Sunday, January 26, 2014

#6 - Journal Entry from December 22, 2010

From the time I was a little girl I have loved the way the letter B looked.  Of all the 26 letters of the alphabet, that was the one that began the word Baby.  I always had a doll with me and remember getting mad at my brother for not treating her like a real baby.  One of my favorite childhood songs had a line in it that sang, "B-A-B-Y that spells FUN!"  My heart was taken. 

I cannot describe the feeling of part of my own heart, so smitten with love for my own baby, feeling so helpless as she lays there on the hospital bed.  I have run back through all the child development knowledge I have accumulated through college and being a mom of 5.  My mind has focused in on her 5 senses. 
Hearing.  Even with the amount of medication she is on, I know she can hear us by the slight heartbeat change from when it's quiet to when we sing to her.  Even if it's just whispered conversations, she knows we are here with her. 
Sight.  My heart wishes she would open her eyes to catch a glimpse of my face.  To see her eyes meet mine and soak in that confidence that she needs.  I will continue to wait.  Her eyes are puffy after the eye doctor came in.  She did an awful exam on Bryer where she used a metal tool with a spring to stretch her eyelids open and hold them open while she looked in her eyes and took pictures of her retinas.  She said she saw retinal bleeding, which I don't understand, but it sounds serious.  It made me sick to watch my baby have to endure that kind of exam.  As much as I want to be strong for her, it was too much to watch and I had to leave the room.
Touch.  We cannot touch her skin except to lay a hand on it and keep it still now, but I know she senses our presence even if we are just in the room. 
Smell.  One of the strongest senses a baby has is smell.  When I have to leave, I have taken the shirt I wore the day before and snuggled it up to her as close as I can get it without actually touching her skin.  Even if she can't open her eyes or allow us to touch her sensitive skin much, I want my scent to be near her to comfort her.  A thoughtful friend bought Jason and I a few new shirts, not even realizing what I had been doing.  Now I have enough to rotate next to Bryer.  I am thankful for the inspiration of others to see what we need before we even realize we need it. 
Taste.  Nothing is stimulating her tastebuds right now.  The nurses come in and swab out her mouth, just to keep the saliva and germs from sitting in one spot for too long.  I have faith that one day soon she'll be able to have my breast milk that I continue to pump and freeze for her. 

She had another seizure after her x-ray this morning.  The good news is that she is taking in all the fluid they are giving her through her feeding tube.  They gave her medication to get the fluid back into the veins and capillaries instead of the tissues.  The timing of things is a blur, but they did a blood transfusion and her blood count is up.  They will start to wean her off her sedation meds so she may start to try to wake up a little over the next day or so. 

There was a group fast held by many people – friends, family, our church congregation, people in our small community.  Fasting is going without food or drink for a determined amount of time; we usually fast for 24 hours in our church.  We begin and end our fast with a prayer for a specific way we hope God to answer our prayers.  A family member counted people from 5 different states that were participating.  I have learned that the true definition of offering Christlike service is doing something for others that they cannot do for themselves.  We are indebted to those that chose to fast for Bryer.  The doctors had told us that they expected maximum brain swelling to happen at 72 hours.  They informed us shortly after the fast had closed that the swelling was not nearly as severe as they had expected!  Relief comes through answered prayers.  I am thankful for true, Christlike service and that sincere prayers were answered in a very tangible way. 

Jason has continued to ask the doctors about the scan done at the smaller hospital; the one that didn't show any fracture.  Originally the doctors had told us that they should be able to go back to the original scan that was done before the traumatic intubation process.  They should be able to locate where the fracture was, now that they know where it is.  We have heard from different doctors that they can’t find the scan, that the scan isn’t in a format they can read, and that they can’t view it.  It’s frustrating to say the least since that was the initial accusation of child abuse.  The fracture wasn't in the original scan.  There are a lot of unanswered questions and things that don't make sense.  The bruising on the top of her head, her purple ears, the fracture that wasn't there before intubation and then was there at the bigger hospital, the list goes on.  Was one of the kids helping with her while I was downstairs?  Did I miss-interpret her fussiness and lack of sleep?  Did something happen over the weekend when we had 10 kids in the house when Jason's brother and his family came to visit?  Could she have chicken pox like the other kids did earlier in the month?  It takes a lot of energy to take it all in and try to put the pieces together. 

