Some months have gone by since my last entry into this chronicle of Gunner’s life. He’s already more than 5 months old and in all honesty, these months have felt far longer, while they also felt like they were rushing by – like a train. It is almost August, now… so deep summer here in AZ and my husband and I are anchored into our drama free life in the desert.
Gunner is now home on Maui! His parents are elated and, initially they were a bit frightened by the immensity of what was before them. Especially Sarah has been 24/7 with her baby boy, keeping him fed, bathed, changed and loved. Jacob is the consummate father; working every day, coming home and helping with whatever is required and being a rock for both his wife and son. Impressive, to say the least. More on all this later, for now I’ll return to February 25, 2022.
Tiny hand holding pre-surgery.
The morning of Gunner’s 2nd surgery dawned with anticipation and fear. Anytime someone you love goes under general anesthesia, not to mention major surgery where loads can go wrong, any self possessed human would have some trepidation. We all did.
At this point, we had secured a condo in a high rise downtown and loads of homeless people wandered around night and day. Not a vacation spot or in possession of exceptional views of the ocean, but comfortable enough. Jacob and I woke up early to make our way to the hospital (only one person could stay overnight with Gunner, so his papa tried to get the sleep he needed, as did I).
Sarah was getting herself emotionally ready for the surgery, while she tended to Gunner along with the attendant nurses. Much occurs prior to surgery, so in Gunner’s case Sarah wanted to give him as much ‘skin to skin’ contact as possible (her instincts & anxiety gave her so many alarm bells, she insisted she to do this with him). Lab work commenced around 4 am and medical team had to put in a new IV (the former one had already been removed a few days prior). This took some time, but as much as Sarah could manage, she insisted on skin to skin snuggles with her boy. The possibility he wouldn’t make it through this 2nd surgery caused his mother to savor every moment she had with him and she steeled herself for all the possibilities inherent in a week old child going into another major surgery within a week of being born.
By 7:30 am, the surgical team was ready to take him down to the surgery theatre and left his mother behind, crying in the NICU halls. As a mother myself, my memories of how I felt regarding protecting my babies when they were so young and vulnerable, rushed into my consciousness. It took a mighty detour for Sarah to allow this precious, fragile child of her’s to be wheeled away. What a fucking warrior my daughter is!
Jacob and I got to the hospital right when the team took Gunner to the surgery area so the three of us gathered in the cafeteria where Sarah and I ordered two dirty chai’s, a big cup of coffee for Jacob and some grubby food. Then we all settled as a cautious, huddled group of worried, yet hopeful humans.
We were all pulling for Gunner to make it through this surgery which, if successful, could help him immensely. Putting the two ends of his intestines back together could have one of two effects. One would be his small intestine could begin to grow and extend. The other it would not. Either way, Gunner had an uncertain future, but completely vital in every way, aside from his intestine. His body was strong, healthy and all his major organs worked perfectly.
When Jacob and I arrived at the hospital, Sarah had already been getting Gunner ready for this next stage in his life. She was so tired, in every way, yet her spirits were steady. As steady as a mother can be under these incredible circumstances. At 7:30 the team came to the NICU to pick Gunner up and take him away.
savoring every minute with him.
Sarah dissolved into a million bits and a cascade of tears streamed down her cheeks, but she mustered up her faith in him; that Gunner would not only survive, but thrive with this experimental surgery.
This procedure was not generally done so soon. Reconnecting the two ends of the severed intestine is normally conducted after many weeks of being earthside, but the lead surgeon told us he kept ‘thinking’ the best course of action was to connect the two ends of Gunner’s small intestine right away.
To me, spirit was moving through this pragmatic and scientific human’s mind and urging a radical intervention for our boy. This old witch just smiled knowingly as I listened to this man – close to my age and experience in life – mumble about how he didn’t know why he thought this was a good idea, but how sure he was that it was. My inside voice said, ‘Alhamdulillah’ (“praise be to God” in Arabic) to this news and the way Source is such a sneaky resource to us humans.
