August 19, 2015, 8:00 pm
ATTENTION. IT IS NOW 8 O’CLOCK, AND VISITING HOURS ARE NOW OVER.
The intercom blared, jostling me from my sleep. The lights were once again hurdling the tiles overhead. The wheels sang a rugged song as they rolled along the ground . The nurse grasping the bed behind me looked straight ahead, focused on her mission. I guess I won’t be seeing anybody tonight.
When we reached my new room, they wrapped my legs with air-filled “boots” that went clear up to my thighs. Every few minutes, air would inflate, beginning at the ankle and moving on upward, in order to keep the blood circulating, and blood clots at bay.
My husband came quickly from his post at the nursery. He’d been with our new daughter while I was in Recovery. But now that I was back, I couldn’t wait to hold her. See her. Kiss her.
“Where is she?”
The nurse looked at me and smiled. “She’s still getting assessed. They’ll bring her when they’re done.”
I took advantage of the opportunity to get a little more rest. My body craved it.
Though the curtain was closed, I could hear my roommate on the other side, lovingly hushing her newborn’s cries.
The nurse came back every few hours to check my blood pressure and shoot more narcotics into my IV.
My husband squeezed my hand, alerting me that the doctor had come in to speak with us.
“So, we’ve moved her to the NICU. Her breathing is erratic, and we’re not sure why. We are still running tests.”
I asked when I’d be able to see her, knowing very well that now they wouldn’t be bringing her to me. I was told I’d be able to see her in the morning, after the air boots and catheter were removed.
The rest of the night was spent dozing in and out of consciousness while sending my husband to check on her, and requesting he bring back pictures.
At some point, they brought the paperwork to us for her birth certificate. My husband assumed responsibility for filling it out, and ran the name by me again before writing anything down.
I hesitated. Abigail Joy wasn’t right anymore. Even though I loved the nickname Abby Joy, her journey since pre-conception had always stretched us to trust God’s plan and have more faith. We had to have faith in the waiting. Faith in the praying. Faith during the pregnancy. Faith about the move. Faith we’d find a doctor. Faith through the inductions. Faith during surgery. And now faith that she’d be okay, in spite of what was ailing her.
We agreed. We smiled. And he wrote it down.
In the morning, they brought me breakfast- liquids only- which consisted of apple juice, and chicken broth.
It took them awhile before coming to remove the boots and the catheter, but once they were off, I was given the green light to get out of bed and go see her.
Mentally, I was ready to jump out of bed and skip down the hall to her. But my body, however, was not.
My very first movements post-surgery were nothing short of awkward and helpless. My husband came to my aid, helping me sit up. Together we slid my legs off the edge of the bed, and got in position to stand. I propped my hands on his shoulders, he braced his arms around my waist, and up I went, moving glacially slow, until I was upright, yet still largely hunched over. I could feel the covering taped over my incision, tugging on my skin.
Once I was upright, I needed to sit down. I had hardly moved, yet my legs needed rest. I spotted the soft chair next to my bed, and sat.
Once I’d safely landed, I smiled up at my husband, proudly.
“Take a picture!”
He whipped out his phone to commemorate the moment. I sent it to my mom, who was home tending to Sweet Pea, knowing she’d love to see the simple progress I was making, as mothers often do.
I rested for a moment, preparing myself for the long 40-foot walk to see my girl.
Then the doctor came in.
“After reviewing her x-rays, Your daughter has a condition called pneumothorax. There are air pockets inside her chest cavity that are making her breathing erratic. But we can’t get a clear enough image with our equipment here, and I’d like for her to get a second opinion. We are transferring her down to Loma Linda Medical Center. They will be able to do more testing and pinpoint more of what’s happening with her.”
Loma Linda is where they take really sick people. My stomach dropped. I squeezed my husband’s hand.
“When is she going?”
“The ambulance is on it’s way. They should be here within the hour.”
