Happy 11th Birthday Buddy

Dear Levi,

Today it feels like yesterday.

Yesterday, when I landed in San Francisco to frantic voicemails that I had to return home immediately.

Yesterday, when I rushed into the UC hospital labor/delivery room where our high risk OB doc sat us down and so gently and lovingly explained that you were going to be born that day and there was nothing left he could do.

And that you would be alive.

But that you wouldn’t live.

That the odds of you living were so impossibly low they weren’t even going to have a neonatal intensive care unit on hand.

It feels like Yesterday, where I called the head of the NICU unit at his home and begged, with sobbing and pleading, that he would send us a NICU team in the remote chance a miracle could happen. That the 22 week estimate of gestation were off by a week, and that 23 weeks could provide us a chance and MY GOD I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES AND HE SHOULD TOO AND I DO NOT GIVE AN EFF WHAT THE STATISTICS SAY, and that maybe the infection wasn’t actually septic. Maybe they were wrong.

Or that BY GOD and PLEASE GOD AND I AM BEGGING YOU HERE AND DOC YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO HELP ME SAVE HIM DO NOT ABANDON ME that there is some chance for a miracle. To which he finally said “Okay, there’s an impossibly small chance–I’ll be there with my best team, but if I tell you it’s over, then it’s over. Can you agree to that?”

Yesterday, when we were in the delivery room with 10 nurses and doctors in the room–one team for delivery, and another post-delivery neonatal, with equipment and an isolette wheeled in and electronics that I’d never before seen and were certainly not part of a normal delivery room. I was on my knees on the side of the bed with your mom, holding her hand. She was so strong, brave, and focused.

But I couldn’t quit crying, and begging and pleading and sobbing, and I whispered repeated prayers in a silent room where only a doctor was talking with your mom giving instruction, and at one point I was crying so hard I felt a nurse put her hand on my back to try to comfort me, and I was begging and pleading and calling out for God to rescue you and to intervene, PLEASE GOD WHY WON’T YOU INTERVENE AND WHY IS THIS HAPPENING…

Felt like Yesterday, watching the obstetrics team within seconds of delivering you immediately hand you off to what must’ve been a half dozen on the NICU team. Watching, as tears rolled down our cheeks hearing the doctor read off low Apgar scars–with more tears as more scores were read, and silence in the room of 12 people, half of whom were watching the scene unfold with the other half furiously assessing whether any lifesaving heroic measure could change the outcome, but GOD THE SILENCE and the somber quietness and WHY THE HELL IS THIS HAPPENING AND WHERE ARE YOU GOD and I am begging here for ANYTHING AND ANYONE, with rhythmic beats of electronics and a pulse ox monitor and eery silence with just one NICU doctors quiet and steady voice and a team of a dozen others, all of whom are afraid to look at me, and then after ten minutes there is a nurse starting to wrap you up in a swaddle and I felt like screaming NO DO NOT HAND HIM TO US SAVE HIM I NEED YOU SAVE HIM, YOU HAVE TO SAVE HIM…

Yesterday, it feels like we were just holding you and feeling your heartbeat while you laid on us for two hours, just you, me and mom…the chaos of over a dozen people in the room eviscerated, and it was just the three of us, in complete silence. No more monitors, no more beeping, no more whirring, just us and silence and GOD I DO NOT WANT THIS MOMENT TO END PLEASE YOU CAN INTERVENE THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO INTERVENE AND SAVE US I CAN’T BEAR THIS LOSS, and watching you lay on your mothers chest with her smelling your little newborn head and tiny patches of hair and rub your tiny arms and hands and feet. You smelled just like a newborn and you had all the features of a normal kid but wow you were so tiny so so tiny but so close, we were so close and WHY THE FUCK IS THIS HAPPENING SOMEONE HELP ME SOMEONE STOP THIS…

Yesterday, when two hours later at 2:10am where your heart stopped beating. And I was devastated…I walked downstairs as a mess to get outside, and found a guy sitting outside the hospital where I took a cigarette from him and with tears still pouring down my cheeks I inhaled deeply with devastation.

It feels like Yesterday, when we had a final few hours with you and passed you back to the nurse for the last time we would see you, and I can feel you right now swaddled and me holding you and my passing you back to mom one last time and WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING…MY GOD I AM STILL BEGGING YOU TO REACH DOWN AND SAVE HIM and hand you to your mom for one last visit, and then to the nurse to never see you again.

Yeah, it still feels like it was Yesterday. 12 years later. And I am still so raw. Broken. Angry. Sad. Hopeless. Somehow I’m also at peace. Content. Understanding. Trusting.

And I can’t explain it. I want to change it, I want you back and I want you back and…

Yet I still wouldn’t change it.

At moments it didn’t feel like God was there. But I know He was, and it happened as designed. I really believe that. Then, and now. Even though there are still times when it feels otherwise.

A few months after we lost you I was speaking with a guy who also lost a child shortly after birth. As we were talking at a certain point his voice trailed off, and as he was looking in the distance he said quietly “I lost my kid over ten years ago and people say it gets easier…but it never does.”

Today feels more like yesterday than yesterday ever did.

Happy Birthday buddy. I miss you so much. You have no idea. We all do.

Love,

~Dad

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