Remembering May 31st, 2010
This picture has been haunting me since I saw it yesterday. I hate this picture...
But it's not a big, flashing neon sign. It doesn't say, "Hey Dumbass, in a few months you are going to look back at this moment and feel like a complete failure." But it should. Because that's what I see now.
When I took this picture, I knew we had a sick baby. We knew she had a stomach thing going on- damn Rotavirus vaccine! Gave both kids gastroenteritis... When her fever didn't break, her fontanel started getting a little low and the poop kept coming, we took her to the ER. One dose of antibiotics and bag of IV fluids later, we were back in business. They sent us home with "managing dehydration" papers. I remembering thinking, "wow, she got really sick, really fast. That's not normal... Or is it?..." They essentially reassured me that I was a typical over-reacting mother and so did our pediatrician when we went to see him two days later.
So, when I took this picture, I saw a little girl with a typical, run-of-the-mill childhood illness. A baby that needed extra loving, extra cuddles and a cool rag on her head.
Now when I look at this picture, I feel like my heart is going to bust out of my chest. I feel like I failed my Peanut in the worst way possible. It makes me want to scream, cry and throw up all at the same time. It makes me miss her so, so much. For a while, she went through a phase where she liked to hold our hands like this while she fell asleep. Our sweet girl. Classic Ellie. I would give anything to have those chubby fingers wrapped around mine...
Now when I look at this picture, I see more than just her pale skin. I see our warning. I see what I saw at about 4 am, the morning before she died. We got her help when she needed it this time, why not the last time? I see the purple around her eyes. Do you know what that is? It's death. If you've never seen a person that is dying, you don't know what I'm talking about. But if you have, you do. Looking at this picture, most people won't see it. But to me, it's like a bright flashing light. It's a sign.
Her yellow nuk... It's likely the same one she used at the hospital before she died. After she turned six months, I tried to get her to use the bigger nuks- she wouldn't take it, she liked the little ones. I know she had the yellow one last. I know because it's still sitting in the dish on our desk along with the doll I tucked up next to her at the hospital. What are the fucking odds?
I have been told hundreds of times that we couldn't have done anything. We didn't know. But for me, that's not enough. I'm her mom. I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN. In my mind, I think it's just something the doctors said to make me feel better. What if they think I could have called 911 earlier? Would she still be here? How do they know there was nothing we could have done? Is that their way of feeling better too? I don't blame them for anything, but I'm sure they feel guilt too.
We had signs. They were there. This picture is one of them. Why couldn't I see them?
I'm so sorry Ellie. Mama should have seen them. I wish I would have seen them.
I hate this picture.