As part of the project you can choose to post a photo of a particular moment, but for this one I chose not to. I keep some of my moments with Ava so very close to me that I don’t share them with many people as far as pictures are concerned. The single photo that is possibly my proudest but most difficult is the moment that Ava was grabbing so tightly onto my finger. It is the epitome of a bittersweet memory between me and her. That particular moment in time, although very difficult to relive, is still one I would call positive. It is something I hope and pray I never forget.
There are a few things that come to mind that I could describe as far as what they felt like that would provide a glimpse into my reality. I couldn’t possibly talk about every one that comes to mind because my entire experience was one insane feeling to another. No amount of experiences in my life adequately prepared me for this.
One of the most powerful moments or string of moments that I think of was the morning of July 10 when I figured out that Ava was in trouble. Leah was still in her room resting. It was about 1:00 AM when I went down to Ava’s room to check on her after I had gotten off the phone with her nurse. She didn’t give a whole lot of insight into her condition except to say that she wasn’t doing well. Ava’s condition was worsening to the point that her blood was becoming too acidic. Where it became very hard for me was being told that if this didn’t improve, she could die in only a matter of hours. I remember having to wake Leah up when I returned, knowing that we both needed to be with Ava.
In just a few hours, Ava passed away. Before she passed away, I remember the doctor explaining to us that if things reached a point where they couldn’t do anything further to save her, they would take Ava out her incubator and put her in Leah’s arms. It was probably 4:00 AM or a little before then when this happened. I remember when they were working on Ava, I just kept thinking to myself that this wasn’t good and that there was probably a good chance Ava wasn’t going to make it. I knew that as long as she wasn’t taken out of that incubator there was still a chance. As I watched her blood pressure drop lower and lower, I knew it was only a matter of time. The instant the doctor said to remove Ava from her incubator I was devastated. I knew it was over.
We spent an hour with her before we decided it was time to turn off her breathing machine. I don’t know whether or not she was still with us at that time, but she was pronounced dead at 4:42 AM.
What made those few hours so difficult for me was having enough warning to see what was coming. I just went back and forth between hopeful and fearful not knowing what would happen even though I knew what could happen. As time went on my worst fears just became more and more of a reality until it was finally over. Once again, it’s all bittersweet. That one hour after she was removed from her incubator was the only time I ever held my daughter in my arms while she was still breathing. As devastated as I was, I was still grateful for what little time I had. I don’t know that I will ever have the strength to live through that again. So I hope that I never have to.
This is what memories are like that have anything to do with when Ava was alive. I have so much gratitude for every moment she was here in this world with me, but these moments also come with an immense amount of sadness.
I could describe many of my memories of her in this way. But would I trade them for anything? Never. Would I ever want to forget them? Never. Do I sometimes wish I didn’t have to feel pain when I think of these memories? Absolutely.