Saturday, July 26, 2008
Finding Courage Through Sharing - July 2008
This month's topic is to share about anything that has been on your heart or has mattered to your family over the past month. Our daughter, Grace, had surgery for a thyroglossal duct cyst in her neck. It had been quite a while since we were back in the hospital environment, and it was difficult after so much normalcy.
Grace stretched her legs out underneath the blanket, and a green binder containing her medical charts slid off the gurney and onto the floor. The noise startled her. She sat up quickly, and then scrunched her upturned nose as she slurred, “Whaaat was thaaaaat?”
The pre-op nurse scooped the chart off the floor, and said, “You need to lie down. How about I find a book for your mom and dad to read to you?” As we nodded in agreement, Charlie put his hands in Grace’s armpits, and slid her limp, flailing body up toward the pillow again. Grace let out a long giggle. “That was loud. Stop that Daddy! Let me goooooo!”
Charlie stroked Grace’s hair away from her face, but she wasn’t pleased with it. She slapped the air trying to reach Charlie’s hands. I scolded, “Gracie, we do not hit.” I wondered if it mattered that I was scolding her since she was high on Versed to calm her before the surgery. I figured her inhibitions were very low. The nurse returned with the book, Thumper.
“Grace, let Daddy read you a story. Daddy will stand on this side, and I’ll stand on the other side.”
“Yay! I want a story.” Charlie began reading to Grace, and I began to look around the pre-op area. We were in pod 1, but had been waiting for an hour already. The beautiful little boy with Down Syndrome had just been wheeled away on his gurney. I smiled at him as he rolled past me. He grinned and then pounded his fist on the pop-up toy at his feet. Most of the other patients had been taken into surgery already.
It was Grace’s first time under anesthesia, and I was nervous. I let Charlie’s reading blend into background noise of the pre-op area because my nerves were commanding my attention. I searched the spaces of the pre-op area in an attempt to distract myself. Suddenly, a woman carrying a baby boy about 9 months old went into pod 3. Her son had an NG tube in his nose, and his skin was a familiar pumpkin orange. I guessed he had liver disease, but couldn’t be certain. He reminded me of my girls when they were babies suffering from Alpha-1.
As I scanned the room some more, I noticed there were old pictures from calendars posted around the room. Grace’s pod had pictures of puppies. Charlie’s words filled my ears momentarily again, and I found that my hand was stroking Grace’s hair as she listened to the book. She looked quickly looked my direction and blinked a few times.
Suddenly, I flashed back to the first moment I saw Gracie. It was an odd experience. I had not consciously decided to recollect that day she was born, but there it was…unfolding again inside of my being, almost as if someone else had placed the memory in front of me. Tears began to well up, and I swallowed hard against the lump in my throat.
There she was. She had just been born premature at 34 weeks by c-section because of my severe preeclampsia. I was terrified for her. As I heard her inhaling screams while the neonatology team assessed her, I said, “I want to call her Grace. She is our miracle.” Charlie smiled and nodded in agreement.
A drug called Magnesium Sulfate was pumping into my IV, and it was making me disoriented and distracted. I was drifting, and my eyes were closed. Suddenly, I heard my mother’s voice. She and Charlie brought Grace over to the OR table to meet me.
Gracie was wrapped in several blankets and a pink and blue stripped hat was pulled down on her head. I could only see her face. Her eyes kept blinking in response to the lights of the operating room, and I could tell she was wriggling inside her blankets. As she moved, her forehead wrinkled, and small squeaks came from within her. I began to wonder who she resembled, but I couldn’t quite figure it out.
“It’s time to go,” came from the neonatologist.
I said, “I want to give her a kiss.” Mom and Charlie said I should.
As I recalled touching Grace’s skin for the first time, I heard Grace slur, “Daddy, I waaannttt anotherrrrrrrrr boooooooooook.”
My hand was still stroking Grace’s hair, but I was filled with love instead of worry. I felt warm from within and a peace had come over me. Now, happy tears filled my eyes. She would be okay.