…The nurse explained what a pulse-ox monitor was as she wrapped a little sticker around Evie’s itty-bitty toe nail to get a reading on her oxygen level. The monitor began alarming and blinking in red lights. She assured us that often these things have inaccurate readings and that toes this small are especially difficult to secure the probe on. Calmly she called another nurse to come take vital signs while she tried a new probe. We stripped Evie down to her diaper and took her temperature.
She was cold.
The nurses exchanged an understanding look and urgently ushered me to bring the baby and follow them. We left the holding room and entered the main ER hall. The nurse motioned for me to lay Evie on a hospital bed. I kissed her clammy forehead and laid her tiny frame on the huge white sterile stretcher. For a moment time stood still. A harsh reality shattered my world as I was briskly brushed aside as the doctor’s commanding presence entered the room. Dr. “B”, was a middle-aged, gruff woman who looked like she could take on a platoon of army recruits. Unbeknownst to us, this was a war and the next critical hours would prove a battle between life and death.
She didn’t greet us.
She didn’t speak to us.
She went right to work. Quickly the room became crowded with an army of nurses and techs.
A sick, sinking feeling washed over me as I watched the medical personnel file in one after the other. This was not standard procedure. This was not “nothing”. Twelve individuals in scrubs circled her bed jockeying for position.
In a matter of seconds, life seemed to drain from her tiny body. She lay still and unresponsive to their rough stimulation. She was in cardiogenic shock. Her frame was ashen. No color. A picture of death. My face felt hot. My hands were shaking. C held them firmly as we watched helplessly. This tiny baby whom I had protected, held and caressed was at the mercy of frenzied hands, probes and needles. A huge orange tackle box was rushed into the room. “Infant Crash Cart” in bold letters sent chills down my spine. Dr. B shoved a ventilator tube down Evie’s throat. I cringed. Still, no movement from Evie. Someone flipped her on her stomach as a six inch needle was plunged into her spine. Fluid was drained. I knew this was a spinal tap looking for infection such as meningitis. Normally this painful procedure would be performed under anesthesia. But, no cry from Evie. No response. No movement. Words were swirling around me. Hepatitis. Group B Strep. Meningitis. All viruses I knew could be deadly in one so small.
C tugged at me, urging me to leave the room. “Mandy, these images will stay with you forever. You don’t want to see this”. The horror was unbearable, yet, not a single instinct could pull me away from the nightmare. I had an acute sense these could be my last moments with my baby and I had to be by her side. I couldn’t bear for her to be alone with strangers. I glanced up to see Dr. B who had stepped outside the door and was speaking in a hushed tone to another doctor. Her face was masked with doubt and I watched her close her eyes and shake her head with disappointed resolve.
She didn’t think Evie would make it.
She was giving up hope.
The reality slapped me in the face. I wanted to scream. I wanted to beg her to do something. C cupped my face in his hands. His gesture snapped me back to a reality that seemed untouchable in the chaos whirling around me. “We’ve given her back to the Lord Mandy. She’s in His hands.” I choked on my own words. “I know.” My world was crumbling. “God, be here,” was all I could breathe. Fragments of a familiar song began to minister to the deepest recesses of my breaking heart.
“Blessed be you name when Im found in the dessert place
Though I walk through the wilderness, blessed be your name.
Every blessing you pour out I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in Lord, still I will say;
Blessed be the name of the Lord
…you give and take away
my heart will choose to say
Lord blessed be your name.”
Dr. B snapped at a nurse who had unsuccessfully stuck Evie repeatedly to try to get an IV line in. Her veins were collapsing. “I need that in yesterday!”, she barked. A new young blonde nurse cowering under the order took up a needle and began to prod for Evie’s tiny angel hair veins. Oxygen was cranked up, yet her saturation levels were still alarming at dangerous levels. The room was spinning. I calculated my breathing trying to take in oxygen for Evie.
And then, a break through. “Im in!” The nurse had successfully threaded a needle into a vein. “I want that secure NOW” Dr. B emphasized. A collective sigh erupted around the room. Fluids were opened wide to try to help stabilize our baby. Constant adjustments continued on her oxygen intake, more blood tests were drawn, but the census in the room began to dwindle. Someone explained to us that Richland Hospital downtown had been notified of Evie’s condition. They had a specialty Neonatal unit and were sending an ambulance to transport her to a better equipped facility.
Evie still lay motionless. She was only a shadow of the baby I had placed on the bed two hours before. There was no movement. No color. The only indication of life was the irregular beeping of the monitor mirroring her heartbeat. The nurse left us alone for a few minutes telling us that the transport team would be there shortly. Bruises dotted her arms where unsuccessful attempts to get a line in had marred her perfect complexion. Her tongue was forced out of her mouth aside the vent tube down her throat. Her lips were dry and cracked. Little did I know, the the heart diagnosis that was yet to come. We would face an emotional roller coaster in the next days and uncertainty for months to come.
The weight of “What If” gets a stranglehold on me somedays. We all have them…..The unbearable possibilities that we feel a responsibility to prevent. Its goes by the name of “fear” too. What If? What if I had missed the signs? We would have taken Evie home that night and she wouldn’t have woken up the next morning. She would be another SIDS statistic. We would never have know that there was a reason she was sick.
I continue to battle the question as she remains a mystery to doctors and her condition is sometimes frail. What if? What if I miss a sign? This fear is rooted in putting the responsibility on my shoulders to protect and preserve her life. It is a weight I cannot and should not carry! If God is who I say He is, then I choose to believe that He is sovereign. That He is in control. That He cares and has her in His hands….come what may. And worry and fear and anxiety on my part cannot thwart his devine plan.
Matthew 6:26 “Are you not much more valuable than one of them? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
What a relief! I dont have to tackle the What If today. If my worst fears are ever realized (God forbid,) I cant imagine how I would continue. But I know, based on the promise of who He says He is, there will be grace! For today, let me rest in that assurance Oh Lord!!