Saturday, September 27, 2014

Gage Jason: His Life (Part Two)

Part two of my little Gage's life. His life. If you are just tuning in, start here.

I waited in the quiet delivery room for a bit before a nurse came in and told me that they never got me registered and she had to get me put into the computers. She was very sweet and comforting to me saying they had a great NICU and she was sure that he woud be just fine.

They finally asked if they could bring me something to eat and for the first time, I realized I was starving. They went and grabbed me some breakfast and I was still picking at it when Michaels mom came in. I filled her in on everything I knew and told her Michael had gone with him and was supposed to report back to me as soon as he knew something.

About an hour later Michael came back and said he didnt look good. They were hooking him up to some machines, getting some iv lines in, etc, and they were supposed to call when they got him stable enough for us to come back.

The next hour was torture. They moved me into a recovery room and the nurses cames and went, bringing snacks and drinks and explaining paperwork. The lactation consultant came in and brought me a pump. Michael's father came in, my father came in. Each time, we had to tell them we still didnt know anything. I was trying so hard. So hard not to panic but every time we called the NICU number they were still woorking on him.

Finally we got a call that Michael and I could come see him. They needed to talk to us about his condition. The nurse brought us a wheelchair for me and we went to the NICU, scrubbed in, and went to Gage's side. I could tell from the first look things werent good. He was hooked up to a myriad of machines and there were 8 medical staff members standing around working or watching. I held his little foot in my hand while they explained what all of the machines were. The oscillator to help him breathe, chest tubes on both sides to try to drain the fluid out of his lungs, an iv and pic line in his belly button and a bunch of monitors to keep tabs on his stats. They were also doing an echocardiogram on him to check his heart. Whatever the cardiologist was looking for, she was having a hard time finding.

The perinatologist pulled us out in the hall after a while to explain more of the why and what. He had what was called pulmonary hypertension. His lungs were not expanding like they should. She showed us the xray of his lungs and explained how much bigger they should be than they were. She explained that the capilaries in his lungs had been damaged because he had not gotten the fluid squeezed out enough during the birth process.

Overall, She was hopeful. She told us that he would most likely be ttansported to Egelston (the childrens hospital) when he was stable enough and they had a machine that could help clear out and expand the capilaries. She explained that he was considered extremely critical but that it wasnt hopeless. They would do another xray in a bit and we would see if he had improved. She recommended we go see him for a few more minutes and then go back to the room for me to rest. So that we did.

We went back and shared the news with the family waiting. They started asking when they would be able to see him and we told them they were supposed to let us know when he could have more visitors.

So we waited. I posted to Facebook that he seemed to be doing better but to keep praying. I texted my mother and told her to come on to the hospital with D and K.

Then the phone rang. We spent a few minutes talking to the neonatalogist again and she said that his lungs were actually improving. She wanted to know if anyone in the house had been sick in the last few weeks. We told her no one and she said he appeared to have contracted some kind of infection but they were treati NH him with antibiotics to try to get on top of it.

She also said it was okay for the family to come down to see him. At that point there was a mass exodus. Everyone went to see him except me. I stayed and waited for my mother and best friend to come. I sat and waited but ached to be back to my baby. My friend Steph, who works at the hospital, came by to see me and check on me. It was such a relief to see a loving face.

When they came back, only Michael came into the room. The rest stayed outside and my heart immediately sank. The look on Michael's face is one I'll never forget.

"He isnt doing good at all." He said. "He's completely purple from the chest down. He has an infection and all the doctors will tell me is its not good. They are trying to figure out what kind and started him on more antibiotics."

We sat in silence for a few minutes letting it sink in. I wanted to go see him. So Michael wheeled me back to the NICU. My poor baby looked bad. He was still hooked up to all the machines and he was the most scary shade of mottled purple from the nipple line down to his toes.

We stood at his side crying, begging him to fight. Begging him to get better. "We need you Gage. Please."

