I've been cleaning out Maggie's drawers and replacing the clothes that are too small with the bigger ones. While I was doing that today, I came across the t-shirt that they gave Maggie at the NICU to commemorate her ambulance ride. It brought back a flood of memories from that time, and I wanted to record them, since I never have before.
First and foremost, I am so grateful that she is sitting next to me while I write this, because the whole thing could have gone a lot differently. I recently was introduced to this company: Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Foundation, which specializes in remembrance photography for babies and I can barely stand it. I don't know how anyone endures the trial of losing a child.
Anyway, here's the long version of what I can remember:
When Maggie was born everything checked out just fine. Eric and I had her in our room for a couple hours when a nurse came in with my dinner. The nurse asked us how long Maggie had been making the grunting sound she was making, and we told her it hadn't been long. The nurse seemed concerned, so she left and came right back with our nurse. They took Maggie to the nursery and immediately called our pediatrician. I knew it wasn't good because they don't call the doc after hours unless they have to. In the meantime, it all happened so fast, I didn't have time to tell my family, who were on their way, what was happening. My Mom and Dad and sister, Anna, were in town to take care of Amos and they brought him to the hospital to meet Maggie that evening. By the time they got there she was in the nursery, so they could only look at her through the glass. We had no idea at that point that she wasn't going to make it out of the hospital before my Dad had to leave and that he wouldn't get to meet her on that trip.
Maggie was born on election day, and I remember everyone small talking about the results as they came in while we waited for the doctor to get there. When he got there he ordered a spinal tap and some other tests. He also said Maggie needed to spend the night in the nursery where she could be monitored. They immediately started her on an antibiotic, since all her symptoms pointed towards an infection.
Eric and I spent an hour with her in the nursery, then we headed back down the hall to our room to get some sleep since it was pretty late at that point. Maggie seemed ok when we left her, we thought everyone were just being careful. I didn't sleep well that night. I woke up at like 2 a.m. and went to look at Maggie in the nursery. She looked really good. The nurse on duty said she thought she looked really good too. I went back to my room, and at 5 a.m. had a repeat wake up and visit to the nursery. This time, when I left the nurse followed me back to my room where Eric was still asleep. She told me that Maggie had tested positive for an infection, and they thought it might be meningitis. They were surprised because she looked so good, but something was definitely wrong. The nurse left, and Eric, who had been asleep, woke up to my sobbing. It was horrible I was crying so hard, I couldn't even tell him what had happened.
When I got ahold of myself we went to the nursery and met the pediatrician. I remember him very clearly saying, "I'm not sure what's wrong yet, but she IS sick." Poor guy, I was such a sobbing wreck, I would have hated to talk to me then. He arranged for Maggie to be transferred from Orem Community Hospital to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, so she could be in the NICU. The ambulance team came and packed her up. They brought her to my room to say goodbye, she was so tiny in the huge clear case (? I don't know what its called?). Again, the poor ambulance team, I was such a wreck. Once she left, my doctor came to check me out immediately so we could go meet her at the NICU. There we were, less than 24 hours since we got to the hospital to have our baby, leaving it without her. I called my parents on the way to the hospital to tell them what had been happening. I told them I'd let them know as soon as we knew more.
When we got to UVRMC we went to the 5th floor, where the NICU is. They are, for obvious reasons, very careful about security there. I think the look on my face was all they needed to know that my baby was definitely there. I can't imagine being a nurse there, what a special kind of person it must take to work there. I remember being a crying wreck as the nurse talked to us, I have no idea what she said that first time. Fairly quickly it became clear I was no good to anyone, so they told Eric to take me home, let me sleep and eat. As we left Maggie was surrounded by nurses taking care of her and hooking it her up to all kinds of machines.
We drove home and parked the car. I made the mistake of turning around and looking at Maggie's empty car seat and lost it all over again. My Dad met us in the driveway, and he hugged me as I bawled, and I said "I'm sorry, I'm not doing very good right now." He hugged tighter and said "we aren't either." My Mom made us a good lunch, and then I slept. I was so tired and emotionally exhausted, it felt so good. I remember waking up feeling good, and then remembering what was happening and it all coming flooding back.
After I woke up, we went back to the hospital. That first day was so hard. I could barely look at Maggie without bawling. We weren't able to hold her that day either. I just wanted to pick her up and make it all better. It was a horribly long waiting game. They'd run lots of tests and were just trying to figure it out. We called our good friend David to come to the hospital to give Maggie a blessing with Eric. While they were giving the blessing our doctor called. He had such great news--it wasn't meningitis. I know her fate was already determined at that point, either it was meningitis or it wasn't, but I was so overwhelmed by the immediacy of the Lord's response to our faith to have the doctor call during the blessing. I also remember that at that point, the tears stopped.
Things were much better after that night. Maggie started to test negative for the infection, and as long as she kept testing negative she could go home after 10 days of antibiotics. My Mom and Anna stayed at our house and took care of Amos so I could be at the hospital a lot of the time. I got used to the drive between our house and the hospital, the walk across the parking lot, through the hospital lobby, and up the elevator to the 5th floor. I got used to turning the corner and seeing Maggie in her bed and being so glad to see her.
I am so grateful Eric was with me through all of this. We learned that we deal with trials very, very, very differently, but that's what makes us a good team. We didn't take any pictures of Maggie hooked up to all the machines in NICU, it was too painful then. I wish now we had, so I could show her how far she came someday.