Mother to Simon Xavier
November 4th, 2010-March 17th, 2011
Fingerlakes Region, New York
This is my third time trying to type this all out; the first two times I just started crying and couldn’t see enough to type. Somehow, today I’m better.
Simon was my surprise. Somehow I fell into the 2% that condoms fail for. I found out I was pregnant when I went in for a regular check-up to get more migraine medicine. It turns out I was four months along and had no idea, I had recently begun throwing up, but at the time I thought I was coming down with the flu.
My first reaction to discovering I was pregnant was utter shock and tears. My boyfriend, B, on the other hand, was delighted.
When I told some of my friends I was pregnant they suggested because I was only 18, having an abortion, that thought had never crossed my mind until some uncaring individuals brought it up. I loved my baby as soon as I knew he was there.
I found out I was pregnant exactly 3 weeks before I was going to start Culinary School in Hyde Park, NY. Instead, I started working and moved into a house with my boyfriend. I spent all my free time reading copious books on babies and doing research to find out the best baby products. We prepared a “nursery” for the baby, which I found out happened to be a boy on my first OB/GYN visit. I stopped working a month before Simon was due, just in time too because he ended up being 2 1/2 weeks early, but was born after 2 hours of labor and no painkillers, perfectly healthy.
Five days after he was born he went in for a check-up and ended up being admitted into the hospital through the ER, due to really high bilirubin levels. (his father and I thought he looked a bit yellow, but the first doctor we saw said it was just his coloring due to his heritage) That was the (first) scariest time of my life because I could not stand watching him be prodded in that little bed with wires on his feet, blindfolded with lights all around him. I stayed awake and next to him for the full 2 days he was in there.
Fortunately, Simon got better and managed to get nice and plump and wonderfully healthy. He spent pretty much his whole life staying home with me, due to the weather being so cold and awful. St. Patrick’s Day was the first warm day we had, so B, Simon and I took our dog for a walk at the local park and strolled Simon around. It was Simon’s first time in his stroller and he loved it. He kept giggling.
Later that night, Simon was napping next to his daddy on the couch, while I did the dishes and cleaned up. I kept going over and checking on Simon every 15 minutes, even though his father was right there watching the news. I finished the dishes and went to pick up Simon…he looked normal, just like he was sleeping, I picked him up to check his diaper and he was completely limp in my arms. I laid him on his changing table and began tickling his feet and freaking out when he did not respond and appeared not to be breathing. B called 911 and started doing CPR on Simon after we took off his clothes.
The police and ambulance arrived and I let them in and put my dog in a bedroom. They put Simon in the ambulance and started arguing about which hospital to take him to. They would not let me go with him no matter how much I pleaded. B and I left the house [while the police were still inside and I had not shoes on] and followed the ambulance to the hospital. The whole way there we were praying for everything to be okay. When we got to the hospital they pulled us aside and asked us all these questions and then finally led us to the room where about 20 people were working on my baby. He was naked except for his socks and was hooked up to all these machines which were blinking and making noise. The first thing I noticed was that he had a poopy butt and I can remember thinking, “I need to get some wipes and clean him off, I don’t want him having a diaper rash.” It all just seemed so unreal and everything was happening so slowly.
They worked on Simon for 2 hours, even letting his father do CPR every few beats. They shut the machines on silent because they noticed the beeeeeeeeeeeeep instead of beep beep beep was bothering me. I kept leaving the room to throw-up and every time I left the police and nurses would watch me and shake their heads.
They said the problem was his heart; it just did not want to beat continuously. B called his brother-in-law, an award winning heart-surgeon and had him talk to the doctors. We asked if anything could be done and they all said no. Everyone was crying.
They let B do the last of the CPR while I stood there holding Simon’s tiny hand and wiping the blood off his nose.
After getting two other doctors opinions, they declared Simon dead at 9:32pm. All the people left the room and left us alone with Simon. We took all the tubes out of him, put some band-aids on him, cleaned him up and inquired about a diaper for him.
The hospital chaplain came in and we sent her away because she smelled like smoke and alcohol. B called a priest and we sent the police to go and pick up Simon’s grandmother.
We spent the rest of the night and early hours of the morning holding and loving our baby. We wrapped him up in a blanket and took turns kissing him. I had to cover his face after the rigor mortis set in because it did not look like him, B’s mother uncovered it to kiss him and I started screaming that was not my baby, that’s not what he looked like! We left Simon at 5 am with his grandmother, they had to bring him to the morgue, but they promised us his grandmother could stay there with him until he was picked up by the coroner.
The next morning we called to inquire where he was, and the hospital staff did not know. They told us he was being transported for his autopsy, but they did not know where that would take place. After many phone calls the funeral director B had spoken to yesterday told us where Simon was and who was doing the autopsy.
B’s sister arrived that morning and together we went and picked out a small coffin. It’s awful to even think that they even make small coffins.
Simon’s service was the following Monday and it was as nice as a funeral for a baby could be. Only family and a few friends came because we didn’t want to be overwhelmed by people we didn’t know…the public. We didn’t even have an obituary published.
We still have not gotten the blood work for the autopsy back yet, but seeing as when he went in for bilirubin he had a tremendous amount of blood tests done (to check for g6pd and other things) we are all pretty sure they’ll be blank; infact, his doctor and the medical examiner are calling it SIDS.
Although I have many pictures of Simon (some even from the day he died) I have only been able to hang one up so far, because that is all I can stand.
We go to his grave site, where he is buried on his great grandfather twice a week and slowly are getting used to life without our baby and hoping for the future.
I still wake up at night and get up looking to feed my baby. I see other parents with there babies and get dreadfully sad. I can’t stand mothers yelling at their infants and went as far as to tell one mother her baby could not understand her yelling in the grocery store last week. I look at Simon’s pictures and his half-blank baby book and ask myself Why?
He was so perfect. He was so smart, standing and using his walker at 4 months, rolling over back to front, babbling to his mommy and trying to steal the dog’s toys and laughing at her. Simon was such a good baby, he never had colic, he would cry, but would stop as soon as he was held, he loved being in his baby bjorn. He was almost sleeping through the night. He loved bath time. I was such a cautious mother, doing everything “right” waiting until 4 months before he got his first taste of rice cereal mush, never putting on his belly to sleep, making sure he got 15 minutes of tummy time a day. He had his first and only play date the weekend before he died and the other baby was huge, even though he was younger than Simon, he was big and sluggish and his mother told me, enjoyed watching TV and eating ice cream occasionally. Simon never watched television, he never had anything to eat but rice cereal mush mixed with breastmilk or his supplemental formula. After Simon died, the few mothers I had made friends with started avoiding me, one even suggested I had [accidentally] suffocated or overheated my baby, because SIDS could be prevented, she told me. My grandmother told me to start praying to be sure Simon made it to Heaven. I know I did nothing wrong and Simon never did anything wrong he was a perfect innocent little baby. I believe all babies go to Heaven and I like to think of Simon up there watching me.
You can contact Octavia at firstname.lastname@example.org