This time of year is always a little tough for me. Even though it's been almost 14 years, the season that our first daughter, Therese, was born in, lived, and died always has a blanket of sadness upon it. It has definitely faded tremendously through the years, but it is always present on some level in the late Spring.
During the pregnancy, the baby was not growing as she should have. In the level 2 ultrasounds I had it was determined she had IUGR(Intrauterine growth retardation). At 25 weeks I had to stop working and do light activities. Not easy with 4, 3, and 2 year old boys to take care of! At 34 weeks I was put on complete bed rest.
On May 20th, I was induced 5 weeks before I was due because of low fluid levels. Therese was born that night around 10pm and transferred to Women and Infants 2 hours later because she had breathing issues and needed to be vented. She spent a little over a week in their NICU, where we learned about her devastating diagnosis, Trisomy 18, and found out about all of her heart defects.
After that first week, Therese was transferred to a local hospital, St. Lukes, which made it easier to be with her and take care of the boys. On May 18th we took her home and were set up with hospice nurses.
We were so grateful that she lived long enough to come home. When you know someone will not be with you long you appreciate each moment so much more. In our case, we were thankful for every memory we had, because we knew there would not be many. I was grateful the first time I got to dress her in pretty girl clothes. I was grateful she got to meet her brothers. Just eating dinner at our dining room table with the boys and looking over at Therese sleeping on the couch was such a gift...we were together as a family.
Though we didn't know it at the time, the gift was to be short lived. Afterwards, I feel like God did give us a sign of what was going to happen that night. Our next door neighbor, who we were not particularly close to, came over and gave us a single orange rose. It honestly was the most beautiful rose I had ever seen...it was perfect and bloomed into a perfect full rose over the course of the following days. (Therese was named after St. Therese of Lisieux, who was known for her promise to send down a shower of roses from Heaven as she lay dying at 24 of tuberculosis. Our Therese was conceived a few weeks after praying a prayer to St. Therese for a daughter, and right before I found out I was pregnant a dead rose bush in our front yard bloomed in mid October. When I went for the first level 2 ultrasound during the pregnancy, the doctors set her conception date as October 1st, which is St. Thesese's feast day.)
At 11:30 that night, I went to bed exhausted. We were so incredibly sleep deprived. Jay stayed up and gave Therese her midnight feeding and I set the alarm for her next feeding. She choked a little when Jay was feeding her which made her apnea monitor alarm go off. I got up to check her but Jay had it under control.
I stirred again about 12:30 when Jay put Therese to bed in her crib in our room. I remember feeling so thankful that she was home and sleeping in her crib...a crib we had bought just for her a few months before she was born.
About 2am the apnea alarm went off. I could hear her breathing, but she was stuffy. I got up and shut off the alarm. I picked her up and cleaned out her nose. I snuggled with her for a few minutes but convinced myself to put her back down. I was so exhausted and the alarm for her bottle would be going off at 3.
I wish I had listened to my heart to just rock her.
At 2:15, the apnea monitor went off again. I shut it off and picked her up. I went numb as I realized she wasn't breathing. I held her in front of me and started to grieve to God, "We didn't even have her home for one whole day."...But I had such a moment of grace and peace, and I picked her up onto my shoulder and said from my heart, "Thank-you, God, for giving us two weeks." Then she took a breathe. I called for Jay but he was sleeping on the couch and so exhausted he didn't hear me. Therese took another breath and I just knew in my heart that she wanted her daddy there too. I had to put her down because she was attached to so many damn wires..3 from the apnea monitor and her oxygen tube.
I ran out to the living room, shook Jay awake and went back to the bedroom. He walked in still half asleep. He stood next to me as Therese took her last breath and passed away peacefully.
I am so grateful that we were able to bring her home and that she didn't die in a hospital room with a nurse...that we didn't have to get a call telling us our baby was gone.
I just wish I had known that she was going to die that night. I wish that I had rocked her during those last 15 minutes of her life....I wish I had listened to my heart and not put her back down. That is the biggest regret of my life.
She only lived for 16 days, but her life was meaningful. No matter how many physical problems she had, she has an eternal soul that will live forever with God. Her life wasn't worthless.
I don't understand why God allowed Therese to be born with a genetic disorder? I don't understand why He allowed us to carry that heavy cross? But He brought good out of it. He was there with us walking through our pain. We have a daughter that we miss but we believe that she is waiting for us in Heaven. One day we will be all together again.
"But the souls of the righteous are in the hands of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be an affliction,
and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace."Wisdom 3:1-3
I dedicate this post in loving memory of our daughter, Therese Elizabeth Hamel: May 20, 1998-June5, 1998.