Wednesday, February 29, 2012

God hugs

We had a meeting with Phil from Benson's funeral home on Thursday at 1pm.   Nate and I had a few things we needed to pick up so we drove up by ourselves.  When we had talked with Pastor Dennis the day before I told him there were two songs that I wanted at Declan's funeral... I can only Imagine and Untitled Hymn.   When Nate and I were pulling into Worthington, I Can Only Imagine came on the radio. Both Nate and I sobbed through the entire song.  We ran into the mall and did our shopping, came back out and turned on the car, just as Untitled Hymn came on the radio.

When we returned home on Monday, the 20th Nate and I were both in the bathroom getting ready.  I happened to looked at our flip calendar - Praying for your children - and noticed it was still set to the 14th of February.  When I read it I was shocked because the whole passage was about 'the initial pain of releasing our children... knowing when we release them we are giving them back to God and they are in good hands...'  I found it impactful so I picked it up to show Nater.  When I held it out to him to read, I noticed the date on the back side of the calendar was November 18th... Declan's birthdate.

Coincidence, I think not.  I like to think of it as a "God Hug".  God's way of letting us know Declan is ok and that maybe we will be too someday.

Back to work... ugh.

Many people have asked us if we 'are ready to go back to work'... I'm not sure how to answer that.  I suppose I would know if I wasn't ready, but there is nothing in me that says 'go back to work!'.  I keep thinking Nate and I should be doing something to start 'healing' and 'getting ready to go back to the real world' but I'm not sure what that would be or how to even go about it.  I wish there was like a handbook or a DVD training video on how to put your life back together after losing a child.  I don't think there is one, because there is no right way to do it.  I am hoping Nate and I are doing ok at it... we are doing the best we can.  Our main focus is on Courty and Noah, trying to make sure they don't suffer any long term negative effects.  Everyone seems to be doing okay during the day, but it's the nights that are so terrible.  Nate and I haven't slept by ourselves once since we've been home.  Last night we had both Noah and Courtlynn in our bed.  I finally got up and went and slept in Noah's room, just hoping I would get a few hours of sleep.  Courtlynn has been getting up at least five times a night... 'I wanna drink of water', 'I want my nookie', 'I wanna sleep with you', 'I gotta go potty', 'I wanna watch TV'...  AND of course she doesn't want anyone but mommy to help her.  UGH.   Dragging butt today.

So here I am, at work.... not many people here due to the two hour late start we had... wishing I was at home with Nate, still sleeping, not knowing for sure if this is a good idea or not.  Already had two hugs and one visitor.  Got knots in my stomach and am not sure what to say when people ask "how are you?" Do they want the truth or the ol' standby "I'm fine."  ???  Then there is the idea of actually working... I've got piles of paperwork sitting here, staring at me.  It once seemed so important, but now it doesn't.

Two weeks ago right now.

Two weeks ago at this moment, my sweet, wonderful, precious baby boy passed away.  There are no words for my sadness and no way to express how empty I feel.

One day we will see each other again my sweet angel!  I will see you in a 'second'.  Love you buddy!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The morning after.

I thought I was going to pass out with exhaustion when we got to our room at the Ronald McDonald House, I was seriously dragging butt.  Nate and I got the kids settled in to the pull out bed and headed to our room to crash.  My head hit the pillow and there was no way I could even close my eyes.  The events of the day kept coming back to me... I went and laid with the kids, and possibly got a few hours of sleep.  Waking up was probably the hardest...realizing my nightmare was real and that Nate and I had to figure out what the next steps we needed to take were.   I sat in the shower, with the water as hot as I could get it, crying, wondering how many other parents had stood here just like me and felt so helpless.  I thought the events of the previous day would have been the hardest, but in truth, Wednesday was terrible.  At least on Tuesday, Declan was with us.  We were together.  Wednesday, we were now missing a piece of us.
We packed up our newly purchased clothes and bath items and headed out to the breakfast area... together with our parents, started planning my son's funeral.   We thank God they were there, because trust me, if you are a parent you've never really put actual thought into how to plan your child's funeral.  'Where were we going to bury him? Would we buy the plots next to his? Would we have the service in Round Lake or in Mankato? Who would we get to perform the service?  What would Declan wear?  Who needs to be called?' We sat there for a few hours and took notes on paper plates, made phone call after phone call to different people, who thankfully were able to help us set some sort of plan outline.  We left Children's at noon.

