48 to 72 hours old

Part 3 of the Week of August 6 to 15, 1977 –  if you missed Part 2 – click here; if you missed Part 1 – click here…otherwise keep on reading 🙂

After going home and resting for a few hours and pumping twice (the doctor had told me even though I couldn’t nurse, my breast milk would be the best thing for the twins so being the good little girl and wanting to be the best mommy in the world ~ I pumped and pumped some more).  I wanted to go back to the hospital.  So about 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon Ron and I made the trek into the hospital.  We stayed about an hour ~ I must say the hardest thing is having a baby or two babies and not be able to take them home with you 😦  It was so good to see Jamie in the incubator breathing on his own.  We just could not believe how tiny he was and how well he was doing.  Seeing Royce was so hard, he struggled with breathing and had so many tubes going into his little body.  As we stood there and gently touched him tears streamed down both our faces.  And said many prayers.  Our prayers were mixed ~ seeking healing for Royce’s little body ~ he was fighting a Class D infection (the highest classification they would give) and pneumonia from swallowing the amniotic fluid. 

After seeing the boys we went by the Silver Nugget to get some dinner and see my mom.  She said she would be home around 11:15 that night.  After dinner we went home and I tried to rest some more.  I called the hospital a couple of times to check on the boys.  After my mom got home I asked her if she wanted to go to the hospital to see the boys – she had only had a glimpse of Jamie before they transferred him to the neonatal unit and she hadn’t seen Royce since early Monday morning.  After talking and begging her to take me to the hospital, she called the neonatal unit and asked if it was okay to come so late at night.  The nurse she spoke with, unbeknown to me, told my mom she thought it would be a good thing for her to bring me to see the babies as Royce was continuing to go down hill.

(I should say here I was 19 when I had the twins and Ron was 21 – I was very niave and neither of us knew what kinds of questions to ask or even if it was appropriate to ask questions ~ things are so different now a days as we saw in the birth of Opal and the loss of little Emerald~both in how things are handled and what is said and done for the parents of these little preemie babies.)

So we drove the 45 minutes to the hospital arriving a little after 12:30 a.m.  We gowned and scrubbed up and went into see the boys.  My mom talked to the nurse for quite awhile, I just kept moving from baby to baby.  It was so quiet in there except for the noises of the different machines.  If I remember correctly there were six or eight little ones in the nursery.  Sometimes even today I wonder about those other babies.  The nurses let us stay over two hours with the boys.  And as we left the hospital to go back home both my mom and I were crying, tears running down our cheeks inwardly praying that they would be okay.

After getting home about 4 in the morning we both crawled into our beds and slept.  I remember waking a few times and cuddling & crying with Ron – and I kept saying to him “God wouldn’t give us two babies and then take them away would he?”  And then we would pray and cry together and drift off to sleep.  We got up about 8:30 and called the hospital to see how the babies were doing.  Jamie was upgraded from to serious but stable yet Royce was still on the critical list.  After showering and breakfast we decided to go back to the hospital.  I had a couple more bags of milk to take in and I really wanted to see the boys.  While we were preparing to leave to go to the hospital the phone rang.  It was the neonatologist calling to tell us Royce was not doing well and that they wanted to do a blood transfusion on him and would we give permission for them to do that.  Of course!! I almost yelled into the phone ~ I don’t even remember asking Ron what he thought.  I just knew that I wanted them to do whatever it was they needed to do to make my baby healthy.  The doctor than said we should wait a couple of hours till we came in to give them time to do the transfusion and make sure all was well with him.  He said they would call when we could come to the hospital.  This was about 11:30 a.m.

