Sunday, September 11, 2011
~*~ Our Sweet Caralynn ~*~
It's been 3 weeks today since Caralynn passed.
Chris was with us for block leave in Tucson. His second to last day there, August 13th, Caralynn had an infection. It was in her belly fluid and every time they'd drain her belly fluid, it would re-accumulate immediatly. Her sats were very off and at one point we very nearly lost her. It was so scary and so sudden.
You see, Caralynn had an allergy to the best antibiotics she could have recieved. So they weren't an option. Her heart was doing good. But she couldn't breath well because of the belly fluid.
After she crashed, they had us decide how far we wanted them to go. She had just had her 7th surgery to close her sternum because the wires broke off her ribs nd opened up. We knew they were very fragile and would be very very painful to her if they did chest compressions. So we had decided DNR but they could give her medicines to save her life. And the medicines did.
That night she had a good peaceful night. We were very happy in the morning, spent 2 hours with her until I had to take Chris to the greyhound station. Chris gave her kisses and said he loved her so so much and he'd see her soon.
The kids and I took him to the greyhound station, then went back to the hospital.
I was there with her for a few hours. The chaplain came in to talk to me, see how I was doing. We said a prayer for Caralynn. The second we said Amen, her blood pressure alarm went off. It was incredibley low. Her nurse, Steve called the dr's and everyone rushed down to the room... I stood there as they poked her to draw labs. I felt like I was standing outside of my skin just looking in through a window. I was so scared and nervous I didn't know what to do. The ped intensivist was --for lack of better word, yelling at me to make sure we didn't want to DNR. I could only think "I don't know, I don't know".
Chris had just sent me a text message saying he was going to turn his phone off so his battery didn't die.
So when I tried to call him, I just got his voicemail. So I sent him a text knowing he would see tha immediatly when he turned on his phone.
I called my mom and told her it was an emergency and she needed to call the greyhound station and see if they could get in touch with Chris's bus driver.
They were still working on Caralynn. The child life volunteers came and got the kids. And I was sitting outside her room watching everything. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. I knew what was going to happen. She was done fighting. She had fought so hard for 3months, 3weeks, and 3 days. Had 3 open heart surgeries and 4 other surgeries. We had tried everything we could to give her the best life. Her heart was strong! It was the belly fluid and the infection that made it impossible to breath. She was on the strongest vent settings and being on those settings, it's damaging to the body.
The chaplain was still with me and she was asking me how we could get Chris back to us... She thought of Ft Huachuca and if anyone there couldn't intercept him and bring him back (since he's in the army). But she had an idea to call the state police first to see if they could get him.
Chris called me right then, I told he he needed to get off the bus, NOW. So he went and talked to the bus driver, who told him to go grab his stuff, there was a rest stop he could drop Chris off at in 2 miles. Chris was almost 2 hours away.
The Chaplain got ahold of the correct state police people and they said they could do it! Chris waiting for 5 or so minutes before the cop car came racing into the rest stop lights and sirens going. Chris ran and hoped in the car. 2 officers shared the 2 hour drive and both cars went at least 100mph lights and sirens and got Chris to us in 45 minutes.
My poor husband, I had an hour to come to terms with what was going to happen. Caralynn, our baby, wouldn't be in pain anymore. She would be an angel to look over us. Our personal angel. But Chris hadn't yet... He was crying so hard and I tried comforting him. We were hugging over our baby. As nice as it ws to think about how she wouldn't be in pain anymore- it hurt so bad. Our baby would never have any kind of normal life. She would never have a bottle again (she only had a few before her first open heart surgery- the surgery that went so wrong and caused all of this). We would never hear her laugh, know how great life on earth could be, we would never walk holding her hand, have conversations with her, or anything.
We set up that Chris would hold her, and then me. Our dear nurses that had become family to us came to be with us. Affie and Christy could make it in to support us and be there. Kennon wouldn' be able to make it until later.
With our family there, Chris held her, and then Affie held her for a few minutes as she passed our sweet Caralynn from Chris to me.
I was afraid to hold her while she passed. I didn't know what would happen. Or how it would happen. Or how quick. The nurses and dr's said with the bad shape of her breathing it wouldn't take long. And that with them knowing me/us, I needed to hold her. So as it was my turn holding her, we told her we were so sorry for everything and that she wouldn't get to experience how wonderful life could be at home, with us. We told her it was okay to pass, that she would have a wonderful time being our angel and she would not be in pain anymore.
She kept peeking her eyes open at us. And she gave this look like "what am I still doing here"... it was a sad, in pain look. And when she looked at me that last time after we told her that, I knew it was time.
We had the kids brought in to say their goodbyes... but they really didn't know wha was happening, Even though we told them. It was just like saying goodnight to her every night for the last almost 4 months to them. We had some last family pictures taken and then the volunteer took the kids out again.
They turned the monitors off and took off the ventilator, but placed an oxygen mask up to her trach so she would still get oxygen and not sufficate.
It didn't take long. After a few minutes, maybe she turned pale. I couldn't feel her breathing anymore and we took the oxygen mask away. The dr checked her. And our sweet Caralynn with the broken heart... It was still beating.
It was so hard knowing that her heart was still strong, but soon would not beat anymore. I desperatly tried to feel it beating, but then some fluid dripped out her nose, and we knew. We kissed her a million times and told her how much we loved her. How much she had changed our lives, and how much we would miss her and the things that we would never experience with her.
Christy got to hold her as she took my baby from my arms to the bed. She too gave her kisses.
You see, Caralynn touched so many people. Taught so many what strength and fight was all about. She also taught everyoe to hug their babies just one more time, to go in for that 2nd or 3rd good night kiss, and that life is so precious and short.
We went to a grieveing room while they cleaned her up, clipped some pieces or her hair for us to hold forever, and also make castings of her perfect hands and feet. All of which I hold all of the time. It helps me grieve to hold her hand and look at her picture.
Kennon came to see us shortly after and so did Claire and our PICU friend Tonya. Many other nurses came in to say their goodbyes.
I didn't want to leave that night. I knew everything that would happen next and I didn't want them to. I knew that the first step to all of them was leaving her for the first time. I went back to the room 3 times while tryig to leave the hospital. She just looked so peaceful and perfect. Steve told me to take my time, he wasn't in any hurry (it was well past shift change) and tha he was honored to be the one to take her downstairs, he would get to hold her then.
When the kids saw her without all of the wires and tubes, they were SO happy and said "Caralynn's all better! Can we take her home?!"... How do you tell your 3 and 5 year old that she's in a different, better home? We tried explaining... and if you ask them today, they'll tell you Caralynn died and she's in a box on the shelf.
It's taken me a LONG time to write and finish this. But I knew I wanted to write it all down sooner then later. And since She touched so many, I knew I wanted to share her last few moments. I will never forget the looks of annoyance she gave us while we were taking our time to say goodbye. Our sweet Caralynn- you're the most perfect, prettiest angel of them all. And we love and miss you so so much.