Article: Constantine Stephen
On the evening of May 29th, 2019, we went through our bedtime routine a little bit differently than we normally would have. It was a little bit rushed because we had just gotten home from visiting with family from out of town and I was completely exhausted. All I could think about was getting both boys to bed so I could finally decompress from the day's activities and get to sleep.
I gave Constantine his bath and got him in his pajamas as quickly as I could, knowing I still had to nurse him before bed. After he was done nursing, I took him into his room to rock him and sing our good night song. I'll never forget how he looked at me as I sand to him. He had such love in his eyes and was so excited that he was squirming his little body. I laid him down in his crib, made the sign of the Cross over him, and shut his door, not knowing that would be the last time I would get to do that with him.
The next morning, I heard my two and a half year old calling for me from his room. Our morning took off from there. I hadn't heard Constantine yet, so I figured I'd let him sleep as long as he needed to since we had such a busy day the day before. I quickly got to making my other son breakfast, answering messages from earlier that morning, and getting myself somewhat ready for the day.
At about 10:15 I figured I would go in and check on him. It wasn't unusual for him to sleep past 10, but I figured I'd go in and see if he was stirring. I walked over to his crib and noticed his face down on the mattress. I looked closer to see if his little body was rising up and down from breathing and it wasn't. In a panic I touched him and he was ice cold. My brain all of a sudden froze. I couldn't process what was happening. I picked him up from his crib and his face was blotchy and pale.
All I remember is screaming, "My baby is dead! He's gone!" In my hysterical state, I called 911. In the meantime, my two and a half year old came into the room as the 911 operator was telling me to do compressions. He started to giggle because he thought I was playing a game with Constantine.
After doing compressions for what seemed like forever, I got off the phone with the operator and took Constantine into the living room to wait for the paramedics. I called my husband to tell him that he needed to get home, then called my mom to tell her she needed to get to my house as soon as she could.
Once the paramedics finally got there, they rook my two and a half year old outside so that he didn't see them trying to revive his brother. Someone led me into the kitchen to try to calm me down and get as much information as possible.
My father-in-law was the first family member to get to our house. He held onto me until my husband and parents were able to get home. When my husband walked in, all I remember is that we literally just collapsed into each other. It seemed like we were outside of our bodies, not really processing what was happening.
A little while later, a paramedic brought Constantine into the kitchen wrapped up in his blanket. She told us to take as much time as we needed. All I kept telling him was how much I loved him. If I wanted him to know anything, I wanted him to know how much his mommy loves him. Before we said our final goodbyes, my dad, who is an Orthodox priest, said a prayer over him.
And just like that our lives completely changed.
I still think of that evening where I rushed through bedtime. I still feel the guilt of thinking how tired I was and how I just wanted some quiet time to myself after taking care of babies all day. I wish I would have let him splash in the bathtub a little bit longer. I wish I would have sung to him a little bit longer. I wish I would have held him just a little bit longer.