My precious little miracle,
Here we sit. It’s April 16th. I was supposed to work today, but you and I are both sick, and you need regular nebulizer treatments, so I stayed home with you. You definitely don’t feel good, but man, you’re so much healthier than this time a year ago. When I checked on you before coming to bed, your breathing was perfectly even. Your body is fighting this virus the same way you fight everything- stubborn, and head-on. You should be all better in just a couple more days. This has been hard on me, though. Harder than an outsider might fathom. But having you wheezing on April 16 just doesn’t set well with my heart.
Your wonderful Daddy and I have been through our share of rollercoaster life events in our marriage – moving, a career change for me, having a baby, medical issues for me with my gallbladder, losing his Mima, losing two babies early in pregnancy, having a second baby, losing my grandparents within four days of each other… we felt like we’d seen a lot. We weathered each rise and fall of the rollercoaster great because of our faith. We faced some positive and some negative surprises along the way, and of course the biggest (positive!!) surprise we ever had was having you! And what a wonderful, miraculous surprise you are!!! We felt we had faced it all, and then you got sick. Very sick. And you were just so very tiny still. Ten and a half weeks old. Our tiny, precious little miracle bug. Our little mermaid.
I relive those days over and over at random times. The days between April 9 and April 17 are all a blur. A blur that comes to a sudden, halting stop at 10:58 pm on April 17. The hours between then and the night of the 19th are a blur too, but a very different blur- where every minute seemed to last for hours. The hours stretched into seemingly days, and the days to weeks. Every time we almost lost you my heart would stop for long seconds, and I would die inside. Sometimes I wished the tears would come, and they wouldn’t. And other times, the floodgates would open and I couldn’t make them stop. I would hold your tiny fingers and crave the feeling of holding you close. I begged God to give me a chance to hold you again. And then the clock stopped again, and we were told we were at your last option. ECMO. I remember texting your Nurse Practioner, Katie, and begging her to come be with us. I am pretty sure I just said, “ECMO. It’s time. Please can you come.” And she of course came.
For eight and a half agonizingly long days, we had a family member always by your side. We moved into the Ronald McDonald House so we were able to be together as a whole family in the same building. And we settled into the hospital life. A life where everyone suddenly knew we were Elle’s family- from room 25. The days and nights of ECMO were stressful at first, but we settled into an amazing routine with the nursing team, and felt like we weren’t alone in this journey. And baby girl, we were never alone. God sent His very own angels right there into your room day and night to look over you. They never left you. They made it possible for us to sleep. I know they were angels because they never seemed to tire, and they brought such encouragement to us- directly from Heaven- to pull us through.
But through all of your victorious recovery after ECMO and everything, my brain can’t really move past the night of the 17th. And I’m not really sure how I’ll be tomorrow night when the clock is about to strike 11. I’m hoping I can go to bed somewhat early and sleep right through it. But I relive those moments of hearing the alarm go off, the nurse coming in, flipping on the lights, and you being so pale that you were blue. Her screaming down the hall for help. The rush of staff. And then more. And more. Calling your Daddy numerous times and finally calling your Pappy to go downstairs and wake him up to come to the hospital. Calling Granny and PawPaw. Asking for the Chaplain. The resident coming out to talk to us and update us on how you were doing. And I kept seeing his Batman light and knowing Jacob was watching over you, and surely God had sent us this resident as a sign that He was with us…
Your tiny fingers. Your little nose. I tried to memorize them all as we stood with some of our dearest friends around your bed and had you baptised.
It’s true that the whole 43 days at the hospital changed me, sure. But that night. The night of April 17. It’s a night that I will relive probably for the rest of my life. I pray that one year, the memory will be so very faded that I’ll strain my brain trying to remember the sequence of events. But I doubt that will ever happen. And that’s ok. Because it shaped who I am as a person, and who I am as a mother.
I treasure every little thing that any of the three of you does or says. I do my best to live in the moment in a way I had never done before. Because I know that a night like April 17, 2018, can sneak up any time and threaten to steal any one of you away from me, and I refuse to be left without a full catalog of priceless memories. So here’s to cataloguing memories, and if you are a mom when you finally read this, I pray you learn from what I learned the hard way. Don’t miss a moment. Treasure every tiny finger and every tiny toe on every single one of your babies, and notice as they get longer. Memorize every laugh. Trace every smile onto the stone of your mind. And live- really, truly LIVE with your kids.
I love you so very much, my precious girl. More than words could ever express, I am thankful for you and I love you. Always. Sleep good tonight, my ElleBug. Sweet dreams.
Interested in reading Elle’s full story? Visit her CaringBridge site here.