We woke up on Saturday morning to another round of blood work. Malachi had his blood drawn at least once a day during his stay, so this became a routine part of our morning. Now that he had been diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), the main things our doctors were observing were hemoglobin and platelet levels. They wanted to make sure his body would keep producing red blood cells and platelets before they sent us home.
Malachi was a sweet little patient. He is naturally a good-tempered baby but he handled everything surprisingly well. Dozens of needle prods, blood pressure checks, numerous tests, and a completely different environment didn’t faze him too much. We were thankful for his cheerful attitude – it helped us handle everything with grace and hope.
I’m going to jump to a different track now, but stay with me. My cousin Stephanie has been my closest friend for most of my life. My family moved to our grandparent’s farm 17 years ago and we lived next door to Steph’s family. I didn’t have a sister until I was 16, but Stephanie became one to me. Growing up, we did almost everything together.
We have been through high school and college together, traveled ‘down under’ for two months, got married less than a year apart, and have lived within a half hour of each other for most of our lives. God has knit our hearts together through our experiences – we’ve always been at each other’s side through life’s major events.
Saturday afternoon while Malachi was in the hospital, Steph texted me that she was starting to have contractions. She and her husband Jonny were expecting a baby and her due date was just a few days away. We chuckled at the thought that I was already at the hospital, I could just take the elevator down to meet her whenever it was time. We texted back and forth for a couple of hours, but then I didn’t hear anything for awhile. I asked how she was doing and my aunt Christi replied that they had come to the hospital and Steph was possibly going to have a C-section. Sam and I prayed for Steph and Jon and the baby. I couldn’t think about anything else, just the fact that my dearest friend was two floors away from me and I didn’t know what was happening. A short time later, Christi said that Steph was having a C-section for the baby’s sake. She asked me to come to the hospital room where she was waiting.
I don’t know how long my aunt and I waited – praying, hugging, thinking, and praying again. It was unnerving to see nurses running back and forth past the door, most not making eye contact with us. Steph’s doctor came in at last. I saw her face and I knew that it was going to be bad news. Steph lost a lot of blood, but she’s going to be okay. Complete placental abruption. No warning signs. The baby didn’t make it. A baby girl.
I felt like I was in a bad dream. This couldn’t be happening, not to us. Not to Steph.
The next two hours were hard. Tears, hugs, prayers. We cried out to God. Lord, we don’t know why this is happening. It’s so painful… We wanted to meet this little girl, not say goodbye to her. Thank You for the hope we have. We know that she is with You and we will see her one day.
I was planning on taking newborn portraits of sweet Eva Anne, but I had never once thought that it would be like this. The nurses took me to take pictures of Eva for Jon and Steph. She was absolutely perfect in every way, a beautiful little girl.
There are times when life doesn’t make sense. This was one of those times. It broke my heart to see Steph and Jon lose their daughter.
And yet we have hope. We know that God was present in the hospital that night. We know that He will bring good from this, that He has a purpose for this time in our lives. I cling to His promises and the knowledge that He is our peace that passes all understanding.
If Malachi hadn’t gotten sick, or if we had been sent to Omaha, I wouldn’t have been there with Steph. The Lord had made a way for me to be a short elevator ride away from her. It brought comfort to us both to know that we weren’t alone in the hospital. Neither of us wanted to be there, but we were glad that we were together. This was especially true for me on Monday.
Monday morning was hard. It was our fourth day in the hospital, one of the lab techs gave Malachi a huge hematoma while they were trying to draw his blood, and his results were not encouraging. His platelets had dropped to 4,000 (from 31,000 the day before; normal is 150,000-400,000). He would need another platelet transfusion and more days of observation in the hospital.
I went to visit Steph and broke down as soon as I got to her room. She had me sit next to her on her bed and we just hugged each other and cried. These were the hardest days we had ever known and, again, the Lord was leading us through life side by side.
Small blessings made our stay easier and our hearts lighter. Our nurses were fantastic and just doted on Malachi. They loved coming in to check on him and being greeted with his smiles. We had family and friends bringing us food, coffee, and chocolate. Sam worked for a few days during Malachi’s stay but was able to be with me at the hospital every night. Our wonderful families took care of Isaiah the entire time, bringing him to the hospital for visits. So many people were lifting us up in prayer. We were overwhelmed by the kindness and love shown to us.
Malachi’s body had taken care of the E. coli infection but his hemoglobin and platelet levels were still not stable enough to go home. On Wednesday he received another packed red blood cell transfusion. It was hard to remain in the hospital day after day, but we had much to be thankful for. Malachi’s body was relatively unharmed from the E. coli or hemolytic uremic syndrome. His organ functions were normal and all of his vitals were stable. It was clear to us that God protected Malachi from lasting damage.
We woke up on Thursday morning to good news. Malachi’s levels were good enough to be sent home. After one week at the hospital, we were finally going home. It was a strange mix of feelings for the next few days… glad to be at home, but missing the friends I had made on the nursing staff. Thankful that Malachi wasn’t hooked up to an IV or monitors anymore, but nervous that he would get sick again when we were home. Rejoicing to have both of our boys under one roof again, but dealing with cranky tempers and getting back into our ‘normal’ routine.
Malachi has been routinely getting his blood checked as an outpatient. His levels have been improving each time and well within the normal range at his most recent appointment. We continue to pray for lasting healing and give God thanks for Malachi’s life.
Even as we rejoice that Malachi is recovering, we grieve with Steph and Jon and the rest of our family. Joy and sorrow have been running through my heart together these last few weeks.
I’ll end by thanking all of you that have donated blood. I never realized how important blood donors are until my son and my best friend both needed blood transfusions to save their lives. Sam and I have committed to be more diligent about donating blood in the future.