27 October 2010

Because it All Happened So Quickly

Before Ewan was born, I had a decent grasp on time. I ticked off my pregnancy in weeks and halves of weeks. I counted down the hours of each working day, enjoyed each day in the weekend, and longed for several extra minutes of sleep each morning. But those measurements mean little to me now. Time is all messed up. Measurements of time have diminished relevance. It has become difficult to distinguish an hour from a minute from a week.

Remembering: I was there.

As a first-time mom, I expected to go late into my pregnancy. I honestly believed Ewan would stay content in my belly until 41 weeks or so. But then he came a bit early, shortly after my pregnancy had just passed the 37-week mark at which I was considered term. He did things in his own time, just as we expected. The same with his emergency surgery. While in the cath lab for a routine procedure, things deteriorated to the point where he needed surgery immediately. There would not be the benefit of a predetermined plan developed between surgeons and cardiologists. And so came the long night I will never forget: increasingly hopeless updates and then ... he was out of surgery and alive. He was on ECMO, but all things considered, doing okay.

Every day in the hospital with Ewan was one in which we were discussing with doctors and surgeons options for treatment. Every day we were making decisions that had to do -- quite literally -- with life or death. There were multiple victories and multiple setbacks. We rode the roller coaster that is well known to any parent that has a child in the ICU. We went into every day deprived of sleep. We went into every day knowing it would be intense and demanding.

And then came the day we knew we needed to let him go. Another long night, but one marked by peace and the love of family and caregivers. We went at our own pace. For once, we were able to take the time we wanted. There was no rush.

Ewan died on October 4 -- a full day before his due date. I had been so fixated on going a week past the due date and he was gone before it.

We were there. We saw it happen. We planned the funeral, saw his body in the casket. We were there when it was lowered into the ground. I watched as James and his dad and mine each shoveled dirt into the hole where he was buried. I put the spray of flowers from his casket on top of the grave when they were done. I kept telling myself: This is real, this is really happening.

But there have been so many times over the past three weeks where none of it has felt the least bit real. There is something about the experience that has all the qualities of a very vivid and terrible dream. Were it not for the pictures we took and the dark line that still goes down the center of my belly, there might be times in which I could convince myself that it didn't really happen at all. It could be shock or a side-effect of the grief, or a product of the intensity and pace at which everything happened.

It is so strange, this knowing and not-knowing, these moments of intense awareness and moments of feeling like we are each waking up from a shared nightmare. I look at the calendar and consider what each one of those boxes represent. Each day checked off the calendar means something different here in our apartment than it did in the hallways of the hospital. The notion of "one day at a time" held no meaning for us when we had learned to hang on to minutes. And now days pass in which the minutes pass (for the most part) uneventfully.

What is a minute (or an hour, or a week) anyway? I'm sure I don't know anymore.


Unknown said...

I wish I could wrap my arms around you and hold you tight.

Anonymous said...

Kirsten, time is what you make of it. You lived a lifetime in those all too short days with Ewan. You held something in your hands that some people spend a lifetime of years looking for - LOVE. HOPE. FAITH.

May peace continue to surround you.

Shannon Egan

Leslie said...

Thinking of you today, praying for you. May you rest gently in His hands, in His times.

terri said...

time is the craziest thing ever when you're navigating these kinds of waters. it's impossible to believe so much has happened (and something so eternally significant) in so little of it. how can that be?

oh, and when you pointed out that ewan died the day before he was due to be born...that was so difficult to process. so wrong.

i'm sorry friend.

Dana Sears said...

I am so glad I get to give you a Hug friday. Time is something that really has no use in the big picture. It's what happens in time that matters. Your experiences, your thoughts, your memories & actions. It's living in the present, never forgetting who made you. Living in the present knowing the past has molded you, and yes you will never be the same. Nothing will ever be the same. God intends for our lives to mold us, it's our faith in God that provides our strength. I am praying you find peace. Even if the peace just comes in waves.

Rebecca said...

I'm praying for you this morning. I wish I could drop by and give you a big hug. I hope someday sooner, than later, I get to.

Trista Garza said...

