As the days slowly went by Mason was looking better and better, giving us hope that he was on the mend. It was only until the Consultant Pediatrician told us that they had taken Mason off the cooling bed and had started warming him up to normal temperature which would mean if he could, he would wake up. The concerning thing is that he hasn’t and really should have by now which indicated and confirmed their thoughts. Mason has suffered lack of oxygen to the brain, bleeding and brain damage. The extent of the brain damage would be determined by an MRI which would show how much of the brain was effected. Waiting for the results to that MRI was the end of us. We felt like zombies, numb, stuck. Deep down I knew the results wouldn’t be good and that Mason wouldn’t be coming home with us.
And I was right. When the Consultant Pediatrician told us to arrange a meeting for us and our families we knew it wasn’t the news we hoped for. Mason had suffered irreversible brain damage and the survival rate was low. That was the end of me. Those words went through me. I don’t think I absorbed it because somehow I seemed to have already been told this. Deep inside. My heart was broken already from day one of Mason’s life.
Our families were heartbroken. Robbed of their first grandson and nephew. We were robbed of our first child. Our hopes and dreams. My beautiful baby boy. My mummas boy. I would never hear my boy cry, laugh, say I love you, hug me back, kiss me, look at me, move. I would never get to show him the nursery his dad and I built with him with so much love and excitement. I would never get a mother’s day card from him. My world ended.
Saunders and I walked back to our room. Quiet. Numb. Heartbroken. Do you know what it feels like to go back to the happy maternity ward where everyone around us was celebrating their new arrivals. Where you would hear babies cry every hour of the day and night. We felt like everyone knew we were that couple that weren’t bringing a baby home. We felt like everyone could read our faces.
As Mason was only being kept alive by his breathing tube, we decided that it was cruel to keep him going. He had suffered and fought enough. He didn’t need all those tubes, to be poked and prodded. So we organised his last day on earth to be surrounded by family. The hospital arranged for us to have a private room for the next day where we could spend the whole day with him. We could take as long as we wanted, to hug and to hold him, to talk to him, to wash him, to kiss him, to tell him how much we all loved him and how proud of the little fighter he was. That we weren’t mad at him and to not be scared.
I wanted Mason to be baptised as I had planned to when he was supposed to come home at the church where I was baptised. The hospital arranged for this. Our wedding photographer reached out to me and asked if I wanted to have photos taken free of charge which was so generous of her and I accepted. These photos would be all I had. I will never forget her act of generosity. I had to pick out a little outfit for him to wear on Mason’s last day. I remember pulling out my brand new Mimco baby bag my girlfriends gave me filled to the brim with all Masons new clothes and outfits, nappies, dummies, booties, hats, things he was meant to wear but now will never get to. It was painful going through that baby bag that I was so excited to pack and had put so much thought into.
Going to bed that night was quiet. Saunders and I just held each other all night, knowing that we were going to be saying goodbye to our son. I felt bad even going to bed thinking we needed to be spending every spare second with Mason in NICU but we were exhausted and the next day was going to be a tough long day and we needed our energy. We didn’t sleep anyway.
The next day I wanted to pack our things so once we had our final goodbyes with Mason we could leave the hospital immediately. We didn’t want to stay at the hospital any longer. I tidied the room. I had a shower. I picked out my going home outfit with Mason I had prepared before he was born now to go home without him in it. I put on my make up and did my hair for the first time before labour. I wanted to look good for my son. I wanted him to see me look like my normal happy self even though I was dying inside. Saunders put on his favourite shirt and jeans. Then we headed to NICU to meet our waiting families.
There he was, in bed 13. The only bed he had slept in or known. That bed was his home. He was beautiful. Sleeping peacefully. Mason had less tubes in which hurt because it just confirmed to me there was nothing else that could be done for him. No more machines could help fix him. My beautiful baby boy. Did he know that it was his last day? He looked so peaceful. The nurse asked for his clothes to be changed into. I had two things picked for him, a jumpsuit in a size 0000 and one in a size 000. The jumpsuit in size 000 fit him. It was this beautiful white jumpsuit with blue stars on it. I also gave him a blue cardigan to wear. When the nurses said he was ready and in his clothes, I turned around and saw him.
I no joke screamed out loud “MY BEAUTIFUL BABY BOY”…this innocent, beautiful baby boy in the cutest little outfit. Blue was definitely his colour. This was the first time I saw my son in clothes. The last 6 days he wore just a nappy in his little bed. But here he was, such a handsome little man. I cried and cried and cried to the point the nurses had to put up privacy curtains around us. I didn’t care. I was in pure awe at my son in clothes. How beautiful and smart he looked. Like what a baby should look like when you bring them home. But in stead it was an outfit for his last day on earth. The outfit to say goodbye in.
After I finally contained myself, we walked into the room that the hospital had let us have for Mason. It was called the Butterfly room and I assumed this is the room little babies say goodbye to their families in. A simple room with two couches, and a sink. The sink is used to give parents their babies their first and last bath in. We hadn’t bathed Mason yet but we were going to get the opportunity to today.
Our photographer arrived and she started taking candid photos of us and the family with Mason. Saunders held Mason first and this was Mason’s first hold with his daddy. I was given my first hold a few days after arriving from the previous hospital (my most precious and favourite memory of Mason, see previous post), but because of all the tubes it was difficult for a hold in NICU but now it was daddy’s turn finally. The first thing Saunders said was “I can’t believe how heavy he is”….yeh well you try carrying him around for 10 months mister! It was a beautiful moment between father and son. It was very quiet but it was nonetheless beautiful. Saunders inspected each hand, each finger, each nail, each foot and each toe.
