The last time I wrote to you, I was bragging about my son being born. This time, I have to tell you about his death. I wish I didn’t have to, but I do.
Marc was big, happy, healthy, and smart. He was in the 99th percentile for weight. He doubled his birth weight in just 4 months! The cause of death, though we still do not have the official death certificate, is SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
The day he died was actually a great day. July 9th. We played together when he woke up. He was so talkative. We all relaxed for a while. I took him to the Commissary with me to get some groceries. He loved shopping, ya know. He would just look around at all the different things and bright colors. He would look at all the people. Each time we went, he would see things more clearly. He was always fascinated. This time, he placed his sweet little hands on the shopping cart as if to say “Here, Mom. Let me help you push the cart.”
As you know, I had an oversupply of milk. I donated it to a family. The little boy was only 8 months old, but the mom was pregnant and no longer had milk. We would go over for play dates when I dropped milk off. Marc never really paid much attention to the other little boy, but this time was different. This time, when I took him over, he was interacting with the other baby. He was laughing with and trying to play with another baby for the first time! It really was a magical day!
Marc needed a nap, so we left. We picked Moises and his friend up on the way home. When we got home, I got him ready for a nap. I undressed him, changed his diaper, and swaddled him (he would move his arms and wake himself up if we didn’t swaddle him). I propped him up on some blankets on my bed and nursed him. He fell asleep, so I left him there and left the door open a crack so that I could peek in on him. I know it may seem odd that I left him propped up, but he was always fine when I had him propped up on the couch with me. He was a very strong baby.
When I went to check on him, I couldn’t see him through the crack in the door. I opened the door and saw him face down in the bed. My heart dropped. I still have no clue how he ended up like that. I rushed to pick him up. It looked like he was asleep. I calmed down a little as I tapped him to wake him up. But he didn’t wake up. I didn’t get it. He was warm. He looked asleep. I bounced him to try and wake him up. I talked to him. Then I noticed he felt different. Holding him felt different. I noticed he wasn’t breathing. I yelled for Moises. I yelled for him. I went to the living room telling him that Marc wasn’t breathing. Moises looked for a heartbeat, looked for his breathing, but couldn’t find anything. Moises started doing CPR. Our friend that was there called 911. I just stood there, watching him do CPR on Marc. I couldn’t breathe. I knew he was gone, but I hoped he wasn’t. I prayed that he would start crying, that he would wake up, anything! I ran around, I called my mom, I watched more. People arrived at the house, they took over, I rode to the hospital in a police car, praying for my baby to come back. They worked on him all the way to the hospital. They worked on him after he got there. We just sat and watched. We watched them continue CPR. We watched the monitors for any change, any sign of hope. We sat there, helpless, as it settled in. The longer they worked on his tiny little body, the further away hope was. They called time of death just before midnight that day. Everyone cleared out of the room so that we could hold him. This time, he was cold. I now have a very literal experience of holding “dead weight”.
We both spoke to a detective and gave her our statements. I thought it was my fault. I thought he had suffocated. I thought my baby was dead because of something I did. It took me an entire day to realize that that wasn’t it at all. My baby was strong! My baby had strong neck muscles! He could lift his head and turn it to the side. I’d seen him do it. Even in his sleep, he turned his head to the side. He couldn’t possibly have suffocated. Still, I refused to tell anyone that it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. Of course, when I called the detective after the autopsy was done, she told me it was SIDS.
Of course I would never, ever do anything to Marc or let anything happen to him. Anyone that ever knew me or saw me with my son would know that. I love that little boy with all my heart. I would speak using past-tense, but the love for him didn’t just go when he did. All that love, all the maternal instincts are still there. It’s like a painful aching in my chest. The love for my son is overflowing with no outlet. It’s a different kind of love. The love for a child. It is equally intense as the love I have for Moises. It’s just different. It is the most amazing, pure, beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced.
People say that I am coping so well; that I am handling everything so well. I’ve been taking care of everyone. I’ve been sensitive to everyone’s needs. Everyone seems to be worried about how I’m doing. Taking care of people is how I cope with things. It’s how I heal. I say I’m doing okay. I’m not comfortable telling everyone these things. It’s hard to talk about it. It’s hard to listen to people. I don’t even cry around people. I’m not comfortable with it. There are only a few people that I can really talk to and cry with. Writing here is easier than talking to people.
I honestly have no clue where I am in my mourning. I’m afraid of everything. I hate everything. I am angry about everything.
I am afraid of doing things and going places. I’m afraid to go to the mall or to the Commissary. I’m afraid to go because those are the places Marc and I went most often. I’m afraid for the memories that might hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m afraid to be there when there are so many babies all around. I’m okay with babies as long as I can interact with them. But I can’t interact with every baby I see. I can’t avoid the tiny people with their parents. I can’t avoid hearing them cry and call their moms “Mama”. I can’t avoid the tears that come to my eyes because my little Marc will never cry again or call me “Mama”. I’m his mommy and I won’t get those things. I’m afraid of everything.
I hate myself. I hate my body. I can’t look at myself. I can’t look at my stomach. My body shows the signs of having had a baby. I have stretch marks, so many stretch marks. I didn’t care when I had Marc. I thought they were beautiful. Moises still thinks they’re beautiful. But all I see when I see them now is failure. My body went through this; I went through this. I’m supposed to be holding my baby. I’m supposed to have my baby. All I’m left with are empty feelings, empty arms, and stretch marks. What’s worse than the stretch marks are my breasts. When Marc died, they didn’t just stop producing milk. They kept producing and kept producing and kept producing. It was excruciating. It was miserable. I had to pump to relieve the pain. It broke my heart all over again every time I had to pump. I hoped and prayed it would stop soon. I wanted to dry up. And now that it has, it feels wrong. I’m sure it feels differently when you make the choice and wean a baby off of breastfeeding. I’m sure that feels rewarding. This does not. This feels wrong. This feels empty, like everything else. I don’t hate, but I hate people having babies and people that get to keep their babies. I don’t hate them. I just hate that they get what I don’t. I hate everything.
I am angry, so angry about everything. I only got 4 months with Marc. Only 4 months. Moises only got 2 ½ months. That’s not enough time! He was loved. He wanted nothing. He was perfect. He was amazing. He was taken from us. He was stolen from us. We were robbed! I deserved to watch him grow. I deserved to take him to his first day of school. I deserved to watch him graduate high school. I deserved to cry at his wedding. I deserved to hold his children and be their grandma. I deserved it all, but I’ve been robbed of all those moments. It makes me angry. I am angry about everything.
I guess that’s where I am.