Thirty years ago today Damara Kristine Allred was born. Weighing in at 5# 9 oz. she was perfect in every way. Lots of dark hair and her dad's eyebrows. (She would have hated them growing up) Our first baby after waiting a five years, two and 1/2 months - I was thrilled to finally be a mother.
On the morning of the 4th, they brought her in after a fresh bath and she had the standard issue hospital long sleeve t shirt and a diaper on. She had a curl in her hair and she smelled like heaven. She was so alert. As I was dressing her to take her home, I noticed she got stiff, and groaned a little, maybe like her little belly was hurting. We took her home and while everyone was out celebrating the 4th I was in awe of this little angel. She got stiff and groaned a couple more times and I told my mom there was something wrong and insisted we take her back to the hospital. I will never forget knowing as we drove back up to the hospital that I would never take her home again. Dr. Erhart was called in and she was having what they called a seizure...he was going to do a spinal tap to check for meningitis. He called Good Sam neo-natal unit and was advised to fly her out. A plane was ordered and it seemed like my world was coming to an end. It seemed like forever for the plane to get here and then when it did, we had to wait for the ambulance to come in from Alpine with a heart attack victim. The flight nurse and pilot were talking with the dr. and everyone else but me, they determined that Don would fly with her. The pilot looked over and asked who I was and when they told him the mother, he said that I would fly up front with him. When we got the go to get Damara on the ambulance to fly her out, it was getting late enough that people were lining up to watch the fireworks. As we flew that night, we could see fireworks all over the state. I didn't know what was going on in the back and it seemed like a long flight. Don said that they had to change the oxygen once before we landed and they only had enough to get her to the hospital. The ambulance ride in the valley was one heck of a ride. People were not pulling over to give the ambulance the right of way and the driver was using his loud speaker to get their attention. Needless to say by the time we got to the hospital I was more than a little stressed. Damara ran out of oxygen in the elevator at St. Joseph's on the way up to the nicu. They kept her going and then she was whisked off by a team of dr. and nurses. At 11:30 or so, a dr. came out and said that she was stable and that we needed to go somewhere and get some rest. They said that based on inital observations her chances were at least 50/50. Don said he felt lucky. I still remembered knowing that I would not be taking her home.
The morning of the 5th, Farrell and Mary took us to breakfast before we went to the hospital. I couldn't eat a bite, I just wanted to be at the hospital. When we got there my mom and dad were robed and in with her. The nurse took Don and I in, robed us up and then scrubbed us from the neck down. She said that we would not be able to hold her, but that we could talk to her and we could stroke her body. The second before I was allowed in I broke down and cried my broken heart out but somehow pulled it together to go and be with her. When I said her name, she started looking for me and the nurse said she knows you are here. I stroked her little body and talked to her for the 15 minutes we were allowed and then we went to find a motel close to the hospital. The next two days were full of ups and downs. There would be some good news followed by another set back. The drs. told us that they had seen 12 cases like hers in the past year and there was a 50% mortality rate. Not good odds. For the life of me I could never recall them telling us exactly what it was that she had. Cause of death on her death certificate states Group B Beta Strep. On the morning of the 7th, we woke up and Don said he felt like it was a good day. He called the hospital and they told him that Damara had just passed away. I never quite understood his optimism, but I certainly didn't try to dash it. I just knew what I knew and I have always been thankful for the very strong messages that I got through out that time, I knew for a certainty that Heavenly Father knew what would be happening and that he would bless us to get through it.
Thirty years later, I still know that Heavenly Father allowed us the blessing of having our perfect little spirit here for only four short days. I hope to have the blessing of raising her in the eternities. I love her, I am thankful for the things I learned in those short days. That is when I finally knew that I have a testimony of my Heavenly Father and of his son Jesus Christ and that we are never alone, never forgotten. I know that they mourn when we mourn and laugh when we laugh.
My regret...I never got a picture of her. I will never forget what she looked like, and I will never forget her sounds or her smell. If I close my eyes and think about it, it all comes back. The hurt has gone and in its place a sweet feeling of gratitude for those four short days.
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