Giving Up My Samantha, Part 1

Sammy was a dream baby.  She didn't even cry when she was born - it was just seconds after she arrived, and there she was, looking around at all of us like, "Hey, how ya doing?  What's going on out here?"  She was actually frighteningly peaceful for this mama.  "Why isn't she crying?  Is she okay?  Is she breathing?  I have to see her, give her to me!"  Sure enough, she was just...peaceful.

The summer of 2006 was a busy one for our family.  We sold our house, we bought another, we moved, Ben broke his arm running down the hill in our new back yard, we traveled, my hubby's grandpa passed away.  It was just crazy busy.  Samantha was a trooper, as most babies are.  She was learning to sit up and even scoot around a tiny bit, although it was tough for her baby muscles to heft that little chubby baby body around.  Lean babies?  Not around here!  We like 'em chunky :)

We didn't really think anything of her bruises.  She was learning to scoot and cruise, after all.  She was bumping her head and falling and just generally getting beat up by the process.  We expected some "owies".

And then she developed what appeared to be a diaper rash.  It was a strange rash though.  I put some Desitin on it, and went on about my days.

And then the diaper rash spread.  It spread to her legs, her back, her tummy, and her....face and arms?  It was clear that this was no diaper rash.  What was going on?

Hubby and I still joke about the conversation the followed.  We were sitting at the kitchen table.  I can remember vividly where we were sitting, the expressions on his face as we talked, and the "something is just not right" sick feeling in my gut.  

"What do you think, should I take her to the doctor?"  I asked him.

"Oh, I don't know.  The rash doesn't seem to bother her at all.  Maybe we should just just keep an eye on it and bring her in if it doesn't go away or if she develops anything else?"

"I don't know either.  She's not running a fever.  She had a cold recently, but that's gone now.  But this is just really strange.  It's all over her body, Luke.  What if she has some sort of...I don't know...blood disorder or something?"

"Yeah (sarcastically, but fun and sweet trying to lighten the mood), maybe she has a deadly Blood Disorder!"

Ha Ha Ha.  We both tried to laugh it off, but that nagging feeling in my gut remained. I called the doctor and made an appointment for her that afternoon.

Walking into the doctor's office, I felt silly.  So silly, in fact, that I almost left.  Surely this would be a waste of our time and money and I was just being a neurotic mommy.  The nurse saw us into our room, where Sammy and I sat quietly waiting for our turn.  My little giggling girl loved pat-a-cake, peek-a-boo,  and my out of tune rendition of "Skinny Marinky Dinky Dink" so she was a cinch to keep entertained.

The doctor came in with his usual warmth and easy manner.  He's been our family doctor since we were married - long before babies, so I know him well.  It's always so reassuring to see him walk in the room.

"So little Samantha isn't feeling well today?"  He asked.

"Well, she seems to feel fine.  It's this rash - it's all over her body."

"Let's take a look."

As he inspected her skin in his gentle and cautious manner, I could feel his demeanor changing.  His brow furrowed.  His smile dissolved.  

"I'm going to be right back" He said, and he disappeared out he door.

I held my baby with her mysterious rash and prayed and waited.

The doctor came back in with a piece of paper in his hand.  I tremble as I sit here today and recall his next words.

"I'd like for you to go see this doctor.  I just got off the phone with him, and he's expecting you." He said, as he handed me a piece of paper with a name written on it.

"Okay, well I'll go home and make an appointment as soon as I can."

"No, Daiquiri.  I don't think I was clear.  You need to go right now.  I want you to drive carefully, but go quickly.  Don't even stop for something to eat.  Don't stop to make a call.  Just go, and go now."

"What?  What is this?  What do you mean 'don't stop for something to eat'?  What the hell is going on?"

He avoided my questions and responded with words that, to this day, make me nauseous.

"Do you know where the Misty Center is?"

"What do you mean the Misty Center?  Do you mean the MSTI Center?  The Mountain States Tumor Institute?  The CANCER place?  WHY WOULD I BRING MY BABY THERE?"

"Please Daiquiri.  You have to be calm and strong right now.  Be strong, and hold it together, at least until you get her to MSTI.  You can do this, I know you can."

It was all I could to to keep from cussing him out.  He was being patient and firm and kind...but in my mind he was being downright awful and cruel to suggest what I thought he was suggesting.  I hated his guts in that moment, and I nearly slapped him across the face.  

