The next thing I remember is Dr. M, Dr. H and Jeff walking in my room. My heart dropped.... This can't be good. But Jeff looks okay. It doesn't look like he's been crying. Where is Ethan? Who is with him? I thought the surgery was supposed to take longer than this. This can't be what I think it is. Ethan was so healthy. Why are they here? All these thoughts and more flew through my mind between the time they walked through the door and stood near my bed side... probably 15 steps, 10 seconds.
But the looks on their faces said everything. The first words out Dr. M's mouth were "I'm very sorry." I don't remember the exact words he used after that. It was all a blur. But I do remember him telling us that they did all that they could, but Ethan's heart and lungs were not able to keep him alive.
Dr. M asked us how we wanted to inform our family. He offered to tell them if we wanted him to. We accepted his offer. I didn't think I'd be able to get the words out. They worked on gathering our family into a L&D room near mine, while Jeff and I had some private time to ourselves.
A few minutes later, one of the NICU nurses brought Ethan in the room. Jeff and Ethan and I were able to have some alone time with Ethan. We studied all his sweet features. We held him, kissed him, and squeezed him. He was so so perfect.
After a while, we asked the nurse to bring Ethan's grandparents in. Each of them had a chance to hold their sweet grand-baby. We cried and talked about how special he must be. Meanwhile, the hospital staff did their best to take care of our families. They allowed them to stay in the L&D room near mine and they brought them snacks and fruit.
Then we had the rest of the family come in our room a few at a time. They all got the chance to meet Ethan and give us hugs. There was not a dry eye in the room. By that point, the anesthesia was really wearing on me and I could hardly keep my eyes open. But I knew how special this time was and I didn't want to miss a moment of it.
Around 8pm our families headed home. I decided to get some rest while Jeff and a nurse from the NICU got hand and footprints of Ethan. Then my L&D nurse came in to tell us that the photographer would be coming at 9. I wishfully said, "9 in the morning, right?" But she said "No, 9pm... in about an hour. Ethan will look best tonight." My heart sank a little. How am I supposed to take pictures after all this? But I knew that the hospital staff had done this many times and if they said Ethan would look best in his pictures tonight, then we'd better do them tonight. I slept as much as I could while Jeff and the nurse gave Ethan a bath and made him look his best for his pictures. Then Jeff helped me brush my hair so I could look decent for the pictures too.
Right at 9pm, the photographer came in our hospital room. He asked us if we had any wishes for these pictures. I told him a couple things that I had seen that I liked and then he took several wonderful pictures of Ethan. We were able to use the afghan that my grandmother crocheted in the pictures. She had made it for us for when we would bless Ethan. But I think this was good use of it too. And I love that now we have such a special blanket for our future children.
(Funny story: Right as we were getting ready to take the family picture I felt a rumbling in my stomach. I couldn't move fast enough, so I just started shouting, "barf bag, barf bag!" Jeff luckily grabbed one in time, but the photographer had to leave the room. It only took a few moments before I started feeling fine again so I told the nurse she could go get the photographer. I guess he told her, "I knew if I didn't get out of there, I'd start doing it too!" Oops, sorry...)
After our photo shoot, Jeff and I were left alone. The nurse I had this night was so tender, kind, and compassionate. Exactly what I needed. She told us that we could have Ethan as long as we wanted, but that she could take him at any time. And if we changed our minds she could bring him back. She also told me that they would be leaving me on this floor until I get discharged. (Instead of moving me up to the recovery floor with all the new babies.) Wow, how wonderful! I didn't even realize how hard that would be and I'm so glad they thought of that for me.
By 10pm Jeff and I and Ethan were asleep. What a long/crazy/important/life-changing day.