I was dreading going home, but knew we needed to pack up clothes and get ready for the emotional week ahead of us.  Walking into the house was hard.  There were many reminders of all we had lost.  It was almost like I needed to walk into each room and have a break down... the memories of the last time we had eaten together as a family of 5, the last bath I had given Dex, the last time he slept in our room... it was hard and it sucked.  Oh and to top everything off, we had put our dog down the same morning Declan passed away so the house seemed even more empty and sad.   We were thankful our Pastor was able to come over and we talked about the unfairness of the situation and then planned out Declan's funeral.  I had the shakes so bad, but I wasn't cold... just a strange body reaction to stress.  We sent the kids home with my parents and then were faced with the silence of the house that was so loud it almost hurt my ears.

Children's Hospital...

We arrived at Children's hospital around 12:30.  As far as I was told, Declan did well on the trip.  I remember praying the whole helicopter ride for Declan's little brain to not have any damage.  I was still thinking that Declan would survive at this point.  Delusional thinking on my part looking back, but as a mother I couldn't let myself think the worst.... for my own mental stamina, I had to think this was going to get better.  We were met by the CHARGE nurse and a hospital chaplain.  I was not able to escort Declan any further than the main entry way... I was taken to a room to sit with a social worker and the chaplain, who later would become a comfort for us, but at the time just sat there staring at me making me feel self conscious.  I didn't realize how alone I felt having these two women looking at me until Nate's uncle Brian walk by our room!! It was such a relief to have family with me. While we waited for Nate, his parents and Courtlynn to arrive, the chaplain was our 'spy'.  She would go check what was going on and update us as best she could.  Shortly after Nate arrived, we had a meeting with Dr. Hoogerland.  My first impressions was that she was a bit cold and emotionless.  She was very matter of fact and direct.  Informing us that while Dex received CPR, blood flow was not sufficient for his brain and the damage was intense.  IF he survived it would be "disastrous".  She believed that he would never walk or talk or even eat on his own.   Not what we wanted to hear, nor what we were fully able to comprehend... Nate and I just held on to each other and cried.  Wondering why this was happening to us.  Almost sick with the realization that we had no control over the situation or that we were unable to help our child.   We were finally able to see him and for the second time during the day, I was unprepared to walk into his room and see him lying in the regular size hospital bed with tubes coming out of his mouth and nose... he looked SO small and so beautiful.  It was hard to walk into his room, but I knew I wanted to be right by him, holding his hands and telling him how much I loved him.  It was about 1:30 or 2:00.  Time kind of stood still, yet flew by.  There were several hours, maybe minutes, I'm not sure, where we were able to be by Declan and family and friends kept arriving to support Dex and Nate and I.  At some point Dr. Hoogerland pulled Nate and I aside and we decided that if Declan's heart were to stop again, we would not resuscitate him.  Shortly after that there was lots of activity by Declan's bedside and we were told that his potassium levels were on the raise, which is what happens when a body's organs start shutting down.  There were doctors all around the bed and lots of shots were being given.    I laid down on the couch and cried... there was nothing else to do. Dr. Hoogerland came and sat by me and started patting my back, a sure sign that things had gotten worse...  Nate finally asked the doctors if they were doing all that to Declan because we hadn't asked them not to.  Dr. Hoogerland, said that if we were going to continue to keep Dex alive, then these measures would have to be taken, which meant we would no longer be able to be by Declan's side.  Doctors were going to have to continue to inject him with medicine to try and bring down his potassium levels.  Nate and I then made the one of the hardest decisions, and that was to stop trying to get the potassium levels down and just let Declan be... we wanted his last hours in our world to be ones that were not painful, but were filled with love and where he could be cuddled up in our arms.  The staff then came and cleaned him up and put fleece blankets on the bed and we were able to lay down by him and be right next to him.  Noah, Nathan and myself took turns laying next to Declan.  We even got Courty up by him and she gave him kisses.  The staff came and made hand and feet molds and made footprints and handprints for us. We had a great nurse, who looked just like Amy Adams, who was so comforting and her goal was to make sure we were able to hold Declan.  She pulled a chair up close and I was FINALLY able to hold my sweet little boy for the first time since the morning.  It felt SO good to have him so close to me but so painful because I knew the moments would never last long enough.  Noah wanted to hold him and so did daddy so we took turns, probably each one of us wishing we could have him to ourselves... I know that our entire family was there, but I couldn't even tell you where or what was happening with everyone else.  I was so focused on my little guy, the world around me seemed to vanish.  Again, Nate and I were forced to make another difficult decision... when to take out the ventilator.  Somehow, with God's guidance, we were able to think about Declan instead of our own desires and at 9:45 we asked our family to come in: Jeff and Lynn, Jenn, Matt and Heather, uncle Brian, Court and Gayle, Lance and Aileen, and Noah.  Our nurse had pulled up the couch close to Dex's bed and Nate, myself and Noah gathered each other in a close embrace and the nurse handed our sweet baby boy over to us and his doctor slowly and carefully took out his ventilator.   No one spoke, silent tear streamed down our faces. It was 10pm.  His little heart held on for 15 minutes before he drifted from our arms into the arms of Jesus.   If I could sum up the last moments with only a few words it would be peaceful and full of love.  Nate and I then brought Courty into the room who had fallen asleep with one of the child specialist and laid her down on the couch and had Noah lay down to.  We were all able to take as much time with Declan as we wanted.  No one left his side for a long time.  Nate and I gave him a bath and were able to kiss him and touch him and just look at him.  It was 1am before we finally started to think about leaving.... but how do you leave your baby in a room by himself?  It was so hard to pull myself away and leave.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Receiving the news

