Single Status Update
My girlfriend had a baby this August, though she had to give it up for personal reasons. Both of her other children were with their fathers: one a junkie who kidnapped his daughter and severely neglected her, and the other an ex-junkie who thinks he's too good to let her see their son. She told the father of her third child that she'd have no problem aborting the pregnancy if it wasn't going to have a home and a family. The father swore up and down that he'd do the right thing. Shortly after, the drug dealing and abuse started - once so bad when she was six months pregnant that she had to visit the hospital and the fetus's heart stopped three times.
When she was eight months, we got in touch. We met a long time ago but went our separate ways. I took her in and sort of unofficially began dating her, though I made it clear that I wasn't ready to be a father. She had no problem with this and chose to give the baby to the woman who took her daughter in when the father went to jail.
Fast forward four months, this past Tuesday, when my girlfriend gets a phone call from the police. First with an accusatory tone, he was asking the nature of the relationship between her and the foster mother without explanation. Eventually she learned that Jonathan, the baby, was found in his crib not breathing. He was taken to a children's hospital and it was estimated that he'd spent about 30 minutes without air. The only part of his brain left functioning was his brain stem.
We took an 8-hour drive down to Charlotte to see him. When we finally arrived, we found that he was being kept alive with machines. He would barely take breaths with a respirator. He was pretty much completely gone already, and only technically alive. There was a lot of commotion over who legally owned the baby, who had the right to deny tests and remove life support. Of course, nothing they wanted to do would've made the child better, only removed liability from them.
We kept getting visits from the foster mother's church group. I figured I'd have to bite my tongue for the next few days. My girlfriend was understandably going through a crisis of faith, so that didn't help matters. Why would you tell a grieving mother that "God has a plan"? They didn't even bother offering help or strength, they were only interested in proselytizing. First they'd pray for a miracle, for Jonathan to get better; then when it was obvious there was nothing to be done, they prayed that Jesus would take him. I understand that people have coping mechanisms, but it's going too far in this situation for something based on false hopes.
Anyway, we finally decided to unplug the machines because the baby gradually lost the ability to breathe on his own. The two moms took turns holding him as he stopped breathing and his heart slowed. I don't know if you've ever seen a death, but it's completely surreal. As the blood stops flowing and settles, the skin takes on a pasty, plastic texture. The eyes and lips turn blue. We can no longer sense the tiny involuntary movements that tell us someone is alive - and the next thing you know, you're just holding a thing, an object. It has no life inside it and your brain can tell the difference, though what you're looking at has barely changed at all.
My girlfriend is taking it about as well as you can expect. She has to mourn by herself, without people telling her that everything will be OK and they're so sorry for her loss. All I've thought of to do is try to make things as normal and predictable as possible, and hold her when she stops for a moment, because I can tell when it hits her again. I hope that's enough.
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Now I'm wondering what the hell is going on. After agreeing to let my girlfriend be involved in her son's life, they turn around and do something like this.
They left her out of the obituary. She requested that they include her other children, but they failed to include HER. Sure, they put in the adopted mother's adopted mother, or the adopted mother's birth mother who probably never met the baby, but nor HER? My resentment is almost palpable. Considering she took the baby's life in her own hands after learning she had guardianship and the adoption wasn't officially recognized by the state, this almost seems spiteful.
I don't like how this is adding up. First the adopted mother hardly ever sends updates. Then they travel up north to the neighboring state and don't think to visit us. Then the breathing problems that prompted an emergency doctor's visit last week. The physician who was apparently less than knowledgeable of the baby's condition. The patronizing tone over their thinly-veiled cowardice while we were there. I'm suggesting my girlfriend follow up on the medical examiner's autopsy.