A few days later she was pronounced jaundice and ended up back in the hospital.
At a follow up appointment as she was being weighed I made the offhand comment that she wasn’t a hungry baby and that we couldn’t even wake her up to feed her when I saw that she had dropped weight. As I made the innocent comment I saw the doctors head peak around the corner with her eyebrows raised. That day we were re-admitted back into the hospital for ‘failing to thrive’. What followed were the scariest days of my life. Spinal taps, test, antibiotics, more test—it was a whirlwind. Nothing was “wrong’ but nothing was ‘right’ either. One morning the doctor came in, took her out of my arms and announced she was doing a spinal tap to rule out…she must have mentioned what she was looking for but I didn’t hear a word. When she came back the doctor predicted that she would forever become SadiePyle (one word) and told of how every thing she had to ask the nurse about came out as “What is SadiePyle’s…or how does SadiePyle respond…” I know now that she was making small talk to ease me out of my shock. Regardless, her prediction came true and now our Sadie-girl is called SadiePyle. One word. Every time I hear her teachers of classmates say her name that way I am transported back to that moment. Maybe one day that will pass.
Next came the ‘ride’ in the emergency ambulance to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. A swat team of nurses descended into our hospital room and became a well-choreographed dance of hooking up my baby to machines and monitors while another nurse in her camo nursing pants drilled me for information, with instructions and rules. In a whirlwind of activity they took her from me, secured her into an incubator and scurried her into a waiting emergency ambulance. “If we stop, don’t get out. No matter what you hear, you stay buckled up. Do not get out of the seat, do you understand?” I’ll never forget those words. I’ll never forget that trip to Atlanta being secured in the front while my baby girl was in the back. My only connection to her was a tiny black and white monitor.
For weeks I sat in a darkened room in the CHOA NICU holding my Sadie girl. She slept and I watched. I saw every eyelash come in. I watched her tiny fists balled up next to her enormous cheeks. I felt every soft breath. Heard every mew and baby sigh. Saw every flutter of her eyelids. We sat in a chair, covered in my old raggedy quilt and I watched my baby girl. Just watched. That soft, soft cheek was kissed a thousand times in those long days.
We never knew all that was wrong. We were warned that her development would be ‘off’ and that they didn’t quite know what to expect for our Sadie girl in the days ahead. Giving up on finding out WHY we just took her home to love her. At 11 weeks…a week before I had to go back to work my girl woke up. Gone was the ‘shark look’ that haunted me for weeks.
Today is our Sadie-girls 3rd birthday. All birthday’s are special but Sadie’s day always tugs a bit more at my heart. Celebrating her day means re-living some scary, scary days. Sadie’s birthday means re-opening the old wounds of her Father’s parents not even acknowledging her. Her day is both joyous and sad. My eyes fill with tears more often on this day. I hurt a little more at the injustice of her not being loved by her grandparents. More importantly, though, I celebrate a little bit more knowing that our girl is as fierce and as independent as any other 3 year old. Her start in life may have been slow but she’s made up for lost time. I see her in her mismatched clothes, sporting attitude and using big girl words and I smile. She is full of life and spirit and she’s spoiled rotten. And that is okay. Today anyway. Today, on her day, I pause just a little longer when I kiss her check or see her beautiful long eyelashes. I hold her squishy, wiggly body just a bit tighter and hold her hand a bit more firmly. She’s our baby. She’s our miracle. She is our Sadie-girl.