Crying to God "please dont take our baby. Please heal him.".

We stayed for a long time. People rushing all around us pumping him full of antibiotics. Encouraging him. The neonatalogist came back in and kept saying she didnt understand where he got the infection. Transport to Egelston was no longer an option. It was up to Gage now. His chance of survival had dropped.

I had to go back to my room to be checked. In the hall leaving the NICU, we ran into my best friend, Lisa. I told her he wasnt doing well at all and she comforted me the best she could.

Everyone was back into the room and the boys arrived with my mother. Thats when the dam broke. All I could do was drop to my knees and hold them close while I sobbed. They both wrapped their little arms around me and hugged me back. My boys were my strength right then and somehow they knew it. They didn't say a word. They just stood there, faces buried in my neck and hugged me back.

Michael's sister and aunt came in asking what was happening. I tried to make a coherent answer but all I remember getting out was "I cant bury my baby" and then sobbing into my mothers shoulder.

Eventually I came back to reality. The room silent around me. The boys went and got a hug and kiss from Michael and we turned the tv on. Michael went out in the hall and cried, eventually wandering back in to sit.

When I settled down, I moved back down to the couch next to Michael when the phone rang. It was the neonatalogist. She said that they had done everything they could but his organs had begun shutting down from the infection and they were still waiting on the lab results to come back. I asked if this was something he was going to recover from and she replied that it didnt look good. I asked what his prognosis was now, days, weeks, what. She sobbed quietly and said "more like hours". We said our goodbyes and hung up the phone.

Everyone was staring at me, waiting for an update. I uttered the words that no mother should ever have to say: "He's not going to make it".

Chaos ensued in that little room. Crying, questions, hugging. General disbelief. Someone took the boys to the hall to play and we cried harder. 

A few minutes later, the NICU called back and said we needed to come. He was declining and decisions needed to be made. We all rushed down to the NICU. All of us.

As we all got into his room, Michael and me went straight to him, kissed him and cried. At 7:30 pm, my Gage took his last breath, shuddered and was still.

What seemed like forever but was probably only seconds, a kind faced blond nurse made eye contact and simply said "He's gone. Im so sorry".

And then... I died. I died a horrible, painful mama death. One you cant put words to. I couldnt move. I couldnt breathe. All I could do was continue to stroke his tiny hand in my fingers and say "I love you." Over and over.

The sound that came out of Michael seemed like it came from another room. It wasnt until he folded down onto the warmer I even realized it was him. I couldn't move. I couldn't breathe.

The room was full of our family. They were all struggling to understand what was going on and all we could do is sob. We were asked if the nurses should clear the room and I remember looking up at the faces of our parents and Michael's sister and aunt. There was no way I could send them away. Instead I asked that we could find some chairs and all hold him.

They unhooked my youngest son from the machines that were supposed to save him and swaddled him. They brought him to me and layed his sweet body in my arms. He was so warm and soft. I snuggled him close and kissed his nose again. I prayed and cried and kissed.

Then, Michael held his son for the first time and he did the same. Kissed, hugged, cried. If there is anything I could go back and do from his birth, it would be to let him hold his son before they took him to the NICU. His live son.

Everyone took turns holding him. No words to say we just cried and held each other. At that time we were all one family and I would not change that for the world.

One by one, the family went home. To their babies and homes. My father made the trek home to his fiancée. My mother went to get my boys to bed. My best friend kept at us until we agreed to have her sister, a Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep photographer, come and take pictures of us and our little bear. Michael's mom and dad stayed with us and Gage and I'm so glad they got that time with us.

After the pictures and the snuggles, after midnight, the nurse came in and told us the funeral home would be there to collect him soon. We gave him a kiss and tucked him into his little bassinet and did the hardest thing we had ever done. We walked back to our hospital room with empty arms, knowing we would never hold our little bear, Gage Jason Hendrix, again. 

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