I didn’t have much time then. I needed to go see her now. My husband helped me up, and I clutched onto his arm as we walked down the hallway, snails pace yet determined, knowing the clock was ticking.
When we got there, there were only two little beds.
“Which one is she?” He pointed to the right. I walked to her. A white striped blanket swaddled her delicate little body, wires coming from her chest and feet. Both her little hands were taped, keeping the miniature IV’s in place. An oxygen tube lined the bottom of her nose.
I didn’t know how to hold her. I didn’t want to risk pulling something out, or hurting her in any way.
The nurse sensed my hesitation, swooped her up and safely laid her into my arms.
I sat in the nurses swivel chair and held her, speaking sweet sentiments, and soaking up the moment. The moment I first got to hold her. Unable to grab her sweet little hands or feet, my finger found it’s way to her mouth, and I ran my finger round and round the rim of her perfect lips. She’d pucker in response, and I’d smile.
“Mommy’s here now.”
My husband snapped pictures, and we continued this dance, lost in our moment, until I heard a tapping on the glass behind me.
My sister-in-law. She stood there smiling, flowers in hand. Our first visitor.
Shortly after that, Sweet Pea arrived with my mom, and was very pleased to see her new baby sister, even if it was through a glass wall. I waved and blew kisses, and she sent kisses back, all the while smiling, trying to sneak a closer peak. After a few minutes, they headed back to my room with my husband, and my new girl and I got a few more minutes alone.
The ambulance crew came through the hall, packed the other NICU baby into an incubator, and wheeled her away.
Our turn was next.
A short while later, the second crew arrived. The nurse took Abigail from my arms, laying her back on her bed, so they could prepare her for the trip.
A sweet, young, nurse intern who’d been watching me spoke up.
“Would you like me to help you back to your room?”
I declined, stood, and began the trek on my own. Until she noticed my struggle and offered yet again. Her perfectly-styled hair and sweet, clean face made me feel embarrassed by my unbrushed teeth and lack of hygenical cleanliness at the moment. She was sweet and didn’t seem to care.
When I got back to the room, mom, Sweet Pea, and my husband were waiting for me. A little after that, the ambulance crew rolled in the incubator, Abigail cozily resting inside. We were given a minute to say goodbye before they took her away.
My husband kissed me and followed after them. He was going to follow the ambulance.
Mom and Sweet Pea left too, after that, leaving me all alone.
The nurse came by, and offered more pain killers, and suggested I try to walk. Walking prompts healing, she said.
She helped me get up, and out to the hall.
“I’ll be right over here at my station if you need anything.” She smiled.
I turned toward the long hallway, and began my trek. Moving ever-so-slowly and hunched over, being careful to not put any strain on the incision. I’d glance into the open doors as I passed them by, and catch glimpses of other mommies, nestling their babes. Never mind. Look ahead.
At the end of the hallway was a stained-glass window that covered the entire wall. The light from outside danced through the colors, and straight into my soul. I stared at it, noticing each little square and sliver of glass, and thought to myself, “I’m going to remember this moment forever.”
When I got to the end, I paused, admiring the artwork, the splendid colors that brought some sunshine back into my heart. Then I turned around, and walked again. She’s waiting for you to go be with her. You can do it. Keep on walking. Keep getting stronger. Self pep-talks always seemed helpful in moments like these.
After three long laps, I got back to my room and sat on my bed. I looked to the table next to me and noticed a pink and white stuffed puppy. A soft little friend my mom and Sweet Pea had picked out at the gift shop, and left here intentionally for this very moment. My mom wanted me to have something to hold.
I stroked its soft ears and thumbed it’s small paws.
Where was my baby now? Were they at the other hospital yet? I pictured the ambulance racing through the traffic, my husband’s white truck following closely behind. I knew anxiety would consume me if I let it.
She’s yours, God. I know you love her and you know what is going on. Please keep her safe, and please, please, heal her.
It felt good to have someone to turn to in these moments of worry.
I laid my head back, and slid into sleep.
Continue reading the story here.