Ethan recently had Hand, Foot and Mouth. He did not get sores on his hands or feet, but he did have them in his mouth. The worst one was right on the inside of his lower lip. It made him miserable. He couldn't eat and he barely drink. Nursing became difficult for him as the sore was right where he would latch. The thing that will always calm him, settle him, nourish him was hurting him. The first day in particular was awful. He fussed and cried. That night he woke up screaming an inconsolable cry. I panicked thinking something must be terribly wrong. Luckily our pediatrician has a good advice nurse line or I'm sure I would have rushed him into the ER. After switching from acetaminophen to ibuprofen, we were able to get the pain under control for him and he got some rest. But in that moment I felt completely helpless. My heart was aching to soothe my baby boy. But I couldn't. I couldn't calm him down, I couldn't take away his pain, I couldn't help him. It felt awful.
But those helpless feelings I had that night were not anywhere near the intensity of which I have felt that before. That same little boy, 18 months earlier was fighting for his life. I was helpless next to his isolette. In the NICU where if you ask any parent they'll be able to tell you that the feeling of helplessness settles into their core.
But the most helpless I have ever been, as a mother, as a human being, is the day Marcellus died. There's a reason we parents get that helpless feeling when something out of our control happens to our children. You've heard the term, "Mama Bear" because we protect. As parents we protect our children from what we can. But we can't protect them from everything and when we can't we feel helpless. Nothing compares to the helplessness you feel as a parent when your child dies. Not the inconsolable screaming of a sick toddler, not watching your 2 lb baby fight for his life (okay, that one comes close because I genuinely thought Ethan would die too in the early days).
Nothing will ever make me feel as helpless as holding my sweet boy, my first born son, in my arms trying to will his heart to keep beating as it instead slowed down, trying to pour every ounce of love into him in that moment as I could hoping he knew I would have done anything to change what was happening. The hours leading up to that moment, watching my boy suffer and struggle and fight and deteriorate. Watching as even nurses and doctors and surgeons couldn't do anything to save him. But even then shouldn't I, his mother, have been able to protect him, keep him safe?!
I couldn't protect him. My intense, overwhelming love was not enough to save him. Was it enough to comfort him in those moments? God, I hope so. I don't talk about that day much. I don't think about that day much. But that day happened and it still brings complete helplessness over me. Even as I type this my arms are physically aching thinking of that last embrace with my boy while his heart was still beating.
2 years 7 months 8 days without that little heart beating on this earth. Yeah, that makes me feel pretty damn helpless.
Marcellus, I'm so sorry I wasn't able to do more for you. To protect you. To save you. There's that saying, "If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever." It's true baby boy. My love for you is so intense and never-ending that if love could save I know my love would have saved you. But it can't. Love can't save. But love can comfort and since my love could not save you that day. That God awful retched day, I can only wish that I provided you with some comfort. I could not protect you, I could not save you, but I will always always always love you. xoxox