I'm a mess. It's been a month and I'm a huge sobbing mess. And if I don't write this I may never blog again, because this post simply has to come first.
On February 10, 2010, at around 2:15 in the afternoon, my firstborn son came into the world. He lived a few moments, and then his special spirit left his tiny body—just under a pound and just over ten inches. And because he lived, Tim gave him a name and a blessing. We named him Oliver Michael Gordon. Oliver is after the Green Arrow, and Michael is after his uncle and his grandfather on my side.
But before he entered the world, he was in the world in my womb with his brother. I know he was there in both spirit and body because in his tiny life's end he became our family's little hero, and he saved his brother's life.
Weeks after my water broke, after I'd met Dr. P, the high-risk obstetrician, I started bleeding. It was the third or fourth time doctors looked at me hopelessly and sent me home to wait for whatever happened next. My babies were still alive and well, but my body would not contain them much longer. I had kept them longer than anyone expected past a membrane rupture (water breaking), but at any moment I could go into labor and lose my sons, whom I had loved and waited for my whole life so far.
As the barrier between my babies and the world they couldn't yet survive grew shorter and shorter, my doctor told me our only chance at survival for even one of our sons would be to deliver our poor waterless baby and try to keep the remaining baby in for as much longer as possible (called a Delayed Interval Delivery, or DID). But Baby B, our little PPROM boy with no water left around him, was way at the top of my uterus, and Baby A, with his full bag of water, had his head blocking the exit. He had been protecting his brother with the support of his own water bag and his larger body sitting over my diminishing cervix.
I was torn between the horrible hope that Baby B would move down so his brother would have a shot at life if I went into labor, and the thread of possibility that I could somehow hold them both in. Part of me understood that even if I could, Baby B moving down would give A a better shot at life if he could stay in even a little longer than his brother if they were both born after viability. But there were weeks left to cross.
I cried and cried over the horrible thought of losing one son to save the other, comforted only by the thought that it wasn't my choice. It was out of my hands and in God's. And in Baby B's. And over the next week, where I had felt only tiny movements before from my struggling son, I had the sensation of him wiggling in his tiny smooshed spot, and over the next days he moved more than ever. And at some point I remember knowing that Baby B would leave us, but Baby A would stay. Facing that thought hurt like Hell, but not as badly as saying goodbye when the time came.
February 8 was a Monday, and I went to see Dr. P for another ultrasound. My sweet little Baby B had somehow fought his way down, and with his little feet he had pushed past his brother's head and taken his place as the first to go. And though I knew it was God's will that this baby should come first, I also knew it was Baby B's choice.
I was scared to death when I left that the baby might just fall out, but Dr. P convinced me I'd have time to get to the hospital. That night I started contracting, and Tuesday morning I was in labor and headed to the hospital.
The doctors did an amniocentesis to make sure A was not infected, since he couldn't stay in if he was. The markers were borderline, but Dr. P was willing to try the procedure. I asked him if he would push Baby A back in if he started coming out too, and Dr. P said yes. And after that, a labor that hadn't been progressing much for about a day took less than an hour to go from "Let's see what happens after my meeting," to "Time to deliver!"
It hurt. There must have been six pairs of hands between my legs, but there had also been a skilled anesthesiologist at my side since the wee hours of the morning. Once little Baby B was born, they sedated me until the procedure was complete. Dr. P worked a complete miracle. He managed to get Baby B out and keep Baby A in while stitching me closed from being almost fully dilated. At one point, under the influence of all those drugs, I apparently told Dr. P he was like God. In truth, I'm sure God was guiding his hands to save my baby and keep me pregnant.
But there was Oliver, as we had finally agreed to call him. By the time everything was over, I knew he was gone. I had felt his precious body leave me, and Tim had seen him wiggle in those small moments of freedom he had before he died. When I got into recovery, they brought us his miniature body to see and hold. It is one of the two most perfect and beautiful things I have ever seen.
His feet were swollen from the brave steps he took to save his brother. His hand sat over his heart with five perfect little fingers. He had Tim's nose and my mouth. His hair was bleach white and too young for color. In many ways, he took after his father. And in my eyes, he was the most wonderful thing to ever enter the world. And he was gone before I ever met him face to face.
I will always mourn that he isn't with us. That I don't get to raise him right now. The life he won't live. That his brother will not meet him until we are reunited in Heaven. But I rejoice that he waits for us there. And he has family with him. And I am honored and blessed beyond imagination that he came to us. That I am his mother, and Tim is his father. That my baby boy has a little savior who will one day smile and laugh when they meet, remembering a distant past where they shared a too-small room and did their darnedest to keep each other alive.
I will always cry over that last moment I held him and the pictures a charitable organization took of our little family when it was finally the three of us. I will always miss him. I will love him forever and ever. And maybe someday, I won't be in so much pain every time I think of my firstborn son. But today it has been only a month.
And I am a mess.