Friday, February 1, 2008

That Morning

I've been having an inner struggle in regards to whether or not I wanted to write this post. But...this is in ways, my (public) journal of Kate's life and although some may see the morning of her death as a personal thing...I wanted to write it down for several reasons. One...before I "forget" it...not that it'll ever happen, as the morning of Kate's death is what I seem to play over and over and over again in my head. And many of you have shared so much of Kate's journey with us...maybe you'd like to know what happened that morning. If not...don't read the rest of the post. It's not scary, morbid or even some ways...Kate's death was perfect (not that death is...but you know what I mean!) It is nothing what I thought death would be!

As you know... on Monday, we had talked with doctors and the "comfort care" team...and knew that we were not going to pursue any further invasive procedures. The attending on duty thought that maybe she would have "many days" at that point! Our focus went to comfort and doing those things for Kate that we knew she enjoyed. We did get that walk in Monday night and she enjoyed some popsicles. She was relatively alert...and was comforted by sitting on my lap. We read stories and she even turned the pages and clapped. It was a good night...a great night....a total gift from God.

But...the doctor called us about 6 am Tuesday morning and told us that the fluid had reaccumulated in her chest, her blood gasses were poor and wanted to be sure that we didn't want them to do a chest tap. We knew that if we did do one and relieve that would just build up again and we would have to repeat the procedure most likely within 24 hours. We quickly got dressed and headed over to Kate's room. We were there for rounds...nothing major was said...just that no further procedures (taps, tubes, intubation) would be done. The biggest debate was her feedings...and how much to give her.

Andy and I just hung out with her for the next few hours. It was obvious she wasn't real comfortable... and she didn't open her eyes. Her face was noticably puffier and her color a little bluer. The palliative care team came in...and the doctor was quick to up her sedation medicine to keep her comfortable. She didn't appear "in pain"....just she would roll back and forth a lot.

At this point...I began to know that our time with Kate was coming sooner than expected...but I really thought we would have a really long day and most likely be staying with her through the night. We did call my parents to let them know she was doing worse...and to see when they were headed up. While out making the phone call...Andy ran into our Med-buddy Megan and brought her back to the room.

The next hour seemed a little hectic. We were having the docs fill out some insurance paperwork. We were discussing with doctors and staff the prospect of going into a private room. We debated...but settled on a private room on the regular floor with a one-on-one nurse to keep Kate comfortable. They were going to put her on some continuous sedation meds which included a "pump" which would allow us to give extra if we felt necessary. But moving wouldn't happen till 3 or 4 that afternoon.

Finally...things settled and I could focus on Kate. We went ahead and turned off her continuous feeds...and we gave her just regular milk. She gulped that bottle down in no time flat. I'm sure she was so happy to have something besides that nasty formula. We got her some juice she still appeared thirsty. I was going to change her outfit...into her cutest green little jumper with the butterflies...I knew our pastor and families were coming and I wanted her to look her best. I began to change her...but needed the nurse to unhook her IV line in her arm. Meanwhile...our med-buddy Megan was begging to get us something to eat/drink as we hadn't all morning. We were giving her our coffee order...and I had turned to get some money out of my bag.

Next thing...I hear Becky (her nurse) tell Andy..."I don't think she's breathing....get the doc." By the time I was at the bedside, which was just feet away...all the monitors were off...lines unhooked and I heard the doc say: "Get her in her mother's arms." I remember unhooking her feeding tube and taking the oxygen tubing off her face. The curtain had been pulled and a rocking chair right there for me. I picked up my baby girl...for the first time with no tubes attached in 6 months and just held her. She let out a couple breaths...a sigh... and she was gone.

It was so the midst of ordering coffee and just chatting. Evidently...Kate knew that finally we were "ready" (as ready as you can ever be to say goodbye) and she rolled over and finally found peace. I could never imagine wanting to hold her...her body lifeless...but I couldn't let go...I couldn't put her back on the bed. I'm not sure...but I know it was at least 45 minutes.

We called my parents. We knew we had to wait until Andy's mom got Seth to preschool within in the hour to call her...sorry Cathy! We had the social worker page my good friend, Karla, who worked in the hospital and our pastor. My brother had plans to come that day to visit...and this was the point when he came in...when we were just sitting there holding our angel...our true angel!

