The last couple days have been difficult. I have had trouble falling asleep and have had headaches. Jamie has headaches, loads of tension in his back and is trying to get through grading stacks of papers for his classes. Last night I couldn't sleep at all and kept thinking about Theo, looking at his bassinet which is still next to the bed, and imagining him there, remembering when he slept there, how he would wake me with his little baby sounds, and if I took too long, he would start to yell to be fed. He didn't care that he needed a new diaper first, he wanted his food! I looked at the bassinet, next to the bed, and remembered him there, sleeping, soft baby breathing, hands thrown up and out, relaxed, open. And my thoughts turned to the very last night he slept there, August 19th, and the morning of Saturday August 20th began replaying in my head. His waking me up that morning at 6:00 with his baby sounds, changing him, bringing him to bed with me, breastfeeding, dozing with him in my arms, both of us sleeping and waking around 8:00, getting up, changing him, playing with him on the bed--talking to him, Theo making his sweet little"oooh oooh" noises, looking up at me, carrying him downstairs, feeding him a bottle, giving him his bath, talking to Jamie on the phone calling from Roanoke ("We're fine. He just had a bath, do you want to talk to him...."), vacuuming the floor, Theo crying, "Shhh..you're ok", Theo quiet, turning off the vaccuum, looking over, seeing him still and pale, running to him, picking him up, blowing in his face, yelling his name, rubbing his legs and arms, him coming drowsily, slowly around, feeling scared, shaken ("Are you ok, Baby? Baby?"); getting him dressed, turning him over to pull his little onsie down and then, his vomiting all over the pack and play, cleaning him, changing his shirt, carrying him to the sofa, putting him on his boppy pillow, watching and watching, scanning his face, every movement, noticing strange, unequal movements on his left and right sides, left eye open, right eye closed--I think he was trying to close his eyes and couldn't control his left eye. Theo becoming agitated, coughing, leaning him forward, holding him, throwing up again, cleaning him, getting frantic, talking to the pediatrician on-call, trying to feed him sugar water, sleepy, didn't want it, throwing up a third time, leaving qucikly to go the emergency room, seeing myself standing alone in that big room watching my tiny, new, perfect baby, wrapped up in blankets to keep him still, have the first CT scan of his life, watching the light move across his cheeks, his nose, forming the + over his face for proper placement, not knowing how many more of these there would be to come--feeling alone, scared, empty, terrified, so sorry for him, so small. Thinking of his pain, his headaches we didn't know about, what he must have experienced....All this going through my head, pictures, flying by, I couldn't stop the thinking and some piece of me wanting to remember, wanting to watch it, never to forget. That day when in the space of a moment, just a second, everything changed. I know now that he had a seizure--that was the very moment that everything changed. When I looked over and saw him lying there on his pack and play, still, pale, barely breathing. Even when he came around and regained his color, started breathing normally, he wasn't the same and after that, things happened so fast, so fast. And I know that maybe it isn't good for me to replay these things over and over, not when it doesn't necessarily help me, but I did it because I wanted to remember, even though it was painful, and then I couldn't seem to stop the images even when I wanted to. I couldn't stop crying. I couldn't stop seeing him, small, helpless, sick. There are several moments in time which stand out with very precise clarity through this whole six month ordeal, some things I don't recall as clearly, but that morning, that day when everything changed, when it all started, is so clear, every single second. I can stop, start, skip, freeze frame, rewind, fast forward. Wondering, worrying. The ER doctor at St. Mary's, "de beby has blood on de brean", "What? What do you mean blood on his brain!?"....Looking out the window at St. Mary's ER, on the cell phone, looking away from the nurses trying to find a vein in his baby arms and legs for hydration, feeling so sorry to have to tell Jamie over the phone, "come home, the baby is sick.... CT scan...blood in his brain. Please drive safely"...Worrying, worrying....Riding in the ambulance to MCV.... more tests, MRI.... Jamie finally there safe with me..."It's a tumor, m'kay?" ....No, that was not "m'kay". Not m'kay at all. It was never okay again after that.
I finally got out of bed, crying as quietly as possible, nose completely stuffed up, not wanting to wake Jamie and took a long, hot bath, talked to Theo, felt a little better and finally went to sleep around 2:30 a.m.
Turns out that Jamie woke up just after I fell asleep and couldn't find sleep again. He got up and took a shower before coming back to bed.
Today we talked to a man down the street who lost his son in a car accident--killed by a drunk driver--a year ago. I remember when it happened, I was pregnant. It remember thinking "How awful for that family". He saw us walking down the street today and came out to talk to us. He had seen Theo's picture in the obituary.
He told us it gets better with time, although he also said that he still cries every day for his son. He said his wife does not, she holds it all in and has really suffered because of this. He encouraged us, mostly Jamie it seemed, since he was looking at him, to cry when you feel it, "just let it out, get it out. It will be better for you that way". I saw a tear squeeze itself out the corner of his eye and track it's way through the lines around his eyes and then down his cheek. He hugged us.
My friend Lisa said that now we are members of a club that nobody wants to be in, and only the members really know what it's like to be there. Yeah. It's a club I wouldn't wish for anybody in the world to have to join. And that's another thing, you don't get a choice about it. None of us would choose it. But we have to keep paying the dues I guess. Whatever they are. I think they must be different for everyone, maybe similar, but each is different. But we should pay them, if you hold out, you end up like that guy's wife--bitter, sad, broken inside, holding it in, not knowing what to do with all the locked up grief and pain, not able to heal. I hope I sleep better tonight. I still don't want to move his bassinet or any of his things just yet. It's too soon. I want to feel him near me. As much as I can.