Seeing stars and saying goodbye

The previous blogs I had written literally flowed out of me from heart to keyboard and I was excited to write them. This blog took me a few days, I don’t know if I was subconsciously trying to put it off as once I did write this blog then it would confirm Mason was no longer here on earth with me, his dad or our family. And I didn’t want to admit this.

There was a knock on the door and the Hospital’s Pastoral Care representative walked in. Saunders and I had been speaking to this lovely lady during our stay with Mason. She came into the room with a box to give us. It was a box from The Miracle Babies Foundation. A memory box that the hospital gave to parents whose babies had lost their fight in NICU to keep precious keepsakes, moments and memories in. She gave us a book that she said was very popular and special. She also had another gift to give us. She had told us that she looked high and low for the perfect memory quilt for Mason. Something special for our special beautiful baby boy. Something that would make her and us think of Mason. And then she pulled out this.

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I burst into tears. I wailed. I screamed.

She pulled out this beautiful blue quilt with a polar bear looking up into the night sky at the brightest star in the sky. This lady had never seen Mason’s last day outfit. She didn’t know he was wearing a blue cardigan and his jumpsuit had blue stars on it. It was unbelievable. IT WAS PERFECT. STARS STARS STARS. Mason was going to the stars.

As Saunders and I walked to the couch with our world in our hands to sit down together, alone for the first and last time, the room was calm. The nurse positioned Mason comfortably on my lap, with his long chubby legs resting across Saunders. The Consultant Pediatrician came into the room and told us that we can have as much time with Mason as we wanted and when it was time to let him go, to give him a call on his extension and he would come in and remove his breathing tube. He promised us that Mason would go peacefully and quickly, it wouldn’t be disturbing or painful.

We were alone. Finally. No one else in the room but Saunders, Mason and I. Mummy, Daddy and baby. How it should have been from the start. From Mason’s first breath. When he should of been put straight into my arms. When we were supposed to stare at each other lovingly. When I was supposed to comfort his first cry. But instead, our first time alone as a family was to say goodbye and to put him to peace.

The first thing I did was rip off the hideous hat the nurse placed on Mason’s big head. I remember saying to Mason as soon as she left the room, “That is disgusting! My Mason can’t be seen looking like that!”, ripping it off. (But in saying that, that nurse that day was amazing to us and Mason and did everything she possibly could to make Mason’s last day the best day it could be and I will never ever forget that). My Mason will always be dressed fashionably! We can’t have this raggedy hat!

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I told you the hat was feral.

We all laughed and then sat in silence. The room was calm. We just looked at our beautiful baby boy. Every detail, every wrinkle, every strand of hair, every toenail, every eyelash. Saving everything in, knowing that this was our last chance to take in everything with our son.

We kissed Mason everywhere. There was no spot of skin that didn’t get touched by his mummy and daddy. I felt like I had to make sure I covered everything, I wanted to make sure I had seen and touched every single part of Mason. I wanted to let him know Mummy had been there. I didn’t want to miss a thing. As I am writing this paragraph my heart is bleeding and the tears are flowing. This is why I put off writing this blog as its so painful but at the same time that time with mummy and daddy was so peaceful for my baby Mason.

I told Mason how much I was so proud of him. So proud. Like he didn’t have to stay with us til the end, he could have left this world straight after birth, or within a few hours, but he stayed because he knew how excited I was to become a mother and to finally meet my overdue baby. My cheeky little monster, the one who wouldn’t let me sleep for 6 months as he kicked all night. I knew then that I had to enrol him into boxing and Muaythai like I had done. I dreamed of watching him in competitions with his little boxing shorts and gloves, bursting with pride. Being that mother on the side lines yelling abuse and threats if anyone hurt my son. Instead I will be left with videos of him kicking inside me, my own private show.

Mason is such a fighter. Everything he had been through and to still stay to allow Saunders and I to be parents and do parent things with our baby amazed me. I will be forever grateful to have been able to meet you Mason, to tick off the activities on the parent check list. Kisses, cuddles, hugs, first story time, feeding him with little cotton buds with my milk on them, first bath, first nappy change. Thank you my beautiful boy for letting me be a mother to you those 6 days. For giving me a family. For having my own mummy’s boy. Thank you thank you thank you.

I pulled out the book the Hospital’s Pastoral Care representative gave us. Saunders and I looked at the book and cried. This book was perfect to read to our beautiful baby boy for the last time. It spoke of what our hearts wanted to tell him. Saunders and I each read a page from the book to our little Mason, with expression, with funny voices and with so much love. (This book is now living in Mason’s room, hoping to be read again to another precious baby one day). The book is called “Guess how much I love you”.

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I don’t think a book could ever be written that expressed how much love I had for my beautiful baby boy though. Look at all the other books in Mason’s room! I got so excited with all the books about Mummies! I couldn’t wait to read these all to Mason, together alone during our late night feeds! Poor Saunders….didn’t really get any about Dads hey haha! I know, how selfish! But as I said, Mason is a mummy’s boy!

