Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Wheelock Quads are Born (Part 2)

After falling asleep sometime after midnight, Crissie awoke around 3:30 in the morning with an intuition that something was wrong. Thirty minutes later, we got a phone call from the NICU asking permission to transfuse blood for Garrison. Of course, Crissie granted that permission without hesitation. We really didn't know what was going on with him at that point, and we certainly weren't thinking that a blood transfusion was out of the ordinary, but a 4am phone call from the NICU definitely had our already frazzled nerves on edge.

Thirty minutes later, we got a phone call from Phillip (the charge nurse in the NICU that night and a personal friend) that we needed to come down immediately. Considering that Crissie was eight hours removed from major surgery, still on a catheter, and had yet to be moved post-operatively in a wheelchair--this was a serious request. Though we wouldn't say it aloud, we were pretty sure they wouldn't call us down to the NICU unless there was dire need.

Much of the following was a blur because of our exhaustion, delerium, and (for Crissie) pain medications. But first, I need to back up a little bit...

When Garrison was delivered, he was bruised from head to toe. His membrane had ruptured and he had virtually no fluids in his sac at delivery, so the belief was that he had suffered external bruising as a result of the other membranes crashing down on him. Thus, Garrison's body was darker than we expected--it wasn't quite "black and blue," but it was close.

When we approached Garrison in Pod 8 of the NICU, he was being attended by as many as 6 or 7 different nurses, doctors, and therapists. His incubator was wide open and one nurse was doing chest compressions while another worked a breathing bag. He was being given epinephrine shots at a regular interval. It wasn't good.

The doctor in charge of Garrison explained that the infection that spiked Crissie's fever had attacked Garrison too. Having a ruptured membrane meant that he had very little defence against the infection. It wreaked havoc on his delicate lungs and cardiovascular system. He had crashed once already and they were able to bring him back, but from this last crash, he wasn't recovering. We were asked if we wanted them to continue, but the answer was already clearly written on the faces of everyone working on him. Garrison wasn't going to make it to his first sunrise.

I still don't know how long we stood there in silence watching everyone work. I do know that I felt my heart was literally being ripped in two--so much so that I thought was having a heart attack. Crissie sat and cried while I stood. We were completely devastated.

We continued to wait for a miracle that wouldn't come. They stopped chest compressions and he was shortly thereafter pronounced dead. He lived outside the womb for less than nine hours.

We were given a chance to bathe him. Crissie could only get up close enough in her wheelchair to rub lotion on his left arm and leg and I tried to help, but I was struggling to hold it together so I left it to the nurse. They dressed him and brought him to us so that we could spend a few quiet moments alone with him. We both held him and cried all the tears we had left. A priest came to baptize him. We finally left Garrison to check on Elena and Amelia (more on them later). We were led back to our room to collapse again in utter exhaustion. Heartbroken, overwhelmed, and afraid, we slept fitfully--wondering what the next phone call might bring.

We'll always wonder what kind of man Garrison would have grown up to be. We'll always wonder what kind of brother, son, or father he would have become. I can say with all honesty that we'd trade all of our worldly possessions to have him back. Everything... without question.

When Lillian passed, I was sure she was up in heaven, safe and sound, holding hands with my mom. I was so hopeful that it happened for a reason and that we would one day understand. With Garrison's passing, my hope is that they're all together and that Lillian will have a big brother to pass the time with until we can all be together again. It sounds nice to write that down--I just hope one day I find peace in believing that's how it works. Right now, there's no peace.

My faith has been shaken.

And, there's two other girls who still need us to believe in miracles.


  1. I can't even begin to tell you how much your story hits home for my husband and I. "I'm so sorry" just doesn't express my sadness for what you two are experiencing right now. I wish I could give you guys a big hug and make it all go away.

    Sandra of the Cochran Quads just sent me the link to your blog, and I am so glad she did. You guys, Amelia, Elena, Garrison, and Lillian will constantly be in my thoughts and prayers.

    I know my four angels have already welcomed Garrison and Lillian with open arms up in heaven. They are all together and PERFECT.

    Love to you,

  2. I am so sorry for your losses and will continue to pray and keep your little fighters in my thoughts!

  3. i found your blog from lauren green...

    having lost two boys in the NICU i know your pain and i am so very sorry. please know i am praying for you...and for your two little girls...keep fighting babies!