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Looking Back On Our 179 Hours With Nathanael Marcus
So vulnerable and so touching,
His little body in our hands,
Though his spirit had flown,
His memory, eternally it stands.
NATHANAEL CAME into the world ‘not born alive’ according to his Birth Certificate. Arriving a little before 11pm, and having bathed him, we didn’t get to sleep until 3am. I was up at 6am to get us all ready for the Heartfelt photographer’s arrival at 7.30am, with all our family arriving at 8am. We were so blessed that all of our close family – our parents and my girls – made it. All our siblings visited later. We moved rooms immediately after; up to Ward 4 Room 7.
That night, the 31st of October, we sobbed a fair bit. My first opportunity to let out a preponderance of emotion coincided with the social-worker’s visit. I couldn’t believe that she walked in and expected to see us when I was a mess, holding Nathanael, ‘having a moment.’ She didn’t think to ask if she could talk with us. Apologising if I appeared rude, I asked her to come back later. That night was a close night for Sarah and I, with many tears shed. We took some videos of us in our experiencing our little man, before he had to be back to be cooled. I slept that night on a fold-up bed.
We received some visits on Saturday 1st of November; some sweet friends brought some worship songs and we played them, cried, and prayed. God touched us. The evening was much like the last one; we sat in the quiet and could not escape the reality that had now beset us. There’s nothing like the dichotomy of having a baby that won’t keep you awake at night; a baby we would not hear from the nursery; a baby that wouldn’t be waking us up several times during the night.
The visits we had from the psychologist and psychiatrist was polar opposites; both professional, but the latter just ever so humble and appropriately speechless. God, thank you for Dr. Ray Binns. The psychologist couldn’t tell us any more than we already knew; the resources she offered, like Pauline Boss’s work on grief, which is great, I’ve long studied and often written on.
It was typical for us to have Nathanael with us for several hours in the morning and then to have him for all afternoon until early evening. We would hold him. We dressed him a few times.
Early on I thought Sarah might be out of hospital sooner, but it was appropriate for her not to leave on Monday the 3rd but Tuesday the 4th – she had something akin to the third day blues. It was wise to leave when we did. We met with the funeral director and our funeral minister on the afternoon Sarah arrived home.
We had planned to visit Nathanael at the Perinatal Pathology Lounge on the Wednesday, but Sarah took a turn for the worse by walking 100 metres into the hospital. We missed our appointment because Sarah spent a few hours in emergency department. So we visited him on the Thursday morning. The funeral was on the Friday.
By the time the funeral came around, we had had access to Nathanael for 179 hours. We genuinely enjoyed (if that’s the right word) all of that time. We made the most of it and we have no regrets.
God gave us much in our experience of our son.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.
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