A minute, hour, week or time is fleeting. Our lives are fleeting. We are to make the most of each moment. But how are we to do this? I can't say for sure except what you wrote a few days ago "This is now. Soak it in. Don't miss it, not a single breath or heartbeat". Yes it isn't fair that you no longer have your beautiful son to hold. I have learned that life isn't fair, but God is good! When things are going great- God is good. And even more, when our lives are in disarray and time doesn't make sense. God is good. Go to Bowen's heart.com and to the day 10-10-10. There is a youtube video posted. It reminded me of your post on 10-19-10. I say this to you that there are 4 little girls by the names of Faith, Hope, DaniJo,and Tylar that, because of what you and your son have taught me will have a more attentive, more loving, more cuddly mother. You my dear have taught me to realize that "This is now. Soak it in. Don't miss it, not a single breath or heartbeat. I don't want to miss it: not a single breath or heartbeat." Thank-you. And know you are in my prayers daily.

Anonymous said...

It is in that "Now" that Ewan has taught, you have taught, us to all live in.
The MOST important time of our lives and the lives inwhich we interact is right now.
God is omniscient...ALWAYS. And he sent your son to show and teach us that Eternity. Ewan awakened eternity within each and everyone of us...moreso in you and James.

We, as mothers, wives and friends no longer look to the clock and allow it to determine our lives. You gave that to us when you graciously invited us into your lives.

For Ewan, for You and for this Eternity which the bible said God placed in each of us...and Ewan and You awakened within us, I thank God, I praise Jesus and am overjoyed that the Holy Spirit resides within me to guide me in this eternity with wisdom.

Not another wasted moment. The time is now...
With much love and continual prayer,

Nadine said...


christianne said...

Like Terri, it was a tough moment to realize Ewan was gone the day before he was due to be born. What a strange, hard thing.

I can only imagine that time is a non-entity for you right now. I'm thankful you have the gift of uninterrupted time right now so that time can pass without your having to really mark it.

Love you.

Tea said...

I don't have the words to say anything really meaningful, but in my heart I feel for you and I am so sorry for these very difficult things you are experiencing and the loss of Ewan. Sending my love to you and praying. <3

HennHouse said...

Love you.

Still praying.

kdactyl said...

I have been following and have commented before...but it has been awhile. I just need to tell you how your faith inspires me soooo much. It is in times of tragedy that our true faith comes out. I have experienced this myself and although I am guitly of asking "God, why me?"....I have such faith in His plan. Witnessing you go through this via your blog has reminded me of that. And...although I am usually very present and thank God daily for my son (who is a result of a very long fertility battle)...I am even more present now. We (my 2 1/2 yr old son and I) pray for you, James and Ewan every night in our prayers before bed. I hope you can feel them coming your way. I'm not sure I would handle losing my child with such grace, faith and insight as you. Thank you for sharing your beautiful son with us. I have learned so much from him (and you). His life had more meaning than many that were lived much longer.

God Bless you and your family.

Sarah said...

Gone before his due date . . . my mind can comprehend but my heart screams. So wrong.

As for time . . . I can only imagine where you are and try to sit with you there. It sounds so surreal, what you gained and lost and how fast it happened and how the days seemed long but in retrospect passed so fast.

love you.

Anonymous said...

Kirsten - thanks so much for your comment on our blog. We were so touched that you took the time with all that's going on in your life. Wendy and I have kept up with you and Jill's blogs (and several others) since June 2nd, when Jordan was diagnosed(HLHS). We were especially interested in yours because you were due 4 days before Wendy. We are still amazed at the strength that you both have shown through all of this and so glad you are getting to meet.

I tell Wendy almost every time I read your posts that you should publish this stuff. You are an amazing writer. You have brought us to tears many times with your honesty. We were feeling the same things along the way with you.

We are so sorry for your loss. We will continue to pray for you and your family. take care - rhonda and wendy and jordan

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

The unreality that you're talking about is something that I've experienced with miscarriages. There is great grief, and yet after awhile I find myself wondering if perhaps I just imagined it. It is a strange thing to learn to live with.

I appreciate your continued writing here, Kirsten.

Jennifer Hood said...

Still praying for you and your husband each day.

Sending love from Texas,

Unknown said...

