Never Alone: A Story of Hope and Encouragement When Living with Adversity

Never Alone: A Story of Hope and Encouragement When Living with Adversity

by Linda Bartlett


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Never Alone is a riveting story about author Linda Bartlett and her son's heartbreaking yet inspiring journey; it reveals the seemingly overwhelming challenges they faced and recognizes a child's powerful determination to live against all medical odds, through gut-wrenching bullying, to angelic spiritual enlightenment. This book takes you on a path from the deepest dark valleys to the highest majestic mountaintops. It is about eternal hope and never giving up.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781452586281
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publication date: 12/17/2013
Pages: 134
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.31(d)

Read an Excerpt


By Linda Bartlett

Balboa Press

Copyright © 2013 Linda Bartlett
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4525-8628-1


On February 25, 1975, we began a journey into the unknown. It was a day that forever changed my life. How quickly that incredibly blissful feeling of my tiny baby growing inside me would turn into paralyzing fear.

The day started like any other day, full of hope, anticipation, and love for the small being who was scheduled to enter my world in just over two and a half months. The nursery was prepared: tiny clothes were hanging in the closet, a cuddly teddy bear was waiting to be held, and a rocking chair was ready for beautiful moments that would be shared between a mommy and her special baby. Such joy!

Little did I know that in just a few short hours, the peaceful life that I was living would totally change, and I would begin to walk on a path that was completely foreign to me.

As I sat in the painted yellow rocking chair in my baby's newly decorated nursery, dreamily anticipating the long-awaited time when I would hold my precious baby in my arms, a wrenching pain suddenly thrashed through my swollen body, crashing into my blissful happiness and instantly filling me with pure terror. I was in labor!

No! I had to stop it. It was too soon. Please, little one, hold on! We need more time. We can stop this. Please, God, we have to stop this!

I began begging my body to stop the betrayal. I promised anything. I promised not to move. Maybe if I lay perfectly still, my baby could have the necessary time. If not months, just give us weeks ... days. But that wasn't to be.

Everything became a blur. I was rushed to the hospital and immediately whisked away to a small room, hooked up to ominous-looking machines spewing noises into the air, and then left alone to wait for the unknown.

A wave of intense sadness enveloped me as I lay on the narrow bed and realized that we hadn't decided on a name if our baby was a boy. Tears streamed down my face; this realization just added to the out-of-control feeling as my world continued spiraling downward.

I don't know how long I lay there in such despair. I didn't even hear the door open, but a nurse appeared at my side. Looking into her compassionate eyes, I tearfully told her that my husband and I had chosen a special name for a baby girl but hadn't decided on a name for a baby boy. I pleaded for her to please let my husband come into the room with me just long enough for us to give our baby a name if he was a boy. "Our baby can't be born without a name," I sobbed. As she held my hand while nodding her understanding, she told me that she would bring him in for five minutes so that we could have our time.

In that short five minutes, we tearfully agreed that if we were blessed with a baby boy, his name would be Jeffrey Rowan. And then my husband was gone, and I again lay there all alone in that stark room.

What is happening to my baby? I silently cried out. Why, oh why, this betrayal of my body? With wrenching sobs, I willed my body to stop. I pleaded and pleaded and, again, promised anything, but to no avail. I was losing the battle. As I lay there, all alone in that room, my sobs turned into pitiful moans. "I am so sorry, little one. I am so very sorry!"

Suddenly I was rushed down the hall into a brightly lit room full of people moving quickly around me. Why were they yelling—or was I hearing the terrifying screams in my mind? So much commotion, so much tension, as I lay there silently observing.

"Please," I whispered, "please take care of my baby."

And then there was nothing, just a blank space of time, emptiness, and silence.

Where did I go? What did I do? Where was my baby? So many questions left unanswered.

Later, the doctors told me that I had been fully awake during the entire birth of my baby boy, as there wasn't enough time to administer any drugs. Perhaps somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind I was present, but that span of time simply doesn't exist for me, even thirty-eight years later.

Awareness came rushing in as I was thrust back into that cold, bright room. As I cautiously opened my eyes, I saw people in uniforms gathered in one corner, seeming to work furiously; the tension and urgency in the room were so thick that I could hardly breathe.

What was happening? Where was my baby? Why wouldn't someone answer me?

Was I screaming aloud, or was the scream erupting from my being as a soft, pitiful mewling barely leaving my lips? Was that the gut-wrenching sound of me sobbing or simply the sound of my heart shattering?

