The seasons in William's life are beginning to change. As the leaves continue falling from the trees, our baby's life is beginning to fade.
Wednesday morning, I didn't feel him move at all. We went to our appointment at CHOP and his heartbeat was present and within normal range. As the day continued, I felt only small movements...a tap here, a thump there. Thursday came and went with nothing but one or two weak sensations of movement. I felt uneasy, knowing that just days before William's kicks were consistent and strong.
On Friday morning, as the sun rose I called CHOP. The doctor told me that I needed to do a heartbeat check that morning. He didn't say it aggressively, but I could tell he was serious. We made a quick plan to go to our local doctor for a heartbeat check and if there wasn't a heartbeat, we would continue on to CHOP. My husband went to work until the local office opened. I began packing.
As I gathered my things and put them in the bag, I kept glancing in the mirror. I knew that this could be the day and it was possible I wouldn't be pregnant for much longer. I lay my hand on my stomach, soaking in the image of my baby still in my body.
We went to the doctor's office and the nurse found his heartbeat immediately. I was relieved, but couldn't shake the feeling that something was still terribly wrong. Why isn't he moving?
The doctor from CHOP called me a few hours later and explained that William has entered into the final stages of his condition. His body is weakening and he will now spend most of the time sleeping, in a semi-conscious state. His systems will slowly shut down and his heart will be the last thing to stop. She assured me that he is not in pain and will not suffer. The timeline is uncertain. It could be hours, days, or maybe weeks before he passes.
When the call ended, I gasped and began sobbing. I wasn't shocked. I knew this was coming, but nothing prepares you for the moment you truly realize your baby is dying.
With a heavy heart, my husband had gone back to work and my mom was spending the day with me. We lay our hands on my stomach and cried. We told him we were there and that we loved him.
I write this post as the sun is rising. Tears stream down my face. I think back to spring, when everything was new and hope overflowed in my heart. William's life had just begun and I spent long hours daydreaming about the future.
Summer arrived and William grew. As the world outside flourished with life, our sweet baby kept getting bigger and bigger. I fell more deeply in love with him.
As summer ended, we learned of his condition. In utter shock and pain, we entered into fall.
Fall began with grief and uncertainty. But my heart began to change with the colors of the leaves. I was determined to see the beauty of this season. Even though autumn is a time when the lush landscapes fade away and a chilly darkness begins to fall, it's always been my favorite season.
Endings can be beautiful.
I decided to embrace the autumn of William's life, to search for beauty amidst the pain. Of all the seasons of William's life, this has been the most precious. The time we've spent together as a family will be a treasure to me for the rest of my life.
And now winter is upon us, both outside and within my heart. It is a time where life does not truly go away, but is hidden from our sight. Unless there is a great miracle, for which we always hope, William will be born into his life in Heaven and we will continue living here without him.
And so we wait for winter.
We wait with William.
Because that is what we do when we love someone. We stay with them through every season.
We hold their hand
and hold them close.
We speak words of love to them
and then we let them go.
So with an anguished but grateful heart,
I gently stroke my belly where William sleeps,
because I cannot yet hold his hand.
I hold him safely in the center of my body,
because I cannot yet hold him in my arms.
I speak softly to him, telling him that he is dearly loved.
And when God chooses...