Surreal is what it is! I still feel it... I did not lose a child, well I miscarried but it was so different, but my Dad when I think of him and how he is not here... Surreal is all I can say! The moment my Dad passed away to every moment I think about him, life went from real and happening to Surreal!

Time... Kristen time means nothing it is a human thing that we try to keep control on our days with, but our time is not even a blink of an eye in heaven! Time will come back into meaning I am sure but for now... I just appreciate that you are able to share and talk about what you are experiencing, I just pray your husband is able to do the same! May GOD be with you and your Husband, cling to eachother! HOLD TIGHT TO LOVE!

Ingrid's Organic Body Care said...

oh, the hardship. this post surely brings back the emotions in each past post and reminds us of the hot tears that stream down your face and the anguish in death. yet, our hope, JESUS has swallowed death in victory.(1 corninthians 15:42-47). It is true that we must think on these things, taking out thought captive to the obedience to Christ. And, amidst this all, you have the Holy Spirit, the Comforter living in you. may you feel the peace and privalege that come from his presence. and may your visit with your friend draw you both closer to the Savior. praying for you. our family cares for you so much.

Ingrid's Organic Body Care said...

The fourth verse talks about this idea of time: "where time and sense seem all no more:"

From Every Stormy Wind That Blows

From ev'ry stormy wind that blows,
From ev'ry swelling tide of woes,
There is a calm, a sure retreat:
'Tis found beneath the mercy seat.

There is a place where Jesus sheds
The oil of gladness on our heads;
A place than all besides more sweet;
It is the blood bought mercy seat.

There is a scene where spirits blend,
Where friend holds fellowship with friend;
Though sundered far, by faith they meet
Around one common mercy seat.

There, there, on eagles' wings we soar,
And time and sense seem all no more;
And heaven comes down, our souls to greet,
And glory crowns the mercy seat.

Ah! Whither could we flee for aid,
When tempted, desolate, dismayed:
Or how the hosts of hell defeat,
Had suff'ring saints no mercy seat.

Ah! there on eagle wings we soar,
And sin and sense molest no more:
and heav'n comes down our souls to greet,
While glory crowns the mercy seat.

Courtney Laine Carris said...

"I will love you, always. Time is nothing." Audrey Niffenegger - The Time Traveler's Wife

Unknown said...

oh, Kirsten.
I hope the writing helps.

Have you been taking photos? Going outside and taking photos with your mother soul? With eyes that know and see and love in only your way? You write poetry with your pictures as well as your words.

Cammie said...

When my mother died and my grandmother tried to explain what is was like to lose a child she told me, "When you lose a child you are forever on the verge of tears." Her explanation is that the pain can surface at any time for any reason. She said, that's the undeniable and unconditional love of a mother. I never understood what she meant by that love until I had my daughter years later. I cannot imagine your pain and your grief but I pray for your strength. Thank you for sharing your son and your story with the world.

arabesque said...

This post and your thoughts on living moment to moment reminded me of Mindy Smith's wistful song, "One Moment More"....I've always loved this song, but hearing it come up on my playlist recently in light of everything that has happened with Ewan has made me appreciate it on an entirely new level.


Anonymous said...


I can't understand your grief or pain, but I understand the world of Childrens Hospitals. My 9 month old daughter's life is measured in my mind by hospital stays and doctor's visits...birth, jaundice, more jaundice, Coarctation of the Aorta diagnosis, heart surgery, Failure to Thrive, Rotavirus/UTI from E. Coli, Failure to Thrive, NG Tube placement and Training, Seizures, Stroke...now we wait for another surgery and another trip to the PICU. I understand the measuring of time in seconds and minutes because days are to long. We had recently made it to be able to count months between hospital visits, but with winter and siblings in school, we have been assured that we will be back to the hospital often.

I am thankful to find someone that understands the time warp a special needs mom lives in. I have lost most of my friends in the last 9 months, they don't understand my obsession with Madison's health, they don't understand the depression and grief.

I pray for you and your husband often. Ewan's fight touched my heart. Your ability to write with beauty and purpose in your grief has given me hope for my own heart. I know that I have a lot to be very thankful for, and I try to remember to be thankful often, some days though the time warp turns things a little sideways and I can't seem to find the sunshine.

Thank you for sharing your heart with us.