October 15, 2011
Happy Birthday, Anne Marie
Today you would be two years old. There are times when I think about you I wonder what you would look like as a two-year-old. I wonder what you would be doing and what your personality would be like. But mostly when I think of you I see my baby girl. I suppose that is how I will always see you – 10, 20, 30 years from now I will always picture you in my mind as my baby girl.
I won't ever forget the day you were born and I won't ever forget that first night you were here. Of all the scary nights we had while you were at Children's, I don't think there was one as scary as your first night. The night we thought we would lose you only hours after you came.
I remember I had gone to see you in your little isolated room at the Parkland NICU. You looked perfect and had beautiful soft skin and lots of dark hair. You were so tiny lying on your first little bed. Later I had to go back to my own room and late that night your daddy and I eventually fell asleep. And then at about 3:30 a.m. three doctors (two neonatologists and a cardiologist) came in to wake us up. My heart dropped into my stomach when I saw those three men standing over my bed. I thought you were gone. The doctors told us you weren’t doing well – that your vent wasn't strong enough and that you were going to be moved to Children’s Medical Center in preparation to be put on ECMO.
Your dad and I went immediately over to the NICU while they prepared you for your very short trip to Children’s. It was only a few hallways away, but it took more than an hour just to move you from your Parkland NICU bed onto a rolling bed with a vent. You had your very own transport team and they handled you with tender care. After you were on your rolling bed it took about 15 minutes to roll you to your new room at Children's – Room C12-253. A room we would get to know very well.
That night was also the first night we met Dr. T. The doctor we fell in love with and trusted with your care. After you got settled in your new room at Children’s, Dr. T said that you had showed just a bit of improvement and that there was a chance you might not need ECMO. She told us we would just have to wait and see how you did through the rest of the night.
Your dad and I went back to my room at about 5:30 a.m. and I cried, begging God not to take you. At around 6:30 the surgeon called and said that you would have to go on ECMO, and they began getting you ready for surgery. You weren’t even a day old and you, my brave girl, were already having your first surgery. You would continue to show everyone how strong and brave you were.
I will always be grateful for God's mercy to us that first night and that he allowed us to have you for 37 days. Because even though it wasn’t nearly long enough I still got to know you.
I got to see your bright eyes twinkle at me and feel your little hand grasp mine. I got to see the tiniest hint of a smile underneath the tape across your mouth. I got to rub your oh-so-soft skin across your forehead and rub your delicate little feet. I got to change your diaper and put lotion on your dry skin and give you just a dropper of milk. We only had you for just a sliver of time, but in that time I got to know my baby girl. As long as I live I will treasure every minute that God gave us with you.
Today is a sad day for me. I know it’s not sad for you, but it’s sad for us because we miss you so much. But even though I am sad I hope that when people think about our family that they don’t see sadness. I hope they see God’s amazing grace to us, not because He has given us Oliver (although we are amazed at His kindness in that) but because He has carried us through the darkest time in our life. There was a time when my nights were so dark I didn’t know if I was ever going to see light again. A time when I thought I would drown in all those tears I couldn’t stop from falling. A time when I would hug my pillow at night because my arms felt so empty. A time when the pain was so deep that I just didn’t know how I was going to make it. The pain of losing you is still there and there are times when I cry and cry and just can’t stop. And there are still times when the darkness creeps back in. But God has pulled me up when I didn’t think it was possible to be pulled up, and He continues to pull me up on those days when things seem so bad. He has caused me to laugh again when I never thought I would. He has helped me to rest in His sovereign plans. And He has shown me how much He loves me. Through your life and death God has shown me the depths of His love in ways I didn’t know before. You are God’s gift to me, a blessing beyond anything I deserve.
Happy birthday, my sweet girl! Today,we will have a cake for you and put pink flowers and balloons at your spot at the cemetery. We will thank God for you and be thankful for the time we had with you. Our hearts will still hurt missing you, but one day we will see you again – that’s a promise!
Anne Marie at 4:00 a.m. on October 16, 2009, just before moving to Children's Medical Center
Anne Marie on October 16, 2009, a few hours after being put on ECMO
This is my favorite picture of Anne Marie. You can't see it in the picture, but her arm is sticking our and her little fingers are fiddling with her tubes. She had been playing with my hand and squeezing my fingers. This photo was taken November 8, 2009.