May 14th, 2017. Mother’s Day.
This was meant to be a special day for me and my boys. Although we had spent every holiday together to this point, this would be the first Mother’s Day that we would spend together as a legal family. Conner’s adoption had been finalized on June 22, 2016, after 14 months and Kaleb’s adoption had just been finalized on May 10, 2017, after 23 months. We had 4 days of a glimpse of what this perfect little life looked like.
On the morning of May 14, 2017, I woke up to hear the laughter of Conner’s voice echoing through our small home, as I simultaneously heard the baby monitor turn off. I knew that the baby monitor was hidden on the window sill behind the curtain, just above the dresser so without wasting a moment I jumped out of bed. I remember being excited to give my beautiful babies the biggest hug and kiss and start out our special day together. As I got out of bed and walked past the back door, I quickly let the dog out and continued down the hallway. I stopped momentarily in the bathroom which was connected to my boy’s bedroom and then I opened the door.
What I saw when I opened the door is what a parent’s nightmares are made of. The memory of what I saw is burned into my mind and it is something that I can never “un-see”. Directly in front of me was my boys’ dresser tipped over, Kaleb standing in his crib with the piece of the monitor that Conner had given to him, and Conner nowhere in sight. I remember thinking to myself as I frantically began to peel back the dresser…PLEASE, PLEASE, PELASE BE HIDING!!! Conner was funny like that and it’s something I could picture him doing. As I looked at the dresser, not knowing where to begin, I began to pull the dresser back and then the drawers. The second drawer that I uncovered contained my beautiful baby. I will never forget this image. I scooped his unresponsive body out of the dresser, called 911, and before I could even start CPR they were in my home. My baby was stripped down and intubated on my living room floor. Within minutes, my home was flooded with first responders, as I stood there holding Kaleb tight; I was barely breathing. Conner was taken in the ambulance and then airlifted to the best children’s hospital in the area. I was unable to go with him because I had Kaleb too. So we gathered up all of Conner’s favorite things, including his beloved bunny “bun bun”, his blanket, and his favorite movies and went to meet him at the hospital.
Conner’s doctors and nurses were amazing and gave him the best care possible, but his condition began to deteriorate the next morning. I spent those next 36 hours by Conner’s side watching his favorite movies, singing his favorite songs, running my fingers through his perfect white curls, squeezing his perfectly chubby little thighs, and holding his perfect little hand in mine. All I selfishly wanted was to see his beautiful blue eyes just one last time, but I knew what he was telling me. I knew what he needed me to do. I wasn’t ready. Honestly, I will never be ready. That evening I made the most difficult decision of my life, I gave my consent to remove Conner from life support after everyone had been able to say their final goodbyes. We removed all the wires, all the leads, and wrapped him in his favorite blanket. I took him in my arms, held him safe and tight, sang to him, kissed him, and told him how much I love him and within moments he drew his very last breath and drifted out of this world. I know that a piece of me went with him that evening, at 6:57 pm on May 15, 2017. I didn’t want to let him go. That evening Conner received his very first hair cut when the Child Life Specialist cut some of his perfect blonde curls for keepsakes and made prints of his lifeless hands and feet, as I continued to clutch his perfect little body in my arms as tight as I could. I wasn’t ready to let him go. It took him so long to grow his hair, and I remembered thinking I had no idea how to control all those curls.
Over the course of the previous 36 hours, I had walked the hospital hallway several times, but I have never walked a longer hallway than the one that I walked out of that room that evening. With tears in my eyes, a bag of grieving parent’s mementos in one hand, and clutching Conner’s bunny and blanket tight in my other hand, I began the longest walk of my life. It’s a walk that I am still on today. Never, in my worst nightmare, did I ever think that I would be leaving that hospital with everything…except my baby.
Not a moment of my day goes by that I don’t think about my beautiful little boy. With each new milestone, adventure, and experience that Kaleb has, I am reminded that he was meant to experience these things with his brother. Conner never got to have a 3rd birthday, play in the snow, go on an airplane, go on a boat, go fishing, go camping, and an infinite number of other things. Conner was absolute perfection. I know that he was meant for great things in his lifetime. It is up to me now to make sure that he is able to leave his legacy on this world.
You can follow #ConnersLegacyFoundation with us here @ConnersLegacyFoundation as we embark on this new journey of promoting education, advocacy and resources within our communities, for the awareness of furniture tip over prevention. We will have more information coming on what we are up to, so stay tuned for more updates!