The young mother sat nervously on the table as she waited for the tech to complete her ultrasound. Beside her, holding her hand was her mother awaiting a good report so she could go home from the hospital. The tech slathered her growing belly with gel and began the long sweeping motions looking for baby parts. She asked questions and made small talk for a bit, and then slowly the conversation diminished and the strokes of the wand became shorter and the area more concentrated. Suddenly, she turned off the machine, laid the wand aside and said she needed to talk to the doctor. Fear replaced the gleam in the eyes of the mother-to-be and her fingers tightened the grip of her mothers hand. Seconds passed and the doctor returned with a “look of concern”, furrowed brow and pursed lips. Things clearly were getting ready to change in that room. The next few sentences revealed the possibility that this 32 week infant may not survive. How could that be? Everything until one week ago had been perfect, no complications, no pain, and a normally growing fetus. Then “boom” it wasn’t perfect anymore.
Next came the cries of a desperate mom, the one you never forget. It reminds me of an animal suddenly caught in a trap, cries of pain desperate to free itself. Her mother held her tight as if to shield her from this awful blow. The baby needed to be delivered immediately and at this point it was unsure what the origin of the problem really was. Her mother kicked into crisis mode immediately calling her husband, who was doing a catering job at a residence. Next call was to her dad, the one who would be Poppy”. He was across town feeding The Temptations at a concert. Sisters were next, one downtown at work and one cutting someone’s hair at her salon nearby. Everyone was stunned. The fear in the room was palpable as her regular doctor was notified of the need for an emergency C-Section. Our baby was in trouble and every hope or dream we had, was on hold.
Seconds felt like hours as everyone started arriving, nurses getting her ready, doctors discussing the plan. There was a familiarity in the room as everyone knew this family. Her mother was a Labor and Delivery nurse and this was her unit. She looked at the faces full of fear and uncertainty, knowing she had seen this before and sometimes it had a good outcome and sometimes it didn’t. She stood by her son-in-law with her hand on his shoulder as the baby was born, praying for a miracle. Lifted into the air, a baby girl emerged, obviously sick, but breathing and beautiful. Passed off very quickly to the team, it was obvious there were challenges ahead for this little blond haired girl.
As the baby was transferred to the NICU, the hall was lined on both sides with tear streaked faces of the nurses, her mothers friends, the ones she had beside her when this was happening to another family. She knew she would never forget the opening of the OR doors with a huge window ahead, the view, a dark black sky and pouring rain starting precisely at 6pm, the time of birth.
The next few hours were torture, the young mother awakened from anesthesia, the destraught young husband, and the family, keeping the vigil, looking for hope. That night came with more bad news as the reality of prematurity set in, followed by a collapsed lung. The night was long, seconds became minutes and minutes became hours and sleep was something that seemed foreign. The next morning, the door opened revealing the doctor who had been treating her through the night and a specialist. The smiles they wore were so big they almost looked fake. ‘Your baby is going to be ok”, were the only words anyone heard that morning. “Your baby is going to be ok.”
Last night Kaitlyn Grace Williams went to Homecoming. She is now 15 years old and getting ready to drive. She was my first grandchild and the first baby in our family for a long time. We doted on her and treated her like a princess, watching her grow into an amazing young woman. When these moments happen, any milestone really, I have to fight back tears thinking of that night, hospital halls lined on both sides, watching the frail infant that may not survive. Sometimes, grief is like that, it feels like you may not survive, but you do survive and you do eventually realize “Everything is going to be ok.” Just like Kaitlyn Grace, you grow and you change, but you never forget where it all began.
The maze is not so dark these days, it is filled with light and most notable are the pictures lining the walls. There are memories of good times, family fun, special milestones and most of all, those we love and will love forever. See, love is forever, never ending, but then so is grief. Grief is really the price of love, because loving so incredibly deep creates missing that is just as deep. I will always miss them, but I would do it all over again, knowing the outcome, just to experience that love.