A Tribute To My Son, Dante.


Today, October fifth, marks the thirteenth anniversary to the day that I was admitted into the hospital with my first baby. I had gone into labor at 23 weeks. They said if he comes now, he won’t make it.

It all started when I thought I was having contractions. I called my doctor and they said Braxton hicks (fake labor) were normal. When I went in for my doctor appointment, we found out that I was already in labor and three of ten cm dilated. The amniotic sack was hanging out of my uterus and could potentially ‘pop’ at any moment. He then immediately sent me straight to the hospital. 

The first day at the hospital was pretty scary. I was young and had never really experienced a situation like this. I didn’t know what I was up against. I wish I had been older, smarter and more educated about what was going on with my body and most importantly my son. Don’t get me wrong the nurses and doctors tried to explain as best they could. I remember thinking ‘he will be ok. No way is my luck this bad.’ Turns out, it was. I spent two long weeks in the hospital only allowed to get up to shower. I had many visitors during those two weeks to help pass the time.

One Evening, on October 19th, as I was trying to fall asleep, It felt like I was having contractions again. We called the doctors in and they rushed me over to labor and delivery, just incase they couldn’t stop the contractions. They gave me medicine and tilted my bed with my legs higher than my head. They told me to try to get some sleep, tomorrow might be a long day. As soon as they turned off the lights, I felt wetness running down my leg. It jolted me awake and I asked my boyfriend to look and see what it was. He freaked out and said “blood, it’s blood.” Before I knew it I had seven, maybe eight staff members in my room. They said the baby needs to come out now. I told them I wasn’t ready because my doctor wasn’t there and I needed my doctor to do it.. Why that mattered? I don’t know.. I guess because I had told my doctor I didn’t want a C-section and I was scared and thought there was something more my doctor could do. Before I could finish explaining, they were wheeling me out to surgery. I was scared to be cut open. I was scared for my baby. He had just hit the 25th week and it wasn’t looking good for his survival.

Staying awake during the procedure was the worst experience of my life. I was so upset and hysterical that I passed out at one point. The nurse had to smack me to get me to wake up. A few moments later, which seemed like forever, he was out. He let out two little squeaks. I will never forget those squeaks. They are the only noise I ever heard him make. After he was out and breathing, they put him on my chest so I could see him and man was he tiny.

He was born on October 20th, 2008 at 12:34 a.m. He weighed one pound ten ounces. The reason I started bleeding was because he had pulled his umbilical cord out and both of us could have bleed to death. I wasn’t aware of this until later. They rushed him off to the N.I.C.U. while they stitched me back up. That was the worst part. They pulled so hard on me. I knew my body was being raised up off the bed.

He looked so small and fragile in his big bed. They had him on oxygen and on all kinds of monitors. He was sleeping. Cheryl was the name of the nurse who admitted him. She was his main nurse and loved him so much. She had a passion for what she did and I couldn’t thank her enough. She took tons of pictures and made a little diary of all of his days with her.

I remember the day things took a turn for the worst. I was sitting in my hospital bed and they had called me and told me that he was having some issues and I needed to come see him. Turns out he had blood rush to his brain. The outcome of that can go two ways. The best result would be if the blood basically evaporated and left the brain with no damage, Or the blood can soak into brain essentially eating it and leaving holes behind. They wouldn’t be able to see the results until the blood has left the brain and that could take a few days.

When they got the scans back, they showed that he was not in good shape. His brain had holes in it, lots of them. Leaving him basically with no quality of life, possibly a vegetable. He was also refusing my milk and his stomach was backing up. He developed pneumonia from being on oxygen for so long. The valve to his heart (that closes at birth) opened back up.

They told me we needed to make a decision on what we wanted to do. Keep him on life support and he could maybe live to see ten. Or take him off life support and save him from a lifetime of pain. My parents made a good point of leaving it in Gods hands. They felt God knew what he was doing. He would take care of Dante in the right way. On his terms, whatever that might be. I was young and wasn’t fully aware of what that looked like. I didn’t want him to suffer. I didn’t want them to drill into my perfect little babies head. He had been through so much. How could I dare put him through more. Time was running out.

Fifteen days into Dante’s life, the time had come. We had made a decision after lots of thoughts, prayers, and tears. I wanted my baby boy, but I didn’t want him to suffer, not just for me. Not for my selfish wants and needs. It was time to let him go. I gave him his last bath, dressed him in the clothes I was gonna take him home in. We packed up all his stuffed animals his visitors and nurses had given him throughout the days (which my daughter now has.) He had a lot of visitors that day. The staff broke the rules for us and let multiple people in at a time. They even put up a privacy wall for us. Everyone got to hold him one last time.

With all of our immediate family waiting for us in the Chapel, we wheeled him down the hospital halls to say his good-byes. It was the longest hours of my life. His favorite nurse had come in on her day off to take care of him and our favorite Preacher came to pray over him.

When the time came, I picked him up, the nurse took off the bag that was providing him oxygen. I then took a picture of him without any of the machines attached to his little body. I know it sounds weird, but it is a special picture. The only picture he looked normal in. He was totally sedated so he couldn’t feel anything. I made sure he wasn’t suffering, as that was the last thing I wanted for him.

Late into the night, Dante was now with the Lord. Most everyone had left. His nurse was still with us along with my parents and one of my sisters. The staff lead us down to the old N.I.C.U. that wasn’t being used at the moment. I still had Dante’s body in my arms. When we got down there I sat in a chair and just held him. I knew this would be the last time I would see his perfect little self. It was hard to imagine everything that his body went through in those 15 days. Yet none of it I can see externally. He still looked perfect to me.

The nurse took his footprint in clay and ink. I had brought a few of them for family members to keep as well. I used the ink ones as a stencil for a tattoo that I put over my heart. I kissed his head and we said our goodbyes. This moment was the hardest thing I had to go through in my 21 years on this planet. Losing a baby in any way shape or form is devastating no matter how long the baby lives or didn’t live. We left the hospital around 2 in the morning. I left without my baby. I left with just memories and a cart full of his items and flowers. I said goodbye to the nurse and drove home.

Footprint tattoo over my heart.

My son did have a few highlights to his life. He did get baptized and dressed up for Halloween. Someone had made a bunch of small costumes for the babies. Dante was a joker. He also got a few baths that he loved.

Sense then I got married and had 2 more children. Each pregnancy was easier than the last. They diagnosed me with an incompetent cervix so I had to take shots every week after 20 weeks for both pregnancies. My nine year-old daughter is my rainbow baby and my precious son is two. They are very precious to me. I thank God for them and I pray over their health everyday. We never know what tomorrow could bring. So hold your children close. Be patient. Show them your listening. Most of all, cherish every moment no matter how small!

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