Lab work began around 3:30 am, a new IV had to be installed into his tiny body (which was no easy feat), waivers and documents needed to be signed, loads of information about the procedure explained and as much as she could, Sarah insisted on skin to skin contact with her boy. The idea that he would be cut open again was staggering, yet the faith the 3 of
Papa post surgery with his brave little man.
us had was in equal measure.
We made our way to the cafeteria where we talked, we cried, we felt loads of emotions and I mostly listened to these young parents. They were so new at being parents, yet so skilled at being in that position already. They both KNEW they needed to be incredibly brave and full of faith in the process they found themselves in. Their courage was so inspiring to me, as I have NEVER faced this level of the unknown with an infant.
If I could only be so brave in life, I thought.
In a few hours, word got to us little Gunner was out of surgery and doing well. He was ALIVE and he made it through another trial. Sarah & Jacob rushed up to her NICU room to wait for Gunner’s return… and Tutu went about the business of gathering up what we needed to keep going in Honolulu, HI.
We just kept taking one step, then another… and this became how our days went. Inside of a week we were becoming accustomed to the trauma informed life we were leading. Looking back, I can still recall how I felt in the early months of 2022. Fractured, hollowed out, frightened, sleepless and so utterly grateful for all the tiny moments I had with this tiny little human named Gunner.
It was more than enough.
When I was barely 22, I became a mother for the first time. The few years before, my life had been quite difficult. Between the ages of 14-20 a lot happened; my parents divorced, my sisters and I went to multiple schools, suffered multiple moves, experienced constant betrayal, parental (father) abandonment occurred and I experienced abuse, rape and assault.
One of those events could’ve been enough to throw a sheltered, entitled kid from the SF Bay Area into a life long trauma response, so maybe the list of them forced me into a state of such incredible – ‘wake up, dummy!!!’ – I actually did.
Wake up, that is.
Of late, the phrase ‘woke’ has become a big negative for some, but truly – in my own experience – waking up to our connection to everything and everyone is a good thing – as long as you consciously avoid becoming an imperious asshole. But, I digress…
Becoming a mother shocked me into what is required to give life and sustain it with the sense of complete surrender to my child’s well being, rather than my individual self. This event also changed me from a broken, traumatized human, into a fierce, curious and directed woman. In that shift, I found a deep well of spirituality I have NEVER lost. This spirituality is something which remained informative and dynamic through all the decades of my life, since then.
At the root of parenting, is compassion and humility. None of us know how to be great parents when we start, but if we remain humble and open, our children show us the way… if we so chose.
Memories of how my instincts were naturally activated when my first daughter was born rushed into my consciousness when my second born, Sarah, was completely overcome with the same instincts the moment her Gunner was born. She just went through the exact same transition I had gone through 40 years before, but my precious daughter had an enormous mine field of ‘how do I keep this child alive???!!”questions, inclusive of multiple and significant choices she & her husband had to make for Gunner to survive.
They didn’t know anything medically, but they did know Gunner AND they did know they wanted a chance for him, but ONLY if he had the possibility of having a life worth experiencing. If keeping him alive meant he would not have any of the joys of being human, but artificially hooked up to machines in order to be here… A life they DID NOT want for him.
Their love for their son was obvious from the second he was born and it was so strong, neither of them required he remain with them, while both of them were willing to do ANYTHING – if he wanted to be here. The most powerful messages they received were from their son, as each day that went by during the first week of Gunner’s life, gave them one promise after another that Gunner was fighting to be with them as much as they were fighting for him to stay alive.
Such a wondrous time; but the tears!! Oh, SO many tears and wails from our hearts due to the vast unknown in front of this little boy & the daily ups and significant downs he had. During those first weeks, his mother shared her fears and joys with me, as I was the primary person with her for the first weeks of Gunner’s life when Jacob was on Maui working.
