Monday, March 30, 2009

Once we were settled into the home that was provided by our new friends, we spent a few turbulent days between it and the NICU at Egleston.

I had procured a breast pump and was pumping every few hours, trying to preserve that precious small amount of colostrum for when Abigail was well enough to take it. I'm an avid breastfeeding fan, but I have always hated pumping. I've always been amazed by mothers who continue breastfeeding after putting their babies in childcare, and I've spent many moments wondering if I would have stuck with it like that if I weren't staying at home. But I found myself taking comfort in pumping for Abigail. It was really the only thing I could do for her at first. I couldn't hold her or even caress her swollen little body in the beginning. They stored all my little 2 ounce bags of colostrum with Abigail's name on them, encouraging me every time I turned one in with comments like, "Wow! You must be a pro! 2 ounces is a lot!" I couldn't wait for my milk to come in, because pumping out that colostrum was a major pain in my mommy parts.

Daily we were given little glimpses of hope. Abigail had been weaned off this medication and her dosage of that one had been lowered. She was on a regular respirator now, and was receiving fewer and fewer breaths per minute as she tried to breathe on her own. Her kidneys were not functioning, but there was time for that to come and they had options like dialysis and transplant.

It had been several days of getting little bits of encouraging news from one of the NICU doctors when we got the big blow. On day five, they had scheduled an ultrasound of her brain. They called us in to discuss the results, and when we got into the NICU we found that they had put Abigail into her own private little room there. The doctor sat us down next to her isolette and proceeded to tell us that our baby was bleeding into her brain stem. There was nothing they could do for her. Her kidneys still weren't functioning, and she was no longer a candidate for the other treatments because of the bleeding in her brain stem. That was when everything faded away except the sound of his voice echoing in my head. I was suddenly cold and trembling. He went on talking.

He didn't know exactly how much longer she would live. The bleeding in her brain stem would start shutting down her basic body functions like heartbeat and blood pressure, those things we don't consciously control. They could not feed her the IV nutrition any longer because her kidneys were not filtering. They had to stop giving her all but the most necessary medications. Her final passing would be caused by one of three things: because her kidneys weren't working she could die of toxins building up in her little body; because they couldn't feed her (because of the kidneys) she could starve to death; or she could die because of her other functions shutting down one by one. Or, we could post a DNR on her chart and remove the breathing tube to see how she did on her own. The Do Not Resuscitate meant that if she did not breathe on her own (which they expected she would not do for more than 20 minutes or so) there would be no medical intervention, and she would pass on to be with Jesus.

The doctor left, saying we had time to make our decision. I don't even remember if I cried. Loren was prepared to let her go. I didn't understand that. God could still work a miracle in her life, and we couldn't just give up on her! I was angry with my husband for being so quick to process it all. I was angry with him for not thinking of my feelings. I was angry with him for telling me that I needed to take a pain pill and a nap. I was absolutely certain that he couldn't possibly feel the pain I did, because he had not bonded with her before she was born like I had. He and my mom pressed me, though, and I took my pain pill, found an empty cot in the little sleeping area adjacent to the NICU waiting room, and waited for sleep to overtake me.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

Every time I come to your blog I leave with tears in my eyes. You are one strong mama!!!