I was scared… too scared to visit my son in the NICU. This scenario had played out before in a different place at a different time and I knew what was going to happen. For the third time in my life, I would hold my child and he’d slowly fade away from this world and into the next. I envisioned what my life would be like bouncing from one mental institution to the next with my husband in the grips of anxiety over his wife who was permanently, irrevocably broken. Eric would trudge himself to work with bags under his eyes and his chest heavy and I would talk to myself and cry in fetal position for all the days of my life.
I remember apologizing. I remember telling him I was sorry for what our future would be like, for the damage I was about to do to the man I loved the most. I confessed to Eric that my heart, my soul simply not bear the loss of another child. My body is not built to create or keep life and my arrogance to think differently was about to result in another death, another child here and gone too soon. I deserved the punishment that was about to happen and I agonized over the thought that my husband would suffer as well… and then I went numb.
In the early days, I refused to see my son and worked hard at convincing myself that I didn’t love him. You see if you don’t really love someone and then they die, well it’s sad but not life impacting. My mom counseled me saying, “…but Audrey, he is going to live!” The nurses encouraged me to visit the NICU and I pushed back until they made it sound like I didn’t have a choice. I don’t know if the medications were clouding my brain or if it was the tone they used, but I suddenly got the feeling I would go to jail if I didn’t get out of my bed and into the wheelchair to see my son.
As Eric wheeled me down the hall, I had a flashback of the last time this happened; the moment I was wheeled out of a hospital with empty arms and a heart that truly felt it had physically ripped in two. Bracing myself for what came next, I entered his room and saw my baby boy intubated and struggling to survive. I remembered holding Thomas and Marcus and how I was able to tell them how loved they were before they passed and in that moment it dawned on me how selfish I had been. This boy needed to hear that his mom loved him as well. I opened the door to his incubator and whispered in, “I love you, more than you will ever know.” At that moment I realized, that whether I wanted to or not, this love was unstoppable.
It’s been 5 years since that day and yes, mom you were right. He lived! My life is blessed by the presence of a child who is persistently stubborn and determined to pave his own way in life. Henrik is a strong willed child and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am forever grateful that this one, I got to keep.