what was going on… thinking our baby just had a cold or something. She said ever-so-calmly but with great concern, “We have him stabilized, but you have a VERY sick little boy. He was not breathing when we got him from you.” And then we were told we could see him shortly.
My baby was THAT sick? How could that be? Twenty-four hours earlier he was pink and rosy and smell-goody and perfect? Twelve hours ago he acted like he didn’t feel well, but NOT BREATHING? How did I not know that? I’m his mother. I’m supposed to know these things.
Charlie was born 20 days earlier than this-happy, healthy and alive. From the moment he was born, he was wise. People commented on that in the hospital even. He was just alert. He had big brown eyes and a look in them that would melt your heart. In hindsight, he wasn’t meant for worldly things. He was meant to be a protector… and angel.
Back to the hospital. Jason and I went to see him when we were finally allowed back into the PICU. We were gently led to the bed where part of my soul still lives. My six pound baby had ten pounds of tubes and wires and things keeping him alive. I remember vividly not being able to breathe but still not realizing the severity of the situation.
We held vigil at the hospital for the next 3 days. In that time we were told that he had contracted late-onset Group B Strep which had caused meningitis and sepsis. They did a spinal tap which showed his spinal fluid looked like Jell-O instead of water and a CT scan showed most every part of his brain had had massive strokes, including his brain stem.
At last we were taken to the “OH SH*T” room where we were told our baby wasn’t going to live. He wasn’t going to have a first birthday or a first day of kindergarten, would never play t-ball or football or get a high school diploma. He would never meet the girl of his dreams and have beautiful babies and name them after his wonderful parents. In that tiny, dark room, our hopes and dreams were shattered.
On Friday the 13th, the most unnatural day to do this, we made the decision to turn off all support to our pride and joy. But we wanted to do it on our own time. And we weren’t ready right then.
Saturday morning started with my sister coming and bringing all the hats Charlie had received for gifts. For six hours we played “hat of the hour” and changed his hat and took pictures. He was held by us, his grandparents, aunts, uncles, anyone who came by and wanted to. It was a parade of visitors that day and for most it was the one and only time they had seen him. There were enough tears to fill a bathtub from friends who had driven several hours to pay their respects to our son before he took his final breaths. I can’t tell you how much that has meant to us over the last seven years.
At 5:00 on June 14th, 2003, just one day shy of his original due date, we gathered with about 2 dozen very special people in the tiny PICU room and our preacher had a baptism for our most precious son. Charlie was in a beautiful white t-shirt, a green and blue hat, holding his silky blanket and puppy dog. Our preacher spoke a few touching words that I wish I remember and baptized him. My sweet Aunt Diane started singing “Jesus Loves Me” and I remember sounds of moaning and crying coming out of mine and Jason’s mouths that in hindsight don’t seem human.
After everyone left the room, we were left with our son. Our intensive care doctor, Dr. Clark and nurses Julie and Tina there to help with the removal of support. In the next 43 minutes there were tears, kisses, touches, words of love and more tears. We were later told by Tina who was in the room, that as the machines flat-lined, a big ray of sunshine came in through the tiny crack in the curtain. It had been raining for 4 days non-stop so the ONLY explanation was that Charlie’s soul was leaving the room. At least that’s what I’m sticking with.
Charlie was bathed, wrapped in swaddling clothes and taken to the funeral home. Jason and I retreated to our home and opened the door to our new normal. And as our world stopped, everyone else’s went on, waking up to greet their Daddy’s with breakfast and homemade cards and fun on Father’s Day.
We woke up to the truth. That our lives would never be the same.