She's come a long way
With the older children out of town Dave and I have had lots of time to catch up. We have spent many hours talking about things from the silly and ridiculous to the serious. Many of our conversations have centered around our Ashley Kate and her journey. I lay awake last night remembering just where we were a year ago this week and then looking into that crib with my jammy clad baby all tucked in safe and sound. It truly is amazing to see her and all that she has survived.
I thought about going back and reading my journal entries from this week last year, but decided not too. Some things are just too haunting and although I know I would walk away with much gratitude to our Father it just doesn't seem like what I need to do right now. As Dave and I were visiting last week we began talking about the day after Christmas last year and the images were all to real. I have no trouble remembering the events of that day and the vision of Ashley Kate as she struggled to hang on. Dave shared his heart with me and opened up the struggle he had with what he saw and it broke my heart to listen to his words. Dave and the kids along with his parents and my mom had traveled to Omaha to spend the holiday with us. Dave and I had gone to our apartment with the children and his mom had stayed with Ashley Kate. I rarely ever allowed this to happen for fear of trouble with Ash but desperately wanted to tuck Blake and Al in that night. Around 4a.m Ashley Kate spiked a fever and by 6a.m. I was called and made aware. I left for the hospital immediately. She was sick. I knew by the sounds of her voice. Dave arrived moments after I did and as the morning ticked away Ashley Kate only became worse. Things began to go wrong quickly. In a matter of moments the hall outside of her room was full of physicians and nurses. Her bedside was occupied by the pediatric intensivist who was on call and although I was pushed out into the hall Dave held his place at the end of her bed. I watched the monitors from the doorway and I watched my husband from behind. His shoulders shook and his grip tightened on the bed frame. The doctors were hollering for this and that to be pushed, "Now, push it in NOW, I mean IMMEDIATELY!". Ashley Kate's blood pressure had gone from high enough to bring on a stroke to bottoming out so low we were in fear of losing blood supply to her fingers and toes. To that point I had never been so frightened of losing her(although this day would be trumped by one yet to take place in early January). She was quickly intubated and the doctor and nurses worked to stabilize her. This was the beginning of a long battle with sepsis that had its ups and downs. Close calls that would bring us to our knees countless times. I recount this event to share with you the statement that Dave shared with me a few days ago. It was this day we were talking about when he opened his heart and said these words, "I had prayed for Ash. I had prayed for her daily, but when I saw how close she was to leaving us I began to plead. I remembering pleading with God for the first time in my life. I was pleading for her life. I stood at the end of her bed and I pleaded with God with everything in me." I was speechless. What could I say? Was it the prayer of this heartbroken father that pricked the heart of our heavenly Father? I wonder? I had big tears falling from eyes as Dave recounted the day from his perspective and as I listened to his words. What a blessing it is for Ashley Kate to have this man for her daddy. He loves that little pickle so much.
Ash has a long way to go, but when I look at how far she has come I don't fear what lies ahead. We have countless hours of therapy and more milestones than I can keep up with to strive for, but what really matters to this mom is what I see when I look into those twinkling eyes. Her spirit is intact. Inside that broken body is our Ashley Kate and she is alive and happy and thriving. Although she doesn't speak, or eat, or move around the house, she lives. She is so very happy and she is so amazing. You can see her mind working as she figures out new things each and every day. She communicates without the use of words. Her little hands clap when she is happy. Her little eyes reach for me when I get close enough to pick her up. Her little forehead leans into mine waiting for me to say, "I love ya, love ya, love ya." Her little head shakes "No, no" with each and every question I ask her even if the answer is yes(you can see the ornery grin spread across her face when when she knows she is supposed to be shaking her head the other way). Her little fingers grab a hold of ours and she begins moving our hands to do what she would like us to do. Her little face lights up when we start to sing her favorite songs or read "Goodnight Moon".
I guess as I reflect on the past year and all that happened in her life all I can say is that she has come a long way. She has amazed many, shocked others, and stunned a few. More than anything she has blessed us. We are grateful she is with us. Humbled she is ours, and astounded at how the Father has used her. It was a good year. It was a year full of His presence in our lives through her presence in our home. As we say good bye to 2007 we whisper a simple prayer that contains two words, "Thank you."