Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Reunion

When I next opened my eyes, it was nearly 7am. Before the cobwebs were even gone from my mind, I pressed my nurse's button and told them I was ready to go. I believe I was out of there in less than 20 minutes. My parents had spent the night at the hospital with me so we could leave right away. We had to go to Walmart to pick up a few things I needed, like some shoes to fit over my giant, swollen feet.

The drive to Atlanta was the most horrible part of that day. We were in a boxy old Jeep, and it shook mercilessly the whole way to Children's Healthcare (we call it Egleston around here). I choked down my tears of pain, and I reminded myself that we would be with Abigail soon. I had no idea what we would find when we got there. Every moment that I was awake, I was praying for the chance to hold my baby. But it was not to come that day.

We arrived at Egleston and found a wheelchair. It was such a strange feeling being pushed through the halls of that place. Obviously they had put much effort into making it feel fun and cheerful, but it was somber and maybe even erie to know that there were so many children inside those walls fighting for their very lives. I was wheeled past brightly colored children's artwork, a huge and fascinating fishtank, and a chapel where parents poured out their hearts to God...perhaps bargaining for their children's lives with heartful promises of good deeds.

Finally, we made it to the NICU lobby. After getting some pointers from the receptionist on how everything worked around there, we went through some doors and around a corner and through some more doors, finding ourselves in the NICU. We sterilized ourselves and put on masks and gloves and gowns, walked past isolettes holding the tiniest babies I ever saw, and made our way to Abigail. When my eyes found her, my heart sank, and I cried. She was so swollen that the skin over her belly was shiny and tight. Her entire body shook with the hundreds of breaths per minute being forced through her little lungs. My sweet hubby handed me a picture, taken the night before, of her tiny little hand inside his own. Her hand didn't even look the same any more. We took another one together:


I wanted to hold her, nurse her, sing to her. But it was not time. I had to settle for a kiss. It was more than I had been offered yet since she was born, and I took it greedily. Strangely, memories of the next few days are very mixed up in my mind. I may not put them all forth to you chronologically, but I think they will come together and form a picture of what happened and of everything that I kept in my heart. The story is full of blessing and hope, heartache and grief, and healing.

3 comments:

Sheila said...

So beautiful and My heart goes out to you.

The Purvis Pendulum said...

sweet sweet Shelly,
I know this is so hard to share, and relive in writing.. but I love you and pray that every day you are reminded just how wonderful of a mom, woman, wife and friend you are to those around you. Abigail looks down on you daily and says- THAT is MY mommy! She is amazing!

Shelley said...

Thank you ladies.