Josh and I began to realize that Heavenly Father needed our little man more than we did. As Josh and I discussed things with Dr. J, Josh asked him straight forward, "If this was your son, what would you do?" and Dr. J's reply was that he would take him off the machines and love him until God took him home. Archer was struggling, he was getting worse. Dr. J told us that there was no right or wrong decision and that he would help us with whatever choice we made. Archer could be kept alive by medications and machines, but no one knew how long that "life" would be. After some deep soul searching, prayers and tears, Josh and I had come to a decision but actually going through with it was a whole other ball game. Although I knew it was time to let him go, I still felt so torn by it. I wanted to keep him with me. It would be no life for Archer to have "lived" on machines, and I knew that it was my selfishness that was keeping him here. But how do you ever just let your baby go? It was going to be MY say so - no pressure or anything. Even now, just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes.
After Dr. J left the room, Josh and I returned to the NICU to spend some time with our little Archer. All the time in the world still wouldn't have been enough. He was a beautiful little man. Such soft skin. Perfect fingers, toes, eyes, mouth, nose... perfect everything. I could have stared at him forever. Honestly, I couldn't wait to kiss on him without all the tubes and wires getting in the way. I don't remember how long we stood there with Archer, but eventually we made our way back to my hospital room. Over the length of the afternoon and even we had several flows of visitors (both friends and family) who came to wish us well and see our angel boy. We told our families that we had come to a decision. Everyone who was able was told to get here asap because we planned on giving Archer a blessing the following evening and then letting him go. Our family and a few close friends were invited to be there and participate.
Eventually, Josh and I were left to ourselves. I can't speak for Josh, but I remembering just thinking "Is this really happening?!" It was the weirdest feeling. I knew I was there but it felt like a horrible dream. Josh needed to go back home to shower and get me a few things, including some edible food - no offense EIRMC, but hospital food stinks. Only a few minutes after Josh left, I found myself making the trek back to my baby. You would think that after the day I'd had, I would have just wanted to go to sleep but I didn't feel right being in my room without Archer. I didn't feel right being so far away. I just wanted to be close to him - nowhere else.
When I made it to Archer's room, a nurse was there watching him. My first question, "How is he doing?". Fortunately, he was doing good for the moment. He liked to lay on his tummy. Every time the nurses tried rotating him to his back all his stats dropped. Its funny how even only hours old, babies still have their own personalities and preferences. It was so hard not to pick him up and hold him tight. I think that if I would have, I wouldn't have been able to put him back down. I stayed there with him for a couple hours, just talking to him and touching him however I could. The nurse left the room so that I could have some time with Archer alone. At first I didn't understand why, but only minutes after she stepped out I understood. That time I had with him was life altering. There are many realizations that I came to in that hour and a half alone with my baby boy. Many of them too personal to share, but I will tell you this: Heavenly Father hears us. Our pleas do not fall on deaf ears. During that time I was filled with an undeniable peace. No, it didn't make our decision any easier, but I knew... I KNEW that it was right. Archer was needed elsewhere, but I would see him again. Archer was MINE and I was his. Forever. Our time apart would only be but a moment.
I spent the whole time crying. Sobbing really. I laid my head right next to his and held his tiny hand, smoothed his soft hair, and rubbed his tiny back and feet. I told Archer over and over how much I loved him. How much he meant to our family, how we would miss him so much. I told him how much I hurt, but that I understood. I told him how scared I was and that I needed him just a bit longer before I could let him go. I apologized for being selfish. I told him to come and visit us often. I told him that I would try my hardest to be good enough to see him and his brother again and that I couldn't wait for that day. With a kiss to his beautiful face, I secured the walls to Archer's incubator back in place and left his room with an aching heart, swollen eyes, a runny nose, and a terrible headache. With each visit it got harder and harder to leave my angel boy. Slowly, I trudged back to my room, with one thought... tomorrow was going to be the shortest, longest day of my life.