I need to go back to the hospital really quick. There are two things I forgot. When the nurses told me Lion had a cleft lip and palate, before I even saw him, I have to admit that one of the first thoughts that ran through my head was worry about how he looked. I worried about how Tigger would react to seeing Lion. Having worked enough with young children, I knew that Tigger could very likely be afraid of Lion or shy away from him because of how he looked. The minute that thought crossed my mind though, I felt bad for even thinking it.
Tigger was able to see Lion for the first time that evening. (Lion was born at 2:41 a.m.) Family member brought him down and Hubby stayed with Lion in the nursery while I was in the hall with Tigger. Hubby held Lion up to the window with the help of his NICU nurse—who held all the tubbing and wires. Grandpa let Tigger stand on his knee I think it was.
I couldn’t see Tigger’s reaction, but both Hubby and Lion’s nurse that Tigger didn’t look scared or afraid. Instead, he looked incredibly worried and concerned for Lion. When I think about that now it brings tears to my eyes that Tigger’s heart was so touched by his brother.
Anyway, I felt like I should touch on those two things before I talk about the five, precious days we had together as a family. Of course the day we brought Lion home, it was freezing cold and raining. Someone said that the weather was such so that Lion could experience all that he could while he was here. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it gave me a more positive spin on it.
We had a very quiet first day home. Hubby, Lion, and I ended up falling asleep together for a little while. We had Lion’s Hospice nurse come by, and while she was there we he stopped breathing a couple of times. I thought Lion was going to return home before we could get Tigger home with us. Thankfully, he stuck around. We got several good family pictures and moved forward.
I didn’t sleep hardly at all that night. I was afraid of waking up to find him gone. It was like that most of that week. However, we did fall into a routine. Our family was amazing in helping us have the time we needed to take care of Lion, while making sure Tigger had cousins to play with. We had a few nights with just Hubby, Lion and me, then when we felt we had figured out how to make things happen, we gave Tigger the choice sleeping at Grandma’s or coming home. He chose to sleep at home.
Some of my most precious moments happened in those two evening when we had everyone home. Tigger wanted to play with Hubby while I sat on the couch holding Lion. Tigger wanted to help in every way he could with Lion, and we let him to a certain extent. Tigger helped pick out the clothes Lion would wear and was fascinated with his hands. Things we going really well, minus the fact that I was always worried when he would stop breathing if he’d ever begin again. In fact, Lion’s Hospice nurse came on Thursday and said he was looking and doing wonderfully well.
Then it all went downhill. At Lion’s midnight feeding, he ended up throwing everything and then some up. From that point on, it sounds like he was choking on his own spit. We called everyone, and they all said there was nothing really to be done. We tried everything we could think of. He stopped breathing more frequently. The Hospice nurse came and spend several hours with us. The only thing she could say is that it was normal. He could do this for weeks or months. I was beside myself. The only thing we could do was continue forward.
Friday evening, we were getting Tigger ready for bed and I was feeding Lion when he stopped breathing. I waited and waited for him to take another breath. Thirty seconds turned into a minute which turned into two. Then three. The four. His little chest didn’t rise and I thought he was gone.
As I tried to keep things in check so I wouldn’t scare Tigger, I told Hubby I thought Lion had gone home when he took a shallow breath, then another. I called my parents and asked them to come get Tigger, wondering how much more I could handle. They immediately picked him up after he was able to give Lion a kiss on the head.
Hubby and I knew there wasn’t much time left with Lion. I wasn’t ready to let go. I didn’t want him to go. Somewhere deep down I knew that it was for the best, but I didn’t want to let go. So we did the only thing that we could do. I held him and rocked him while the both of us sung hymns and children’s hymns together. It was during that time that he returned home to his Father in Heaven.