“You’re a hero, Ms. Henderson”. Dr. Hall quietly called the time of death as he knelt in front of the rocking chair, where I sat holding Elijah’s miniscule body. Once the respirator had been removed, it only took an hour for Elijah’s soul to leave this world.
Nothing about this moment made me feel like a hero. My premature baby boy, born at twenty-four weeks gestation and weighing only one pound and fifteen ounces, had just died.
After fighting for his life for twenty-four days, his mother made a terribly painful choice. His mother. Me. The one who couldn’t protect him in utero when, at twenty two weeks into my pregnancy, my appendix ruptured and went misdiagnosed for three days.
The one who couldn’t protect him, when close to my own death, I was forced to undergo an emergency open appendectomy. Despite receiving a lower dose of pain medicine for a horribly excruciating surgery, the stress of the ordeal sent my body into preterm labor. I failed Elijah at every turn. (more…)