I'm sprawled out on the couch in Max's nursery, thinking.
One week ago tonight I was thinking about this nursery I'd cleaned and prepared the day before, which I then knew I'd never bring Max home to.
One week ago tonight we were saying our goodbyes to our son.
Last Monday, Tyler and I had spent the morning at home putting Max's nursery together, in hopes that we would bring him home in a week or two. The plan was to attempt extubation the next day. Max had been consistently breathing over the ventilator for days, and we hoped he could continue to do so without his breathing tube. We were nervous, but hopeful. So, in trying to remain positive, we'd let my parents stay with Max that morning while we set up his furniture and put all the clothes away in the dresser. Then we rushed down to Primary's to see our boy.
We got to the hospital, and my dad came out of the NICU looking worried. He told us that Max had been having trouble breathing and they had sent for an Xray. When we got back to Max's bedside, the nurse looked relieved to finally see us and said that the Nurse Practioner really needed to speak with us. My stomach felt like someone filled it with lead. I knew this wasn't good. Max had slept all day Sunday, and today he looked gray and even more lethargic. I knew that look... infection. Before she could even speak, the tears in the Nurse Practitioner's eyes confirmed all my fears. It was all about to end.
Max would never see the nursery we spent all morning preparing for him.
Many times over between Monday afternoon and Wednesday morning, I thought to myself what a waste that morning had been. I was angry with myself for spending my time away from Max, and for something that was now pointless. I wished so much I'd left it alone and just gone straight to the hospital that morning.
Wednesday morning came, and we left the hospital for the last time. We drove home brokenhearted, on no sleep, in a blizzard. Before I could get downstairs, Tyler hurried and shut the door to the nursery. We thought it would be a painful reminder that Max was gone.
When we woke up a few hours later, we made our way down the hall and slowly opened the door. We stood there in the doorway for a minute, taking a deep breath before we could step in. At last, we walked hand-in-hand into the room and sat down on the couch. We were quiet for a long time, tears streaming down our cheeks. I kept waiting for the inevitable ache, the pain that would surely take hold of my heart within this room. But it didn't come. Instead, peace washed over me. I looked over into Tyler's eyes and he smiled. We were not alone.
Suddenly, I felt so grateful we'd stayed home to prepare this space for ourselves, and for Max. We may not have brought him home in a baby carrier or laid him to sleep in this crib, but he was here in this room with us. This beautiful, peaceful place was a room for his spirit to reside in our home. He was here. He was with us. And he's been here every day since.
So, here I sit, like I do at some point each day. I sit on the couch and I hum him a song, read him a story and tell him how much I miss him. I sit and I think about him, talk to him and feel the peace of his presence. All throughout my days I miss him and long for him, but here in this room I know he's here. Here, in this room, is my happy place.