October 26, 2008

Reflection: This isn't happening to me.

After telling my midwife this week about an excellent book on grief that I just read (The Angel Letters: Lessons That Dying Can Teach Us About Living by Norm Fried), she reccommended a couple of other books about losing children. Though they are mostly about miscarriages, stillborns, and losing a child right after birth, I have found insight in them in regard to grief and healing. There are a few things that I need to do to work through my grief for Evan. Most importantly, I will be working on my own Angel Letter for my little Angel, Evan. In the mean time, I will be using prompts from Silent Cradle by Morrow and Gordon called "reflections" to work through my grief stages. The first is denial: this isn't happening to me.

What were your first inklings that something was wrong? What did you tell yourself was happening? How did you deny what was happening? At what point did the inevitable become clear to you? What were your feelings then?

On the morning of September 23, 2008, I was lying in bed tossing and turning and going in and out of sleep. I was VERY pregnant and VERY uncomfortable. Tymon came into our bedroom just before he was to leave for work and told me that he'd just found Evan under the big bean bag and had to check his pulse to see if he was okay. I was groggy. I didn't understand what Tymon was saying. I asked several questions about what he meant and tried to understand how far under the bean bag he'd been. I thought how amazing our bodies were. Even in a tight space, we can find sources of oxygen. I imagined Evan getting air through the weave of the fabric and in between the foam pieces that make up the "Love Sac". This photo is of Tymon with Elliott, Evan and Graeden on the bean bag. It is 6 feet across and weighs 65 pounds.

I asked Tymon where Evan was now. He'd put him on the boys' bed and I asked him to bring him to me. That was my first inkling that there might be a problem. He brought him in and Evan looked asleep, yet his body was hot. I mean really hot. I just felt his chest and I knew that I didn't need to take his temperature. We just needed to get him some medical attention. I thought that Evan was in a coma. We didn't realize that his blue/purple-ish lips meant that he wasn't breathing or having difficulty doing so. Tymon gave him a blessing, we called my parents to watch the boys while we took him to the hospital. All the time, I thought Evan's condition was serious, but not life threatening. We have 4 boys. We don't sweat the small stuff. They fall down and get hurt all the time...but it NEVER crossed my mind that this trip to the hospital would be the last time we would buckle him in a car seat.

We got to the hospital and a lady at the info desk took us straight to the ER and I was moving at record speed. I was feeling grateful that Jocelyn wasn't sitting on a nerve at the moment and incapasitating me. They took Evan from us in the ER and the next 30 minutes seemed to be about 5 minutes to me. He had 24 doctors, nurses and technicians surrounding him in a well coordinated effort to save his life. Tymon and I each had a lady next to us explaining what was going on and what all the numbers on the monitors meant. One nurse's job was to stand off to the side and just keep record of each intervention tried and each medication given. A guy and a girl went back and forth doing chest compressions for the CPR. They kept Evan's heart going about 80 beats per minute. He had 6 shots of adrenaline in his heel to try and jump start his heart. Another nurse had an oxygen sqeeze bottle thing to breathe for Evan. I kept thinking that at any moment Evan would respond and start breathing on his own. It wasn't clear to me that he wasn't participating in the process. When the pediatrician who'd been called in from the NICU told us that things weren't looking too good, I just ignored her pessimism. Doctors usually don't believe in miraculous happenings. I do. Evan got a blessing. He was going to be made whole.

The lady stationed to me took us out of the room and asked us if we wanted to call our families to have them come. We just looked at each other and said no. In my mind, we'd call them as soon as we were out of the ER and admitted to a room upstairs. I was oblivious to her real message: Evan wasn't going to be worked on much longer.

We went back in and we could see that little Evan still hadn't responded. I asked if we could have a private room to talk in for a few moments. She showed us to a room and we knelt in prayer. I prayed first and pleaded with Heavenly Father to help Evan respond. Then Tymon prayed and asked that the Lord's will be done. We both felt an incredible peace. We headed back to Evan's room and I was ready for the Lord's will that Evan live come to pass. I don't think we were there more than a few minutes when they said that they'd been doing CPR for 45 minutes and Evan hasn't responded. Several of those helping had left the room while we were gone. For the first time, I approached Evan's head and whispered into his ear, "Respond, Evan, please respond." I know miracles happen when mothers work their love with their children. But why didn't he respond? At this point, I still thought that he'd respond. Someone said that they were going to stop and I blurted out, "No! I don't want you to stop!" I want my boy.

