Thursday, February 25, 2010
Kara Faith Comes Home
For many days prior to Kara Faith coming home from the hospital I had been worrying. I was worrying that she would not be able to handle the car ride home and would die in the back of my suburban. It was something I just hadn’t been able to get around. The four days prior to her discharge, Kara had not had one breathing “episode” where she needed to be bagged. On February 22, 2010, Stu and I arrived at Shands NICU III to pick up our precious daughter. Upon arrival we discover that Kara had to have breathing assistance at 3 a.m. and 9 a.m. Again, my fears surfaced. It was then that I had to come to the realization that God would not have gotten us this far to have Kara Faith die in my suburban. I had to stand on that.
We got Kara Faith all set up on her portable oxygen and her heart/apnea monitor. She was placed in my lap and we were wheeled out to our waiting truck. Here I was just like every other mommy taking my baby girl home, except my baby girl was 45 days old, had a trach, a g-tube, and was hooked up to her lifeline—35% oxygen. Daddy followed right next to us with that O2 tank. It took 5 of us to take her to the car: Kara was in my arms, Stu followed with oxygen, Dr. Willis—the car bed lady pushed the wheelchair, Andrea Sullivan—NICU nurse extraordinaire, and Kerry—the discharge nurse who trained us to take care of Kara Faith. I handed little Peanut to Stu and he placed her in her car bed. (It took up 2 seats in my suburban.) Dr. Willis made sure she was nice and snug and we arranged all of the equipment—02 tank and tubing hooked up to Kara, suction machine for her trach, heart/apnea monitor, and an ambu-bag in case of breathing difficulty. I was to give her a few drops of sterile saline every 10-15 minutes to keep her airway moist and off we went. Stu was driving and I was watching over our sweet baby girl. A little way down Archer Road and she sets off the apnea monitor (it is CRAZY loud) and my heart leaps! I rub on her and check everything and the monitor quiets. She is fine. Then it really starts to pour as we get on I-75. I call my amazing friend, Chris Tuttle. We’re racing down the Interstate in the pouring rain and Chris and her husband, Donnie, are praying fervently via speakerphone for our protection, for Kara Faith’s breathing, for safety, for peace. God was right there in that car that day. It was palpable. Christ was knitting together good friends who trusted in Him for His goodness. Those prayers sustained us for the rest of the trip to our home.
We pull into our garage. I get out and come around to Kara’s side, unbuckle her, and gently lift her into my arms. Daddy follows with her O2. Little faces are now peeking out of the door to see their baby sister coming home. At home that morning was: Dan 10, Max 9, Tommy 5.5, Eden Joy 3.5, Joshua 22 months. Celeste 18 and Jamie 15 were in class. Tiffany Schwarz and Pam Waters were caring for our children that day. Pam Waters was there when we came through the door with Kara. Oh what a gift that day was! The kids were so excited! Teri Garard, our dear church friend and angel here on earth, arrived. She works for Hospice of the Nature Coast, but was there as our friend that day. Teri held Kara while I got her crib organized. Pediatric Health Choice arrived to set up all the equipment. It was then that we realized that the “tree” on the oxygen tank was not compatible with the hook-up on the ambu-bag. Had we had trouble and needed it on the trip home it would have taken us precious minutes to locate the right fitting and get all in working order. God truly was watching over her…
Jeanie Marino, Evelyn, Dax Balch, and Beth Wunder arrived from Hospice. They planned to provide continuous care nursing for Kara Faith. It took until near midnight for the nurse to arrive, so Jeanie and Evelyn cared superbly for our daughter until Pat Dahl (we absolutely love Pat) arrived. We can’t thank them enough for the tender care they gave Kara and us during those first hours at home.
From the time we arrived home with Kara Faith until late the next morning I felt like I was standing on a cliff and about to jump. The adrenaline was unreal! I barely slept. Stu was so vigilant in caring for our daughter and me during this time. Kara had set her monitors off on several occasions and I just didn’t want to miss a minute with her. He encouraged me to sleep and he stayed up with Pat and took care of Kara. (I think I slept 3 hours that first night.) Finally, around 10 o’clock on Tuesday morning I felt peace settle over me. I could pick her up at any time and hold her. I could change her diaper, feed her and just do whatever I wanted with her because she was home in her crib in my house. I had to trade all that fear for faith that God, along with Hospice and our friends, would sustain us and Kara Faith in the coming exciting and stress-filled days.