My heart broke every time she lamented the normal joys she’d expected and couldn’t have; nursing him, cuddling with him and his papa, taking him outside to feel the sunshine, showing him off to the world, sleepless nights sitting in soft light and cooing with her perfect child… and even sadness for things she hadn’t even imagined she would miss. My heart broke with her over and over and I had to keep reminding her that he was still here and THAT ALONE, was a fucking miracle. “One step – then Another. One moment – and another” was all she could possibly do. Cry for the losses & the broken dreams… and as the tears streamed down her face, I asked her to celebrate the miracles.
She did it all.
My first night on Oahu was completely out of body and weird… Hannah and Jacob secured a pretty shitty hotel room near Waikiki Beach; the only room available on such short notice. All three of us squished into that room and went directly to sleep. As weird as it is to imagine sleeping in the same room as my daughter’s husband, I don’t think anyone blinked an eye. We were all that exhausted and frankly, sleeping hadn’t been all that easy for anyone in our family for many long nights since February 18th.
My ‘three hours ahead of this time zone’ body got me up before dawn and I decided to slip out to rustle up some coffee for everyone and do SOMETHING about the fact that I only had fluffy UGG boots to wear (remember when I mentioned earlier about my packing job?).
If you were to spend a few days with me in a metropolis, you’d see I’m not wonderful about knowing where I am. Often I’ll head in the opposite direction I’m directed to, even with GPS help. It’s curious, as I am pretty good at navigating larger areas – even vast, multi-dimensional ones, but I am utterly dreadful in cities. That morning was no different and it was so early, none of the coffee shops I had found were open yet. Giving up, I found my way to a canal and sat on a bench to call my husband. We both cried a bit, but it was SO good to hear his soothing voice that morning. Another small/huge miracle, this love I have and I believe it helped me manage my day and acclimate.
In Hawaii, there are these touristy shops selling everything a traveler may require called the ABC Store. They tend to be on every other corner, open early and late so I bought a pair of slippers (or ‘flip-flops’ as mainlanders refer to them) with the word, ALOHA, written on the sole with tropical flowers on a black background. They were $4.99, ridiculously ugly and totally sucked to walk in, but I honestly didn’t have the time to get something better. After I acquired those babies, I found some great coffee and bought three big cups to share with my Hannah and Papa Jacob. Once I found my way back to the hotel, the day launched quickly – and without food – while my feet began to blister from my new slippers. We had to get back to the hospital AND move into another hotel, where we would be staying for another week or so.
The first week of Gunner’s life was topsy turvy, all over the place. As I settled into life in a hotel, in a city, surrounded by millions of humans, my daughter stayed with her baby – day in and day out – ignoring her own physical pain, which was nothing compared to the pain of losing him at any moment. Her feet were swollen (she lamented they felt like floppy boobs), the incision hurt, her back was on fire and her heart felt like it was literally bleeding. Every day was a gift, while they brought little in the way of certainty for Gunner’s long term survival. He seemed to be handling life without a small intestine, but the prognosis was grim due to the severity of his condition.
Usually, this sort of situation occurs in premies, but after they are born not in utero and it’s often due to a birth defect or when the intestine hasn’t developed enough. What occurred was Gunner’s intestine twisted up (a ‘volvulus’) a few days before Sarah started labor. This situation caused the blood flow to his developing intestine to stop, which created ‘necrotizing enterocolitis’. Completely rare in utero and often not detected in already born babies, who typically die of sepsis because the symptoms are throwing up and diarrhea, both of which can be considered ‘normal’ behavior for an infant. In the cases where the parents aren’t seeing the symptoms for what they are, the baby will die from sepsis very quickly.
In most ways, Sarah and Jacob’s journey into birth was a boon to Gunner’s survival. Had she not given birth as early as she did, the dead cells of his intestine would most certainly have caused him to die prior to birth and possibly impacted Sarah’s health as well. At the end of her pregnancy she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, causing baby to get bigger, faster. This was also a good thing as Gunner was very well developed at birth, even though he was many weeks from being fully gestated.
