I squinted at the gray screen, trying to make out the tiny arms and legs as the doctor expertly pointed to each appendage. The year was 1997 and I was only 8 weeks pregnant, so determining the sex was out of the question, but I was thrilled to see the tiny heart pounding out a snappy rendition of Jingle Bells. ‘How appropriate,’ I thought. It was Christmas Eve, and I could think of no better gift than seeing the gift of life on my doctor’s computer screen. As my sweetie and I hurried from the doctor’s office, the cold clear air sent us quickly to the car. We had a little last minute shopping to do, so we headed into the heavy traffic of downtown Salt Lake City.
|Not any of my babies.|
We drove several blocks to the nearest strip mall. We wanted to get home to the kids so that we could spend the afternoon together. Bossy was 13 and certainly capable of babysitting her five siblings, but still, we didn’t like to be away too long, especially on Christmas Eve. We made our way through the store, looking for something to fill the blanks on our shopping list. Before we had time to find anything suitable, my cell phone rang. I pulled it from my pocket and punched the button. "Hi," I began. I knew it was the kids, because no one else had that number.
My eleven-year-old Gym Rat was hysterical. "Calm down," I nearly shouted. "What’s wrong?" I heard Bossy grab the phone. She was sobbing, "I’m so sorry, Mom…Princess was in the tub…she turned blue…she wasn’t breathing…." What was she telling me? My sweet, blond 15-month-old girl was where? My hands were shaking so badly I nearly dropped the phone.
Suddenly, a soothing voice of one of South Jordan’s finest came on the phone. "Ma’am? Listen to me." I tried to calm down. How could I be calm when they were telling me I’d just lost my baby? "Are you alone?" "No," I managed to choke out. "My husband is with me." "We want the two of you to drive carefully to Primary Children’s Hospital. Where are you?" he questioned. "We’re downtown," I managed. "We could be there in just a few minutes." "Settle down and drive slowly. We’re bringing your baby in on Life Flight. You’ll get there before we will."
That trip to the hospital was the longest one I have ever taken. I screamed, I cried, I tore my hair. Why did we leave her home? When we finally arrived, I was in total meltdown. Princess was not at the hospital yet, and no one knew anything of her condition. We waited for about 30 minutes before we heard the helicopter.
Moments later, we were allowed in the emergency room. Our little Princess was bloated and covered with wires and tubes. She was ice-cold, but she was breathing. Yes, she was still breathing. Our next-door neighbor showed up about the same time we did and he gave her the most beautiful priesthood blessing. Like her ancestor I told you about yesterday, that blessing appeared to make all the difference. She was transferred quickly to the pediatric ICU and hooked to all kinds of monitors. The doctors sat down with us and told us to be realistic. They didn’t think she would die at this point as long as they could warm her up carefully. The first 24 hours were critical, but if she made it through, we still had the possibility of brain damage or even physical damage. I didn’t care, I hugged her as carefully as I could, kissed her, and sobbed her name. She was still alive, and I could think of no better gift than to see the gift of life on the PICU’s monitors.
We sat with her most of the night. We couldn’t touch her because it modified her temperature. I’d never felt so helpless in my life. My grandmother came to stay with our other children. They all agreed that Christmas would wait until our little Princess could come home and share it with us. The morning’s trip to the doctor and our wonderful news of the successful ultrasound for our seventh child seemed a lifetime away.
Christmas morning dawned beautifully, even for us in the PICU. Other parents were there, sharing Christmas morning with their sick and dying little ones. Santa Claus came and brought some gifts and candy, and I couldn’t help wondering if our Princess would ever be able to play with the little stuffed animals or eat the gingerbread. Toward noon, our doctor came in to check on her. We were all exhausted and hoping for good news.
She was still under anesthesia and full of tubes and wires. Her tiny face was swollen from the IV, a respirator covered her mouth and nose, and the heart monitors dotted her little chest. The doctor picked her up and stood her right up on her feet. She moaned and opened her eyes. The doctor paused for only a moment, then he said with conviction, "She’s going to be fine, but plan on her being here at least a week." We were thrilled. No one knew how long she was under water, and with the risk of infection, she could have stayed at the hospital for weeks with respiratory problems or pneumonia.
|We are all glad she is around.|
**Editor's Note: I'd just like to add that it is because my mother believes in scouting that Princess is here today. If I had not been through the CPR/first aid certification I wouldn't have known what to do when the Gym Rat pulled Princess from the tub. I had him call 911 while I started CPR. It wasn't until the paramedics were sending us to the neighbors house and I knew I had to call Mom that I became hysterical. Scouting is an excellent program and I strongly encourage anyone who babysits to become CPR certified.**