Mom to Xavier
July 7, 2013 – August 2, 2013
“Well, this sucks.”
That was the actual thought that went through my head as we were driving home from the hospital. Driving home without our baby. Without our little Xavier. I remember thinking to myself, no…that’s not the right emotion. That’s not the proper reaction. Why am I not having the proper reaction to this situation? I hadn’t been having the proper reaction to things all morning. Why do I feel so weird. I later learned that I was in a very deep state of shock and I didn’t fully understand what had happened until I saw my Xavier laying in his casket the day of the funeral.
Xavier was our sixth child. He was a surprise baby for many reasons. We had settled on Elizabeth being our last baby: my pregnancy was hard with her, she was premature and spent 14 days in the NICU, I hemorrhaged after her birth, and I was now over 35 which now made me “advanced in maternal age.” Yup, our family was complete.
Then I realized I was pregnant again. Complete shock wore off into excitement, then terror. I didn’t want another preemie, I didn’t want to do the NICU again. I was already extremely high risk and I was determined to make it to 37 weeks. I was SO excited though because I was going to get to do all the “firsts” all over again! Since we didn’t think we were going to have anymore babies, we had given all our things away. I got to shop for new baby things, new baby clothes, everything. My pregnancy was going well, ultrasounds were perfect, baby was healthy. Everything was going just the way it should.
Then, at exactly 35 weeks, it happened. My water broke. I knew it the moment it happened. It was the same thing that happened with Elizabeth. I was terrified. My husband tried to calm me and tell me it was alright, that maybe it wasn’t my water breaking and that we would go and get checked but it probably wasn’t my water. I wasn’t even having contractions! But sure enough, when we got to the hospital they confirmed it was and I went into hysterics. I didn’t want another NICU baby; I didn’t want to do that again. I was calmed down and told the same thing as last time, that he might not need the NICU, that some 35-weekers do and some don’t. After 7 hours of labor, Xavier came into this world blue/purple and not breathing. His cord was twice wrapped and choking him. Thankfully, the NICU team and doctors worked quickly and got him breathing. He was 4lbs 13 oz.
Xavier did have to go to the NICU, but only for 6 days. He made AMAZING progress and was sent home with us, happy and healthy. He had three well check-ups while he was home with us, and his last one was Tuesday, July 31st. The doctor marveled at how well he was doing. He was 6lbs 1oz and 24 days old! Everything looked perfect.
Two days later, on August 2nd at 6 a.m., I woke up into a nightmare. My husband was yelling, shaking me and saying something about Xavier not breathing. He wasn’t breathing. I don’t remember getting out of bed. I don’t remember getting the phone. I don’t remember calling 911 or talking to them. I remember my husband handing our baby off to a paramedic and thinking, “Well, that’s not right.That looks like a baby doll, not my baby…” I later found out my husband had been attempting CPR while I waited to flag down the ambulance. I don’t remember going to the hospital, but I remember getting there, walking down the hallway to the trauma room, and not one nurse looking directly at us. And I knew, I knew at that moment my baby was gone. John, my husband, didn’t realize it yet. But I knew. I remember saying goodbye to Xavier, rocking him. Watching John rock him. They were never able to revive him. He was 26 days old. SIDS was given as the final reason.
I was so weird that day. I remember people crying. I remember everyone was really upset. I remember not feeling ANYTHING and wondering why I wasn’t upset. I knew things weren’t normal but couldn’t figure out what. I knew people were coming to town, we were planning a funeral, I remember someone buying my kids new clothes and them getting dressed that day and thinking how nice they all looked, like they were going to a wedding. But no… they weren’t; it wasn’t a wedding. Why was everyone acting so weird. Why weren’t things normal? I remember calling the funeral home, asking if everything was ready. Did they need any help with anything, this was like a birthday party right? Wait, no, that’s not what was going on. Then my husband and I got there, and walked together, up to the casket. And there he was, my Xavier. Dead. He was dead. This wasn’t a wedding or a birthday. That wasn’t why everyone was there and dressed up. My baby was dead. This was his funeral.
And the shock began to wear off and the numbness stopped a little and I cried and cried, and remembered. The tears came, the words came, the despair, the emotions, the proper emotions, the everything. I said goodbye to my baby’s body that day, but I keep him in my heart forever. Instead of a year of “firsts,” we had a year of “first withouts.”