I remember taking her and putting her up on my shoulder...her favorite way to be held...we hadn't held her that way since surgery. I told her I always had and always will love her. Andy took her...gave her a hug and layed her on her bed. We placed a paci in her hand...gathered our stuff...and walked out of that room...for the last time.

Megan and Doug stayed with us...helped us gather our stuff out of the Ronald McDonald House. They were so kind and didn't make us sweep, clean and do the laundry...the last thing I wanted to do at that moment. We picked up Karla some lunch and that was when my parents arrived. After lunch...we came home! Eight weeks ago...when we brought her to Michigan, I never imagined leaving there without her. In fact...we even had her carseat...ready to take her home. But she got a better home...her eternal home with Jesus.

We still miss her like crazy. But we have peace in knowing that we did everything we could to get her help. Her little heart just couldn't do it! She put up a fight until the bitter end. Our lives have been forever changed by those past 568 days...and we wouldn't have traded it for the world!!


Anonymous said...


For the first time in this journey, I find myself weeping openly and unable to stop the tears after reading this post. You have just shared with all of us one of the most personal, private things that will ever happen to you in your entire life.

Thank You.

You wrote it in such a way that I felt I was right there with you. In fact, I think all of us "blog readers" were there in spirit that day, and I hope you remember feeling our presence as Kate let go.

You are an amazing person and friend, and my life is so much richer and fuller for knowing you.

Mira :)

Vanessa said...

Oh Krista, I am sitting in the hospital with Arianna and just flooded with tears. I have been thinking about you and Kate nonstop since I've been here. I know the weeks were rough and you did all that you could for Kate.

You shared such a personal thing with all of us and I wanted to tell you I love you and I am always going to be here for you. Kate has a special place in my heart.

When we first got to the ER Arianna was really sick and I remember giving her a wash clothe to suck on and in a split second I saw Kate's face. Then we were playing the same little paci game that Kate played and I couldn't help but wept because of her lose. I know that I need to find peace with her passing and reading your posts since her passing has helped me. I never knew I could be so close to someone I never met. I wish I could have met Kate but I know I will one day.

Thank you for your kind words on our blog. I finally had some time at 2:20am to read up on my blog buddies. Your in my thoughts daily!

Take Care

Anonymous said...

Thankyou so much for sharing your heart with us and your story of the final hours with little Kate. When Andy told me that she went home in your arms really quick I knew it was an answer to our prayers that she would go very peacefull and not suffer. We have an awesome God. Praying that you will continue to find comfort in Him and through all of our thoughts and prayers.
Sheri for us four

LeAnne said...

I am so glad that Kate's final moments were not filled with chaos! She had a very personal and peaceful entry into her new life...The Rose Beyond The Wall.

Thank you for sharing those final moments with us. Not only has Kate touched the lives of many, but so has your entire family.

I hope in these next few days, weeks, and months you will find an everlasting peace that'll get you through the hard times...and until you see your little princess again!

God Bless! LeAnne Stahl

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing such a personal and special moment with us. I still think about Kate daily and get tears in my eyes. As I mentioned before, she has impacted my life in a huge way. There are times when I look at Jack and instantly think about Kate.
I know you are an inspiration to all of your blog readers, but you are so much more than that to all of us heart moms that read. Thank you.
Kelly (Jack's mom)

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing your last days with Kate. I had tears in my eyes why I read it. You two are very strong parents. When my girls would get sick I would think of you guys and say wow how did they do it. I never meet Kate but threw your blog I felt like I did. Keep a smile on your face.

Kim Bledsoe

Anonymous said...


Thank you so much for sharing. I am typing this throug blurry tearfilled eyes, but with the biggest smile on my face. It warms my to know that Kate is with our heavenly Father, pain free, tube free, and smiling down on you. I continue to pray for you and the healing process.

Many blessings!
Kim Tinker

Anonymous said...

Krista - I've been reading your blog and just have to say that I am amazed at what God has done through you and Andy! That I could read through this story and the word that stood out was "peace" is all about God's work in you! Know that I am praying for you and your family.
Blessings - Deb Burch

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you for sharing Kate's last day at the hospital.
These little heart kids are like on a continuous roller coaster. Never have I seen so many ups and downs.

You are a true inspiration to all of us. You and your family have been through alot, but have always kept faith, and allowed many of others into your lives. I'm sure this blog has been greater than you have ever imagined.

We love you, and hope that every day gets a little brighter.
Isaac's grandma

Anonymous said...