We finally got to meet with the child abuse doctor.  He pulled us into the same room where the investigator met with us, just down the hall from Bryer’s room.  He went over everything with us again – how I found Bryer, what family history she has, her mood, birth history, recent sicknesses.  We reiterated again that it was a quick delivery and she was pretty banged up and didn’t have good color right away.  We again told how she had been fussy most of the past weekend, but I thought it was the milk in the coffee cake I had eaten that upset her stomach.  We mentioned that all the kids cycled through chicken pox the end of November and December, but we never noticed any on Bryer.  He took notes and then escorted us back to Bryer’s room.  He didn't seemed interested in or ask questions about the bigger picture.  Maybe he doesn't care that my passion has always been babies; that we go to church every single Sunday as a family; that I read child development books for fun; that I graduated from college and both degrees have to do with teaching children;  that I am CPR certified; that I would never, ever harm a child.  I guess all that goes unsaid.  Anyway, I felt a sense of relief after talking with him.  I put my trust in him that he had all the tools now to help Bryer and move on.  Jason was less trusting than I was. 

I am really struggling with trying to carry on when all I want to do is be together as a family.  Jason has been so good to go back and forth to his parents’ house where the other 4 kids are staying.  He’s pulled things together from a legal standpoint and his brother helped get names together of attorneys.  It all just seems like such a waste of time when there is a sweet baby girl fighting for her life.  She should be the priority - not trying to defend myself for ridiculous accusations.  My husband is such a rock for me, handling things I don’t have the strength or energy for.  I feel like there is nothing I can do for Bryer, except that simply...  I am her Mom.  If for an instant she opened her eyes or needed to borrow my strength, I want to be here for her in every sense – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Instead I am being pulled away to answer more questions and now pulled away to interview attorneys. 

I have tried really hard not to be mad when I am forced to leave Bryer.  My Mom, Dad, and sister have come to sit with her while I leave with Jason to see the other kids or to interview attorneys.  Those are the only reasons I have left Bryer’s side besides a few hours of sleep here and there.  I would not normally leave my baby with a stranger, and even though they are trained doctors and nurses, they are strangers to me.  I want a familiar face, peaceful company, someone I trust to be with Bryer during the time I have been pulled away.  My family has filled that need, and again offered Christlike service – doing something I cannot do for myself.

In the last couple days we have had so many blessings come to us through cards, letters, and gifts.  I had forgotten for a bit that the world was still going on outside these walls of Bryer’s hospital room and that Christmas is coming quickly.  When we got back to the room there was a big basket of things for our whole family that another family had dropped off.  Inspirational posters, small gifts, tokens of their love and support.  Jason’s family made another trip up to our house to get all our stockings and the Santa gifts for the kids.  They have taken care of all the behind-the-scenes details to help our older kids have as normal of a Christmas as they can.  My sister printed out this picture of Bryer with the quote I had shared with my mom earlier.  This was taken just a week before she went to the hospital, her first smile caught on camera.   

"We are not earthly beings having a spiritual experience,
we are spiritual beings having an earthly experience." 
Another family member brought our family picture to tape onto Bryer's bed.  The nurses have all commented about what a beautiful family we have.  Somehow they stay neutral in the midst of how the doctors talk.  The picture makes me miss my kids terribly.  Hunter just turned 10 and his birthday came and went with chicken pox in our family.  He has been so patient to wait to have his birthday party, and now this - he's having to wait even longer.  Sawyr is 6 and I miss him like crazy, but he is enjoying time at Grandma and Grandpa's with his cousins around to play with.  He is my most compassionate child and I worry about the tender heart he has for his baby sister.  Piper is 4 and has been such a big help since Bryer was born.  The 3 of us girls in the family have made a good team together.  It's just not the same sitting in this hospital room with Bryer without the 3rd member of our girl team.  Walker is 2 and is as feisty as they come.  He is independent and determined and I heard that he snuck away for a couple short minutes and decorated his Grandma's office chair with butter.   I miss that little stinker like crazy! 

