We arrived at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis around 8:00 pm Friday evening. I got to meet my nieces right away, in the Nenonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I had never seen such sweetness in all of my life as these tiny little babies. What a blessing.

After saying hello to Adeline and Georgia we returned to the obstetrics floor, where Ashley’s room was located, to rest for the night. At 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning, we got the call to return to NICU. Adeline had not responded well after her blood transfusion, and blood was filling her tiny lungs. After two hours of intense medical treatment, it was apparent that her little body could take no more. Her brain had been without oxygen for two-and-a-half hours.

Meanwhile, the hospital staff could not manage to get Georgia sedated. She was thrashing with all of her might, curling her tiny fingers and clawing, trying her best to literally crawl out of the little incubator bed she was in. She was trying to get to her sister. It was so clear to everyone there that she was struggling to touch her big sister. Every time someone placed their hand in her incubator, she would calm down, and when the hand was removed again, she would begin thrashing and clawing at the bed again. I’ve never seen determination like that, not even in adults, let alone a tiny newborn. It was heartwrenching.

The staff was able to make a portable bundle out of Adeline’s life support system so that she could be placed in her sister’s bed to lie beside Georgia and say goodbye. The instant her sister was laid on her bed, Georgia stopped her struggle and cuddled close to her sister. It was the most precious thing I have ever seen in my life. I will be forever thankful that I was there to witness that beautiful moment.

Afterwards, the staff prepared a room for the family where we could spend Adeline’s last moments with her in privacy. As her support system was removed from her body, her transition was so peaceful that no one knows when the moment came. We only know that it did come.

My brother told me later that as soon as her tubes and wires and breathing apparatus were removed, and the expression of fear that had dominated her face since birth began to change into one of peace, he knew that they had made the absolute right decision. It was so very precious.

 Georgia’s struggle since that time has been a roller coaster. Her stability and future change with each breath. Sometimes better, sometimes worse. The doctor is a very negative sort of person. He goes so far not to give false hope that he sometimes seems to give false despair. The nurses have warned Oliver and Ashley not to feel pressured or limited in options, because “certain doctors” do not present the hopeful side accurately. We are all trying to keep that in mind as we continue our prayers for this sacred little one.

The last word we received was that there is motor damage from Georgia’s brain hemhorraging, and possible cognitive damage as well. Additionally, the pediatrician says that her little lungs will never develop to the point that she could be off the respirator. Of course this is very discouraging news, but we continue to look for blessings in all of this. We have listened to so many success stories up there, of children who were as bad off (or even worse) at birth, who are now out driving cars and playing football. So, we continue to hope.

I had to come home Sunday morning after spending a brief period in a hospital bed myself. It is just an infection, it turns out, which will not affect the baby. However, having been awake for so many hours prior and under stressful conditions had made my nerves extremely acute and overly sensitive to pain that might normally have been much milder, so when the pain first occurred Saturday night, I began to have a panic attack, fearing that I had abused my body and unborn child through the long hospital hours and emotional stress. I was taken to the ER first, and then transferred to a labor/delivery room for exam, monitoring and tests. As I was being examined, Geoff appeared. My sister had called him and he had driven all the way to St. Louis in the middle of the night. After diagnosis, he argued with the doctors until they finally said I was allowed to leave with him. He had made me up a little bed in the car, and drove me straight back to Carbondale, where I slept almost uninterrupted for over 24 hours.

I saw a cardiologist yesterday (an appointment that had already been set up a month ago), and will go back in for an ECHO test tomorrow (Wednesday), and be set up with a holter monitor to wear. On Thursday, I see my regular OB nurse practitioner first, to be treated for my infection, and then go straight back over to the cardiologist to have the monitor removed and review the ECHO. I was prescribed a couple of different medicines already at the hospital, and will be on antibiotics after Thursday, so by the end of the week, I will be a walking pharmacy. But despite all of the medicines and appointments, I am fine. Everything that seems to be wrong is pretty much benign in the end, albeit painful or annoying. None of it will affect the baby. So nobody needs to worry about me. Seriously. I am fine. Baby is fine. We are resting and taking care of ourselves.

Meanwhile, I am saying constant prayers for my dear little niece, Georgia, and her parents, who have been through so very much these last two weeks. If you happen to see a Southern Illinoisan today, Addie’s obituary appears in it. A very tiny obituary for a very tiny person who meant more to her family than we can ever express.

We are so grateful to everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this time, and we are so thankful that God sent us these dear little ones to bless our lives.

–G.

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