A couple of nurses gathered around our hospital bed, and while she was safely snuggled in my arms they took her oxygen tube out. I think everyone in the room held their breath, uncertain of what was to happen next. Tyler and I cuddled even closer in bed with Amelia, and the hospital room was silent.
It was shortly after 10pm on Monday night.
Tears soaked my eyes as it hit me that our time with baby Amelia was limited. Without a machine helping her to breathe, would she only live mere minutes, or in just a few hours would her spirit be gone from us? I didn’t care, for I know she felt the power of love in that dim room.
We cried, Tyler and I, as we held her fragile body that night. We cried for hours, knowing the inevitable but blind to how or when it would eventually happen. Tyler held me tightly, and I held him. It was different from any embrace we’d shared before, as we struggled to transfer silent feelings of love and support to one another. It was a pain the two of us would hold secretly in our hearts for the rest of our lives. We were, for those mere moments, removed from the outside world. A tiny piece of heaven was in our arms, and I was finally prepared to let that go. I prayed fervently to Heavenly Father to take Amelia in His arms. I felt saddened she would leave us yet was filled with indescribable joy knowing she would also be safe without us.
Amelia (and our Heavenly Father) had other plans in mind. Even with the organ transplant team ready to go in the hallway, baby girl bravely fought for every opportunity to live with us on earth. If she had passed away within 90-minutes of being extubated, her kidneys could have been donated, and if she had passed away within (2-)3 hours of extubation her liver/liver cells could have been donated. Neither happened that night. Amelia just slept peacefully in our arms, happy the oxygen tube was out of her throat.
An enormous part of me wishes she had passed that night. Forgive me, Amelia, for I was scared to completely let you into my heart. If she had passed quickly, her organs would have been donated. I think about how her perfect organs could have helped others’ sick and afflicted bodies; I mourn for their loss, having to wait for yet another potential donor to come along. But that wasn’t the plan Heavenly Father had in mind for her, and I must remember “not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Amelia had a moderately strong suck, and with help she was able to latch on to my breast. Though she didn’t get any milk (and couldn’t swallow it if she had), this was when I felt I “became” a mother to her earthly body, for I finally was able to help nourish and take care of her. I still struggle with the fact that my entire job as a mother to Amelia was simply to hold and love her. My mothering instinct still yearns to take care of an infant.
We finally sent home our photographer around 2:30am, and eventually the extra nurses and staff went home to succumb to sleep. I hesitated, but left Amelia in my sleeping husband’s arms and finally gave in to showering around 3:00am. I cried, alone and scared, as that warm water dripped down my skin, washing away the day’s labors. How I wish it would have washed away my fears and insecurities! Life would have been easier had she spent just those ten hours in our arms. I had planned for just a few short hours with her, and now I found myself with excess. Grateful and so blessed with excess time, but how had it come to this? This was not the way I had envisioned it going, and I knew as time rolled on it would be harder and harder to let her go.
I barely slept the rest of the night. Tuesday morning came and went, a blur of faces and smiles to greet us. Amelia was finally cordless and off all monitors, and it was simply the three of us in a windowless hospital room. The hours passed one by one, and throughout the confusing array of emotions that day, the strongest felt was peace. Room 16 of the labor and delivery ward was a sacred and peaceful place, a haven from the outside world.
We changed hats and diapers and kept a close watch on her breathing. Late Tuesday afternoon she began to show her first signs of respiratory distress, and we didn’t think she’d make it through the night. We took shifts of sleeping, holding her close between the two of us. If I had my arm around her, Tyler was holding her hand. If Tyler had her cradled, I massaged her toes. If she was going to fight for the opportunity to stay alive, I was determined to stay awake to see her through.
Tags: anencephaly, baby amelia