Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Pain of Separation

They wanted to take my baby girl to Atlanta, a little more than an hour away. I knew she needed to go, and they needed an answer quickly. Abigail was on 100% oxygen to compensate for the lack of the proper machine, and pure oxygen carries all sorts of dangers. Already she was at risk for blindness from the time she had spent on it.

Loren and I made the decision to let her go. But it wasn't easy for me. I had just undergone a C-section, and I couldn't leave the hospital yet. How could I live with being so far from her. I needed to touch her...smell her sweet newborn smell...feel her heartbeat...before it was too late. I pleaded with God to keep her alive till I could join her.

And I couldn't bear the thought of her being with strangers. It was important to me that she have something to hold onto. I asked Loren to go with her. He wanted to stay here. We had the other children to think about, and how we were going to arrange childcare and transportation. Besides, there was nothing he could do for Abigail.

"You can let her know that her mama and daddy are still there and they love her. You can be available to tell me exactly what is happening. And you can help me feel like we are still together somehow." I don't know how to explain why this was so important to me. Maybe it wouldn't be to other people. But he agreed to go.

Pastor Steve offered to drive Loren to Atlanta. It was just the beginning of the many beautiful ways people supported us through this difficult time.

When the NICU ambulance from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta arrived at our hospital, the people who were going to transport her brought her to my room in her isolette to say goodbye. They were so sweet and hopeful. Their calmness and tenderness helped to ease my anxiety. The sense of urgency vanished for just a moment, and I took it all in. She was so beautiful, and so perfectly formed. It was the best I would ever see her look, and I treasure those few moments where her beauty could shine through all the machines and tubes and wires. But time was our enemy, and they took her away.

I will forever be grateful to my wonderful nurse from Labor and Delivery. Her name was Shelley, just like mine. When her shift in L&D was over, instead of going home, she stayed with me in our Family Care room. She held my hand, cried with me, and searched the hospital for some little clothes for Abigail. She nursed me with tender care, though I was no longer her patient. Another beautiful gift from a stranger.

Things progressed rapidly for my recovery. I was able to get up and walk, eat, and use the bathroom within around 8 hours. I had weaned myself completely off the Morphine, and I was taking my pain pills with less frequency. I don't know if it was because I was so ready to go be with Abigail, or if it was Divine intervention (maybe both). In fact, I was doing so well that the nurses called Dr. Sepesi and told him that I had all the markers of someone ready to go home. It had been less than 12 hours since my C-section. He was so understanding. He gave permission for me to be released after procuring my promise not to go home to my children, but to go straight to Children's Healthcare. I was to remain in a wheelchair, and I was to lie down when I felt fatigued. It was easy for me to agree to all this...I wanted to be healthy enough to care for her.

Excitedly, I called Loren to tell him Dr. Sepesi had agreed to discharge me. Have I mentioned that he was ever-practical throughout this ordeal? I cried as I listened to him tell me all the reasons he did not want me to come. There was nothing I could do there. I was in no condition to travel. It was dinner time, and I just needed to eat and get some rest. I could come in the morning, etc.

I was devastated. I argued with him. But Dr. Sepesi said it was ok! It won't help her for you to come right now. I wanted to hold her. You can hold her tomorrow. I wanted to hold her while she was still ALIVE. She'll make it til then. I didn't believe he could tell me that for sure. If the nurse says she'll still be alive when you get here in the morning, will you stay? I...guess so.

Abigail's nurse assured me that, although the outlook was uncertain at best, she was not in danger of passing during the night. Sobbing, I agreed to stay. My nurse got me something to calm my nerves and help me sleep. She told me she had my papers ready to sign as soon as my eyes opened in the morning. My mom made sure the room was packed up and everything was ready to pick up and go first thing, and I fell into fitful sleep.

3 comments:

Sheila said...

Shelley,
I am so very sorry for what you had to go through, I am so thankful to the Lord that good people were by your side. I want to hug you as I read about abigail and cry with you, what a precious life she was.

Hugs,
Sheila

Rebecca said...

I can't imagine the pain of seeing your baby girl being taken away. Yes, it was for her good, but oh the pain you must have experienced in your heart. Mothers were designed by God to take care of their children and your hands were tied.

As I have read over your story and the struggles you have gone through, I have wondered how you handled the next two pregnancies? Were they hard? Were they 'normal'? What was it like when it came time for labor and delivery? I'm sure these were times of complete dependence on our Heavenly Father.

I admire you!!!

Shelley said...

Thanks, Sheila and Rebecca. I actually have a great story about my next pregnancy, and I will definitely share it. It is one of the most powerful stories of my entire life. :)