Saturday, January 14, 2012
Chapter 6 The Lord Takes.
First Responders loaded Elizabeth and her teeny bundle of a daughter into the back of the ambulance. While one got Elizabeth settled as quickly as possible, another started working on her daughter. It was soon discovered that the baby's nostrils were too tiny for the oxygen tubes and so once again it took a moment for the ambulance staff to figure out how to help the wee babe. They resigned themselves to placing an oxygen mask directly in front of the child's face so that hopefully she would breathe in as much of the precious air as possible.
It seemed as though they hit every bump and pothole in the road along the way. It felt like an eternity before they arrived at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY. Meanwhile, the tiny baby had been without any type of life support other than a little bit of oxygen blown into the baby girls' face for an hour and a half. Her life signs were fading fast, her little heart was starting to slow and her tiny body was getting colder and colder. They rushed the baby into the NICU and wheeled Elizabeth into a hospital room to be examined and to wait. That was the last Elizabeth saw her daughter alive. She had wished that she had demanded to hold her child in the ambulance the whole time rather her mind had held onto the idea that these people were professionals and could care for her daughter better than herself. She kicked herself for thinking that, for all they had done is held oxygen to her face. Elizabeth was certain that she could have done the same thing while giving her daughter the warmth and nearness of her skin and body. This was the first in a cycle of "what if" thoughts that tortured Elizabeth for days, months, weeks, and years to come.
Bob met her in the room after he settled the kids in a waiting room with coloring books & crayons, storybooks, and kid's shows playing on the TV. They had snacks and drinks given to them by some caring nurse staff and were being kept an eye on while Bob went to check on Elizabeth. A kindhearted nurse had helped her change into a dressing gown and was checking her to make sure everything was normal for Elizabeth post-delivery. After the numbness of the shock wore off, the tears wouldn't stop pouring down Elizabeth's cheeks. The sweet nurse shared her tears and squeezed her hand "I am So, So Sorry for your loss… If there is Anything, Anything at all that you need, PLEASE let me know." Her voice wavered as she spoke and she hovered over Elizabeth as a mother hovers over her child. Elizabeth's thoughts raced as she reflected on this and although she was so thankful for her loving nurse she couldn't help but think that it was as a mother hover overs her living child- Elizabeth's child was probably not going to make it and could already be dead. She still held onto the tiny sliver of hope that her daughter would be okay but within moments the Dr. on call came into the room to confirm her worst nightmare. As her husband stood by her side, the Dr. gravely spoke to them both "I am very sorry but there was nothing we could do. Your child is gone. She was just too premature, her veins too small for an IV and her vitals were just too weak when she arrived, we couldn't stabilize her. I am sorry for your loss. Your husband told us your Uncle is the Head of NICU here, so we contacted him and he is on his way to see you. Once Again, I am sorry for your loss." The Dr. looked at Bob and Elizabeth once more with serious eyes, and turned to quietly leave the room.
Elizabeth had thought of her uncle but her emotions were overwhelming and she was glad that Bob had said something about having him come. She needed comfort from a family member, and especially from one who was a doctor who specialized in "lost cause" babies. He had seen many miracles in his time in the NICU, but he had had also dealt with the loss of babies just like hers as well. Her husband was having a hard time dealing with this as much Elizabeth. Bob was trying to be supportive the best he could, but he was struggling with emotions as well. Her husband was usually a very tough, very resilient man who never cried. While he stood with her absorbing the Dr.'s words, he became choked up and started to cry. He held her hand and the cried together for the first time. The nurse walked in and apologized and he immediately straightened up and recomposed himself to the strong, unwavering man that Elizabeth knew so well. She was thankful though for the brief moment of brokenness that she saw in her husband, and the feeling of unity she so desperately clung to facing the loss of their daughter.
The nurse asked if Elizabeth wanted pictures of her daughter. The hospital photographer took pictures for families who had suffered pregnancy loss free of charge and it was offered to parents if they wanted a They had angel boxes for babies such as hers and she asked Bob and Elizabeth if they would like one. Bob was indifferent but Elizabeth's voice shook as she said "yes please". The nurse said she would get her daughter ready, have pictures taken, and bring her to them to say goodbye.