How do you know when it was “the right time” to let your baby go? We had spent the whole day with Mason, from 10am with family and it was now reaching after 5pm. Poor Mason being passed around, kissed and cuddled, it was a long day for Mason too. A long hard 6 days. We were physically and mentally exhausted. I didn’t want time to stop. I wish I didn’t have control of this. I wish someone came in and said “its time”. But it was up to us, mummy and daddy to let Mason go when we were ready. Ready? How are you ever ready? We didn’t have a game plan, we didn’t discuss how to do this or when to do it, but I remember looking at Saunders into his sad broken eyes, his looking back at my sad broken eyes and exchanged that look. The look of its time to let our beautiful baby boy go. To let him be free of all the tubes, the poking and prodding, the tests and the breathing tube obstructing his mouth. Saunders asked “Are you sure” and I just nodded. The time then felt right.

We dialled the extension number into the phone and moments later the Consultant Pediatrician and Nurse came in. We didn’t have to say anything, they just nodded and proceeded to take the tube out of Mason’s mouth. I remember watching him take it out and thinking “wow how long is that tube”, my poor Mason. They told us that it could be a few moments when he passes to maybe a few hours but they predicted he wouldn’t stay long. They walked out of the room and let us be alone once again but for the last time.

There he was. Mason in full view. Nothing blocking his gorgeous face. For the first time we saw Mason as how he should have been. There was nothing blocking his mouth and we could finally see what Mason looked like. There they are, those beautiful chubby cheeks, fat luscious lips and button nose I had seen only in ultrasounds. My god he was perfect. How did we create this? How?! He is perfect. We just stared and stared at him.

I hugged Mason so tight. I never let go of his little hands. I wanted to be there for him when he slipped out of my arms. I didn’t want him to feel alone. I wanted him to know that his mum and dad were right there with him and to not feel afraid. We told Mason for the final time how much we loved him, how much he was so so loved, how proud we are of him and of being his parents. We promised him he will always be our beautiful baby boy, our number one, the one we love the most. I promised him that I will never forget him, that I will never replace him and I will never, ever stop loving him and that the moment his heart stops, so did mine.

We thanked him for the honour of being his parents. How lucky we were to have him. I told him that we aren’t mad at him. That we knew he fought so hard but couldn’t stay. We thanked him for giving us his time to allow us to become parents and to do parent things. I told him to not be scared or be afraid because I will always be right there for him and that there will never be a moment that goes by where I won’t be thinking of him. I can’t remember the number of times I told him I loved him whilst holding him. Making sure he heard everyone one before he left us.

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(Above pictured is our last moments. There is the phone we used to dial the nurse to help Mason be positioned for hugs and holds, to dial the Consultant Pediatrician to take the breathing tube out, the last book we read to Mason, the 10th box of tissues, Saunders coffee, my water and the half eaten muesli bar that Saunders and I shared from the Consultant Paediatrician, who gave us to eat, since we hadn’t eaten anything for the last week, who felt hopeless and so sorry for us that he had to do something as there was nothing more he could do).

The last thing I said to Mason as we held him so tight was to always look after mummy and daddy. To give us strength to live through this world without our beautiful baby boy. To help mum get her sleep back since she had problems sleeping and had terrible pregnancy insomnia over the ten months, sleeping on an average of 3 hours per night. To always know that mummy and daddy loved him so so so much and that we were the proudest parents on earth. That its ok to go now, to sleep peacefully, to not fight anymore.

And just like that, I could feel a shift in the room. I know you have heard stories about when people pass, something changes, or you feel something, or the hairs on your arms stick up etc and you think yeah yeah what a load of bullshit. BUT I did feel something, something was different. I just knew. As a mother I knew everything I could learn about being a mother to Mason those 6 days. Even though Mason never moved for me, I felt him move inside of me and I knew he had taken his last breath on earth.

I looked at Saunders and said “Mason is gone”. He asked if I was sure and how did I know, but I knew. My baby’s heart stopped and so did mine. Saunders called for the Consultant Pediatrician to come in and he also confirmed Mason has now left for the stars.

We spent a few more moments just staring and holding our precious baby boy. It wasn’t a traumatic ending, there was no screaming or cries, no hyperventilating or tears. Saunders and I wanted to hold it together for our son on his last day. We didn’t want him to see us crying or in pain. That’s why every candid photo that was taken of us was of me or Saunders smiling with pride. Everyone had cried and wailed around us but we didn’t want that. We wanted our son to see us happy, proud, loving. I wanted Mason to see me smile. That whole day I had the biggest smile, I was proud when showing everyone my son. I will forever be proud of my first born.

We gave Mason back to the nurse and she put him back on his little wheelie bed. I kissed Mason, said I love you my beautiful baby boy and walked out of the room.

Saunders called his parents and they picked us up from hospital. We sat in the back of the car silent. I felt at peace knowing my beautiful baby boy was resting, sleeping, finally at peace. There were no more reports to wait on, no more false hopes, no more guilt of not spending every waking second in NICU, there was no more staying in the maternity ward with every happy excited mother holding their new additions to their lives. It was just Saunders and I. As we were, walking into hospital together and out alone.

During the car ride home, I looked up into the sky and thought of Mason. I don’t know what I was thinking of at the time but I just wanted to know he was ok. And guess what happened.

I saw a shooting star.

Saunders missed it but I saw it. I screamed with joy. It was Mason. He was going to the stars. He was telling mummy I am on my way.

And that night I slept for 6 hours, the longest I had ever slept in nearly a year, just like I had asked of my beautiful baby boy Mason.

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