I’ve been a nurse for over five years but today was a first. Her body was so small and her rib cage so flexible that it didn’t take much pressure from just a couple fingers to compress her slowing heart. They turn quickly, the little ones. I’d just taken her to see the doctor this morning about her persistent diarrhea and skin issues. He made a few recommendations, some new, some we were already trying. Nothing groundbreaking. He said she’d be fine.
I’d believed him. She wasn’t very dehydrated; it was easy to start an IV once we got back home and she decided to stop drinking the rehydration serum. Even when we saw that her oxygen saturation was low, she responded beautifully to supplemental oxygen. But her heart rate never came back up.
On the trip to the hospital I was calmer than I expected I’d be. Wilson was driving, probably too fast. Carla was holding up the IV bag and making sure the oxygen machine, which was attached to a generator in the back of the truck, didn’t fall on us. Erin and I took turns with compressions and bagging. I think we all knew it was over but for some reason it felt right to keep trying at least until we reached the hospital. When we arrived it was all very matter-of-fact. Annabel didn’t make it.
She had come to us last August, tiny and perfect. She’d been abandoned at the same hospital that just pronounced her death. She didn’t have a name yet so Carla and I started brainstorming. I wanted Anna, meaning grace. Carla wanted to use the Kreyol word for beautiful, Bel. We sort of do everything together so we settled on Annabel; Beautiful Grace. Everyone speculated about her father’s ethnic background. We knew her mom was Haitian but Annabel had such light skin. Whenever Carla or I were holding her in public, people would ask us if she were ours. She is God’s, we’re just holding her. Some of the nannies told me we just had to keep her out in the sun for ten minutes a day and she’d turn Haitian. We knew it was silly, but let them do it anyway. Her nannies loved her. Emily loved her. The VandeLune girls loved her. I loved her. And when I start to question things–her life, her death, what I did, what I didn’t do–I am reminded,
She is God’s. We were just holding her.