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Mom to Aaron James Brooks

September 28-October 26, 2012

Raleigh, North Carolina

I replay every detail in my head of Aaron’s story over and over again. I lay in bed at night and relive it. I long and ache for my little one.

September 28, 2012 I was scheduled for a 25-week check-up. The doctor’s office was about 30 minutes away. Normally my husband would accompany me on these visits. That morning he was planning to, but we got into a fight. I told him that I would just go alone. Thankfully, though, we made up and he came with me. We left our oldest son with a babysitter, and we were on our way.

I was sitting in the waiting room, and I mentioned to my husband that my back hurt. We were called back and the nurse asked me if I was in any pain. I told her it was about 4 or 5 on the pain scale. Then we were sent into the room to wait for the doctor. I went to the bathroom, and I noticed blood in my underwear. I had some bleeding in the first trimester but hadn’t had any for about 10 weeks or so. I thought, “Oh no, not this again.” Meanwhile, the pain in my back was getting stronger and I told my husband that I thought I was having contractions.

The doctor came in, and I mentioned the bleeding and pain to him, and he told me he was going to check me. I was already 2 cm dilated. The baby’s heartbeat was perfect. The plan was to admit me overnight and monitor Aaron and I. I started freaking out. I knew that it was way too early for any of this to be happening. The contractions were getting stronger and stronger, and I was hit with waves and waves of nausea. I asked for cold paper towels but the pain from the contractions was so intense, I was doubled over in pain.

They took me straight up to Labor and Delivery, still planning on examining me more, but by the time we got up there, I couldn’t even sit up. I was put on a gurney and taken to surgery for an emergency c-section. I couldn’t even say goodbye to my husband, but I was so glad to have him there with me.

I had to have general anesthesia and the doctors and nurses were telling me to breathe and that I had to breathe deep for the medicine to help my baby. I took deep breaths, and the next thing I knew, I was awake in recovery. Aaron was born at 12:10pm weighing 2lbs, 10.3 ounces and measuring 15 inches long. I didn’t get to see him the day he was born because I had to recover from surgery. My husband visited him in the NICU and took pictures of him for me.

The nurse practitioners on his team came to us and gave us tons of bad news: he had a Grade 3 brain bleed, and he was very sick. My heart sunk in my chest. I didn’t understand anything they were talking about. I wanted to see and hold my baby. I wanted him to still be safe in my womb. I was taught how to pump breastmilk and was doing that every 2 hours. I got to see him the next day, when I was wheeled down. He was so little but so beautiful.

The next 28 days we spent in the NICU were the most hellish days I could ever imagine. It was filled with so many ups and downs, sometimes in the same day–calling the nurse every morning, losing countless hours of sleep just waiting for the phone to ring. We were called back to the hospital multiple times telling us that we needed to come down there–that this was the end.

The last week of Aaron’s life, we received a phone call telling us that we needed to sit down with the team and discuss his prognosis and what we were going to do about it. Aaron’s left lung had multiple collapses and holes. When he breathed in, air just escaped right out. He was on his breathing machine, but it was doing more harm than good. He was suffocating, essentially. The doctor wasn’t sure that he would even make it through the afternoon. Yet, Aaron did. He kept fighting and holding on. The doctor told us that Aaron himself would let us know when he had too much; when he couldn’t fight anymore.

On October 25, 2012 we came in the morning to see him. He had held on through the night. There were multiple doctors and nurses around his bed and even a chaplin, which freaked me out because I thought he had already passed, but he was still fighting. Around 6pm I got to hold him for the first time. It was the most joyful moment of his little life. Then his daddy held him and then both of his grandmas. We took turns holding him till about 1am,  and he tolerated it wonderfully.

That evening we stayed at the hospital, and I got sick with emotion. I was shaking and throwing up. On October 26, 2012, we woke up and we went to go see Aaron. He had air reaccumulated in his chest, but the chest tubes were doing their job.

Around 5pm we went back in to hold Aaron again.  Aaron never really tolerated being moved that much.  Whenever he would be touch or moved his blood-oxygen levels would always dip for a little while.  When I got Aaron on my chest it was no surprise that his levels were low, but this time they kept getting lower and lower.  The nurses started to try and give him manual breaths from the oxygen rather than on the ventilator, but his stats kept on going down.

As all of this was going on, I looked at my husband, and we both knew that this was what Aaron wanted.  He wanted to be close to his mommy and have his daddy right next to him.  He wanted to be in the most comforting place that he ever knew, and he found that, they day before in his mother’s arms.

We decided to take him out of his pod and into a private room down the hall.  So I held Aaron, and my husband held me, and the doctors and nurse walked with us. Throughout this whole time we were whispering “I love you” and “It’s okay” and kissing Aaron to let him know that it was going to be okay and that he didn’t have to be afraid.  When we all got to the room we sat on the couch.  We held Aaron close, we told him how much we loved him and how proud of him we were.  We both kissed him sweetly and held him close.  Then at about 6:30pm, God welcomed one of his strongest fighters back home.

I ache. I long. I desire my little boy so much. I cry. I grieve. I get tattooed. I get pierced. I hang out with people. I avoid people. I take care of my 20-month-old son. I make dinner. I order dinner out.  I cry. I shower. I wear pajamas all day. I cuddle his blanket. I look at his picture. I get a puppy. I hate the puppy. I decorate for Christmas. I pretend. I fake. I ache. I long. I collapse. I escape. I am an empty woman.

Nothing fills the void. Nothing makes the pain go away. I miss my baby so much. I just keep asking myself why did this happen, and I am met with no answer. I love you Aaron, and I miss you so much.

 You can contact Torie at brooks.torie@gmail.com.

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