Sunday, June 28, 2015

June 28 - Dear Nicholas Sparks (Guest Blogger Heidi Cadwell)

Dear Mr. Sparks,

I was so excited. Frank and I were having our first child...sort of. We were 'home' for 36 foster kids. Brian, Darrell and Sarah were with us at this time. Tanina was born on March 6th, 1995 during a typical ice storm. Frank helped the newspaper guy back onto the dirt road that had become quite slick with ice. We dropped off the kids at a neighbor's house and everyone cheered us on to the hospital. I was made very comfortable at the hospital. Being farmers, I knew Frank and I could handle this birth. He went out for a run and my mom entered in her motherly frantic state. Soon enough, the time came and Tanina was born. The midwife asked if Frank wanted to cut the cord and he declined.

There was no cry. They took my babe and put her on a table. There was no cry. One nurse put a black balloon on her face. There was no cry. "We'll be right back." the nurse said. "We just need to check some things." I told Frank to follow. A nurse proceeded to stitch me up because I tore.

Minutes later, Frank came in. His eyes were big. "There's something very wrong, Heidi."

"You need to be with Tanina." I started to try getting up but my legs wouldn't move. The epidural hadn't worn off. A doctor came in with a yellow legal pad. He sat across the room and drew a picture that made no sense to me. "She has a 5% chance of life with multiple issues. We suggest that you let us send her to (unnamed hospital). You should stay here and make arrangements. No. This wasn't right. I started to pull all of the tubes from my arm and threw myself out of the bed. I was on the floor crawling towards the door. My baby needed me. The nursing staff were quick to put me in a wheel chair telling me they would get me to my child. A doctor came by and gave me a Polaroid picture of my girl. Frank came back with the same owl eyes. "We are sending her to Boston. Don't let them send her anywhere else but Boston."

They didn't want to send her to Boston. Frank insisted so Boston was called. Some time later, the Boston Ambulance arrived. The intern who came to get Tanina was the first person to smile at me that day. "She's beautiful," he said. "I will take good care of her. The doctors we have will help her." They are the best." Tanina was in an incubator with tubes and wires. She was rolled away. I cried for the first time all day. I had not been able to touch my girl.

Frank went home to feed and water our sheep as well as talk to our neighbors and kids. I was suppose to stay at the hospital for the night. If I could pee, I could leave. A nurse called when Tanina arrived in Boston. She was stable. I could call any time and check on my babe. Nurses kept coming in to pet my head and tell me everything was going to be all right. They tried to give me pills and an IV but I would not have anything to do with them. I don't think I was too nice. As soon as I could get my legs moving, I was gone. That happened at around 6 am. I forced myself to my feet and started heading for the door. The nurses tried to stop me but I just kept going. They wanted me to sign papers and sit in a wheel chair. I just kept going. Mom got the car. I told her to head for Boston.

Thinking back on this, I can't imagine anything so stupid. Boston is not a place that you just drive to. It's antiquated road system baffles the best drivers. My mother went over the same bridge six times before I told her to drop me off. I would walk. Like all the other miracles in this story, a Boston Children's Ambulance showed up. We followed this and were soon, right outside the hospital. I was almost there! My baby! A police officer showed up at my mother's car window. "I am sorry. You will have to move." Without another thought, I got out of the car. I heard the officer tell me to get back into the car. I just kept going. He grabbed my shoulder and turned me. My arm was already up and I hit him square in the face. Down he went. I started to run and the last thing I saw was my mother trying to help the officer up. The front door, the desk, elevator, another desk. And then there she was. My baby. My sweet child. They were just taking her into surgery but stopped so I could spend a moment with her. I couldn't hold her hand or touch her face. I held her foot, which was the only part not filled with tubes and wires. And then they took her away.

The rest of the story for Tanina is filled with Jay Wilson, her surgeon and Rusty Jennings, another amazing human whose hands are guided by God. These two men gave my daughter, Tanina, life. I have learned a lot about hospitals and doctors since Tanina was born. It was Jay Wilson who told me that the scars I carried would always be deeper that Tanina's. He was so right.

Today, Tanina is 11 years old. She plays flute in the town band as it's youngest member, rides horses, does karate, sings solos in church and is a A student in school. This past summer, she made the all-star team in softball, playing a great first base with a wicked fast bat. She even bought her first 'two piece' bathing suit. She's not afraid to show the world her 'Jay Wilson signature'. I am proud of who she has become, marveling at her maturity and grace.

Heidi Cadwell (New Hampshire)

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