I used to not really care for them. I always associated them with the potential for destruction. Hail. Lightening. Tornadoes. Flooding. All bad things.
Palmer's birth gave me a new perspective. It stormed like crazy that day. Even though the shade was up in the delivery room that day, I really wasn't paying attention until I saw Scott pull out his phone and check the radar. When I looked up into the sky, you could see the clouds swirling above the hospital. Those clouds quickly passed and the rain began. The rain varied off and on through out the rest of the day and into the evening. Let me take you back to the most significant part of that storm for me.....
We gave Palmer over to the nurses shortly after 11pm. This was about 5 hours after he entered the world. As we sat on the hospital bed with Palmer, Scott and I talked about the significance of when the cooling process started. (Before tissue can be harvested, the body has to begin a cooling period. The cooling period ensures the tissue can be harvested. In this case it was his heart valves.) We felt that the sooner his body could start cooling, perhaps his valves would be in better shape. We fought to get him to meet criteria. Actually Scott fought pretty hard. He insisted they re-weigh him because he thought Palmer was heavier than 4lbs 13oz. (He was actually 5lbs) Our logic was that the sooner he was harvested, the sooner another family would get "the call". We knew we would leave the hospital with empty arms. We tried to imagine the joy those parents would feel, knowing they would get to take their baby home.
We were told that the harvest team would fly in to pick Palmer up and fly him to the harvest location. It was anticipated they would arrive around 4 am. We settled in and went to sleep. In the middle of the night, I woke up to a clap of thunder and drenched in a cold sweat. The lights flickered briefly, the clock flashed off and on at 2:47 and I heard a generator kick on. Outside the door I heard "Mary, they are here!". It was shouted with such urgency. I thought that it was probably pretty normal for people to arrive in the middle of the night. After all it was the OB floor and babies come whenever they are ready. I laid awake in bed until about 4am watching the lightening and listening to the storm rage on. I talked to Palmer during this time asking him to help the harvest crew arrive safely. I also remember feeling such a sense of peace. Around 4 am the storm stopped and I could hear the birds sing. I remember thinking that was so odd. I have never heard birds singing before day break. Suddenly I was sleepy and ready to go back to sleep. My nurse (Mary) came to wake me up at 6am. It was shift change and she wanted to give me my morning medicine and say goodbye. She also asked which funeral home the day shift needed to call to come pick up Palmer. I was confused. It was arranged that the harvest location would call the funeral home and either they would return him or the funeral home would go there. Harvest location. Palmer never left the hospital. As it turned out, the harvest team came "about an hour earlier than expected and finished in about an hour." I will let you ponder the timing.
This takes us back to my new appreciation for thunderstorms. I feel the closest to Palmer during a storm or a rain shower. I often find myself outside looking at the clouds on stormy days wondering if the little openings are peek holes to heaven. The anxiety I once felt over "what may happen" is usually not there. I no longer think of destruction, I think of life. Palmer's life.