after Denae left, we spent time together in a way normal families do. we talked. we laughed. we cried. the girls colored and watched movies and played with toys and played with Gammy + Grandma + Grandpa. my dad arrived. i felt so relieved when he walked in. like he was the missing piece in being there. we hugged. we passed Max around so that everyone could have lots of moments with him.
at one point i was holding Max, and Alice came in and started singing to him. the girls have been totally into the Sound of Music lately (makes their mama so proud), and Alice's favorite song is the song, "So Long, Farewell" which she calls "the bum bum song." (let me explain -- she calls it the bum bum song because on the instrumental part after they say their phrases like "i hate to go and leave this pretty sight!", i always sing the instruments like this: "bum ba da bum bum bum bum bum, bum ba da bum bum bum"..... so she just started calling it the bum-bum song. i'm sure that makes a lot of sense to you reading this, huh? well hot dang. let's just say it's hard to explain why she calls it the bum bum song. plus it's irrelevant to my story. so. yeah. anyway.).
so as i was saying, i was holding Max, all the adults were in the bedroom, and Alice pranced into the room while belting out the words to "So Long Farewell" to Max. it was about the most tender thing in the world and we were all a hot mess, crying our lil eyes out. she just knew, you know? and lemme add, sometimes people just assume that Alice didn't really understand what happened and that she doesn't really get it ... but i think back on that moment, and many others similar to it, and i know that she did understand what was happening, and does understand what happened in her own 2-year old way. and while some may assume that she is too young to understand and too young to remember, i have to hang onto the hope that she knows -- and that her memories of Max will be real because of the real role she played in his little life. i have memories like that ... where i've seen pictures or heard so many stories from when i was technically too little to remember, and yet the stories feel like memories to me. i can see and smell and taste things. i can feel fabrics and see movement beyond the photographs. and i like to believe that Alice's memories of Max will be much the same.
(this is just a little snippit of the video -- i have a longer one i hope to share in the future)
the rest of the night was very long. we didn't know the night was going to be like this, so we had no jammies, no diapers for Alice, no toiletries ... nothing. my girls normally to bed around 8 -- and by 11 pm, things started getting a lil wonky (as you can imagine). a big thank you Grandma and Gammy who helped calm the girls in such un-ideal circumstances -- because they sure weren't easy that night, and yet we needed them there. i think we all needed each other that night.
and boy do they love their Max.
our favorite nurse, Molly (sweetest lady in the world ... NICU nurses are special people, i tell you what) came in around 11:30 pm or so and told us that when we were ready, it was probably time to take off his oxygen.
those things just aren't easy to do. the thoughts would come rushing back:
"you're giving up on him..."
"a good parent would never do this to their child..."
"this is killing him..."
"you are killing him..."
the adversary wants us to feel despair and be miserable, doesn't he?
but we were protected. Heavenly Father was carrying us, and because of that it was easy to push those thoughts out and rein in the tender mercies:
"He told us Max wasn't going to make it. this is part of His plan for Max, and i must trust in Him."
once we took the oxygen off, Max continued having breathing episodes - - except they were much more unsettling because the looming thought of "is this it?" was in the back of my mind, and all of our minds every time. thinking about that brings back the same anxiety i felt laying there on that bed with him. i remember thinking, 'no no no, i'm not ready. just one more kiss on his cheek.' and then i'd kiss him. and then i'd smell his sweet smell. it is one of my favorite things, and something i'm already starting to forget. i hate that. but that anxious feeling, it's still alive and well. i wish i could pick and choose the things that decide to stay around.
one of his breathing episodes happened around 1:00 am. a minute went by without Max taking a breath. then 2. then 5. then 8. this was it. we called the nurse down to come and confirm that Max had in fact passed away. she immediately came -- put the stethoscope to his heart, his lungs ... and confirmed that he had indeed passed. we all cried. M and i hugged. the nurse even cried! she excused herself to go and get the doctor, and we began passing Max around for everyone to say their goodbyes. the doc came in and my dad was holding Max. i don't remember what the dr. was saying, but i remember looking over to my dad who had a flustered, almost panicked look on his face. he was whispering something to my mom. later i learned it was the words, "um. he's breathing. this baby is alive!"
as my dad passed Max to the dr. she confirmed my dad's whisperings -- Max was in fact alive. how could this be??? what a little prankster! the nurse was totally freaked out - she kept saying, "i checked multiple times! and multiple places! there was no heart beat. i am certain!!" finally, she left our room, never to return. seriously! she had like 7 hours left on her shift and we never saw her again. poor nurse. and i know it sounds strange, but it was some much needed comic relief. we all laughed so hard that all of a sudden Max came back in my dad's arms....the poor guy was a little traumatized! i mean, that sort of thing just doesn't happen every day. we like to think that Max knew that it was just the type of thing to make my dad laugh....and, not many people know this, but it was my dad's birthday on March 15 .... so to me i see it as such a sweet gift for his Pops that he came-to in his arms on his birthday.
the rest of the night was a blur. i mostly remember whimperings from the girls' restless night, the cadence of Max's breathing, the sound of disney movies in the background, the whisperings of a worried Grandma and Gammy, and nodding off with Max in my arms.
and then it was Friday. the day i've been dreading writing about most.