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  • Writer's pictureJen Chappell

Share Your Story Tuesday- Atticus

Everything was fine until it wasn’t. I was 25 weeks and 5 days, on September 24th, when I went in for a regular check up with my OB. At that appointment my blood pressure was through the roof and I had protein in my urine. Did I know what that meant? No. But I was told to go to L&D to get checked over. Luckily, I had already taken the rest of the day off and the hospital was right across the street.

When I arrived, I advised the receptionist that I was sent over by my doctor and what my symptoms were. I was soon admitted and told I would be staying overnight to be monitored because it appeared that I had developed preeclampsia. I didn’t know I wasn’t going to leave until my baby was born and when I did find that out, I thought I’d be there for months. Turns out I would only be there for just over a week.

Our son was born via c-section, on September 27th at 6:55pm; with my boyfriend, Sean (now husband), by my side. He was swiftly taken to the NICU before I could even lay eyes on him. I made Sean go be with him because I hated the idea that I couldn’t be there with my baby. So he stayed the night (and every night until I was discharged) with our son. Aside from one night, which he spent with me because they moved me to the Mother/Baby ward and I hated hearing all the babies crying around me.

While I was still in L&D, I was told throughout the night how well he was doing, that he was breathing room air and that he was feisty (he kept pulling out his feeding tube). Thankfully, they wheeled in a monitor that streamed live video of him in his incubator. I didn’t sleep at all that night because I was just staring at his every move and watching his nurses carefully as they tended to him.

Around 5am they wheeled me in my bed to his room so I could finally see my son in person. The moment was a bit foggy, as I was still in the middle of a 24 hour magnesium sulfate drip (to help prevent seizures from the continued high blood pressure) so I was still trying to wrap my head around everything that was happening.

I spent the next 5 days healing from my c-section, learning how to use the breast pump, and walking (at first being wheeled) back and forth from my room to the NICU to bring what milk I was able to produce and to spend time with my son. After his first 72 hours, one of the nurses asked if I wanted to hold him. I, of course, said yes. My heart was pounding because I was finally getting to hold my son. I sat there as long as they would let me hold him, which was only about an hour, due to his slightly lowering body temperature.

October 2nd rolled around as I continued this routine and the doctor was advising me of his status which seemed to be declining slightly. I don’t have all the details of what he said to me, but he assured me that this was normal and they were running all sorts of tests to counteract what was happening. The nurses also said that there’s usually a “honeymoon” stage where they do really well at first and then there’s just “good days” and “bad days” until they are able to leave the NICU.

I was discharged later that day in the 2nd and my boyfriend took us home where we were able to sleep in our own bed for the first time since the 24th.

I woke up the next morning, on October 3rd, to a missed call from the NICU advising that the doctor had to put in a PICC line earlier that morning. I panicked, woke Sean up, and we rushed back to the hospital. When we arrived, it seemed like this was going to be the first “bad day” we were going to experience. The morning was up and down for him and at one point they asked us to leave the room for a moment because his oxygen levels weren’t stable and they had to put a breathing tube in for him.

When we came back in, we were trying to stay positive but the doctor said that he was continuing to decline and even more tests were being ran to find out why. We had to step out for just a moment to make a phone call and the world went sideways.

It was about 3:15pm when we came back to his room and the curtain was drawn. One of the nurses told us to wait for a moment and then she allowed us in. What I saw shocked me. They were doing CPR on our baby. Our 1 lb. 11 oz. baby. He was so tiny with such large hands at work to keep his heart going. I was shaking. I was crying. I was pleading to God to save my baby. Please, please save my baby. Then everything stopped.

The doctor looked at me and said, “we have to stop.” I thought this man was insane. You can’t stop! Why would you stop?! But he looked at me and said, “his lungs are bleeding, we can’t do anymore for him. Please sit down, both of you, so you can hold him while he’s still alive.”

The doctor placed him in my arms first and everything was blurry through my tears, but I looked at him and I know he was looking at me. I then had the wherewithal to quickly hand him to Sean; I needed him to hold him while he was still alive because this would be his first and only time holding him.

The doctor placed him in my arms first and everything was blurry through my tears, but I looked at him and I know he was looking at me. I then had the wherewithal to quickly hand him to Sean; I needed him to hold him while he was still alive because this would be his first and only time holding him. While Sean held our sweet boy, the nurses took out his breathing tube and we held him as he took his last breath. We sat there for hours crying on and off in shock.

We had some family stop by, not knowing what just happened, and the news was broken to them for us. My parents, who were away, FaceTimed me just to check in and I had no words, I could only cry, at which point they knew and cried with me.

We eventually moved to a room meant for grieving parents to feel more at “home” where we were able to spend more time with him thanks to a Cuddle Cot (meant to keep him cool). We agreed to have pictures taken with him by the kindest photographer who volunteers her time for grieving parents like us.

Then we said our final goodbye to him around 6:30am on October 4th (we got almost 15 hours longer with him thanks to the Cuddle Cot).

We walked out to our car, sat in silence all the way home, and then sat in the dark and quiet because nothing felt right. Listening to music felt wrong. Turning on the TV felt wrong. Talking felt wrong. A world once foreign to us was now all we knew. We were now part of the loss community and I didn’t know what to do. We now had to plan a funeral for our son who should still be here whether it was in the NICU or if he was still growing in my belly, I didn’t care, I just wanted a different reality than this.

Later, when my parents returned home before the funeral, I had said to my dad that I didn’t want him to be forgotten, so my dad spent the better part of 2019 writing and piecing together this song for our beautiful Atticus...

Here is the YouTube link for the song-

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