June 07, 2009

The Baby With the Broken Heart

Last year, a woman very dear to my husband had a baby... born with severe heart defects. There were other defects as well, organs on the wrong side of the body, but those were supposedly all fixable... the heart was a different gig.

The doctors were encouraging though, when they found it on the ultrasound. It was bad, very bad, but with the right care there was so much hope.

And she was born, and surgeries were done, and it was realized that the problems were far worse than anyone knew.

She needed a heart transplant.

They sent her home finally.

She was permanently on a vent.

And as poorly as she did in the hospital, she did the absolutely opposite at home. She was still a horribly sick little baby with the broken heart, but she seemed to thrive at home.

Odd, that.

Odd that we all knew how sick she was. We all knew how bad it was. But... I guess we were all still in denial.

She probably would not make it... but it is not something we talked about, not even really in my home, where it was spoken of frequently, in medical terms.

Not even in my home, where I had never met her, or held her, where we did not love her as family, but loved her from afar as friends of the family.

Who can not love a baby? Who cannot love a baby with a broken heart?

Our local newspaper did a big article on her on Mother's Day. The article was on all the Mothers in this very loved baby's family. One Mother, two grandmothers, two great grandmothers.... generations of love, one small baby, with a very small heart. They even did an article on the father on the inside page... so much love... so much love.

And our phone rang in the early hours this morning. Half sleepy, I looked at my husband and said, "Who was that?" blurry eyed looking at the clock.

He stood in the middle of the room... and told me the sweet baby was no longer.

Her heart had failed. She was gone. The middle of the night... seven weeks from her first birthday.

It has kind of messed with our heads here. We talk about it, talk around it, leave it, come back to it... we're lost.

How does one provide comfort to someone who has lost a child?

He said to me, "We knew it would come. But not now... in the back of our minds, we all felt she'd get that heart transplant, and it would all be better."

We had fooled ourselves, I guess. I think if I'd told anyone else the story of the sweet baby, they would have known it was imminent, but over time... we just started to cling to the hope. Perhaps it was God's will she be the miracle.

We take solace in the fact that the team that responded to the call to the house, was headed up by one of the best EMTs we know... a friend of the baby's family. It was if God put him there...

Her heart may have been broken, but she stole all of ours, and we never had the luxury of holding her. She stole it just on the virtue of being... her.

We will be attending a funeral this week, with a little white casket. I'm unsure how I will deal with this. As much as I deal with death and dying, more so than the average person my age, I am nervous.

I am sad, scared, angry, helpless.

I pray for her soul and for her family... may they have the strength to continue on and take solace in the fact there will be no suffering. Our hearts know no boundaries for love. Our hearts know no boundaries for grief.

May there be Peace.

Posted by Boudicca at June 7, 2009 09:07 PM

I am so sorry. My own heart is aching for your family, and for your friends most of all. You are all in my prayers for this difficult week to come. I know you will be right there with food, and big hugs, and loving support. It's what we do, when tragedy strikes.

Posted by: Mary at June 7, 2009 09:28 PM

Funny you should say that. All day I've been sitting here wondering what I should cook. Big Cuban family... there will be lots of food.

I think I'm going to do a few dozen of different kinds of cookies... people can eat as they come through the house. Munchy food.

I can do nothing... but cook. That sucks.

Posted by: Bou at June 7, 2009 10:09 PM

No, there is nothing you can "do", but being there, being there let's them know how much you care and that she was loved by many who didn't ever meet her. My prayers go out to her family.

Posted by: Teresa at June 7, 2009 10:16 PM

I am VERY sorry for the lost of this little innocent one. May God be holding her right now, this very second and may God give this family peace. The peace that she is with Him. Hugs to you!

Posted by: Anastasia at June 7, 2009 10:55 PM

Prayers to that family.

Posted by: oddybobo at June 7, 2009 11:09 PM

My heart breaks for any parents that loose a baby, there are no words for that....none.

food is always good.

I like to take a huge box of paper plates, napkins, powdered lemonade, coffee, pitcher, cups, plastic silver ware, toilet paper (so many people in and out) little packets of tissues for purses, and yes food.....

one of the best gifts I had seen one get after the passing of a child was a solar light for the garden, and a bench......The Mom said when she washed dishes at night she could see it in the back and it reminded her of how much this baby was loved.

Posted by: awtm at June 8, 2009 12:11 AM

That is so sad, Bou! My cousin's daughter was born with similar problems, went through many surgeries, and also died within weeks of her first birthday. Having seen this, I know that your presence and the support of all of their friends means the world to this family.

Posted by: PeggyU at June 8, 2009 12:21 AM

Prayers to the family...losing a child is one of the hardest things to ever go through. Sometimes the only comfort is that the sweet baby will not have to go through some of life's crap that is prt of growing up. She will always be pure and innocent.

Posted by: Mrs. Who at June 8, 2009 07:50 AM

Going to a funeral for a baby had to be the hardest thing I ever had to do. DH's cousins baby died at 3 months, they knew it was coming. The baby was born with birth defects and everyone was praying for a miracle.

I couldnt even look at that little white casket sitting there, I felt bad about that but I just couldn't, frankly it was horrible.

Posted by: Quality Weenie at June 8, 2009 08:14 AM

i pray that i never have to go to another funeral with a tiny coffin. there is truly no sadder day.

my thoughts and prayers are with everyone who was touched that sweet little baby.

Posted by: arcanai at June 8, 2009 11:42 AM


I don't have any words.

Posted by: GradualDazzle at June 8, 2009 06:21 PM

I think after AWTM's comment, I am making a care package. I think those are interesting ideas, on top of my baking.

I just... cannot fathom. It has been 18 years since the last funeral of a child, and I could so have lasted the rest of my life without facing that again. The heart ache... is just unfathomable.

Posted by: bou at June 8, 2009 08:59 PM

No words... I am so sorry.

Posted by: Jody at June 8, 2009 09:27 PM

I loved AWTM's idea of the practical basket of necessities. That is total genius!

Also, what about helping to write all the thank-you notes afterwards? That is always a hard, sad, boring task.

PS: still praying for you and the families.

Posted by: Mary at June 9, 2009 10:12 PM