foot prints

Every Thursday I look back at a specific day and time that was spent with my daughter Matilda as she waited for, received, and recovered from a liver transplant. She was in the hospital for 72 days and we remained in NYC until she turned four months old.

November 1st, 2012 - foot prints

I never made it to the pumping room in the NICU after coming back to tell Tyler my hunch that sometime soon Matilda would be offered a liver. Instead, the Child Life social workers treated us to something special. Something that we will cherish forever.

The air in the room was mixed between excitement, sadness, hope, and despair. They came to help us take molds of Matilda's hands and feet. Of course, we knew that this was being done to help us deal with the loss of our beautiful baby girl. So that we could hold onto something and feel her close once she was gone. We knew that. But we were also so thankful for the opportunity. We were in the midst of this strange process of letting go, but we felt nothing but happiness. It was a painful kind of happiness, but still, it was there and it filled the room.

We took our time, soaking up the moment and laughing when Matilda would not cooperate. Our nurse was a hoot. She insisted on redoing each of the molds until the entire tub of plaster had been used up. And then she insisted that they come back the next day so that we could get more. If it were up to her, I think she would have dipped Matilda right into the bucket to get a full body cast. She was determined to make us laugh, keep us hopeful, and make us forget about the nosebleed.

I started to cry. It was just all too much. Was I really saying goodbye to my sweet little Matilda? Were these really our last moments together? I felt so much love for Matilda and I had hardly had a chance to know her. To hear her laugh. To see her grow. To kiss her wounds and make everything better. I felt her love when she would look at me with expressive eyes. When she would snuggle her head into just the right spot of my neck. When she would ever so gently squeeze my finger. I felt it. The love we had between us was real. It was alive. She was alive.

Everyone had left and the room was once again quiet. My face soaked with tears, my eyes puffy and red, my voice unable to speak. I kissed Matilda's head. I slowly felt every bit of her. Running my hands up and down every wire and tube that was connected to her. I sang her a song and lulled her to sleep. She was sedated and resting peacefully, but I took that moment and filled her with love.

Still crying, I left. I needed some fresh air. I needed a chance to collect my thoughts or better yet, not think at all. I still needed to pump, but I found myself walking to Starbucks. The barista saw me often. He might have noticed the hospital guest badge that sometimes hung around my neck. He might have noticed the same set of clothes worn over and over. He might have noticed my shrinking baby bump and empty arms. But he definitely noticed my tears. And today, as he handed over my coffee he said, "Things will be okay soon." And I felt it. I believed him.

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