A lady from the hospital dressed as an elf came to my room to ask if I wanted to go Christmas shopping.  I wasn’t sure what she meant.  I was very hesitant about leaving Bryer without a prearranged person to come sit with her.  I made sure my smelly shirt was next to Bryer, visited with the nurse and told her I would only be gone a few minutes and to keep a close eye on Bryer.  The elf escorted me to a room full of toys...  Shelves and piles and countertops full of new, donated toys!  She asked how many kids I had and gave me a large wagon to ‘shop’ with.  She instructed me to choose several gifts for each child.  I reminded her that I had 5 kids - not a small family - and I would be very thankful to only pick out one for each child.  She walked me through the room, pointing out different interests and age groups, suggesting many toys and books for each one of my kids.  I was in tears most of the shopping trip and felt overwhelmed at the blessings that filled my wagon - everything from a microscope and books to a tape player and games.  She urged more gifts to fill my wagon as I contemplated which one to narrow it down to for each child.  When we were finished she handed me a stack of sticky notes and told me to write their names on each one and she would see that they were wrapped and had the right name on them.  I could hardly see through my tears to write my children’s names on the sticky notes.  It was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude I felt as I made my way back to Bryer’s side.  It was the spirit of Christmas that was alive and touched me so much.  The gifts were just a bonus. 

Toward the end of the day the doctor for disease control came in and inspected for chicken pox.  He found one pock on the back of Bryer's leg in the crease where her knee bends.  The doctors and nurses all put on disposable yellow gowns to work with Bryer after that, not wanting to infect the other patients.  The doctor suggested chicken pox on her brain, but said there was too much swelling to tell.  They posted a sign on her door that reminded visitors to wash their hands before and after being in Bryer's room. 

The investigator came back to talk to Jason and I.  She asked if we would still be willing to do polygraph exams.  We now have an appointment for tomorrow to go down to the police station.  Another appointment to pull me away from Bryer.  It makes me sick to have to leave her, but I'm willing to do whatever I need to do to prove my innocence and help the doctors move on. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

#5 - Journal Entry from December 20, 2010

Jason's interview with the investigator was uneventful.  The investigator probed with questions about my mood, state of mind, frustration levels, discipline tactics.  I don't know what they expected to find or what answers they were looking for.  The truth is just what it is.  I just want to move on so they can help Bryer with what's really happening with her body.  Jason and I both volunteered to take a polygraph test if they wanted us to.  Whatever hoop we have to jump through to move on, we will do.  It was suggested that we look for an attorney.  Isn't that only something that happens on Law and Order?  I'm so confused and I just want to spend all my time next to Bryer's bedside - not with an investigator, not looking for an attorney - just by my baby girl.  There was mention of a doctor's name that deals with child abuse that works for the hospital.  I keep repeating his name in my mind over and over so I don't forget it.  If that's what he is trained in and deals with every day, then he will definitely be able to tell that this is not that.  It makes my stomach churn to even think about it.  I asked the nurses for him a couple times today, just hoping he would be making rounds.

One of the nurses showed Jason and I to a 'sleep room' this morning.  It's a room inside the hospital just out of the pediatric unit.  There are 2 private rooms and they share a bathroom.  It's dark - without any windows - and has a bed and TV.  It's exactly what's it's called - a sleep room.  Jason and I both had a hard time pulling ourselves away from Bryer's side, but we weren't functioning very well on such little sleep after our all-night interviews with the investigator. 

When we woke up after getting only a few hours of rest, they said the child abuse doctor had been through already, but they would let us know if he came around again.  I continued repeating his name in my head so I would remember him if he came by. 

Bryer's meds from her medically-induced coma have left her sleeping all day.  She's on different seizure meds too to help calm her brain.  I spent all day either next to her bed or hidden behind the curtain in her room to pump milk.  She has a warmer over the top of her bed, as the doctors say she isn't maintaining her own body temperature.  Her breathing tube is keeping her supplied with oxygen and her feeding tube is doing its job.  They won't put my breast milk through it yet since it takes more energy for her body to digest then just the essential stuff they are giving her, but I will keep pumping so that it's ready when she is.  The pump the hospital gave me wasn't doing a very good job so I got my sister's pump, which is wonderful - and it's portable, for when we are ready to go see our other kids.  I guess this is what they consider life support, but she just looks like she's sleeping (with a lot of tubes and monitors all over her). 

