I’m not done and I’m not sorry. I’m not sorry that I can’t perfectly explain “what’s wrong with me.” I’m not sorry that I haven’t figured out what to say yet. I’m not sorry that other people have moved on and I’m still working on things. I will feel bad about a lot of things, but taking time to mourn my sweet boy is not one of them.
Today was a big day and I have a lot to process. We got the official death certificate in the mail today. The legal paper that certifies that my little piggy is gone forever. I knew that it was coming, it’s just so weird to see it on paper. I think of all those other legal certificates we have in our safety deposit box. They’re papers representing happy occasions: my naturalization papers, our marriage license, Benjamin’s baptismal certificate, birth certificates. Now we have something else to add to that stack- why is it that I’d rather just throw it away?
The cause of death is different from what we were told it would say. It reads, “arterial heart condition and unsafe sleeping environment.” Really? All those people who have told me this wasn’t my fault, and the official cause of death is that I failed to keep my child in a ‘safe’ sleeping environment? That hurts more than I can even express. I hope that everyone knows that I would have done and will do anything to keep my children safe in any and all circumstances. Who is this coroner who gets to pass judgment on me and my skills as a parent? I am literally falling apart at the seams as I mull this over in my mind. I can’t bear the thought that there is anyone on this earth who thinks I keep my children in unsafe conditions.
This person doesn’t know me. This person doesn’t know how much my children define me. How grateful I am to be a mother. How much I have prayed for the safety and well-being of my children. How many books, articles, magazines and websites I read to ensure that I raise my children to the absolute best of my abilities. How much thought I put into what they eat, what they wear, when they nap, what diapers they wear, when I should be introducing them to different skills… This person has no idea who I am as a mother, but all the time I’ve spent with Alex has been reduced to an unsafe sleeping environment, the sign of an unfit and careless mother.
We had Benjamin at Children’s hospital this afternoon. We had an echo done on his heart to ensure that he doesn’t have the same heart condition that Alex had. Benjamin was so brave and helpful as he sat still for 30 minutes while the nurse did a complete scan of his heart. He watched Dora and sat patiently until she was done. All clear. Benjamin’s heart is perfectly healthy, and the slight murmur they detected last week didn’t show any cause for concern.
While I should be relieved by this, I wasn’t really surprised. Lightening doesn’t strike twice on the same family, does it? After all we have been through, I couldn’t honestly imagine that we would have more trials to withstand as a family. God is kind and just- but He’s not crazy. No way He would put me through something that scary with my one remaining child on earth.
As we chatted with the cardiologist more, he explained a little more about Alex’s heart condition. He explained that this particular heart defect is the #2 cause of death in child athletes- that it’s a condition that can be completely asymptomatic, and that very rarely is it detected until it’s too late.
I almost didn’t want to know, but I had to ask. “Was what happened to Alex inevitable?” I mean, I was there when it happened. I did the CPR. I called 911. I was there for all of it. Was there any way that this could have been prevented? The cardiologist hedged a little. He said it’s impossible to know exactly, but based on his experience with children and this type of condition, he said it would have happened. He didn’t give us an age, or specifics, but he said this was going to happen anyway.
I know that knowledge doesn’t bring Alex back. It doesn’t really even prove that the Medical Examiner was wrong. There are two conflicting opinions and one baby who’s gone forever. And that is what I have to think about.
I don’t ask people to get involved. I don’t ask people to take on my pain. I don’t ask for sympathy or flowers or even a break from work. What do I think I deserve? A little space. A little benefit of the doubt. I deserve to go through the night without being accused of being “crabby” or without someone demanding, “why does it take you so long to think about things anyway?”
My thinking, my wondering, my pondering- that doesn’t hurt anyone, and I should be able to do it for as long as I need to. I don’t wallow in tears and I don’t shut myself out from the world. If I want to take a few extra minutes of silence because the coroner officially documented that my baby died because it was my fault, I think I’m entitled.