Elizabeth's Uncle came in as the nurse was leaving. He came over and gave Elizabeth a hug then shook Bob's hand. "I am so sorry Elizabeth, for the loss of your daughter. We don't understand why things happen the way they do, but God in His wisdom had a plan for your daughter, and for whatever reason wanted her to be with Him today. Your Aunt Jan and I are so sad for you and your family, and will be praying for strength for you. We know God will keep you through all of this but we understand how awful this must be for you. I am so thankful though, that you love the Lord, because you have the Hope that many don't. The hope of seeing your daughter again in Heaven." He paused and squeezed her hand. "Thank you for coming to see us and talk to us." Bob and Elizabeth responded. "I am so glad to have been able to do so, I wish it was under different circumstances, but I am thankful to have been able to see you, talk with you, and be here for you. I have to go now, but remember we are praying for you and trust God in this. He will help you." Oom Elise' left the room. His words were like a soothing balm to Elizabeth. Her heart was so broken. Her daughter was less than a pound and only inches long, but filled every portion of Elizabeth's heart and mind.
The nurse brought their tiny daughter to them. "What is her name?" She asked them. They exchanged looks and without hesitancy said "her name is Grace Antoinette Rose Brown" "That is a beautiful name. I will be back in a little bit, take your time." The sweet nurse replied as she wrote down the name and left the room. Her husband could hardly look at his daughter, it just wasn't in him, but Elizabeth reveled at looking at her. Someone had dressed Grace up in a tiny, soft pink, hand crocheted dress with a matching crocheted pink hat, and had wrapped her in an equally tiny, soft and pretty hand crocheted baby blanket. She looked like a tiny baby doll. She looked so beautiful and Elizabeth kept searching for her mouth to move, but it moved no more. She was gone… Elizabeth searched for the words to say goodbye, but all she could do was gently kiss her head as tears poured over her daughter's pretty dress and blanket.
The nurse came back to take baby Grace away for the last time. Elizabeth gently whispered "Goodbye my daughter, I love you and miss you already." In her mind she breathed a prayer to her heavenly Father, "Please hold her in your arms till I can hold her myself in Heaven." A simple prayer but a helpless plea to her God to take care of her daughter since Elizabeth couldn't take care of Grace herself here on earth. The nurse took Grace from Elizabeth within a few minutes of taking her baby she was back with an Angel box. Inside was a heart with Grace's tiny feet stamped on it and her name, height, weight, and date of birth written on it. Also the measuring tape that had measured her, Her hospital id band that was so loose on her little leg that it slipped off and on easily, the sweet dress, hat, and blanket she was dressed in all fit inside the oval cardboard box with an angel painted on it. Her heart was so full of thankfulness yet sadness that when they left there would be no car seat with a sweet baby girl in it, just a small box of memories of the daughter that her husband lovingly referred to as Gracie. She wept. Someday she would be okay, but not today.
The ride home was quiet, eerily quiet. Even Samantha and Wayne said little and hardly bickered even though it was a few hour's drive. Bob was lost in his own thoughts and Elizabeth was lost in hers. She was full of "what ifs and whys". What if she listened to her body better and realized she was in labor sooner? What if she would have woke Bob up and forced him to take her to the local hospital, would her daughter have lived? What if she would have lived, how long would she have been in the hospital in Buffalo and what would they have done? Could she have done anything differently and her daughter would be living right now? Why had this happened to her and Bob when they wanted their daughter so much and couldn't wait to have her join their family and shower her with love? There were women who didn't want a child, yet they were giving birth to healthy unwanted babies, or even worse aborting them, even at the same time as her beautiful daughter had to die. Her heart was troubled but she knew she could count on the strength of her husband, whose strong grip held her hand the whole way home to help her through this. She also knew God would help her, but God felt so far away and distant right then, she would need to rely on Bob for the time being.
"Wow" thought Elizabeth as she regained her thoughts. She had been lost in the remembrances of her daughter long enough, too long actually. It was time to join the here and now. The kid's had finished their breakfast and the rattle of cereal bowls, and spoons clinking down into them brought her back into reality. Look how far God had brought her family. Look at all the children God had placed in her and Bob's lives. "Thank you Lord" she whispered. She had been blessed in abundance, and even though her home was gone, and many possessions were gone from the recent flood, she had her family and that was most important to her of all.