Still, his situation was presenting to the doctors as ‘unsurvivable’ and those first days of his life were incredibly difficult. On one hand everyone was elated that he was still alive. On the other, his tenuous hold on life was significant, especially according to the specialists. They didn’t mince their words about his situation and his parents were constantly thrown around emotionally with the grim reality that their boy may not ever live anything close to normal, would be unable to take food in by his mouth, may never swim in the ocean, play with other kids or ever be without a backpack full of intravenous food 24/7.
Sarah and Jacob had to listen to all these dire prognoses from knowledgable and experienced experts AND kept making decisions considering what they were being told with their knowledge of their boy and HIS desire to live and thrive. To say they were incredible, is quite an understatement. They showed us all what an obvious exercise is faith looks like.
Aunty Hannah & Gunner in his first days of life. Snuggling.
During the first surgery Gunner had, the surgeon removed all of his small intestine and sewed what was left (called ‘stomas’) to the outside of his body. Generally, the surgery conducted where the two stomas are connected inside the gut doesn’t happen for a few months, or 6-9 weeks post birth. In this case, the lead surgeon told us, during an impromptu visit outside the hospital, that he kept thinking about Gunner and feeling like he should reconnect what was left of Gunner’s intestine right away. He considered it a way to take advantage of the natural growth little babies do between gestational weeks 35-40.
Even though Gunner was no longer in utero, this growth could occur, or at least this is what the surgeon kept thinking about. Maybe doing this surgery now would help Gunner develop a bit more small intestine… and wasn’t it worth a try?
As the quiet grandmother, providing solace, meals and running errands for the family, I simply watched Gunner’s father urge the doctors to ‘think outside the box’ for his son. While Sarah was keeping Gunner alive through presence and touch, she was also racked with fear about his situation and wasn’t always capable of the same process as her husband; mentally. Jacob listened and respected the specialists, but also challenged them to do things specifically for his son, not what was ‘normally’ done.
Nothing about Gunner’s situation was typical or ‘normal’ and I wonder whether those dialogs inspired the doctors to take unheard of or tested actions for our Gunner. Looking back, it seemed these choices have made a big difference in his survival and current condition. At least this is how I see it.
We will NEVER know the how’s or why’s of Gunner’s ability to thrive in the face of such an intense physical condition, but certainly every step of the way the medical intervention and energetic support (prayers, belief and faith) of hundreds of family and extended community members, worked together to help this little guy, who clearly wanted to live.
Mid week of Gunner’s life, it was decided to conduct a 2nd surgery on his little body to connect the two ends of his intestine. The medical team scheduled surgery #2 for that Friday. So we soldiered on…
Sarah and Jacob were a united front and we all followed suit.
One moment. One step. One hurdle at a time – then another.
(To be continued).
The night of February 18th was a long one. Initially, I was full of elation with the arrival of my grandson, Gunner. Then I had complete, gut wrenching sorrow at the news he could not live. The bulk of that night was sleepless for me and I left my ranch early in the morning to catch a flight out to Oahu.
Although I had already booked a flight to Maui for February 23rd, I bought another ticket for the next flight out of Flagstaff without canceling the first one. No time to do that. At first, I wasn’t sure where to go; Maui or Oahu. If our little wonder boy was going to die, shouldn’t I head to Maui to be with my family there and wait for Sarah, Jacob and Gunner’s casket? Ultimately, Chelsea and Hannah, who were already on Oahu, asked me to fly there to be with them. They believed it best for me to be with Sarah as quickly as possible; she would need me.
Usually I have something to write on when I travel, but the packing I did for this trip was abysmal (to put it mildly). In addition to not bringing the right shoes, clothes or any of the items I’d already been excited about bringing to Maui for Gunner’s birth (presents, cards, scarves… crystals and sage), I neglected to bring my notebook. All I had was Diana Gabaldon’s latest book, “Go Tell The Bees That I’m Gone” (which must’ve weight 20 pounds) which I somehow thought I would be able to read. The shit we do while in shock, is shocking! Still, it did provide some beautiful empty pages for me, so I wrote to a little boy I wasn’t going to meet.