I think the next three hours have been some of the longest hours in my life.  Right about 2:30 the doctor called and talked to Ron.  He told him that the transfusion was not successful and it did not look like Royce would live much longer.  He said we should get to the hospital as quick as we could – Royce probably only had about 15 minutes to live.  The tears and cries just rocked our bodies.  My mom quickly called work and said she would not be in and the three of us (me, Ron and my mom) got in her car and went to the hospital.  Ron was driving, speeding all the way, I just prayed 1) that we would get to the hospital before Royce died and 2) that we would not get stopped by the police with the way Ron was driving.  As we pulled up to the red light by the driveway leading into the hospital parking lot Ron stopped.  My mom and I just looked at him, no traffic was coming, we had just arrived with him speeding all the way and then he stopped!!!  We yelled at him to run the light, just run the damn light!!  And then he did.  He pulled up by the doors closest to the entry by the neonatal unit and Ron & I jumped out of the car.  Mom went to park it.  We ran into the unit, grabbed gowns and scurried through the double doors.  I remember one of the nurses saying something about we needed to scrub and I said “why, he is dying anyway.”  She just looked at me and we went onto where Royce was laying.

He was so tiny.  There was a hospital chaplain standing nearby talking with the doctor.  We just looked at Royce with tears streaming down our faces.  We couldn’t believe he was dying, he looked like he was sleeping.  About that time my mom came into the neonatal unit with a gown on.  She joined us at Royce’s bedside.  Standing around Royce was the doctor, then my mom, then me, then Ron and then the chaplain.  I remember asking the doctor how long it would be?  Was he hurting?  Was he in pain?  I never thought to ask if we could hold him.  Neither did Ron.  That is something that bothers us to this day – I got to hold him once in the early hours after he was born and Ron never did get to hold him while he was alive.  The doctor told us it would not be long, no he was not in pain and he was not hurting.  I remember touching his little legs, and my mom rubbing his little arm and Ron rubbing his legs as well.  After a few minutes my mom told me to tell Ron to ask the chaplain if he would pray.  Ron did.  When the chaplain said “Almighty Father” – Royce breathed his last breath on this earth.  It was 3:15 p.m.  Exactly 45 minutes since we had received the call that he had only 20 minutes or so to live.

I truly believe that the Lord kept Royce there waiting for us to be with him before he died and returned to heaven.  We were at the hospital with Royce for a total of about 10 minutes before he died.  When I think of those minutes I say again, thank you Lord for giving us those minutes with that sweet little baby.  After a few minutes of just standing there by his little lifeless body I said I wanted to hold Jamie.  And Ron asked the chaplain to call Pastor Adrian to come to the hospital.

We were then escorted intoa room with a rocking chair, a couple of other chairs and a hospital bed.  While waiting for Pastor Adrian and for the nurse to bring me Jamie I kept saying “Why, why would God give me a baby and then take him away????”  over and over and then I changed it to “I am not going to ask Pastor Adrian why God would give me a baby and then take him away, I am just not going to do that!!!”  As I was saying these questions, which really no one could answer they brought Jamie into us.  I sat in the rocking chair and they put this tiny, squirly little guy who was wrapped up in a little blanket into my arms.  I just cried – it was the first time I actually got to hold him.  I cried and rocked and rocked and cried holding that little baby.  I would not give him to anyone, not even Ron.  I don’t know how long I rocked him but finally the nurse standing behind me said she thought she shoudl take him back to the incubator as they didn’t want him to lose his body heat.  I reluctantly gave him back to the nurse.  And cried and rocked some more.  About 45 minutes after Royce died Pastor Adrian came into the room.  Ron and I were sitting on the hospital bed and I jumped up and grabbed his arms and yelled at him “Why,  why would God give me a baby and then take him away????”  And I remember him and Ron putting their arms around me and repeating “I don’t know.”

Note – I need to stop right now as I can barely see the page through my tears.  I think this is the very first time I have ever sat down and written out this whole story.  I will write more later.

2 responses to “48 to 72 hours old”

  1. What a heartbreaking story, Ali. How hard this must have been for you and Ron, especially at your young ages. I can see that 34 years later it is still a hard story for you to tell. May God shower you with His peace, my friend.

  2. (((Oh Alice))), I'm crying with you. God has given you great strength to be able to write this. I know you are reliving it as you type. Thank you for being willing to put yourself through that grief again in order to share your story with us. I'm so sorry you and Ron had to experience such a loss, but you are doing the right thing by giving Glory to God through your suffering. We never know how our writing will end up helping someone else. Some day I want to write about John's death, but, unlike you, I'm not yet ready to through such pain. May God bless you and continue to give you strength as you re-walk the path He put before you.

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