Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Today, 1 year ago, I gave the hubs a kiss and left him in a prep room with his dad. I hurried back upstairs to be with my baby. I was surrounded by family and friends. You could feel the anxiety in the air, as we all knew it was almost time to kiss L and leave her in the hands of her amazing team of doctors and nurses, and of course, God.
I played with her until I heard the words "they are ready for her." She was smiling on her way down the elevator. We all crammed in there - over a dozen of us. She had no idea what was happening in that moment to her Dada, or what was about to happen to her. (wrong dates on the following pictures)
Then, I kissed my family and friends bye. They all gave L love. And I turned and walked away from them while holding onto her. I was taken to a space behind a curtain. There, her anesthesiologist came and went over pre-op questions. I could feel my throat constricting, like I had a huge lump there, that was growing as the minutes went by.
I held L tight to my chest and rocked her, her head on my shoulder. Then, the curtain opened and a nurse was standing there. She said "I know there are rules about only immediate family with the patient, but this is a special circumstance." Behind her, she had brought all of my family and friends to be with me for those last few minutes. I sat in a chair while everyone surrounded us. All those smiles from the above pictures were gone at this point - I was so choked up and scared!
Her surgeon came and talked to us. As he was talking, L fell peacefully asleep on me. Then, within a few minutes, they said "it's time to go." They brought a stretcher over. They brought several warm blankets. I laid L down gently and they covered her with warm blankets. She stayed asleep. Then, I bent down and kissed her and told her I loved her so much and that she was going to do awesome. Then I said to the team to please take good care of her. They assured me they would.
They wheeled her away and I watched until I could no longer see her sleeping body down the hallway. I turned around, and started sobbing. My family lifted me with hugs and shared tears with me. This was really happening. Both of my most precious loves were being operated on simultaneously.
We pulled ourselves together. Then, we headed up to the unit to switch our belongings over to the room where L would be staying post-surgery. Afterwards, we went to the surgical waiting area. We set up shop there, taking up a lot of space. We got a lot of stares, especially when the surgical nurse who gives updates to family members was giving me updates on two people.
Before we knew it (although at the time, it felt like the clock was ticking backwards), we heard that the hubs had done beautifully and that they were preparing his piece of liver to go into L.
Then, we learned that L was out of surgery and everything had gone smoothly.
That was one year ago. I can hardly believe it. In some ways, like when I retell the details of that day, it feels like it just happened. But in other ways, this year has been the longest and hardest year of my life. But it has been worth it. All of the bad stuff about this year has been worth it because L is here. And honestly, as long as she is thriving, happy, and making improvements, that is all that matters to me.
We are spending the day cherishing our sweet girl and remembering all that we have been through to keep her here.
For most families, transplant anniversaries are bittersweet. They remember the person who lost their life and saved their loved one, while celebrating the gift their loved one received.
But for us, it is only celebration. Celebration that the hub's liver was a perfect fit for L. Celebration that L has such an awesome Dad who was willing to make such a sacrifice. Celebration that L is here and is happy. Celebration for the fact that we are spending more days at home than in the hospital.
Thanking God for today, and the gift of life L received a year ago. And looking forward to more celebrations on future December 14th's.
PS - I want to encourage you all to sign up to be organ donors. People die on a daily basis waiting for their perfect organ. Signing up on your license is great - but the best thing to do is to go to your state's organ donation website. There, you can specify which organs you wish to donate (or not donate), and by signing up there, it takes the pressure off of your family to decide what you would have wanted.