Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Tiniest Plane...

She was born at 8:50pm...
And she wasn't breathing...

My niece, Delylah, was immediately life-flighted to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa while we waited, hoping, praying that she was okay. I remember watching as they wheeled her tiny, listless, body down the hallway in an incubator. Tubes were stuck down her throat. Machines were beeping. Nurses were talking. But she was silent.
We watched as she was loaded onto the waiting helicopter, watched as it lifted off the ground carrying precious cargo.
The next day we were told she was born without her right lung, her heart was severely deformed, her esophagus didn't connect to her stomach as it should, and she had spinal deformities. They diagnosed her with VATERL syndrome. It is a very rare collection of abnormalities that a child is born with. Tulsa had never seen a case of it and were not prepared to offer her care. So they immediately sent for transport to Texas Children's Hospital.
As we visited with Delylah and waited for the plane to arrive, we took time to get to know the little bundle of joy. I remember my sister pointing out that Delylah had my fingers; the way the pinky curves inward toward the other fingers. I snapped a picture of it.
When the nurses from Houston arrived to take her, we were told that her mom couldn't ride along because she'd had a c-section. Sis was horrified at the thought off Baby D going alone. So I did what any aunt would do...
I volunteered to fly with her to Houston.
Oh, but I didn't realize what a teeny tiny plane we would be flying in. Nor did I realize that it would take us almost two hours to get to Texas Children's Hospital.
The ambulance ride was daunting. But I was okay until we pulled up to the tarmac and I got a look at the little tinker-toy with a kangaroo painted on the side of it. Then I swallowed back bile. I didn't mind flying-- not at all-- but I am severely clausterphobic. In a major way.
But I smiled and crawled into my seat-- I had to haunch over in a 90 degreed angle just to get to it (and I'm only 5'3'').
All the way there I kept remembering how my dad had told me I should never ride in a small plane... because Pasty Cline and Buddy Holly had died on small planes...
Through major breathing exercises, plastering my face to the window, and sheer luck... I made it there without hyperventillating and Delylah was placed in the capable hands of the NICU.
I learned a lot of things that day... some of which I can't put into words. But most of all, I learned that a parent's (or aunt's or uncle's or granparent's) love can overcome the greatest of obstacles.

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