As I sat by Bryer's bed, I quietly sang hymns and kids church songs, trying not to cry.  We have to be really quiet so the stimulation doesn't require too much brain activity.  We can't touch her skin, as they explained all her nerve endings are extremely sensitive to the touch.  The only babies I have ever known that had problems gained comfort from their mother's touch and bare skin.  I don't understand this way of not touching her, but I trust what the doctors are saying.  We can lightly put our hand over the top of her blanket. That is the extent that I can be the closest to our baby, so that's how Jason and I spent most of our day, taking turns.  I want her to feel our presence and know we are near - and if a miracle happens and she opens her eyes, then I want there to be a familiar face there for her to see! 

They brought me in a menu, even though I don't feel like eating.  My only motivation is so I can produce milk for Bryer.  If I don't eat and drink water, then I can't give her the best nutrition when she's ready for it, so I will keep forcing myself.  I also have to be careful not to order anything that has dairy so it won't upset her tummy when she does get it. 

My heart feels like it's tearing in two.  I want to stay by Bryer's side, but I miss my other kids too.  How can I be in two places at once?  Jason's parents made the drive up to our house to get them from our neighbor when they knew we were on the way to the hospital.  I am so thankful for supportive family that act before we even ask them to.  It's not the same as me being there, but I know they are taken care of.  Some of my family came by the hospital today.  I told my mom that the quote that keeps going though my head is,

"We are not earthly beings having a spiritual experience;
we are spiritual beings having an earthly experience." 
This has been an exhausting day to say the least.  I have been reminded today that Bryer was God's child before she was mine.  I really believe that.  I don't blame Him at all if He wants her back home with Him.  I completely understand that, because I also want her back home with us - more than anything.  My heart aches for that closeness to hold her, to touch her soft baby skin and hear her coo.  I'm sure He feels the same.  Tonight my heartfelt, pleading, sobbing prayer was to help Bryer to be strong and that we would be comforted by His spirit in His will to be done. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

#4 - Journal Entry from December 19, 2010

It was evening by the time the ambulance made it to the bigger hospital.  They took Bryer right up to the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) and got her settled in a room.  I remember there were more tests, scans, and blood pokes, but I can't remember the order of everything.  They couldn’t access any of her tiny veins so they put a central line in at her clavicle to have better access and a quicker response to her system.  There was paperwork to sign and forms to fill out.  This part was all a blur.  I was happy to have Jason there by my side.  We watched as the doctors and nurses hooked Bryer up to oxygen, tubes, needles, and monitors while we stepped out of the way.  They tried to make her comfortable as she just looked like she was sleeping through all the commotion.  In my mind I pictured this bigger hospital having all the answers to cure my baby.  Now it looked like more intervention was needed, not less. 

Sometime late in the evening the admitting doctor pulled us aside.  His voice was frank and serious.  He told us we had a very sick baby.  Her brain was swelling, as noted with her soft spot being slightly raised.  He told us they didn’t know if she was going to make it, but they would do the best they could.  Then he paused and shifted his weight uncomfortably.  He told us that one of the scans had come back showing a fractured skull.  I didn’t understand and was trying to get past the part of him telling us they didn't know if she was going to make it.  My thoughts were interrupted by Jason's voice, "The first scan done at the other hospital didn’t show a fracture."  The doctor explained that with swelling sometimes the fracture will show up in a later scan once it has split apart.  He said knowing where it is now, they should be able to go back to the first scan and see it.  He went on with his monotone voice, explaining that when they see signs like this that they have a responsibility to call in the authorities.  The authorities?  Who was that?  I thought these doctors were the best.  Was there someone better?  I was confused at what that meant.  He went on, telling us that an investigator would be here tonight to question Jason and I separately on what happened to Bryer.  The authorities.  It never crossed my mind that they would think we were responsible for this! 
I remember feeling numb from his comments.  I was not worried in the slightest.  Obviously the investigator would interview us for our statements, put the pieces together, and find that we were great parents and would never harm any of our children.  Whatever it took to get past that thought so we could move on to how to really help Bryer!  What an absurd thought this poor doctor had!  All we needed to do was tell the truth and they would see. 

Midnight rolled around and we sat by Bryer's bedside, still waiting for the investigator.  Jason and I made do with the small window seat as a place to both rest in Bryer’s hospital room, not wanting to leave her; our own comfort being set aside.  At one point one of the nurses arranged to bring up a breast pump from the newborn unit to relieve me.  I hid behind a curtain to pump milk for my sweet baby.  I hoped to hold her, to snuggle her, to enjoy the time I had feeding her just like I had that morning.  Instead I heard beeping monitors, humming machines, and couldn't even reach to see her. 

