We have had a really full month at MBHOH, ending with a student group this week. Their presence brought much life and laughter to our home this week.
In the presence of life and laughter, I was reminded on two occasions this week of the reality that is our life at Maria's. Yes, there is life. There is laughter. There is joy. But there is also pain. There is suffering. There is death.
I was in the office one day, which is a shared space with one of our nurses. As I sat at my desk, one of our babies was brought in and given oxygen. He had a heart condition and his little heart had begun to fail him. I watched as Jona, Mariah, and Lily stood over him, took his temperature, listened to his heart, and loving patted his back as he struggled to continue breathing. I walked over and held his little hand, which at this time was quite blue. As I continued to watch, I was amazed at the way the three of them lovingly cared for him in what were to be his last few hours. I became overwhelmed by the fact that this is what they do. They save lives. And at times, saving a life means not giving up, but allowing the babies to let go comfortably and in loving hands.
Another day this week, I woke up to an email from our nurses that another one of our babies had passed. This came unexpectedly and although our hearts were deeply heavy that day, I know without a doubt that she was loved and lovingly cared for during her last days with us.
I write this just as a way to help you understand (and to help me process) the reality of our life here. As I mentioned above, there is great life and laughter in our home; but there is also great sadness and pain that comes with human suffering and death. And not just death, but the death of a child. It is easy for us who are not part of the medical staff to shield ourselves at times from the reality of death in our home, but at other times, it is unescapable. And the truth is, as much as it hurts, I don't want to escape it, because it is real. It also helps me to understand and overwhelmingly appreciate the love and work that our doctors and nurses pour into our babies day in and day out. They are the ones who carry the heavy load of suffering, but somehow find a way to keep going, to keep loving, to keep caring, even through the pain of continued loss.