***Update: Some of the pictures on this blog are appearing upside down, depending what device you’re on. I’ve tried fixing it and am apparently incapable of using technology, and sometimes it makes me cry. So to those of you for whom the pictures are upside down…I offer you the suggestion of standing on your head…good luck.
I stared at the stack of papers in my left hand, my right hand in Ty’s.
I glanced up to see Ty staring at the stack, too.
What do I say right now?
How do I tell him?
Just say it.
You have to just say it.
“I want you to save the baby.”
I said it so quietly, and he didn’t answer right away. I almost thought he didn’t hear me.
“I knew you’d say that. I don’t think I’m ready for that.”
“I don’t think we’re ready for any of this. But this is what being a parent is all about — giving your life for your children. I’m sorry, but it’s what I want to do. I have to give him a chance to live.”
It’s an odd thing to plan to give your life for someone.
Just hours before, I had been so ready to do the same for my other son in the urgency of the moment. I didn’t think twice about it. I didn’t think about it at all, really. It just came naturally.
But to talk about it and plan for it is different.
My resolve was the same.
I will do it.
No question about it.
To be prepared for it, think about it, plan on it, and then notify someone else about it, though, that requires a different set of eyes.
There was never a doubt in my mind that trying everything to save the baby was the right thing. I knew he was given to me for a reason, and that whatever God chose to do with both of us, I was not willing to cut his life short to save mine.
As hard as it was for Ty to swallow, he knew it, too.
We tearfully agreed that this was the right decision, and that whatever came, the baby’s health and life was the main priority, no matter the cost.
Please let him be okay. Jesus, don’t let Ty lose both of us because of this.
I signed the papers, still holding Ty’s hand.
Don’t let go. I need you to keep holding onto me. I need you here.
As one nurse took the papers out of the room and another administered steroids for the baby’s lungs, we prayed.
That night I was finally given a bath while still laying on my left side in my bed.
Between my friends and the nurses, it took about two hours to brush all of the broken glass out of my hair and scalp. They then washed my hair with degreaser followed by shampoo to remove all the diesel fuel. They also used the degreaser on my feet to wash away more fuel, and then carefully removed the pieces of dashboard that had melted into the skin on my arms and chest when the airbag deployed.
The next day, the contractions began to slow.
But we weren’t out of the woods yet.
I still needed surgery for my broken ankle.
I was given a double-wide operating room to accommodate my double-wide team.
I would have an obstetrics team monitoring the baby every second of the surgery. Due to the volatile state my labor was in and the stress it could cause the baby, I would not be under general anesthesia for the surgery. Instead, I would be wide awake and have an epidural just like I was having a c-section, in case that’s where things headed.
The orthopedic surgeon and his team set up shop first, and then I was wheeled in with all the pageantry afforded the Queen of England. I was trailed by nurses, surgical staff, an anesthesiologist, and countless machines. I was hooked up to so many wires that I looked like I was about to enter the Matrix.
Nurses whispered encouragement in my ear. Both the orthopedic surgeon and the doctor standing by in case I needed a c-section grabbed a hand and assured me that things would be fine.
A sweet nurse sat on the stool next to my bed and brushed the hair out of my face.
“I’m going to be right here the whole time with you, watching all of these monitors. Don’t you worry. We’re going to make it through this. You’re not meeting that kid today, baby girl.”
While her eyes darted from monitor to monitor, she calmly stroked my hair and held my hand.
Thank you for her. She’s just what I need right now.
The surgery went beautifully.
And she was right.
My labor was still slowing.
As I recovered from my surgery, my mom was recovering from hers.
The next few days showed so much promise.
It became clear that the placental abruption was healing itself, and the contractions stopped completely.
I knew we weren’t going to be needing those papers anymore.
I think we might actually make it through this thing. We might get to go home.
And then we did.
A week after we arrived in the helicopters, my mom and I went home.
Wait, already? Are you sure? I’m not ready to be at home. I need the doctors. I need the nurses. How do we do this by ourselves? Do they know I’m leaving? They’re okay with me leaving?
Oh Jesus, give us strength.
For the next 6 weeks, I was unable to walk because of my ankle, or use crutches because my ribs were broken. Instead, I gently hopped behind a walker that I pushed with my right arm and guided with my left.
I wasn’t able to be alone with Noah by myself. I couldn’t lift him and I couldn’t chase him. At 15 months old, there was a lot to chase!
Owning your own business means that you can’t be gone for too long. Ty’s agency needed him back so he went back to work on a limited basis.
Jesus poured into our home in the form of friends. My closest friends and mother-in-law set up a schedule for coming to my house to watch Noah or take Noah to their house to play – often overnight.
Women from our church made us meals for 8 weeks.
People cleaned our house, did our laundry, drove me to physical therapy appointments, and they prayed for us. Thanks to the phenomenon that is social media, people all over the world were praying for us.
My built-in bed rest worked.
I stayed pregnant for 11 more weeks.
We’d decided that “Jack” was no longer the right name for our baby. This was a new baby, in a sense. I had already grieved for a “Jack”, and that was not this baby. This baby fought his way back and he deserved a fresh name.
On July 30, 2010, just 6 weeks early, I finally met my sweet Aidan James.
He stayed in the NICU for 2 weeks while he learned to breathe on his own and eat on his own.
He was so tiny and strong.
Looking at his little body covered in wires in that little incubator, all I could think was,
He’s so tiny. What if he’d come 11 weeks ago? He wouldn’t have made it. He got so strong. Just strong enough for now.
Five years ago, these were my boys.
Today, miraculously, they are these Spartans.
By the grace of God, we all fought long and hard, and we made it through.
I think these boys have some important work to do, and I can’t wait to see what else they have in store for them!
God has blessed us so richly and we are so eternally grateful.