January 19th 2016. The time stamp on the voicemail of my phone.
The Call I missed by one second.
The moment I glanced at my phone to see it was our surrogates call I just missed.
The second my heart plummeted to the floor knowing whatever she was calling for was not good.
The ding my cell phone made indicating I had a voicemail.
The unsteadiness of my hand as I went to click on the message while holding my breath.
The pain that overcame me when she started speaking crying that she was bleeding and going to the hospital.
The pause I took as I contemplated how I was going to wake my husband.
The struggle I faced when finding it difficult to speak or breathe.
And then. The surge of urgency that I felt when it all came and hit me at once. “We have to get to the hospital. Now. Something is wrong. She’s bleeding.” I told my husband while withholding every ounce of devastation in my body.
The voicemail still sits on the very bottom of my phone messages. Not one message from that day has been deleted. I can’t bring myself to do it. I listen to them every time this year as some sort of tortured ritual which I know will end in tears..
It’s been 3 years and yet I can feel every aspect of these moments. I can see the road on the way to the hospital and hear myself in my head talking myself out of my mind going to dark places. Begging some higher being or the universe to not let this happen. Telling myself surely we can not have gone through 3 rounds of egg retrieval, 2 rounds of IVF, an insane roller coaster and now this. Bad stuff doesn’t just keep happening to people right??!
I can sense the coldness in the air as we run to the ER. I can smell the sterility as we are escorted to the maternity floor. I can feel the calmness and quietness of the floor in the middle of the night when everyone is sleeping. I can hear the screaming of our surrogate in pain as we open the door. I can see the room full of nurses and doctors frantically running around. I can hear The muttering of someone saying only one of us can stay as my husband is escorted out of the room unaware of what is happening.
I can feel the pain in my hand as our surrogate squeezes it, crying and telling me shes so sorry as tears stream down my face and I assure her my concern right now is for her health. And it truly was.
The doctor walks in and her face is sympathetic. I know it’s not good. There’s nothing they can do the baby is coming now. She will need to start pushing. It’s going to be painful and they cannot give her anything to relieve the pain.
I coach her through every agonizing push and scream and it seems to take hours but its only minutes before something that vaguely resembles a baby so small it’s indescribable lands into the doctors hand kicking his legs like crazy, not making a single sound.
2:45 AM. He fit perfectly in the palm of her hand. It doesn’t register to me that he could even be alive. He’s ushered to a small incubator 1 foot away where he is surrounded by a team pushing tubes and wires and warmers all over him.
Our surrogate tells me to go. “Go to him, go be with him, I’m ok!” she says forcefully knowing that I needed that force to move from the place where I am frozen into the floor from fear.
Every moment of that day I hold in my memory, in my heart, in every fiber of my being. I hear the monitors beeping. I feel the embrace when my husband is allowed into the room not knowing his son was even born until he looked over my shoulder. I see the glare from our phones as we vigorously research our sons chances of survival and what his life may be if he survives. I sense the constant gazes from nurses walking by us obviously knowing what has happened to us. I am in agony as time stands still and we wait and wait and wait for hours to hear what is happening with our son. Is he even alive? The unknown chipping away at any sliver of hope we have left, finding it impossible to keep our thoughts going down a dark path of how we move on if he doesn’t survive.
I pause and realize after all this time we have been calling him “the baby”. I look at my husband “OMG. What are we going to name him? We need to give him a name.”
It didn’t take long to decide on Beckham Max. It was strong. I could feel it was the name of a fighter. Not until months later would I realize how appropriate his name was when I remembered the moment he was born and his constantly kicking legs the size of my pinky finger.
I can continue to go on a describe what each moment felt like on one of the worst days of our lives. Taking this fragile human and transporting him via ambulance across the city. Arriving at the hospital. Being overwhelmed with paper work, medical terminology, machines, numbers, noises, phone calls, all the while hovering over a plastic covered baby who’s eyes were still fused together. Completely hopeless.
Every year I feel every aspect of that day on this day. I want to celebrate the day of my sons birth as just that… a celebration. But for me it will always be a day of devastation. Yes we have much to celebrate with everything he has overcome which I think is why I focus so hard on celebrating his Due Date Day as his birthday in May. That is the day when I truly feel we can celebrate the incredibleness that is Beckham. But January 19th is a day of extreme pain and maybe even loss for us. Our lives forever changed as we ventured in to 6 months of emotional and physical torture in the NICU. We lost a part of ourselves that day. We lost a future we thought we had. Every single thing in our lives changed. Period. Nothing will ever be the same. We will never look at life the same, at our family the same. We discovered our true ability to fight, to cry, to feel, to love as everything was pushed to the brink.
By the end of today I will remind myself that 3 years ago Beckham survived. That while it was one of the worst days of our lives and though we didn’t know it yet, the worst was still to come, that after 24 hours he was still there. We were still with him. We were all hanging on by a thread but we were together.
Until then, I will put on a brave face to celebrate my son. His 3rd birthday. The Incredible Beckham Max Sheiman. And I will mourn this day and all the pain I feel throughout each passing hour as I re-live what transpired.