Family and friends often assure pregnant women that their “maternal instincts” can be relied on to guide them into motherhood. This previously undiscovered gift will reveal itself the first time she holds her child. As a mother of four I believe in this instinct, but also recognize that experience and wisdom help. The birth of our fifth child, Kinsley, has introduced me to another source of guidance and strength that I never anticipated.
Kinsley was born the day after Christmas. She was pink, beautiful and certified by the medical staff as being in perfect health. She was welcomed with unconditional love and our family was complete. Our happiness was short lived.
When Kinsley was two months old, we experienced the first of many episodes of Kinsley turning blue right before our eyes. Her heartbeat was regular, her breathing wasn’t labored, and the only sign of distress was her crying. However, she was as blue as the sky. She was diagnosed with “failure to thrive” because of her inability to gain weight. Our happiness was replaced by fear and uncertainty. Many weeks were spent in the Children’s Hospital in search of a diagnosis. Testing was extensive and there were exploratory surgeries, but no answers. Doctors labeled her as having “Complex Medical Needs.” We were left without any answers and a fragile baby with an unknown future.
I turned to prayer, literally begging for solutions to my baby’s health and asking God to reveal his plan for my daughter. I sequestered myself at home. Anxiety made it challenging for me to engage with the outside world. Every night my baby slept on my chest so that I could constantly be connected with her breathing. Sleep was rare for me but, the closeness we shared was comforting.
We continued this way for fifteen months. Our family had adjusted to Kinsley’s health challenges. She was now on a feeding tube to provide her with constant nutrition. We lived each day to the fullest, prayed every night, and celebrated each of Kinsley’s milestones. Night was most difficult for me. Kinsley was now able to sleep in her crib, but my husband and I would often be jolted out of bed by our daughters crying and vomiting. I questioned my doctors and visited the hospital six different times in less than two weeks. Each time they sent me home telling me this was normal for a child on a G Tube. Kinsley continued losing weight, vomiting, and crying out in pain. How could she be fine? One particular evening I prayed to God and our Guardian Angels for answers. In my gut I felt something terrible was to come.
That night my grandparents appeared to me in a dream. They were standing in their front door of their home where they once lived before passing away. They smiled at me and my grand-mom said “it’s time…bring her to us, we want to hold her now.” I replied, “One more day, just give me one more day and then you can hold her.” Before they could respond I was wakened by my daughter who was vomiting and screaming in apparent pain. My husband and I leaped out of bed to tend to our baby in distress. After calming Kinsley, I shared my dream with my husband and we both agreed it was time to take her to a new hospital and gain a fresh perspective from new doctors. We had an appointment scheduled, but it wasn’t for another two months. I knew we couldn’t wait not even another day. We had Kinsley admitted to the new hospital the next day, where the doctors suggested close monitoring and testing. That decision would prove to be life saving.
The events that occurred two nights later at the hospital have forever changed me and reaffirmed my belief in the Angels above. If I hadn’t listened to them my baby would not be with us today.
At 1:00 a.m. Kinsley was playing, with a smiling face as I sang the lyrics to “Let it go”from Frozen. Suddenly she vomited, her body turned blue, but this time she went completely limp. Her bright blue eyes glazed over and rolled back. Her tiny heart stopped beating as I held her in my arms. I cried for help. Immediately several nurses, doctors, a priest, and security guards descended into the room. Her tiny, lifeless body was taken from me and moved to the crib where they began resuscitating her. Doctors rapidly fired questions at me trying to determine what happened. The chaplain held my hand. The room that moments ago was silent and peaceful was now filled with noise, bright lights and life saving equipment. All I could see was her motionless left hand in the crib as I raced to explain events.
Everyone seemed to move in slow motion as I searched for a sign of life. Tears filled my eyes. I clung to her fluffy pink blanket that I had swaddled her in each night. Would I ever hold her in my arms again? Would she ever look into my eyes, smile at me, or grasp my finger again? Thoughts raced. What would I tell her siblings? Why was this happening?
Finally, after what seemed an eternity the doctors were able to bring Kinsley back to life. I couldn’t hold her, but I stood beside her isolette as she was wheeled to ICU. She was ashen and very still. I felt numb and my body was still shaking, but the panic had passed. I watched the gentle movement in her chest. Then she looked directly at me, her bright blue eyes locked onto mine. My baby girl was back, and her loving stare spoke louder than any words the doctors could say. Kinsley would spend the next ten days in ICU. She was introduced to a complete team of new doctors who would work extensively to unravel the puzzle of Kinsley’s complex medical needs.
At the time I didn’t know what to make of my dream. Were my grandparents warning me of the seriousness of Kinsley’s health? Did my refusal to bring Kinsley to my grandparents and ask for more time prompt me to try a new hospital? Had I ignored their message could it have cost my baby her life? I was told by the hospital staff that there was no way I could have resuscitated her at home. Having her in the hospital under the medical care of people who did not disregard my instincts and send her home as the other hospital did had saved Kinsley’s life.
Kinsley is now three years old. She is getting a little stronger and healthier everyday. There is still no diagnosis, but we are encouraged by her progress. My heart is filled with gratitude to the nurses and doctors who saved Kinsley that night, to my husband for believing in my instincts and to my grandparents for delivering me the lifesaving message.
Sometimes hope is all we have in life; and often times hope is all we need.