Sunday, July 08, 2007

In memory of little boys

When I was pregnant with our first son, at a time when I believed that we had cleared the hurdles of our previous pregnancies and had finally broken our curse of bad luck, a friend mentioned that sometimes, once that stage of pregnancy was reached, if I laughed or coughed, I might, well, to put it bluntly, leak a little. I filed that bit of information away for safe keeping, and soldiered on. One night, I woke with a horrible leg cramp, and while walking it off, I suddenly felt a great deal of liquid runnng down my legs. While racing to the bathroom, I silently chastised my friend, thinking that she had greatly under-exaggerated, and that what I'd just experienced was quite a bit more than a little leak. And then I realized that the "leak" hadn't stopped. We grabbed our pregnancy books, and it slowly dawned on me that what I was experiencing was a premature rupture of the membranes, a very premature rupture. We quickly drove to the hospital, where our worst fears were confirmed. My waters had broken in the 25th week of pregnancy, and so the nightmare began.

I suddenly found myself lying in a hospital bed, getting up only to go to the bathroom or to shower. I was lonely, miserable and frightened, and there was nothing I could do about any of it. All we could do was wait, knowing that the longer our baby stayed inside me, the greater his chances were for survival. Together, we managed to hold on for about a week, which is when I began having terrible stomach pains. These pains, of course, turned out to be contractions, and a few hours later, following an emergency c-section, our first son was born, weighing all of 700 grams. And all of this occurred nine years ago today.

The next six-and-a-half months were perhaps the most intensely draining I've ever experienced. The first four months were spent in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). As many parents of premature babies will tell you, it was like being on an emotional rollercoaster, where some days went by without a hitch (which is considered a good day), and other days the situation took a turn for the worse, and you fear that all is lost. You can assess how serious your case is by the seniority of the staff member who explains things, and we were practically on a first-name basis with the director of the neonatal department. To this day, we are in touch with the staff members there, who are still a part of our extended family, and no one was more excited than they were when the Little One was born, just over three years ago. Anyway, after those initial four months we transferred to a children's hospital in the center of the country, and spent the next two-and-a-half months doing shifts, in order to ensure that at least one of us was there at all times. Some days we both stayed, just so that we could see one another for more than a few hours at a time. Once all surgeries were behind us and our baby seemed to be on the mend, we finally began to talk about taking him home, but then he got sick again, and he just couldn't fight anymore.

As I said, this all happened nine years ago. We have, for the most part, moved on with our lives, and we have been blessed with the Little One, whose mission seems to be to keep us on our toes at all times. The loss is always back there somewhere, but it doesn't rule my life; it doesn't define who I am. My life is the normal life of any sleep-deprived, caffeine-craving mother of a toddler – indeed, many of the people who entered my life after this period have no idea it even took place. It's always there somewhere, though, somewhere in the back of my head, waiting to surface as life dictates. It surfaced a few weeks ago with the sickness and death of that little boy, and obviously, it surfaced again now, on what would have been our child's ninth birthday.

On the day of the other little boy's funeral, I began to think about words that a bereaved mother might find comforting. I was on the train, coming home late at night, and the phrases started coming together in my mind. When I got home, I grabbed a pen and paper, and the words just tumbled out as I thought of two little boys whose lives were cut short. I've never really considered poetry to be one of my strengths, but this is what I wrote...

"Fragile little arms wrapped tightly 'round my neck. Through love and pain, laughter and tears, fragile little arms remain, wrapped tightly 'round my neck.

Time is playing games again and nothing stays the same, save fragile little arms wrapped tightly 'round my neck.

Worlds are spinning, moving, crashing; the grip is growing lighter. Pulling, tugging,
wrenching free, fragile little arms wrapped loosely 'round my neck.

The warmth around my neck is gone, replaced by shards of ice and stone. Checking once, checking twice, unbelieving, not accepting that fragile little arms are gone.

Fragile little arms float freely now, drifting through the skies, softly, slowly drifting, off to parts unknown. Gently oh so gently, fragile little arms are safe again, wrapped forever 'round my heart."


Nicole said...

Can't believe it has been 9 years already. My thoughts are with you now, as they were 9 years ago.

Yaeli said...

Liza I'm crying so hard I can barely write this. Wish I was there with you to give you a hug.

Emah S said...

Liza, hugs, that was intense. hugs.

Stefanella said...

Wow. Liza. I knew but not on that deep, personal level. Whew...Does a person ever come to terms or find answers?

Life Out East said...

Lost for words! Sorry to hear about that Liza, must have been hell. Do you think it's changed the way you are with your son now?

nrg said...

you know my thoughts.... and how strong I think you are. The poem was lovely. Some day I will print it out and give it to my friend here. When I think she can handle it. Need to go stop crying now. Love you!

RR said...

Oh, Liza. I'm so, so sorry for what you and your family had to go through. I can't even imagine how hard that must have been.

tafka PP said...

Thank you very much for sharing this with us all.

Liza said...

Nicole: You can't believe it's been 9 years... I still remember that we lost him in the middle of the night before the big company party, and I didn't let any of you know until the next day, because I didn't want to ruin the party.

Yaeli: No need to cry, sweetie. Ups and downs, but I'm okay. You know that!

Emah S: Thanks for the hugs. We could turn it into a group hug with Yaeli if you'd like...

Stefanella: It's more about learning to live with the new reality. It's simply part of who I am. I made the decision to go on, and not to stay stuck in that very bad place. I'm always on the lookout for answers, but it's not the force that drives me as it once did. That being said, I am on a first name basis with my geneticist at Hadassah, who gets a kick out of telling people that she can talk to me like a colleague.

Life Out East: Thanks, friend. I think it does, to the extent that while there are definitely times that he aggravates me, I do my best never to take him for granted, and even though he's already 3 years old, there are still times when I look at him and can't believe he's actually ours (and then inevitably become all teary-eyed). It makes me feel like I've won the jackpot or something.

NRG: Never would have gotten through everything without you, and of course, I love you too. Now stop crying! ;-)

RR: Thanks. I'll let you in on a little secret. The fact that I can talk about it and that others can learn from my experiences has made it easier to bear. After we lost him, I made a promise to myself that if I could ever help others going through something similar, then our loss wouldn't have been totally in vain. I've kept that promise.

TAFKA PP: You're welcome.