They stopped and one by one everyone left the room. The head ER doctor offered his condolences. The two that had been working chest compressions each left with tears in their eyes. AND EVEN THEN as I held my little boy, I imagined that he'd start breathing again. Even then I couldn't believe what had just happened. He felt like Evan and was soft like Evan and smelled like Evan (except an occasional medicinal odor). In holding him, I came to understand that Evan had really just died. It didn't seem real. And then the tears came. They flowed. I and we were devestated. And beyond us, Evan's older brothers, aged 4, 3, and 2 didn't know yet. We didn't know if we should have them come to the ER or not. We didn't know how to tell them or what to do next. We didn't know if we should pull Jovana, our exchange student, out of school. We didn't know how we should handle anything. The only thing we knew is that we wanted our boy back. We held Evan for an hour before our family started trickling in. After another hour and a half we interviewed with the coroner and detectives. We got about 20 or 30 minutes more after that to spend with Evan. My feeling then and now is an intense sadness, a yearning to hold him and have him hug me back, a longing to hear him laugh.

9 Riveting COMMENTS:

  1. Bridget, thanks so much for being so open in sharing this process with us. As a therapist I have been curious as to how this process is going for you and yours. As a friend I have prayed that your family will be blessed in this process. I hope you always know that no one can tell you to move on or get over it. This process will be different for each of you and the grief stages are often more like a cycle - frequently repeating themselves. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with you and Tymon and your loved ones. God Bless and thanks again... your transparency with this tragedy is a blessing for many.

  2. Honestly, a mother should never have to lose her child. A mother should never have to experience the horror you have been pulled in to. It all just seems wrong doesn't it? I have the very same pictures of my baby in the hospital and the very same pictures at the funeral home and the very same pictures at the cemetery. You are not alone my friend.

  3. Grief has no order or linear paths and the journey takes all different kinds of twists and turns.

    There are many people that love you and will support you.

    Thank you for writing this post.

  4. DAMN IT! I'm so angry! I grieve and cry with you, Sweet Bridget! I'm so pissed off that Evan is gone! And there's no one to be pissed off at, I know that. The feeling of helplessness that I feel must only be a fraction of what you feel. And I hate that! I want that pain on me, not you. You just give that pain to me, sweet Bridget, and I will go through it for you!!!!!!!
    -Wait. . .If I feel that much love and devotion to you to want to take your pain, then maybe I am feeling a fraction of what the Savior feels. You are not alone, babe! Go through the process. Take each step. You deserve to heal properly. Call anytime. I love you!

  5. Thank you for sharing this experience with all of us. It's so hard for me to read your posts about Evan, but it's so uplifting to see someone retain so much faith in the face of such a tragedy. A friend of mine has this quote on her blog that made me think of you:

    "Making the decision to be a mother is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart walking around outside your body."

    And I would imagine that losing a child is like losing your heart...

    Hang in there.

  6. Thank You for sharing!

    I still ache for you!

    I still pray for you!

  7. Thank you for sharing your heart Bridget, it is quite unbelievable to me as a mother to imagine the pain you went through that day.
    I know from my health care experience in ICU that the staff was doing everything humanly possible to save little Evan.I can see in my head what the staff was doing for your precious Evan, and I know that this did indeed touch each and every one of them and more than one tear was shed that day by them for your wonderful family.
    I know God will continue his work with you and your family as you heal. God bless.
    Love always

  8. Hi Bridget, thanks for a look inside your grieving process. It must be hard to write, but I'm sure it helps. My family has told me about your loss, and I am glad to have found your blog. We are praying for your family.

  9. What a great reflection Bridget. I hope this has helped you in your grieving process. It sure has helped me in my mothering process...just to treasure each and every moment with my kids, because you never know when that moment will be the last earthly moment. This is easier said than done so I return to your blog often for inspiration. Thank you!


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