Finally he was up close with his son. My heart breaking watching them together, wishing they had more time together, to go cruising in daddy’s love of Holden’s, to attending car shows, to afternoon walks in the pram after work. But Saunders didn’t look angry. He looked happy. Happy at his beautiful son, even though deep down I know his world was crumbling.
I didn’t go next. I wanted our families to meet and hold Mason and get to spend as much time with him as they could since we already had 6 days with him. I wanted to be the last hold and cuddle. So each family member had a hold with Mason, each whispering in his tiny little ear how much they loved him, how proud they are of him, how beautiful he is. I remember how lovely the nurses were, each new hold with someone would mean we had to call the nurses back in to help lift Mason and reposition him carefully so the breathing tube wouldn’t fall out. I remember feeling so bad calling them asking if they could come back in as a different family member wanted a hold. They assured me that it was more than fine and I could call 100000000000 times if needed and to take our time. There was never a finish time with Mason but I knew eventually there would be.
I remember seeing my mum with Mason and it just killed me. My mum had been wanting to become a grandmother the moment Saunders and I said “I do”. I remember when we announced it to my parents I pranked them. I showed them the clip of our 12 week ultrasound and mum thought it was a Facebook video where something jumps out of you. Then she thought it was a mouse, then a dog. Then she clued on it was a baby. A dog?? Really mum?!?
My mum had bought clothes, toys, shoes and books well before I was even pregnant. She even took her long service leave for the month of July just so she could spend time with her grandchild. But now it was her day to only get her first and last hold. It killed me. This whole time I was focused on how much Saunders and I were robbed and hurting that I forgot our families were also stolen of their “firsts” too.
The priest arrived to do Mason’s baptism. He was a friendly priest, who stumbled in, seemed nervous and was all over the place. He had said he hadn’t done a baptism at the hospital in a while and we could all tell. During the baptism all I could focus on was his massive rip in the side of his suit pants and I could see his boxer shorts. At such a serious time it was all I could look at, like a car accident, you shouldn’t look but you keep looking anyways. After the baptism I looked at Saunders and when I saw his face I knew he had seen the massive rip too.
After the baptism, remaining family members had their first and last holds with Mason. I remember trying to allow each member enough time with Mason but also in the back of my mind just wanting to be alone with him. I wanted my time. So after everyone had their holds, they left Saunders and I to have the remaining afternoon with our beautiful baby boy. Up next was our first bath time!
As new parents, the first bath is such an important family and bonding time. We had set up the bath at home for Mason, all ready to go with our blue finding Nemo bathtub and toys, but instead, we were to give Mason his first and last bath in a hospital sink. As the nurse undressed Mason, this was the first time we would see Mason nakey. I sight I hadn’t seen during the 6 days. I got to see his chubby little bum connected to those chubby long legs. His little doodle! I was warned by mothers that changing baby boys nappy’s was a lot of fun when they squirted on you almost 99% of the time. I couldn’t wait to change nappies! But I never got to be peed on.
The nurse had to hold Mason up in the sink because of his breathing tube, but Saunders and I could wash him. We attended to Mason so carefully, washing every bit of skin we could reach. Inspecting him, looking at his little fingers and toes, cleaning every crease and gap. I kept squeezing his little feet under the water, trying to grab every memory I could fill in my heart of these little feet. I was obsessed. He felt so warm and squishy. My little gnocchi baby.
Once this precious family moment was over, it was time to put Mason’s nappy on it change him into outfit number 2, the goodbye out fit. I had the first hold in with Mason, I thought I’d give Saunders one of Mason’s firsts. I let Saunders put Mason’s first nappy on from his parents. (The nurses only changed Mason due to the tubes). I remember Saunders being so so so gently and careful. He was nervous but he was successful, although he did put on the nappy too loosely and the nurses joked that all first time parents do this but you need to tightly secure those nappies on.
Since I found out that Mason fit size 000, I had only one other jumpsuit he could fit into. It was this emerald green leopard print jumpsuit that I thought at the time when I bought it that it was so funky and cute. I remember packing my hospital bag with Saunders and he pulled this outfit from Mason’s cupboard, and said “what about this for Mason’s arrival?”…I was like “hell noooooo! Its ugly!”. I was in charge of Mason’s fashion. I love fashion and trendy baby clothes and had been buying so many clothes for Mason’s impending arrival.
(Told you I was bad!! All this before the firs trimester was over!)
But the look on Saunders face when I said no made me feel bad, so I packed it anyways, thinking in my head “I’ll just keep him happy and pack it, but won’t use it”. I pulled out this green leopard print jumpsuit and Saunders and I dressed Mason for the first and last time. We were so careful, it took us ages to put his jumpsuit on mainly because of how extremely careful we were. Again the nurse laughed at us and said that putting clothes on isn’t an easy task on babies but we can be a bit rougher than that! Finally Mason was in the green leopard print jumpsuit. And there was silence.
That ugly green leopard jumpsuit that I thought wouldn’t look good on any baby fitted and looked absolutely gorgeous on Mason. I thought the first outfit we put him in was beautiful on him but this kid could seriously make a hessian sack full on manure look good. I looked at Saunders and we just burst out laughing. How did Mason pull this off? Does any colour not look good on him? We were in pure awe of our boy. Mr fashionista. Saunders face was priceless. And also a touch of “I told you so”.
We wrapped Mason up and the nurse put this hat she found that was the only one that would fit Mason’s big head (he so got that from his mumma #proud). We then proceeded to the couch with our son as a family for our final moments and goodbye to our beautiful baby boy.
Professional photos courtesy of Tizia May Photography.