Caroline Marie tumbled into the world unexpectedly - she was premature by ten weeks and weighed less than two pounds. She could fit in the palm of your hand and although Caroline was tiny in size, she was big - very big - in heart.
Caroline fought hard to gain weight in those first four weeks and in doing so, captured the hearts of all around her, from the nurses, to her doctors, to the gentleman who came around every few hours to check on the equipment that helped her breathe and monitored her care. They all loved her, and she knew it.
Caroline was winning in those first four weeks. Her weight was up and her breathing was pretty good. When she turned those big, smoky, dark eyes on you, those eyes communicated so well and that willed you to hope and fight on with her, we believed with all our hearts that we would all come out the other side in God's good time.
But it all crashed suddenly - almost as suddenly as she appeared in the operating room that day. Caroline had developed a life-threatening infection that would very aggressively attack her intestines and perforate her bowel. Caroline underwent emergency surgery and seemed to be improving. Despite massive amounts of antibiotics, however, the infection returned and neither God nor man could stop it.
It was on a beautiful, crisp Connecticut spring morning, two months and a day after Caroline was born that we, her parents, got to hold her for the first time without all the tubes and equipment. Caroline died that morning, a thin blue curtain between us and the other anxcious parents who prayed all the harder, "please not us." We whispered. We cried silently behind the curtain, and after some period of time that we still can't measure all these years later, we took the final long walk by the other beds and parents and caregivers.
In the aftermath of Caroline's death, we decided to give back to a unit and the people who had fought so valiantly for our daughter's life. From our time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), we found a need we could address. It's called Caroline's Room.
Caroline's Room is a private, dignified waiting room in the NICU where parents can go for consultations with the caregivers, prayer, quiet time, and family meetings. In cases like Caroline's, parents can take their baby there to spend their final moments with their child in a room that truly feels like home. It is a place where parents can hold their child for the first, and perhaps, last time.
The need is great. There is a growing number of premature babies, and while hospital resources are and should be focused on the care and healing side, parents and families must not be left behind. Caroline's Room helps to address this need. In every hospital where they are located, the rooms are in constant demand. We think that makes our Caroline smile.
-- Jocelyn and Gary Doyens
Photos of Caroline