We waited longer.  Finally about 1:00 am the investigator came in and asked to speak with me first.  She took me to a room down the hall where a social worker was sitting in to hear our conversation.  She asked me to recount the day.  I thought that Bryer’s fussiness through the weekend may have clues into the state she was in now.  I offered more details than the investigator asked for as she took notes on the weekend.  I had chalked up her crankiness to the milk intolerance she had when I had milk products in my system that got into my breast milk.  Maybe I had missed something.  Could I have mistaken her fussiness? 
It was a full weekend with Jason’s brother, his wife, and their five kids at our house for Christmas festivities.  We had taken all the kids around to craft stations in our little town with Bryer riding in my front pack.  The kids sat on Santa’s lap, and we enjoyed our church Christmas party.  Having 10 kids in the house was the best kind of chaos for me, but now I worried that maybe I missed some of Bryer’s early sickness signs as a result of just being distracted.  I recounted all the details of the weekend up through our day on Sunday. 

Bryer hadn’t slept well Saturday night, but that was to be expected only being 2 ½ months old.  Her sleep schedule still wasn’t set and I slept part of the night in the rocking chair next to her bed with her on my lap.  Every time I laid her down she woke up, so I’d nurse her back to sleep and try again, adamant about her sleeping in her own bed and breaking the habit of her being in our room. 

Not sleeping good led to Bryer having a cranky morning at church and standing up in the back with her to sway back and forth so she would be content.  I nursed her in the mother's lounge during Sunday School and then she sat in her car seat, rocking her with my foot, while I taught the 3 and 4 year olds about Jesus's birth.  She was out of my arms for only a few minutes that day as I got my classroom set up while a friend took her from me and ooo'ed an ahh'ed over her.  Had I missed something?  A warning sign?  Was her fussiness not really because of the milk intolerance?  I gave the investigator all the details I could think of that would help her and the doctors to help Bryer. 

I remember the investigator asking about how Jason is with the kids - if he yells or ever hits them.  These were such absurd questions!  Obviously I had recounted every detail of the weekend and our Sunday.  And now she was moving on to Jason?  He wasn't even there when I found her not breathing!  It was such a strange, draining, tiring feeling as the hours wore on.  Was she just not getting it?  I wanted to get back to my baby; to go back home and snuggle her up in our bed and forget about trying to wean her to her own crib.  The social worker sat on the couch on the other side of the room, doodling on her paper and picking at her nails.  Soon after the investigator said she was finished and walked me back to the room to trade for Jason. 

As Jason left, I looked around the room, so overly tired, but not wanting to sleep.  I saw the big glass doors we quietly slid open and shut to come in and out.  The nurses station was right outside our door with Bryer's very own nurse looking in - not to have to share her with other little patients in our unit.  I hid behind the curtain and pumped more milk, even though they wouldn't use it for Bryer right now.  One of the other nurses showed me how to label it and where to store it in the freezer down the hall in the kitchen.  All this pumping and storing seemed new to me even though I had nursed my fair share of babies.  Bryer wasn't using it now, but at some point she would and I wanted to keep my milk supply up for her.  I only wanted her to have the best that I could give her. 

Sometime later I tried to get comfy on the window seat in Bryer's room.  It didn't feel like I slept long before Jason woke me up.  It was about 5:00 in the morning.  My mind was so drowsy, but I tried to be alert to all that was going on.  The nurse came in and out, checking Bryer's monitors and taking her vitals.  They had given her medicine to induce a coma in order to let her brain relax.  I tried to remember something they had said about seizures.  I never remember seeing seizures; or at least they didn't look like Sawyr's seizures he had when he was little.  I tried to concentrate through my foggy brain on updates the nurse was telling me.  I decided it was time to get up and pump again while I tried to wake up my brain and hear what Jason had to say about his interview. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

#3 - Journal Entry from December 19, 2010

The ambulance ride was long.  I’m sure the snowy weather helped that, but so did my impatience in not being able to do anything to help.  They just held oxygen on her and we tried to keep her awake.  It was so sad to see my little 2 ½ month old baby on a gurney the size to fit an adult.  She looked so sweet in her pink velour church dress.  I wanted to scoop her up; to hold her next to my skin; to rouse her enough to nurse or comfort her in some way.  Instead she lay strapped to the bed with an oxygen mask over her as we tried to keep her awake.  Even a weak cry was a good sign.    

