Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Rest of the First Day

I have waited way too long to do this. Every time I want to sit down and write, something inside pulls me away. The passing of Gabriel Cude, another anencephalic sweetie that we have been keeping up with passed away just a few days ago after 10 days here on Earth. For some reason, it prompted me to write again. Reading his mommy's blog and realizing that my own memories of my time with Elizabeth are fading fast woke me up a bit.

I want to write down all of the memories I have of her here. Unfortunately, most of those happened after she passed away. So, if that bothers you, you may not want to read any further. My last post left off with us finishing up in the L&D room. After the boys and the grandparents left to go home, Jodie and I had to be moved to another room. I was pleased that they put us in a room far away from the Mommy and Baby floor. I didn't have to hear other baby's crying all night and see happy moms and dads walking down the halls with balloons and teddy bears.

I kept Elizabeth with me the whole time. Jodie was really hungry and asked if I would be okay if he went down to get something to eat. I told him it would be fine and welcomed the opportunity to be alone with the baby for a bit. As soon as the door closed behind him, I looked down at her and lost it for the first time. I sobbed uncontrollably. I squeezed her tight and kissed her again and again. She was so cold already. That's just something a mother shouldn't have to experience. Mom's are naturally aware of their baby's body and it's an instinct to keep your baby warm. It's a desperate feeling not to be able to warm her no matter what you try. I realized that this would be a mental hurdle that I would need to get over. Nothing could bring that warmth back to her physical body.

About that time, the Odells arrived. What a relief! Carrie cried with me for a few minutes. I was glad not to be alone. She held the baby for awhile. I am very proud of her. I know she was scared about how she would react or if she could handle the whole thing, but she did great and I think she was as surprised as I was at how little you even noticed her anomaly. After the Odells left, my grandparents came up for a visit. Granny rocked the baby for a bit. It was getting late so they left.


Carrie Odell visiting us at the hospital.
 Jodie and I were alone with Lizzy. The room was very quiet. It dawned on me that I hadn't actually seen proof that this baby was a girl. I had stared at her face so intently until they took her to put the diaper on and clean her up. I told Jodie I needed to see it for myself. So, we unfastened the diaper, and guess what? We actually made a girl! I almost couldn't believe it. This was definitely not a sight we were used to. We giggled a bit and fastened her back up. I decided to change her outfit...again. This was my first girl, and I was determined to make the most of it. We put the "Little Sister" onesie on her. It had some of those cute little ballet slipper socks to match. She was adorable. We played around with some different hats too, trying to find one that fit well. None of them really fit very good, but we figured out that they fit better with the hospital hat on underneath. The biggest problem was that her head kept leaking onto her hats. So, we called the nurse and asked for some bandages. When she came in, she said, "Hey, I know you. I saw your video on Facebook. So, this is baby Elizabeth!" I think knowing our story, she took extra good care of us. She was very sweet. We got Lizzy's head bandaged and started settling in for the night.


"Little Sister"
 It was getting really late. I hadn't had any sleep since 3am. I was exhausted, but fighting sleep. I didn't want to miss a second with her knowing that in a a day or two she would be out of my reach. Don't get me wrong, I totally understood that she wasn't actually there, but I wanted to have that time with her body. I wanted to hug her, and kiss her, and rock her, and memorize her features. It wasn't long before Jodie was snoozing, the lights were mostly out, and it was just me and Elizabeth. I reluctantly laid her in the crib next to the bed and tried to get some sleep. I knew I would need to regain some strength for the days ahead.

I had only had about 3 hours of sleep when I woke up. It was 3am. I'm not sure I can put into words how I felt over the next few hours. My body and my instincts were telling me to mother my baby. Feed her, change her, rock her when she cries. None of these were possible. I felt so helpless and useless. All I could do was hold her. As I sat there rocking her in the dark and crying, God answered my prayer. I noticed that little baby boogies were barely running out of her nose. Finally, something a mommy could do. I grabbed a tissue and blotted the boogies away. It happened a couple more times over the next hour and I was thrilled each time to wipe her little nose. I folded up that tissue and put it in her memory box. Knowing that we weren't going to have her embalmed, we had to keep her body cool. So, I also got to make sure that her ice packs were changed frequently. Any little thing to help me feel useful.

I finally decided to lay back down in the bed, this time with her in my arms. We snuggled up close and I fell back asleep for about an hour before they brought my breakfast in.What a long day we had together and God was with us through it all.