TGIF! The day began with Hank leaving early in the morning for an appointment. Today was his vasectomy. We were content. Our three girls filled us, expanded us, and completed us. We knew that three kids was the perfect number and this was the best decision for our family.
While he was at his appointment, I got all three girls up and moving. After breakfast, Norah and I dropped Addy and Sydney off at their summer gymnastics camp and then returned home for me to begin my work day. I was anticipating my mom’s arrival in the early afternoon. She was coming to pick up all three girls for the weekend, as we had a wedding to attend.
Soon after we were home, I realized that Norah was extra clingy. Not fussy, just wanting held. I “wore” her while I worked during the morning hours. She had 2 more bottles than usual. She just wanted to eat and to be held. It made sense to me… she was about to enter a “leap” and was likely approaching her 4 month growth spurt. I knew all of my babies so well. But I knew this one differently. I could anticipate her needs and always solved the mysteries of the needs I had never experienced. I loved holding her. I loved how she would become so calm in my arms. I loved how she was still like a part of me. I loved when she was close to me. She was… different.
Hank arrived home from his appointment. I helped get him situated and comfortable and told him to relax for the next 24 hours.
I broke for an early “lunch break” to give Norah a quick bath and get her to sleep before I had to pick up Addy and Sydney from gymnastics camp. As I bathed Norah, I yelled out excitedly to Hank, “We’ve reached another milestone! She didn’t cry during her bath… she loved it!” Bath time for Norah was typically stressful, as she’d cry through the entire thing, until I wrapped her in a warm towel and picked her up. Today was different, though. She just relaxed and gazed into my eyes during the entire bath. It was so great!
After several attempts, I was finally able to lay Norah down in her crib for a nap. She hadn’t napped all morning because she was clinging to me. I told Hank she was fighting sleep a bit and may fuss for a minute or two, but she would be fine and she just needed to snuggle into her crib and sleep. I grabbed my keys, made sure he had the video monitor, and told him to stay put in his recliner. I had to pick up the girls from gymnastics camp but I’d be back in 30 minutes.
A few minutes after I left, I sent Hank a text to check on Norah. He said she fussed for a bit but was now sound asleep. Fantastic! She’ll get a quick nap in before my mom arrives.
The girls and I arrived home a short time later. Norah was asleep. Hank was resting. The girls ate lunch. I resumed working.
Around 1:35pm my mom arrived. She was helping the girls gather their bags while I finished a few work things and then made a bottle. “I’ll wake her and feed her so you don’t have to stop on the drive home.” My Mom and the girls went outside on the porch to play while I fed Norah.
I went upstairs to wake her at approximately 1:50pm.
The second I opened her bedroom door I knew something was bad. Really, really bad.
I could see her pale head. I took one step across the room to her crib and frantically picked her up. She was limp. Her lips were blue. My baby looked dead. My baby was dead.
I remember screaming for help (in a way that others said can’t even be described as a scream). My mom heard me from outside. Neighbors heard me from inside their homes. I did a few chest compressions and threw her at my mom, who was now upstairs with me, then called 911 (1:52pm) while she performed CPR. Hank and the girls cried out and held each other.
I could see the look of fear and helplessness on Hank’s face. For a split second, I remember us being frantic, yet frozen, with our eyes locked on each other’s. We shared a bond as grieving parents, before we even knew it. We were now connected in that moment, for life.
I continued to scream out to God and to Hank. I feared that Addy and Sydney would see the horror that was occurring in our upstairs hallway. My mom performed CPR as she prayed loudly to St. Jude, Worker of Miracles.
Somebody, anybody, just please help my baby!
I think I heard sirens. I hoped that I did. Thank God!
The first responder was a police officer who was right around the corner helping a dog off of the road. At some point he grabbed Norah and took over performing CPR. I was screaming and crouched in a corner. Still yelling out for God to save her. Somebody please save her. Multiple police officers began arriving, along with a detective, and several EMS personnel.
They attempted to get me outside. I kept running back in the house.
I remember seeing the first officer on the scene running out of the house with Norah on his arm, while still doing chest compressions. She had a little bit of color but my sweet baby was limp. I knew she was gone. I just knew. My fears had come true. How was this happening to us?!
We arrived at the hospital after what seemed like hours, but really it only took a few short minutes. We were asked to wait in the waiting area until someone took us back to the trauma room, where multiple teams of heroes were working on our baby. I was screaming for them to do everything she needed. I was wailing and praying out loud. I was begging everyone who passed us to pray, too. A sweet older lady was sobbing and praying with me. A complete stranger was devastated over what was happening to our sweet baby girl.
We were escorted to a family waiting area for a brief moment, where I told Hank I knew she was dead. I knew by how we were being gated off into different areas, and by the things people were saying to us. We were met by one of the EMS personnel who had been at our house, as well as a physician, and two social workers. The doctor said they were doing everything possible for Norah and warned us that her color may look different. The medic warned us that her room was very crowded, as everyone was there working on her, and that she had a breathing tube and many IVs.
I remember turning the corner of the ER to see a hallway filled with many people (probably 10-15) outside of a room. I knew that was her room. Within her room was another 10-15 people. There were two women holding each other up in a corner, crying. Several people were performing life saving measures on our sweet girl. Some were just standing there in silence. The pediatrician who was performing chest compressions on Norah had tears flowing from his eyes. Our sweet baby was lying there lifeless, intubated, with multiple IVs in her body, including two in her shins to allow medication to go directly into her bones. This type of access occurs in critical situations when intravenous access is not possible.
I felt myself instantly become nauseous and everything went dark for a second. I screamed. I asked to sit down. I fell to the floor. At some point during this time a doctor told us that they had not been able to restart her heart and it was time to stop. I knew. It was over.
Norah’s life was over. She was gone. She was dead. Her time of death “14:39” or 2:39pm. It seemed as though an eternity had passed since I found her, when actually our lives changed forever in just 49 minutes. Our entire world was now upside down. We went from living a good life to a living hell. I kept yelling for Hank to wake me up. I kept saying, “what are we going to do?”
Our sweet Norah is dead.
How do we go on?