The ultrasound confirmed that our time was running out and I was bombarded with decisions. Big decisions. I am not by nature a decisive person, anyone who knows me knows that any decision causes me pretty great anxiety...ok, maybe not any decisions, there have been some decisions in life I have unequivocally known the way to go...marrying Howard, adopting my kids, those were no brainers. What kind of mattress to buy...nope. Hours and hours of research, to be sure I don't make the wrong decision and have to sleep on a lumpy mattress for the rest of my days precede a decision like that. I am not being dramatic, it really causes me great anxiety, some days I just need someone else to make all of the decisions that I KNOW aren't a big deal but somehow make a big deal.
This day, there was no such person. Howard and I were faced with what to do next. We could have a c-section immediately and hopefully meet our boy before he died or we could wait it out and let his lungs mature more giving him a greater chance of longer survival. Then, once he was born, what measures would be taken, who would be in the room, what would happen next?
We took a breath and decided we wanted to meet our boy, his heart was slowing, and it wasn't looking good. We made phone calls to our friends and family and let them know they were welcome to come and meet him, we called our favorite NICU nurse, a photographer and our pastor. We made a plan. I would deliver the baby and they would close me up ASAP and I would be taken to recovery where his siblings would come in and meet him, followed by grandparents, aunts, and friends. The photographer would be there all the while capturing every precious moment.
The decisions came easy, we just knew what to do, we have NO regrets about our time with Asher and we somehow got a tiny lifetime out of the thirty minutes he lived. He met many people and he knew only love. He died peacefully in our arms and it was a day of tangible love, grace and hope.
Fast forward nine years, tonight I stood in Target and cried a river because for the life of me I could not choose a toothpaste. Why on earth are there so many choices? They all do the same job, but what if there is a better one, which one gives me the most for my money? It is maddening. I stood there and cried and cried. I finally threw one into the cart and moseyed back to electronics to find Luke. He could see I'd been crying and he asked what was wrong. I told him I was overwhelmed picking a toothpaste. He looked at me and said, "Mom, I doubt it is about the toothpaste. It maybe is because tomorrow is your dead son's birthday." Maybe.
On the ride home he spoke with wisdom and kindness that made my heart overflow. We stopped at a drive thru for ice cream and fries. As we pulled away, I looked at him and said, tomorrow is your brother's birthday. He handed me a fry and said, "Let's have a fry and cry". We did. I sometimes worry about secondary trauma inflicted on our kids because of the things they've lived and continue to live and then my thirteen year old shows me he gets it. He didn't try to offer meaningless words, he didn't try to fix it. He handed me a french fry and cried with me as we talked about what a nine year old Asher might be like.
We got home and he helped me carry our bags in and he went to get a shower. As I was putting things away I heard him soothe the baby back to sleep when she began to fuss and I thought about how lucky I am to have that kid. He then came out of my bedroom and said, "Mom, I found this kitchen knife lying around in your room, I figured it ought not be there, so maybe just put knives away when you are done using them in your bedroom." We both laughed, and he hugged me and thanked me for spending the evening with him and as he went to bed he said, "You're a good mom, Asher was really lucky to have you for his whole life."
His whole life. Asher had his mom and his dad for his whole life, not many of us do. While I'd do anything to have had him here with me today, and I sure wished he were following me around Target tonight picking out birthday goodies, I had him for 31 weeks, 4 days within my womb and 30 amazing minutes outside. He had his mom for his whole life and she could not have loved him more. I'll probably always wish for more, but I know he now wishes for nothing. He is perfect and whole and with his Heavenly father, and while my body physically aches for him every day, he lives on in us, we are different because he lived. We know a compassion and a depth of soul that we never would have known without his brief life and while my heart aches, it also bursts with joy and pride that he was mine. I had him for 30 minutes, he had me forever. It is well, it is well with my soul.
I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be.
Asher "Happy" Joseph Bolte 2/22/2008