Did I mention how scared I was? The idea I would only be able touch child who was no longer alive and never see his vitality – his soul – in form really frightened me. How would I possibly keep it together for my daughter? I knew I was traumatized but also, I realized I was very, very scared.
Writing was soothing, acting as a balm for my tattered heart on the first flight out of the desert. & then again on the long flight from Arizona to Hawaii. Over the decades of my life, writing has helped me process emotions which seemed too hard to manage. For the entire time I wrote, I felt I was actually speaking with Gunner, feeling him and ‘knowing’ he was right next to me, or more honestly within me. My primary message to him was to do what was best for him and I would still love him and remember his spirit. Writing like that gave me a tangible glimmer of faith in the process we found ourselves in. Somehow we would – I would – grow from this suffering. Some way, I would.
The man sitting next to me asked me a few times, “What are you writing?” I told him I was writing a love letter to my new grandson, Gunner. Tears fell for me, but he didn’t seem troubled. He said he would pray. It was hard to keep writing through my tears, but I did.
Jacob and Sarah, Gunner’s parents just a year before they conceived our boy.
“February 19, 12:30 pm MT – Gunner, you were born yesterday and you forgot something you need here! Your body is mostly perfect, but for the small intestine. I’m talking with Source about this, in case we can somehow make the oversight of that – um, right. I know honey, it’s a long shot, but we were all so happy you were finally here – it’s really hard to say goodby already. Your Tutu (that’s me, this time) is really feeling very human and I’ve been crying because I just wanted you here – so MUCH. We all do; a whole big family of weird ones. Seems you’d fit in easily! Whatever is the very best for you, I will accept, but I AM saying – if you can stay with us and have a fair shot at being a healthy boy – I hope you can. We already love you A WHOLE LOT! …
“2:15 MT – Gunner!! I just talked with Aunty Chelsea. She told me things about you that are, quite frankly – FUCKING MIRACULOUS! Even the doctors are excited – I mean, who doesn’t LOVE miracles?! So, they told us you couldn’t survive, even for one night. But, you aren’t just surviving; you’re peeing, breathing on your own and making them (those doctors) AMAZED! Your mama, my Sarah is with you and your papa Jacob is too. They are fighting with you, kid! So, I’ve been able to stop that ache in my heart and I’m glad. Thank you for staying and doing your best … and listen; even a few days of you will be a gift. But, get this! Even though it won’t be easy – AT ALL – who knows what science will do! Five years go by and MAYBE you have a big surgery, but it could make life really possible buddy!
“6:32 MT – Well Gunner, I’m crying here and there, so I wonder – How are you? Are you still with Mama & Papa while your Tutu flies like a bird to see you? I’m sitting next to people who live in Houston, TX, but they are originally from China. I told them about you (because they saw me writing this letter on my book – and crying a bit), but I couldn’t tell them too much. I guess I’m a little selfish and don’t want to share with anyone… My teacher, Vicki who I felt to reach out to when I got the news of your troubles, she and her friend Jonathon, both astrologers – like me – looked at your chart. After all the years of being an astrologer, I have never seen one like yours! They said not to get my hopes up but medical intervention could play a big part in your survival! Also, 2 hours, 16 hours & then 10 days into your life will bring new information. So… I’m almost to your island little boy and in the meantime, I’m doing what I do in the energy field and feeling grateful for your little self. I love you more than I can say.
“7:14 MT – Hey Gunner! It occurs to me how you changed me today.
One – life is too short to be unkind. Two – let the tears flow while I find grace in the losses.”