Wow,Krista that is really powerful. I am sure leaving that room was the hardest thing you have ever done. Thank you for sharing. Lindsey

Anonymous said...

Krista, Thank you for sharing Kate's last journey with us. I know that had to be hard to write, but it may be good therapy for you to get it all down in this journal.

What a blessing for you and for Kate that God took her home the way He did. I truly believe that she has been with Jesus and is happy now. No more pain. No more tubes. She has a new heart and is running around heaven having fun. Most likely she is playing with her Grandpa!

Thanks to you and Andy for sharing Kate with all of us. I will never forget her. She taught me what true faith is.

Blessings, Linda Creek

Samantha said...

Krista...thank you for sharing this story with us. Tears are flowing down my face. You are an amazing woman and Kate was a beautiful girl. You all will be in my heart forever.


Kathy said...

My mom called me this morning crying...asking me if I'd read your blog this morning. I said, "No"..I read it yesterday and saw the snowman pics. She warned me that I was going to cry...
You are the strongest mom. You were so sweet to share that final day with all of us. We all have to think about that at some point...and if it has to happen...I think the way it happened to you was beautiful. I'm glad that Kate was comfortable and you and Andy were there holding her. She's always going to be your Kate...she just has other work to do right now.
We all love you Krista. We're here for you always!

Deanna said...

I love you, Krista. Your heart... your strength... is a testimony to all of us. Know that God is continuing to use you to encourage the body... your vulnerability... your spirit as you share... a true testimony to God's work in your life.

I pray that you will feel comforted in the days ahead... and that you will continue to have many glimpses full of joy and blessings! Sending you a hug!

Melissa said...

The tears are flowing as I feel as though we were there with you. Thank you so much for sharing something so near and dear to your heart with us all. My mind has scrambled trying to figure out what happen and how it happened so fast. I think it helps me have a little closure with Kate's passing too to know that it was a calm, peaceful time for her and that she passed without major chaos.

Thank you for sharing. We love you!

Mina said...

Tears again...... thank you so much for sharing, it must have taken a lot of strength to write that. Through missing Kate and mourning for her every day, it must be good to realize that she is finally at peace. My thought and prayers are with you.

LeeAnne said...

Hugs to you two! Thanks for sharing that. . I can't say I know how you feel...but I know it has to be hard. You did everything you could. Kate knows you love her! We love you guys!

Anonymous said...

Tears are flowing again tonight as they have so many times over the past seven months of following your journey with Kate. Thank you for trusting us with the details of a most sacred and personal experience. It helps to see that God was in even the smallest details of Kate's life.
I'm reminded of a song which recounts the trials and triumphs of several of the Bible greats like David, Moses, etc. It is titled, "God Will Make a Bible Story Out of You." Andy and Krista, you are giants of the faith; God is making a Bible story out of you, and is using you to encourage us in our faith and fruitfulness. I fully believe that God is preparing you for even greater influence and ministry in the future. It is a privilege to know you and see what God has in store for you.
Love and prayers,

Anonymous said...

Dear Krista,
Thank you so much for sharing your last day with Kate. I have tears as I am writing this note.
You have such courage and love for the Lord. It is wonderful Kate had such a peaceful passing in your arms. She is not in the arms of our Lord.
God Bless,Love,Bonnie

Anonymous said...

Through tears (again) I write this. Thank you so much for sharing such a very personal experience with us. Hopefully doing this will be therapy for you. You can look back on this in days and years to come and see how much you did for Kate and how God had a hand in all of this by supporting you every step of the way. He must be so pleased with your faith. The one thing that I keep thinking: How wonderful it would be if each and every one of us could die surrounded by as much love as did our dear Kate.
Linda D.

The Portas said...

I am crying my eyes out right now. Thank you so much for sharing this. I think it's absolutely wonderful that you are willing to be open with your feelings and also about what happened. It's good to know there was peace for all of you at that time.

Thank you for being an inspiration to us all!

Anne said...

WOW! What a sweet thing to share with us! I don't know how you did it, I mean I totally understand that she went in peace and was finally pain free, but WOW! I'm just more impressed with your faith than ever!

jmckeel said...

Thank you for sharing Kate's last morning with many of us. I can't stop crying. I could not imagine how hard that must have been, leaving her on that hospital bed. I just can't imagine. I'm so sorry. She knew that you and Andy were there for sure.
Sincerely, Abby McKeel