“Get great job, check. Meet great man, check. Dream wedding, check. Buy house, get dog. Check check. Life was great, I had everything I’ve wanted seamlessly falling into line. Next up, have baby. Positive pregnancy test after first month trying? Done. Sometimes life can be so easy. Until it’s not.
At our 20-week anatomy scan I was cool and calm, excited to see our little boy’s fingers, toes, face, all the fun things an ultrasound brings. The next morning, I got a phone call. My OBs office was calling to tell me they made me an appointment for ‘another look, we had a hard time seeing his heart.’ No explanations from the office staff as my doctor was currently out of the country. And my husband had just left on a trip. So I brought my mom and close family friend to my second appointment.
‘Do you know why you are here?,’ the ultrasound tech asked me as she set up the machine. ‘Oh, you just need a second look at his heart?’ I answered her confidently. Why should I worry? Nothing bad has ever happened. ‘No,’ she replied. ‘Your baby has an abnormal heart, stomach and kidney. I’m sorry no one told you, I assume your husband would have cancelled his trip and made it if you knew the reason. The doctor will be right in.’ I cried through the whole ultrasound but put on a brave face for the amniocentesis. Now I call my husband and break the news. We relied on one another and decided we will do anything for our son. Our love hasn’t changed.
Months went by and we saw every neonatologist, pediatric cardiologist and NICU tour we could. Wayne would need a heart surgery but otherwise his heart looked stable. The cardiologist was optimistic, he believed he would need a heart surgery when he was about 3 months old. Rick and I went back and forth between optimism, grief, panic, doubt and fear. There were many tear-filled days and every doctor appointment heightened our stress. But we believed we would be bringing our baby home, and whatever obstacles we had to overcome, we would.
At 38 weeks my doctor decided to schedule a c-section. Wayne Michael Watson was born on January 23, 2018, at 7:55 a.m. He screamed and cried, everyone remarked how well he was doing. As a precautionary measure the NICU team took him straight away for observation. Hours later they wheeled me into the NICU to hold him for the first time. The nurse placed him on my chest, skin to skin, and I shouted through tears, ‘I am so happy!’ We celebrated the birth of our son and his doing well.
Then at 3 a.m. the NICU doctor called my room phone. Wayne’s breathing was not doing well and they wanted to intubate him to have a ventilator breathe for him. We walked over to the NICU and all through the morning we stayed by his side. His numbers started to decline, and it was like a train hit me when I realized, ‘I am not taking my baby home.’ My world fell out from under my feet. We told my baby how much we loved him, we whispered to him how proud we were of him.
My grandfather had passed the year before and we told Wayne that Grandpa Michael (his middle name-sake) would be waiting for him and he will take care of him for us. I told myself to remember every single thing about him. My husband changed his diaper, we washed his hair and the chaplain baptized him. By lunch time it was evident he didn’t have much time. The staff suggested we have him brought to my postpartum room to say goodbye, no wires, no tubes, just us.
The walk back to our room was the longest walk of my life. I felt like I was walking to my execution, every footstep echoed in my ears. I couldn’t look ahead. I held my chin high, quite literally staring at the ceiling, otherwise I felt the lump in my throat would suffocate me and I would stumble onto the ground. Wayne was brought to us and the wires and tubes removed. He stayed with us for almost an hour before he took his last breath. While doing skin to skin, he sighed, and you could feel the weight lift off him, like he was breathing a sigh of relief saying, ‘finally, just my mommy and daddy.’ We took turns holding him, kissing him and loving him, hugging as a family of 3.
And then he was gone, and I felt like every light in the world had been blown out. My soul was crushed and a piece of me will never, ever return.
Wayne had something special about him. If a one-day-old baby could have charisma, he did. He looked just like his daddy and the two of them had a special bond. He would even open his eyes only for daddy. After he died, one of his doctors came and sat on my bed and cried. She told me Wayne has touched more people in his one day on earth than many people do in a lifetime.
After we came home from the hospital, life was a blur. I truly believe that in grieving, being so close to death, we are also closer to God and Heaven. I could truly feel His presence comforting me. As our family would comfort one another we reminded each other that Wayne was with Grandpa in heaven, they were together. I was desperate to know for sure they were together. While we were in the hospital having Wayne, my uncle went to Alabama to tour the USS Alabama, the ship my grandfather was on during WWII. In it, he found a plaque with the names of the sailors who had served on the ship. He took a picture of Grandpa’s name and didn’t think twice, sending it to our family the day after I got home from the hospital. Immediately I burst into tears. Underneath Grandpa’s, the next name was a sailor named Wayne. This was God showing me they were together.
In the months that passed, he has sent other signs to me. His birthday was 1/23 and I see 123 all the time, even with W’s sometimes. One day I was in my garden thinking of him. I was thinking about how I will never hear him say ‘I love you.’ A few months had passed by and I felt like I hadn’t had any signs from him lately. I prayed and begged for him to show me he loved me. Suddenly, I noticed my dog was staring at something in the grass. I walked over and scooped up a tiny beautiful hummingbird. He didn’t appear injured, just needed some rest. He sat in my hands for a few minutes and simply looked up and stared at me, so colorful and beautiful. I got some nectar from my hummingbird feeder and fed it to him. We sat on the grass for a few moments while he closed his eyes. When he opened them, he simply looked at me and flew away. I knew my son was there visiting me, it was such a beautiful experience. I know if that hummingbird could’ve talked, that’s exactly what he would have said. In the days after that, when I am feeling especially down, I’ve noticed he shows me hummingbirds – as car stickers, on outdoor pillows, murals, jewelry.
By the fall, my husband and I were pregnant with Wayne’s sister. Although shadowed by grief and anxiety, this pregnancy was beautifully run-of-the-mill normal. I cried at every doctor appt when they kept saying, ‘normal, normal, normal.’ The day of the c-section I told my husband, ‘He will be with us, just keep an eye open for signs.’ After some tear-filled moments in pre-op, the OR team wheeled me to the OR suite for my c-section. We stopped in the hall for just a moment while they opened to doors to the room, and I laid there praying and staring up at the ceiling tiles. Just above me was a small sticker on an air conditioning vent that read, ‘1-23’. January 23, Wayne’s birthday. In that moment I smiled and felt so relieved. I knew he was here, watching over us. The same hospital where we met him, held him and had to say goodbye to him.
His sister Emily Joy was born on June 5 with no complications and is a healthy sweet baby. We will teach her of her brother in heaven who loves her very much and will always look out for her. We just have to keep an eye open for his signs.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Rick and Megan Watson of Long Beach, California. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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