On February 14th, I received a phone call from my daycare provider at 10:40 am.  I remember I had just looked at the clock and was excited because it was lunch time in 20 minutes.  When I saw her number on my phone, I figured someone was sick.  When I answered, she was crying and hysterical. She told me my youngest son Declan had stopped breathing and that the police and paramedics were there.  My first thought was that everything was going to be fine because the 'professionals' were there.  My daycare provider continued to cry and I finally asked her if my son was alive.  Instead of the yes I was expecting to hear, she told me I would have to talk to the police officer.  I knew at that point this was bad.  The police officer told me that they were performing CPR on Declan and that we needed to get to the hospital as soon as we could.  My boss drove me to the hospital in St. Peter.  I prayed the entire way for everything to be ok, but never in my heart thought he would die.  I don't think I had fully understood the situation.  When we arrived at the ER, the police were there to greet us and we were quickly escorted back to the room where they were working on Dex.  I honestly believe there is no way you could ever prepare yourself to see your child undergoing CPR.  He looked like a little doll, not like my baby that left in the morning. My first thought was 'this isn't real' but when I saw my precious little guy laying there, lifeless and looking a shade of blue, I knew it was real and I knew it wasn't good.  I was able to sit right next to the table and hold Declan's hand.  I spoke to him, encouraged him to fight for his life and told him how much he had to live for.  I told him how Noah wanted to take him hunting and fishing and how Courtlynn wanted to play house with him.  I even found myself telling him to "shhhh" even though he wasn't crying.  I remember looking from Dex's face to the doctors face and trying to read his body language... trying to decide what he wasn't telling me.  Dex was unable to breath on his own and even though his heart had some activity, they didn't think it was strong enough to stop CPR.  At noon, however, Declan's heart started beating on its own and kept getting stronger.  I felt like we had hit a turning point.  At that time, Declan, myself and several other air-medics flew to Children's hospital in Minneapolis.  All total, Declan had CPR performed on him for two hours.

The rest of our story continues... Children's Hospital and The Morning After.