One year ago, today, just a couple of hours before the new year, my water broke unexpectedly and prematurely with Zachary. The gush and the instant shrinking of my swollen abdomen left me gasping for air, begging for logic and reason and instinct to kick in and tell me what the hell to do to help my baby boy. There was so much blood. Horror-stricken and believing he was already dead, we raced to the hospital, leaving C.T. asleep in his bed, our neighbor running to our house just ten seconds behind us. I remember sobbing in the car as B and I contemplated the cruelty of losing another son and what we presumed would (now) be a double life sentence of parental grief. I prayed for Zachary and for my sanity.
An hour later, we saw Zachary on the ultrasound screen, full of life and responding incredibly well to having lost almost all of his fluid. The gratitude I felt for his life in those first moments of knowing he was alive, after having lost B.W., is nearly indescribable. But it was also immediately overshadowed by the fear of what was to come, and the near certainty that my third son would arrive prematurely. It was just a question of how soon.
While much of the central time zone was ringing in the new year, I was being pumped full of fluids, precautionary antibiotics and magnesium sulfate to stall my labor. I received the first of two critical shots to speed Zachary's lung development. Laying flat in a hospital bed, legs anchored by compression boots, catheterized and then relieving myself via bed pan, 24-hour monitoring of Zachary's heart rate and my contractions, was suddenly my new minute to minute existence.
Looking back, I desperately wish I would have been stronger for Zachary, that night, and for the week I spent laying flat in the hospital before he was born. I was so terrified for him, and I was in so much constant pain. I often wonder if by sheer will power, or by some form of calming meditation, or by not shifting around so much in that miserable bed, I could have delayed his birth by another day. Maybe then he would have been assigned a different NICU room where there was no exposure to the bacteria that senselessly ravaged his perfect little body and brain and eventually took his life. The burning regret for any part I had in Zachary's demise, no matter how far fetched, nearly consumes me at times.
If Zachary were here, if he would have lived as all expectations and prognoses suggested, we would be celebrating this day. We would be giving thanks for the intervention that stymied the close call on New Years Eve. As much as I try to focus on gratitude for the three weeks with Zachary that followed, my heart knows that this night last year, was actually and unfathomably, the beginning of the end for him.