Thursday, October 9, 2008
I remember when I first saw the new little twin girls in our module. They were the mirror images their names, Heaven and Nevaeh, would imply. Tiny, under two pounds, and stubborn, I would watch them kick their feisty little legs when I walked past their isolettes. You see, I had to walk past all of the babies because our little girl had been relegated to isolation in the back of the module due to a MRSA infection.
In all the days I saw these babies, I never saw anyone visit them. I asked my husband if perhaps he saw their parents when he was there later in the night. Nope. "On the sly", I asked other parents and nurses if they'd seen anyone visit these pretty little girls. The parents told me "no" outright; the nurses said it all with their eyes. It made me sad and it made me angry. I tried to figure out how anyone wouldn't do anything necessary to see their children. The little girls got stronger and there was talk of transferring them back to their original hospital.
I went in to visit C. one day armed with a cooler full of expressed breast milk. As I walked up to our module, I saw the shade pulled. A sign read: "This module is temporarily closed. We apologize for the inconvenience." What? I had never seen that before. The director of family support was standing outside the door with very sad eyes. I looked at her in panic. She said very softly, "It's not your daughter. She's doing fine."
Relief almost brought me to my knees. "Thank you, Lord!" I wanted to shout. But isn't that awful? Isn't it incredibly selfish that, if I tell the absolute truth, many minutes passed before I even wondered whose baby it was. I was just so relieved it wasn't our little girl.
I had to continue calling throughout the afternoon to see when the module would re-open. When I was finally able to visit, I saw the empty isolette. And then I knew. It was Nevaeh. Heaven carried on with her antics across the room, but it wasn't the same. It wasn't like the other times when there would be a spirited little girl on either side of the aisle.
I later learned that Nevaeh's mother hadn't come when she heard her daughter was losing the fight. A nurse held that tiny little girl as she took her last breaths. The mother showed up a day later, as I wrote yesterday, in a black T-shirt with "RIP Nevaeh" silk-screened across the front.
Although I felt like I knew these little twins, I didn't know the mother at all. I heard through "the grapevine" that she was a 15-year old rape victim. I don't know how true that is, but I can tell you she did appear very young and, if that tale is true, it may explain why we didn't see much of a presence from her.
I grieved with the nurses. I recalled the tiny aqua bow that looked so cute in her ebony curls. The tears sparkled in their eyes and I knew this little girl had touched their hearts deeply. Heaven was eventually transferred out to her original hospital... but without her sister.
That first loss was a lesson to me. It was a shocking blast of ice-cold reality. It was also a test of my compassion. It took a lot for me to pray for that young mother and pity her. To try to understand that she was hurting, albeit in a different way than I might expect.
Still reeling from that experience, I took comfort in the incredibly strong faith of a couple I had met in the family lounge. They told me about their beautiful son Nathaniel who had been born missing one lung and his diaphragm.
I'll tell you more about his story soon...