In 2013, I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon in memory of our first son, Charlie, who was born and died in 2003. We were gearing up to celebrate his tenth birthday that year, so the least I could do to remember him, was to share him.
So for those of you who were never able to meet him, I updated daily with little facts about his 24 days on this Earth.
Day 1: After 26 hours of labor, 3.5 hours of pushing, Dr. Paul dancing to China Grove and there being giraffes cleaning under my bed (thanks, Ambien), Charlie was here.
All 6lbs 11oz, 20″ of him…
Day 2: Did you know that when I was 4 months pregnant, Jason and I went to NYC for New Year’s Eve? We got out on Broadway in Times Square at 4pm to wait for the ball to drop at midnight. WITHOUT A BATHROOM BREAK! Can you imagine? Side effect: When I see the ball drop at midnight now, I have to go to the bathroom.
Day 3: We should have gone home after his birth on May 23, but his bilirubin numbers were too high. He had to stay in the nursery under the lights for 2 extra days. We talked the doctor into keeping me an extra night thinking he would go home the 24th, but he ended up staying until the 26th. We went back and forth to the hospital for feeding times
Day 4: Charlie was a Georgia fan. Before we found out he was a boy, we had to lay down ground rules. Boy = GA fan. Girl = AU fan. We made different rules for Henry.
Day 5: He smelled like lavender and milk breath. Which smells like heaven.
Day 6: He was destined to be a jokester. This was his response to “It’s so cute. Is it a boy or a girl?”
Day 7: Our cat, Olivia, tried to steal the baby’s breath.
Day 8: In about 90% of pictures, his eyes were open. Everybody who saw him said he looked wise beyond his days. It’s obvious now that he was.
Day 9: Bathtime was scary sometimes. They don’t tell you how wiggly and slippery babies are. Or how mad they get when water touches them. But cuddling after was always beautiful.
Day 10: When Charlie was ten days old, we ventured out of the house for the first time. It was a warm day and it was the Relay for Life in Peach County. I wore him in a front pack and he slept the entire time. We walked the survivor lap with his Rock and there was where he got to meet the very few people he met.
Day 11: I can’t remember most things, but I can vividly remember one night, sitting in the yellow rocker in his bedroom at 3am trying to get him to go back to sleep… wondering if I could doze off for 5 minutes and catch up on ALL the sleep I needed. Nights were long but in hindsight, they weren’t long enough.
Day 12: He had the roundest head I’ve ever seen. And for a baby who took his sweet time coming out, that’s pretty impressive. You can see it here. And also an antique cell phone on Jason’s lap!
Day 14: No words necessary today. My love.
Day 15: He was a creature of habit. I read and we followed the BabyWise book and from the first day home, he was on a 2-3 hour schedule. This schedule-loving mom LOVED it!
Day 16: Jason had business cards made for his birth announcements.
Day 17: The color we call Charlie Blue is because of this pacifier. It’s the color that gives me the warm fuzzies and feels like a blanket wrapping around my shoulders. This is also one of the only pictures that shows his whole little body.
Day 18: Sitting in the chair with a blanket in her lap, my sister was holding Charlie, looking at his cuteness. I had just grabbed the mail and the hospital pictures they took were in there. I showed it to Lauren and Charlie reached up and grabbed it. I snapped a few pictures because it was cute that he was holding his own picture. One of those pictures has turned into what we consider his portrait. We call it, “I Love Me.” This was taken a few days before he was put in the hospital.
Day 20: In hindsight, there are a million things I would have done on this day, the last day of his little life he was healthy. I probably wouldn’t have let him nap in his bassinet or lay in his bouncer. I would have held him all day and let the dishes pile up. I wouldn’t have cried when, once again, there was poop or spit up or something else to clean up. I would have soaked up every second more than I did.
Day 21: When we were whisked into the Children’s Hospital and Charlie was taken from us by the nurse, we were left for what seemed like hours before we were able to see him. It would be the next day before Group B Strep was mentioned, but antibiotics were started and intensive care support was in place. We were (I think) oblivious to the fact that he wouldn’t come home with us.
Day 22: Group B Strep causes sepsis and meningitis and strokes. With that comes swelling and inability to regulate temp. My sister brought all his hats he got and we had hat of the hour. It was an adorable and special way to make a hard few days less scary.
Day 23: This day was quite possibly the longest and shortest day of our lives. How do you make the decision to let your child go? How do you trust that life WILL go on? How do you accept the fact that in 24 hours your life will never resemble its old self? How? You have a lifeline of supportive family, friends, and acquaintances by your side. You have no choice because its the hand you were dealt.
But what you have no concept of is what an impact a 24 day life will have on people. Blessed to call myself and Jason, Charlie’s parents.
Day 24: At 6:43p on June 14, the day before he was due to be born, Heaven gained an angel. My best friend called a few minutes after they left the hospital that night and told us that as they were leaving, a beautiful rainbow was in the sky… And seemed to land right at the Children’s Hospital.