My flight arrived late, due to God knows what, but there I was in a long metal can filled with humans, for a while as we taxied to the gate. It was so late, Chelsea had already flown back to Maui. Hannah picked me up alone, and I honestly can’t remember if we cried or not, but I was SO GLAD to see my baby girl… So, so glad and I held her tight. (Must’ve cried… )
The smell of Oahu is the same as any city I’ve been to. Flying into Maui is like flying into a garden of flowers… Just that stark reality alone, felt like a harbinger of what the next few weeks would be for me. As we drove to the hospital where Sarah was, Hannah filled me in on what had occurred in the past 7 hours.
Oh my GOD!! Prayers being answered has usually been a multi year process. This was hours!!
As Hannah had left the hospital, our Gunner was being held, skin to skin with my darling Sarah!
The common desire we all have is we want peace in our lives; physically and emotionally. Because of that desire, we tend to shy away from pain and suffering, yet sometimes shit happens and you find yourself in the middle of an emotional and physical nightmare.
This was my experience a few months back. At the time, I realized how quickly the soul steps in, rallying to support you when you are shocked into a reality you can’t fathom.
As my daughter’s new boy was whisked off to another island in the Hawaiian archipelago, she was prone in a hospital bed with a huge incision across her lower abdomen and numb from the neck down. Even though she is an adult, my mother’s heart was lamenting the nature of her struggle and wished with all my being I could do SOMETHING. The only action I could take, from 3000 miles and an ocean away, was be with her energetically.
Some call it prayer, some ask for God’s intervention. Me… I called on the power of my love and all the Universal energy available to us, to do whatever they could to help her.
As Rob and I unpacked the car and I went about getting a flight for the next day to Hawaii, we were distracted with what was happening to the extreme. Given we could do nothing practical, we set about calming ourselves and putting things away, making some dinner and I googled; ‘bruised abdomen in newborn’. A futile endeavor… There was nothing.
Have you ever found yourself going in circles, unable to settle and just moving for the sake of action of some kind? That was me for hours, while my phone pinged and rang with news from 6 pm to midnight… Every step of the way, we were informed about what was happening at the hospital. They were taking Jacob on the flight. Gunner was admitted. They were prepping him for surgery. He was in surgery. We would know what the next steps would be soon. All of us thinking he would be fine, while fearing there was something more in store for us…
And then I got the worst text I’ve ever received in my life around 1:00 am which read, “SOS, he’s not going to make it”.
In our little house, in the middle of absolutely no where an old grandma got news of her newest grandson’s impending death. I threw the phone on the couch and howled like a crippled animal, then crumpled on the floor.
This couldn’t be happening. My beautiful daughter’s only desire for most of her life had been given to her. We were all elated as everything had progressed perfectly. Until that moment… Her dream of being a mother was being ripped away the same day it had been realized.
Jacob had been waiting at the Kapiolani Children’s Hospital for news from the surgeons operating on Gunner. Once they opened his perfect little body up, the display of necrotic tissue in front of them was shocking in how extensive it was. There was no medical reason for what they saw but Gunner’s small intestine had twisted about two days before, cutting off blood flow to his intestine and killing the tissue. The damage was so extensive, the surgeon came out of the operating room to ask Gunner’s father what he wanted them to do.
They could simply put the necrotic tissue back, close him up and make him comfortable OR cut the bad stuff out and stitch the ends to the outside of his body and make him comfortable. Either way, the necrosis was so bad they believed the infection had gone further into Gunner’s system and he would not survive. This is what my son in law was told.
All at once, this perfect, much wanted, just born child, would die all in the same day. Jacob asked the surgeon to take out the dead tissue and make him comfortable…
Crying, all alone and in so much pain, Jacob called his wife to tell her the news. “Sarah, he’s not gonna make it.” Their boy would not live, but they would make him comfortable.
Then the surgeon could be heard through the phone, speaking with Jacob sitting in the waiting room, while Sarah was on the line. “The likelihood of life without his intestine is grim and anyway, usually this level of necrosis develops quickly into septic shock and we are unable to resolve that. Do you want us to keep him alive so Sarah can get here, or make him comfortable and let him die?” They offered no indication he had a chance of survival. Not one sliver of hope for these new parents.