At one point the ambulance stopped and they talked about trading vehicles, as the hospital ambulance met our volunteer ambulance crew in route on the highway.  They decided instead to have the hospital paramedic get in the ambulance with us and to continue down the highway.  They took her temperature rectally and I remember wanting to keep her warm, not to have her little newborn legs exposed to the cold air as they took her temp. 
What should have taken about 55 minutes was almost double that in the weather conditions.  I remember heading into the hospital room, one I had been in before when another one of our kids split his eye brow and got stitches; and the time another baby of ours had croup.  Being there was a familiar place.  Although it’s an older, small hospital, the doctors and nurses have always been friendly and helpful with their small-town willingness.  That put me at ease that this situation would be similar. 

They moved her to a smaller, baby-sized bed and although it wasn’t the same as me holding her, somehow it seemed more fitting, like she would have looked in a basinet.  Maybe it had a warming feature over the top of her, but everything is such a blur.  I don’t remember the order that things happened and all the people in the room and what they were doing.  Nurses and doctors hooked her up to machines and recorded numbers, ordered medicines, and hurried in and out of the room.  One person I remember being there was Jason’s best friend, a chiropractor in the area.  He could help us make sense of things they were doing for Bryer and translate ‘doctor-talk’ for us.  They took her vitals and got her stable and then allowed Jason and his friend to give her a Priesthood Blessing.  They laid their hands on her head and said the words I believe God would say if He were there.  I don’t remember the words that were said in that blessing.  What I do remember is for an instant all the commotion, the busyness, the chaos in the room… all calmed.  For a moment there was clarity and peace.  When the prayer was done the reset button had been hit and everyone went back to work on Bryer, but with a different kind of feeling in the room. 

I don’t remember how things progressed, but they made the decision to transfer Bryer to a bigger hospital.  With her breathing complications they said they couldn’t transport her without an air tube to insure she could breathe in route.  It was confusing since her oxygen saturation percentage showed near 100%, but we put our trust in the doctors that they knew what needed to be done for our little girl.  Through this process I remember the doctor saying several times that after the next step they needed to check her back, but no one did. 
They sent her through a CT scan and explained that she would need to hold very still for it to work.  This whole time I had wished she would cry or wake up, now I hoped she would sleep and hold still, reasoning that if they could get a good read then the problem would be revealed and they could cure her. 

Jason and I stood in a little room outside the CT machine and watched the scan come up on the computer.  The grey-white matter differences were hard to see.  She pointed out there was no mid-line shift and no major masses that could be seen, which were good signs.  She suggested that Bryer showed signs of meningitis. 
As we met Bryer back in the ER room I felt the doctors were prepared with at least some knowledge of how to help.  They gave medicines to combat meningitis; they took some blood for testing, and worked to intubate her.  It was mentioned again by someone to check her back.  For what, I didn’t understand. 

The process to get a breathing tube down Bryer’s throat was painful to watch.  They had to give her something to stop her breathing, ‘bagging’ her to keep air going into her lungs until they were ready to attempt the process.  It was like something out of the movies watching a second  doctor repeatedly squeezing this ball of air to fill her lungs, then stopping long enough to intubate.  The lead doctor tipped Bryer’s head back in an unnatural position to get her trachea in a straight line in order to feed the tube down.  They only had a certain amount of time to do it before they had to start bagging again to get air into her lungs.  I stood at Bryer’s side and watched my baby’s head be tilted and contorted to get the right angle.  My body physically ached for her.  I said a silent prayer for the doctor’s hands to be guided.    
Time ran out and the tube was inserted into her stomach rather than her trachea.  I don’t remember how long they bagged and let both Bryer and the doctor rest before they tried the whole process again.  Bagging… Bagging... Bagging...  Quit bagging. Head tilt. The doctor was trying hard to get the tube in just the right spot.  I noticed how large her hands looked as they enveloped Bryer’s tiny head.  Her hands and arms shook, putting pressure on Bryer’s head, contorted from the rest of her body to get just the right angle.  There was mention of her heart rate spiking and remaining high.  Everything I ever knew about a baby’s soft spot and the head being supported gently went out the window.  As much as I wanted Bryer to escape from the situation, I reminded myself that this process was necessary for them to be able to transport her to a bigger hospital. 

