After losing one’s child, the you have two choices. First, you can decide that this is not worth continuing and take on the final solution. Second, you can keep going and try to heal from the loss. Since you’re reading this you can probably figure out which choice I made. It was not easy. There were times on the drive back to Flagstaff that I thought about jerking the wheel sending us sailing over a cliff Thelma and Louise style, but didn’t. We had left Mia in Phoenix, the final arrangements worked out and completed. A second time we had to make that long, lonely drive up the mountain realizing we had left someone very special behind. Like the first it was not easy. I felt empty. The only solace I had was that my wife was OK. Her BP was finally under control, kind of, but at least enough for them to send us home. It was a very quiet drive home, neither of us said much, just sat in silence, overwhelmed by the last 10 days.
Back at home there were reminders of her everywhere. The day before everything had gone south was her baby shower. The gifts were out as was the stroller her aunt had brought back from Norway. The dirty dishes were still in the sink, our cats frantically waiting at the door. I ran in to move the gifts and stroller into the other room so as not to be completely obvious, but it didn’t matter. The moment my wife walked through the door we both lost it, The finality of the situation was so complete now, She wasn’t ever going to ride in the stroller, wear the clothes she had been given or hear her father read Dr. Seuss to her again. It was over. Life felt like it was over.
Having given our notice to both our jobs and our apartment in anticipation of moving to the NW, we had to pack up and get out of town. Soon. We had been planning to move to the NW, to move back home before this all happened. The last check-up was the day my wife was flown to Phoenix. We would have left 2 days after Mia passed away. Now everything was changing. So we packed our life (what was left of it) into a Penske truck, hooked the VW onto the trailer and left Flagstaff for good.
Luckily we both have supportive folks. Her’s had spent days with us in Phoenix, her Mom being there at the end. My folks flew down from Seattle to help. Between us and her stepfather we got loaded up. My Mom flew back to Seattle with my wife leaving my Dad and I to drive up. As I stood in the now-empty apartment where we had lived for 3 years and had endured such heartache twice I wondered if it all had been worth it. My faith in the medical profession, the one I had spent 3 years trying to get into, my chosen career, was gone. I didn’t know if I would ever be able to care, for myself much less for anyone else. The emptiness in the apartment was not just physical, but the memories,the emotional and psychological emptiness pervaded the space.
We learned about a week after Mia died that it had been Pseudomonas that had caused the sepsis that took her life. While I know that as a 26 weeker her chances were not good. The odds were stacked against her. But having something else on top of it made it even worse. My wife and I got thinking though. Several other babies in the unit had the same bug including the one in the room next to us, who routinely shared a nurse with Mia. Then we both remembered the night Mia’s nurse swiped her fingers across her nose, like after a sneeze then went on without washing to play with her umbilical lines. We thought we couldn’t be right? Had that really happened? As quickly as she had done, she looked up and realized she had done it in front of us. And we did nothing. I don’t know why. I don’t know why we didn’t file a report with her boss, or did more than just sit there and stare. I kick myself to this day that I did nothing. And to this day I blame that nurse. Even if it wasn’t her fault, I still can lay the blame, it at least makes me feel better as it provides a reason why this happened. We had lawyer look at the case. Not that I’m big on lawsuits, but I wanted to know if they saw anything negligent. Unfortunately, they said we didn’t have a case. Mia’s prematurity was the factor that swayed the case, she was too early. And the case with the nose wiping? It would be our word against theirs with no substantial proof. We dropped the idea. Let it go.
Since then our lives have been one challenge after another. I passed the NCLEX, but couldn’t find work. I found work, but it was not even close to what I wanted to do, just took the job out of sheer desperation. Nearly lost our apartment once or twice. Had the cable and power shut off a couple of times. And medical bills? I think the cost is well near $250,000 for both of them, thankfully my wife had incredible insurance. We haven’t seen much of that. But I remind myself that we’re still alive. Now when people ask if I have children I can tell the story. They always say, “I’m sorry” or “It must be hard.” I say, “Yes, it sucks. But we had her for 8 wonderful days.” Would I have taken more? You better believe it. In a way, I’m glad it happened this way instead of having a year of more before losing her. But I wish it had never happened.
My relating the story came about by near cosmic chance. Ambulance Driver wrote a post that touched me and in a way made sense of all of this, or at least put it in perspective. In “Welcome to Holland” he quotes from a book(?) that relates having a baby to taking a trip to Italy. You plan and plan. Get the guidebooks, the travel guides, make plans. Everyone you know also is going and telling you how great it is, but your flight ends up in Holland. Just a little change in destination right? I figures our flight was diverted then canceled. I don’t know why, but this analogy made sense to me. I can never understand why this happened. I can come to grips with it, accept it, celebrate her life and continue mine. In many ways while writing about Mia has brought up a lot of emotion, it is a good thing to get it out, maybe let go a little. Let go, but never forget.
As for me and the wife, we’re doing OK now. She’s been sick since the pre-eclampsia and the bed rest did her back in something fierce, but we seem to finally getting answers to both her health and her back. We have our good days and our bad, usually more good than bad. I have a job that I love, regardless of how it sounds in my usual posts. While we’re not anywhere near even thinking about trying again, we know that we can. Mia will always be our little girl, even though she’s gone. We will never forget.
Thanks for reading. Peace and love…