Sarah and Jacob discussed how they didn’t want to keep him alive for their sake; to soothe their own pain if that meant he would live a horrible life. Instead, they asked the surgeons to keep him alive until Sarah was able to hold him one more time. She wanted to say goodbye to her precious, delicious boy. Decision made, they ended the call.
Then Sarah looked up to the nurse who was hovering over her and asked, “what am I supposed to do? My baby’s dying.” The nurse told her this, “You take one moment, one step, one thing at a time….“
So Sarah told her sister to help her get up and leave the hospital. She was going to get on the next plane to Oahu to be with her husband to say goodbye to Gunner. The staff at Maui Memorial said she couldn’t leave the hospital until she peed so she managed that and walked out of the hospital. Only a mere 12 hours post op, Sarah was in shock but determined. She had to get to her husband and son.
Hannah, my youngest daughter, got her out of the hospital and my youngest son, Tyler, picked them up and brought his sisters to the oldest sibling, Chelsea’s house, where everyone was waiting for news. The whole family was gathered at Chelsea’s; husbands, wives, their littles and Sarah’s siblings.
As Sarah came in, she was calm, in shock, clear as a bell, and strong as fuck, “I will keep going. I owe that to my son”. For years, Sarah struggled with addiction and our worst fear was she would relapse back into that nightmare, but her resolve indicated something different. She told them all she intended to use the memory of her son to rise above and told them all, with perfect clarity, “I can do hard things, so I will do this now.”
At some point they called me and pleaded with me to get to Oahu. Sarah would need help, as would Jacob and they thought that was the best plan, so I scrambled to get my flight arranged and finished up packing. My heart was broken, my confusion overwhelming and the sense of unreality pervaded everything. This could not be happening.
Sarah was afraid to go to sleep because she didn’t want to lose the support of the shock she was in, but given the state of her own body, she laid on the couch with Hannah, drifting in and out of sleep, murmuring this could break her husband. She thought she would lose him too.
As morning approached on Maui, preparations for getting on a plane to Oahu began. Sarah began to take things out of the suitcase she’d packed for the birth… Any thing in there which was something for a long term stay; her toothbrush, baby blanket, even clothes, were all removed. ‘I’m going to bring home a dead baby, so I don’t need this shit. Then she and her two sisters got to the airport to get on the 6:00 am flight to Oahu.
Sarah refused the wheelchair and limped down the long terminal to the gate.
(To be continued)
On February 18th, 2022 Gunner James was born. His parents, Sarah & Jacob, had tried for 8 years to get pregnant, surviving through numerous and grueling IVF treatments that gave them several pregnancies, but the same number of miscarriages. They had one more embryo and this was their last chance.
To say he was welcomed into his parents’ lives – is a massive understatement. Yet, we (the women of our family) were scared… with no reason. We had a sinking feeling we couldn’t shake, couldn’t discuss, couldn’t fathom and yet, we had trepidation. No obvious cause, as Sarah’s pregnancy was straightforward and all the ultrasounds and tests were perfect. Aside from late in her pregnancy when she developed gestational diabetes, there were no complications.
As Sarah’s mother, I knew her desire to be a mother began when she was still a child herself. To see her go through so much difficulty getting pregnant tore me apart, but I had to manage that on my own. We are very different sorts of humans. I am an intuitive healer and astrologer and my daughter is pragmatic, practical and self proclaimed rule follower (when it makes sense).
We love each other deeply, but often didn’t fully understand each other. We struggled relating about her desire to have a family because I had been TOO fertile in comparison. If I had any issues with fertility, it was the opposite of her challenges making me unable to perceive just how difficult her journey was. That and other factors troubled our exchange as mother and daughter, but we respected each other, she helped me wrap my heart around her situation, we talked things through – ALWAYS – and our love was a gentle wave we have always ridden together. There is room for differences, but only when everyone involved creates space and remains kind inside it.
