The End - Chapter 24

A couple of hours later, I was down in the TV room.  I can’t recall the reason why but only women were supposed to be in the room.  Pam might have been dressing or something like that.  My sister, came running down the hall and said that I need to come at once.  Ashley was having trouble breathing.  I ran down the 50 to 75 feet to our hospital room and pushed open the door.  Somehow, I don’t recall exactly how but Ashley came to be in my arms. I sat on a rocking chair in the middle of the room surrounded by lots of people. My brothers and sisters, mom, my mother-in-law, the nurse and I think Pastor Wilson was there.  I held her and rocked her.  She seemed to be all right at first, because she caught her breath and would breathe for a little while.  Yet, there was that struggle for breath that just kept getting more and more frequent.  She just kept taking breaths and then wouldn’t breathe for longer and longer periods.  I continued to rock and hold her.  We didn’t know what to do. We knew this was going to be the end. All of us were crying, wanting somehow to stop the world so that we could have a little bit more time with Ashley.  But, we couldn’t do anything about it.  There was nothing, absolutely nothing that we could do to save her. 

While she continued to breath, I was reminded about how God must have felt when he watch his son die.  I couldn’t do anything about Ashley. I would have done anything for her. There is no way that even I can even imagine the grief that he felt when his son died for a world that didn’t even seem to care.  How He must have anguished over having his son die. Imagine the restraint that God must have had. He could have moved this tiny finger and all heaven would have instantly stopped the world and taken Jesus back home.  That kind of love for another person is just beyond my comprehension.  And I began to express these thoughts out loud, while I was sitting there rocking Ashley. The more and more I think about it, I wonder if God allowed Pam and I to experience just a pinch of what he felt.

After about a half an hour, her little body stopped breathing.  She stopped gasping for breath and we could do no more.  The nurse, who unfortunately had just come on duty, put a stethoscope to her chest.  She said that it was over and that she would go and call a doctor to pronounce her. Several minutes later, the pediatrician came in and pronounced her dead.
I continued to hold her for quite a while, not wanting to let her go.  I don’t know the reason why.  Maybe I thought there was some chance that she would come back to life.  I don’t know. I finally let several other people hold her and say goodbye.  I had never experienced death before like this.  So close, so firsthand.

Finally, everyone had had a chance to say goodbye to Ashley.  Then, they said goodbye to us and left for home.

I continued to hold Ashley long into the night.  The nurse had told us to take as long as we wanted, but just to call her when we were ready to have her take Ashley.

I just couldn’t bring myself to give her up.  I held her for a very long time.  I knew inside that there was no longer any use in holding her, but yet, I couldn’t and wouldn’t give her up.  This was my baby, my gift from God.  How could I let her go? I knew that she was not alive, but yet holding her gave me some comfort that she was not totally gone from my arms and our lives.

Lessons Learned

  • If your baby will be born with no brain, just hold him or her for as long as you can.  Treasure each moment.  Live each moment together as if it might be your last.
  • If you know someone who has an anencephalic baby, give them every moment with their baby that you can.  Yet, they also will enjoy seeing you interact with their child.  This is a time when you need to be together.
  • Bible verse for this chapter: Then Jesus wept. John 11:35