Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Losing a Child

My thoughts keep turning back to the Borovec twins, the headstone that we found at the graveyard cleanup project, and discussed in "When Pigs Fly". My sweet cousin found their death records, and we discovered that they died of “gastroenteritis”, a digestive issue of some sort.

How sad to think that they were unable to help them; this is something that with today’s technology and knowledge, they could certainly manage in any hospital. In 1917, it was another story. I know from my readings about the Flu Epidemic that doctors were not very well trained at that time, and had very limited resources anyway. Not much was really known about the body and it’s systems, and those who knew were generally not doctors. Did you know that back then, you didn’t have to graduate from any medical school, or even prove your competence? Truly a scary time to be sick!

It is apparent that it was either environmental or contagious, as both twins were affected. Was it something that they ate that caused gastric distress? Food practices also being suspect at the time, it may be that they ate something that they simply could not deal with as tiny boys, only three years old. (The age of TODDler!) Their parents may have eaten the same thing, and not been affected at all. Or was it a bug?

I of course think of their mother, who likely cared for them and watched them go, five days apart. To lose first one, and then, still grieving that loss, to lose the second. I cannot even imagine her pain.

Being a mother is the most important thing in my life, and I am dreading the day that my children move out…I can’t stand the thought of losing them in any other way. When I found out that we would be having Todd, it was a total surprise. An unplanned pregnancy. (considered as an ‘unwanted pregnancy’ by government agencies who track this sort of thing, but I assure you that unwanted and unplanned are two entirely different things!)

At 7.5 weeks, I began to hemorrhage. This carried on for days, and my doctor had no explanation. He told me that if I was miscarrying, there was nothing that he could do to save my baby. I remember sitting in his office, sobbing to his nurse. I was already committed to and loved this child more than anything. I couldn’t imagine losing him, even though he was something that we had not planned for.

Thankfully, it turned out to be a case of Placenta Previa, easily overcome and everything was fine. When he was delivered at 33.5 weeks, we worried again about losing him, but were spared any further concern, as he was healthy and hearty.

Being in NICU made you realize how very blessed you were. Babies all around us were struggling, having heart issues, breathing issues, and there was always the threat of losing one of them. I saw a note on the cart that they use to take baby photos with, indicating that if the staff was taking ‘bereavement photos’, to be sure to get the parent’s permission, signed. It reminded me that not all of the babies that I saw each day would go home. Even with today’s medicine, we still lose babies. Life is fragile.

My cousin lost a little baby, born too soon. He was so early that there was really nothing that they could do to help him. In years past, they called it a miscarriage, and treated it as such. At 17 weeks gestation, however, he was fully formed and beautiful. They were fortunate to have delivered in a hospital that allowed them to hold him, to love him, and to celebrate his very, very short life. They buried him in a ceremony sponsored by the hospital, and he has a tiny grave and everything. He lived. He deserves to be remembered. My cousin still misses him, even though she knows that she will see him again. She keeps his memory alive with her remaining children, and looks forward to the day that she will hold him forever.

It really doesn’t matter at what point you lose your child…you just shouldn’t have to deal with that.

I had an ancestor that delivered some 15 children, and only about 5 of them lived beyond the age of 10. Times were much harder, and accidents were frequent with the type of lives that they lead. To bury one child would devastate me. I suppose you would have to become somewhat hardened against the loss, having buried 10.

When Tux was a little boy, I had to take him to the oral surgeon to have some teeth removed. They allowed me to hold him as they gave him the sedative, as he was highly agitated. Whatever they gave him began to work almost immediately, as his little eyes glazed over and began to twitch a bit. Then he just relaxed in my arms and closed his eyes.

I burst into tears.

Not only was this hard for me to see, but a young boy in our ward had recently died, and I know his mother well. She had stayed with his body until they came to remove the organs that he would be donating, then held him as they took him off of life support and let him return home to his Heavenly Father.

All of this came back to me as I held Tux, knowing that in a short period of time, he would awaken and I would have him to hold. This Sister had to hold her son, knowing that he was leaving her. Through my tears, I tried to explain this to the surgeon, who was rethinking the wisdom of allowing a mother to see her child sedated.

We just don’t know how lucky we are, to have healthy children. It’s something to remind ourselves of every day, so that we don’t take our time with them for granted. Tonight, I am giving my boys an extra hug and kiss. Maybe two, one for each of the Borovec twins.

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