A few years ago, I had a clear understanding about one reason WHY they couldn’t get pregnant; which wasn’t scientific, but energetic. To both their credit, Sarah and Jacob understood what I ultimately shared with them and how to overcome it (which they followed), while they continued to use medicine and test tubes to create their child. With an abundance of courage, they implanted the last 3 saved embryos they had left… and Gunner’s first cells began to grow within her body. In 16 weeks, they announced to the world they were expecting a child!
At the turn of 2022, I made plans to fly to Maui in early March to spend time with Sarah while she was still pregnant and I would then be close by for the birth. When February rolled around, my husband and I made plans to drive to Tehachapi; about 6 hours drive from our ranch in AZ. After two years of being cooped up – as COVID forced all of us to do – it was our maiden voyage into civilization together. We were excited for our road trip and took our time driving there.
During our drive we got out for a walk with our Salukis, out in the deep wilds of Southern California, when I ‘saw’ something trying to hurt my grandson; punching him in his tummy. It felt like this ‘thing’ wanted to kill our boy, so I turned to my husband and told him as much. We both immediately & automatically sent protective love and it seemed as though my system worked on getting whatever this was, away from my beloveds.
In truth, I’d hoped I was just seeing things.
Two days later, we were driving home and Sarah called, saying she felt weird. She just wasn’t sure what was happening that day and promised to keep me close. Eventually it was clear she was in labor.
There was still over a month before Gunner’s due date which was concerning, but we were also excited. As the day progressed, the calls kept coming in from Sarah. Something wasn’t right and they kept having to relax their ideals for the birth, surrendering to more and more intervention. Then, after hours of labor, the contractions began to put Gunner into distress, so it was decided to do a C-section… THE OPPOSITE of what they wanted, but they both felt it was best for their baby. Still, this little man, born so early was a big 6 pound boy with a healthy pair of lungs on him!! Everything seemed fine. He was strong and he was BORN!!
Within minutes though, the doctors noticed significant bruising on his lower abdomen… which may be a minor issue, but not wanting to take any chances, they whisked him out of his mother’s arms and into x-ray.
Sarah reflected on the one perfect moment she had when she heard his first cry; a split second of joy and knowing her dreams were coming true, engulfed her heart. She cried bitter, sorrowful tears, as she told me this recollection, but also remembered how soothing and magical it was to hold him for the first time. Gunner’s first cry gave her the briefest of seconds where she knew all was well. She thought to herself, “He’s here… everything will be fine!!”
But there was a huge problem…
Within a few hours, it was decided that Gunner needed to be airlifted to Oahu where the hospitals were better equipped to diagnose what was going on and manage it, if it was serious.
Jacob remained near Gunner, while Sarah was prone, just out of surgery and still numb from the neck down. The realization that her child would be taken away from her and FLOWN to another island and they wouldn’t take anyone else on the helicopter was a staggering proposition to them both. Their tiny human would be taken from the only voices he would recognize … and things just kept happening.
For several hours, the hospital worked to get a flight for Gunner. Once they were situated and at the last minute, the transport team offered to bring Jacob with them. Such an enormous relief! Sarah couldn’t move, but Gunner would have his papa with him.
One miracle and another, peppered in with one trauma followed by another. We were all on the roller coaster of our lives, especially my daughter and her husband.
Gunner James being transported to hospital in Oahu
From 11 am, HI time on, the phone was always buzzing. Our big family were all communicating via text and calls, while the local Maui Ohana were busy gathering up stuff for the little family, while one sister stayed with Sarah in the hospital. Rob and I arrived home and we never stopped praying. Things felt really otherworldly for me, as though time was standing still and rushing by all at once.
Once home, we settled into our normal evening routine & I pulled out my suitcase so I could get ready to go meet my new grandson, only to have our lives and hearts completely shattered.
(To be continued)