Time ran out again.  And again, it was unsuccessful.  My heart dropped and they began to bag her again.  I could not watch my baby endure this kind of trauma.  I knew the doctors were doing the very best they could.  I knew it was necessary, but I just couldn’t watch my tiny infant lay so helpless; trusting in a process that wasn’t working.  I left Jason by her side and found a chair across the room.  I buried my face in my hands and tried to gather my strength so I could be strong for her.  Jason’s friend came over and said, “Bryer needs you right now.  You need to be by her side.”  So with the very last ounces of courage I could gather I went back to her side.  
Trying to be hopeful for this third time, I stood still next to her.  Bagging... Bagging... Bagging... Quit bagging. Head tilt.  Pressure on her head. Shaking hands envelop her tiny head as the doctor’s words pleaded, “Please Jesus, please be with me.”  The Angle.  The timing and angle had to be perfect.  And then the doctor released Bryer’s head from her hands.  It was confirmed with an x-ray that it was in the right position!  I felt relief run through my body. 

Everyone in the room seemed to breathe a little easier, knowing Bryer had what they called a ‘patented airway.’  The lead doctor talked to Jason and me.  She was crying and still shaken up from the adrenaline of the situation.  She apologized repeatedly for it taking so long and said she was praying all along for it to work.  She said it shouldn’t have been so hard to do and that she doesn’t usually work with infants.  We thanked her for her help and being willing to make it through.  I could have hugged the lady at that point.  Maybe I did.  I can’t remember in the blur of things. 
They finally checked her back at that point and noted some purple marks down the middle of her back along her spinal cord.  The lead doctor called the bigger hospital to fill them in on the little patient coming.  I stood in on the conversation as she restated that this was an illness and nothing more, probable meningitis.  She told the doctor on the other end that we were a good family, good parents.  I wondered why that was an important part of Bryer’s care, but was thankful for the compliment. 

Things moved faster from there.  Discussion was had about transporting via Life Flight, but the weather was still too bad for them to land so we were loaded into the ambulance.  I rode in the front of the ambulance while two paramedics sat next to Bryer and gave me updates on how she was doing.  Jason and his friend followed behind us.  I texted family to let them know what was going on and where we were headed.  I made light conversation with the driver and she explained that the snow storm was so bad that she couldn’t turn on the ambulance lights, as they were reflecting off the falling snow and making it even harder to see.  Our long trip to the bigger hospital drew on longer. 

As I go back through this day a sentence stands out to me.  “As much as I wanted Bryer to escape from the situation, I reminded myself that this process was necessary for them to be able to transport her to a bigger hospital.”  Sometimes we are asked to endure hard things.  In God’s way, this is all part of a refining process.  I think He feels the same about us – He wishes He could help us escape from the situation.  He also knows this process is necessary for our growth to move beyond it, to get to a better place. 
Picture something hard you have been through in the past.  How did you feel?  How did you react to your circumstances?  How did you get through it?  Now, how do you feel about the people you meet that are currently going through a similar situation?  Is your compassion increased?  Is your heart softened toward them?  Do you have a desire to reach out and help them?  Are you drawn to relate to them your experience and growth from it?  All over the world people are going through trials – in your own neighborhood even; maybe at work; maybe in your own family.  We can reach out to those around us that are enduring hard things.  If you are in the middle of the trial, look for those that sense your pain, who can relate to you, and allow their help through it.  (Easier than it sounds, I know, to allow another human being to help our self-sufficient selves. Humble yourself.)  We are not to go through this life as individuals.  God’s plan is for us to help each other when we are able and to accept help when we need it.  Know that He would scoop you up and escape with you – because He feels your pain, your agony, your stress.  And He is allowing you to endure it because He has confidence in you that this is the exact thing you need to be refined.  Not to have fun, but just be refined.  Having a cheerful attitude is bonus points.  (Just because someone has a cheerful attitude through their trial does not mean they have it taken care of and don’t need help. They need it!  That is how they have figured out how to deal with it emotionally.) Once you have been refined in one trial, He counts on you to go out and help someone else through it.