I gathered up my precious baby, buckled her in her seat, and drove as fast as I could to the downtown cancer center.  It was during that drive that the lyrics of a song came to me, which became my only prayer and source of peace for the next several months: "Hold Me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf.  You have been King of my glory, won't you be my Prince of Peace."

As if in a dream, I found a front row spot in a parking lot that we would become all too well acquainted with over the course of the next few months.  Samantha was sleeping, so I carefully detached the baby carrier from it's base, and locked it into the stroller.  I looked at her for a moment as she slept peacefully, with those little pouty lips almost breaking my mommy heart. I covered the stroller with a quilt to keep the sun out of her face, and headed into the building.

The doors opened with a "whoosh" as I approached.  It was so easy.  So easy to buckle her into her stroller and walk into this cheerful looking building with quilts hanging on the walls and a fountain in the lobby.  The signs clearly marked the way to the office I needed...but I wanted to get lost.  I wanted to wander the hallways, get lost, and have an excuse to simply leave.  But it was easy.  My path was clear.  I didn't want it, but it was clear.

I made my way down the hushed hallway, and into the MSTI office.  I looked around the waiting room, and saw horror.  I saw sweet faces and loving parents with worried and tired brows...I saw bald heads, and cheeks puffed with steroids.  I saw toys in the corner.  I saw a dishwasher that was used to disinfect the toys daily.  I saw...our future?  The beginning of an end?  

I can't do this.

I stood there, paralyzed.  I couldn't move or speak.  What do I say?  "Hi, I'm here with my precious baby because, oh, I don't know, she might be dying or something.  Could you check her for me?"  ??

A nurse with a kind face approached me and put her arm around me.  I'm sure she'd seen a look like the one I had before.  She held me in a way that was comforting and functional at the same time.  She wanted to simply hug me...but she was propping me up too, like she thought I might fall over at any time.  She might have been right.

"What am I doing here?  What do I do?"  I asked.

She nodded reassuringly, still holding me. "You're in the right place.  Is this Samantha?"

I nodded, swallowing the lump in my throat.

"Let's go this way and we'll get her checked in."

"I think this is a mistake.  She just has a rash.  I can't do this.  This can't be happening.  I can't be in this place with my baby girl."

I don't remember the rest.  She guided us through the check-in process, and showed us to the room we were to wait in.  The doctor came in shortly, inspected her in his gruff and quick way (I wanted to slap him too - I wanted to slap everyone who came near my Sammy that day), and he ordered blood work.

We were ushered to the next room.  The walls were covered with cheerful wallpaper.  There was a bin of toys in the corner.  But none of it mattered as I held my screaming baby as they drew her blood.

After the blood draw, they placed a cotton ball over the puncture in her little arm, and sent the blood off for analysis.  He removed the cotton to place a band-aid...but there was so much blood.  How can all of this blood be coming out of my baby?!  And why won't it stop?!  The guy looked at me over his glasses as he held her arm, waiting for the bleeding to stop.  He might have said something, but I don't remember.  I only remember his eyes.  Those eyes spoke volumes that I didn't want to hear.

Something was wrong.  Something was terribly wrong...

Anonymous –   – (2/09/2009 07:18:00 AM)  

Please hurry w/ future installments. I need my heart back in my chest where it belongs instead of in my throat.

You have such a talent.

Lisa  – (2/09/2009 11:56:00 AM)  


ps. Rich Mullins was amazing. I wish he was still around.

Anonymous –   – (2/09/2009 12:55:00 PM)  

I'm waiting for part 2 . . .

Wanda  – (2/09/2009 02:41:00 PM)  

You can not leave me hanging like this. I am in tears as I type this...

Beth in NC  – (2/09/2009 07:28:00 PM)  

I'm already crying and I don't know where this goes from here.

I could feel your panic and anxiety! I freak when my child has a fever. God bless you.

Mel  – (2/09/2009 09:01:00 PM)  

oh my i am with the rest of those who have commented i want to know more of the story.

nomore  – (2/09/2009 10:03:00 PM)  

Hi Daiquiri. I'm so glad I got to come and visit and read your blog entry today about Samantha. I look forward to part 2. Waiting anxiously for Good News :O) She is beautiful.... all your kiddos are beautiful! great pics of birtdays and all :O)
Blessings to you!

Hilty Sprouts  – (2/10/2009 09:35:00 PM)  

Good writing Daiquiri.
That was a very scary time.


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