One week after losing our entire home to a devastating fire we were blessed with the news of expecting baby number four. Our three daughters were thrilled to have a new brother or sister!
This pregnancy was no different than my others, everything was going great! When it was time to find out the gender my two oldest daughters came along. The ultrasound tech told us we were expecting another girl, but then she kept clicking and said that she needed to go get her supervisor. My gut told me something was wrong. Their exchanged looks and lack of words confirmed my thoughts. I was cleaned up and told that we could leave without any further information. I never shared my feelings with my girls that day, they were just too excited. Instead we went to buy some baby girl items to surprise my husband.
Five days after that ultrasound my doctor called me with some news. Our baby girl had a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. That allowed her stomach to move into her chest cavity and gave her a 70% chance of survival. We were devastated, but remained hopeful. He referred us to a pediatric cardiologist which said her heart was fine and referred us on to St. Louis Children's Hospital. We knew we were in the best possible place medically, and we knew our God is the ultimate healer. We hoped of her future to be filled with laughter, singing, and dancing.
We visited monthly and the news kept getting worse, a heart defect was found. Our visits went to every two weeks and that’s when we were told of two more heart defects the biggest being Transposition of the Great Vessels. Our active baby girl was then given a ZERO percent chance of survival. Our hearts broke. We were given the option of terminating the pregnancy a few to many times. The thought of that never crossed our minds. GOD chose us to be her parents, and we were going to give her the chance that she so greatly deserved.
We were told that she would probably make her debut between 28-32 weeks and most likely weigh less than four pounds, but our girl was out to prove herself!
She arrived via c-section July 2, 2012 at 39 weeks and was my biggest at 8 pounds 13 ounces. We heard an amazing little sound, like a baby duck. It was music to our ears because the doctors had told us that she would not cry. Hope of her survival rushed in.
Then, I heard counting, I told my husband they must be doing CPR. My husband went with the transport team from Barnes Jewish across the long breezeway to St. Louis Children's Hospital. While they rushed my precious baby Payzlie farther away from me in recovery the doctor told me that my baby would die within the hour. I called my nurse in and told her to do what she had to so I could go to my baby. After a few minutes she came back with three other nurses and put me in a wheelchair, two hours after my c-section I was on my way to see Payzlie.
I got to her and just started praying. Miraculously, she became stable!
She suffered seizures due to a brain bleed caused from the several minutes of CPR, had her first heart surgery at one week old, and the next day she had surgery to place her stomach back down into her abdomen. Surgeons were surprised to find it was more than just her stomach in her chest cavity, there was her spleen, small bowel, and part of her liver. Her heart was pushed to the right side of her chest and her lungs were small. She earned 24 stitches across her chest.
Payzlie was a warrior and surprised everyone. She opened her eyes, followed me around the room, squeezed her sister's fingers, moved her foot when her daddy would tickle, and made the cutest pouty/mad faces. She was perfect.
We prayed over her daily for GOD to heal her. At 15 days of age we entered her CICU room and I told my husband that something was wrong. Our precious girls eyes had dimmed, no longer bright blue. It was then they called us in to a conference room and told us that her organs had failed. She was alive due to machines now and if we chose to they could do dialysis which might give us another week, but would cause swelling and could tear her stitches. We told them that this beautiful dance was about quality of her life for her, not quantity of her life for us.
The next day her entire medical team joined us in her room. I held my baby for the first and last time. I talked to her, kissed her, and assured her of my love. I tried to soak in her smell and everything about her. I then passed her to my husband because I knew that he was stronger than me. Her big sisters gave her sweet kisses. Her daddy held her and I held her hand as her medical team discontinued her life support. A kiss on the cheek from daddy and after about 10 minutes our mighty fighter’s heart came to a rest. I whispered in her ear, “Through your strength and with your love I shall find peace. Sweet dreams my dear Payzlie.” I gave my last kiss to her tiny palm so she could hold it until I will kiss her again in heaven one day. She was healed!
“I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.
This was painted on Payzlie's wall at St. Louis Children's Hospital and will forever mean so much to our family. GOD blessed us with 15 days when specialists told us to expect less than one. We left her wrapped in a pink blanket that said “Daddy’s Little Princess” to comfort her in our absence, and we went home that day without our baby.
There are no guarantees to our life on Earth, and no one escapes without a storm. Payzlie was our storm and taught us to dance in the rain. After every storm GOD promises a rainbow, and I write this as our Rainbow Baby Boy celebrates his fourth birthday. He knows his big sister Payzlie’s story and loves her just as much as the rest of us.
Laying our precious baby to rest was the hardest day of our lives, knowing our reunion might be a long time in the future. Payzlie would be six today, and the heartache is truly the same. Although, God’s timing is healing and now I can share her story without crying. Our celebration of her life every year, releasing pink balloons, on her birthday and acknowledging her ANGELversary gives me joy.
My tears are now “what if tears” instead of painful tears.