Thursday, October 3, 2013

My New Tattoo

They are moving Hazel to an open crib today.

I should be rejoicing.  I should be happy that she is big enough now to be in an open crib and that she can  now regulate her own temperature.  I should be overjoyed that she is able to take this step in her development and move from an isolated environment to one that is open and provides her with more developmentally appropriate stimulation.

But I'm not.

I got a new tattoo on Monday.  Not an ink one, made with a needle and pain, but one that is still just as permanent even if it's only visible through the heart.  It's in the shape of my sweet Hazel Grace as she rested on my chest for the first time this past Monday.  The tiny head nestled under my chin, the miniature hands clutching my shirt, the little tummy flat on my chest with the knees and feet curled under...

heaven imprinted on my skin.

But it was such an ordeal to get her out of her isolette and into my arms.  It took 3 nurses to get the job safely done, and although Hazel loved it and tolerated the move onto my chest and back very well, holding her O2 levels high and steady the whole time, the truth is, we had to make an appointment to hold our baby.

Yes, an appointment

to hold

our baby.

Jimmy had to take off work so that he could be there, and I had to leave the kids with Elizabeth, and we had to call ahead to the hospital to let them know that we were on our way and so many preparations had to be made...

and we can only hold her during the day when the doctor is close by and there are enough nurses on staff and the respiratory specialist is in the unit...

which means that I don't know when I will be able to hold her again.

Jimmy and I usually visit the hospital at night.  After the dinner is served and cleaned up, babies are washed and teeth are brushed and the littles are all in bed...then we can slip out to visit our youngest.  We can't just drop everything and go to her bedside in the middle of the day, so the days slip by and my sweet baby Hazel Grace stays in her bed and my tattoo grows deeper and sharper until it cuts all the way through to my heart.

So today, they will take my sweet baby and they will take her out of her protective isolette and move her into a big girl crib.  It's a big step in the right direction in her development.

So why can't I be happy?  Why can't I rejoice?

Because babies that are in open cribs are the ones that go home.  They are the ones that the mothers and the fathers walk into the unit, wash their hands, put on a gown and pick up.  They are the ones that get cradled for hours on their mother's lap and held up high in the strong arms of their fathers.  The open crib babies are the ones that kick and cry and bat their little hands around.

But not Hazel.

She will still be held back by the tubes snaking down her throat.  She will not be able to cry and her hands will have to be swaddled for most of the time so that she doesn't pull her tubes out.

I will still have to make an appointment to hold her.

While she was still in her isolette, she was one to be protected.  While we did touch her and talk with her and marvel at her tiny eyes peering out at us, we always kept in mind to not touch her too much, don't disturb her sleep, don't overstimulate her...

Let her grow.

But now, she's bigger and doing all the things that 'big' babies do, but she's still not accessible.

She extubated herself on Monday evening, and once again, she had no reserves and her lungs completely collapsed.

There is no light at the end of this tunnel yet.

And I guess that moving her to an open crib means that it seems like she should be one more step closer to home, and yet she's not because she's not one more step closer to breathing on her own which means she's one more step closer to getting a trach which means...which means...I don't know what it means.

It means redefining


Who am I if I can't even hold my baby?  What is my role in all of this?  I provide food, but what else?  When does touching a head, holding a foot, whispering words stop being enough?  How do you put a dam on motherhood?  How do you stop the swell of mothering that flows in on the hormones of birth?

How long must I wait?

How long must I hold my empty hands up to the sky and feel the singe of the brand, the burn of the tattoo, that is visible only to me that sits on my chest, right over my heart in the perfect shape of my baby girl?

My arms ache from the lifting

my steps falter.

But sweet baby Hazel, you are worth it.  I will wait.  I will continue to lift my arms to heaven and I know that when they tire, when my arms droop and my feet stumble in their path from your bed to mine, I will have support from those who love you with me.

I will be your Moses in the desert, lifting my hands for you and your dad and your brothers and sisters along with the prayers of others will be the Aaron and Hur that hold me steady.  The promise of God, that He loves and cares for you and for me, will be the stone that I sit on. (Exodus 17:12) And through God's grace, I will remain strong.

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