I heard the loud pounding of footsteps and piercing voices and then doors quickly opened and closed, leaving deafening silence in my world. Although a doctor and nurse stood on the sides of my bed, I was alone. Their lips were moving, but I didn't hear; their hands were touching, but I didn't feel. Their eyes offered sympathy that I didn't see.

Sometime later, I was wheeled to a room where my family anxiously awaited, yet the only one I yearned to see was out of my reach. Loving, compassionate words were spoken, and warm, gentle hugs were given, but I simply couldn't respond. It took too much energy to ask the one question that I was so afraid to ask.

Finally, the door slowly opened, and the doctor quietly approached my bed. I heard the dreaded words: "Your baby is very sick."

Somewhere, far away, the doctor's voice continued. "He has hyaline membrane disease. This is what killed the Kennedy baby."

As I lay there, ensconced again in the following deafening silence, all of a sudden, an overwhelmingly strong force entered my entire body.

Looking into the doctor's kind eyes, I replied, "This is my baby. My baby will live!"


"Oh God, he is so tiny," I whispered as I stood next to the little bed in the Intensive Care Nursery, seeing my baby for the first time. How could they have so many tubes and wires hooked up to such a little body? This was my son, Jeffrey, for whom I had yearned for so long. What had I done? Why had I failed him? Why couldn't I nourish him and continue to provide a safe haven for just a little longer?

Please, oh please, God, don't take him! Please give him the strength to fight! I promise I will do everything I possibly can to help him and protect him. Please trust me with him.

They told me I couldn't hold him, so all I could do was touch him through the wires, constantly telling him how much I loved him and that I always would. He looked so alone and frail, this little baby boy fighting for his life.

"Little one, I will fight with you. Take my strength; let it feed you."

My heart felt as if it were breaking—such heaviness! I wanted so badly to hold him in my arms, to protect him, to take the horrendous hurt away and assure him that I would always take care of him. I wanted to yank those awful wires from his little body, take him in my arms, and run away to a faraway place where nothing could ever harm him again. Yet I knew I could not. Instead, I stood there beside his bed, making promises—so many softly spoken promises—continually shared as he lay there barely breathing.

And so it began, days and nights standing by my premature son—talking to him, incessantly telling him how strong he was, how much Mommy loved him and would never leave him, how God was always with him, and how he would never be alone. This continued day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute, each second a precious gift of time to be cherished.

One morning in that first week, as I was standing by my son's bed touching his tiny body between the wires, the normally efficient hum of the nursery was interrupted.

Oh dear God, what is happening? What do all those alarms mean?

Everyone in the room was running in my direction, pushing past me to get to my baby. Jeffrey's doctor came running through the door, and a nurse appeared next to me, gently yet firmly taking my arm and hurriedly escorting me out of the room.

"No, please, I have to be there with him," I managed to squeak out between lips frozen with fear. Yet I instinctively knew that I would just be in the way. As I slowly stumbled across the room to sit in a corner chair, I bowed my head and prayed for God's knowledge to guide the doctors and nurses as they furiously and tirelessly took care of that little body behind the closed doors.

After what seemed to be hours of agonizing waiting and wondering, afraid to move from that lonely chair, I looked up to see the doctor striding over to me, his eyes looking tired and bloodshot.

"His lungs had collapsed. He couldn't breathe. We didn't have time to rush him to surgery, so I immediately inserted a tube into his chest in order to allow the fluid to drain. The next twenty-four hours should tell us if the procedure was successful."

I sat frozen in the chair that had become my refuge. I was aware of what was being said to me, yet I simply could not comprehend the meaning. I could not give in to the chilling fear that was enveloping my body like a dark, leaden cloak weighing heavily on my spirit. Numbness seeped into my pores.

I willed my body to move, one step at a time, dreading to see even more tubes and wires in my precious little one, yet knowing that I had to get to him, to gently touch him, to let him hear my words of love, to infuse my strength into his little body.

He was so very tiny, and he had already been through so much in such a short time. I didn't want him to hurt, but I just couldn't let him go. He had to know how much I loved him and wanted him. I didn't know if he could hear me, but I prayed that somewhere in his mind and spirit he could hear and feel my presence, that he could know how much I loved him, and that he could feel my strength.

As the minutes at his side turned into hours, I could feel my legs slowly beginning to fold as complete exhaustion viciously attacked my body.

I could no longer pretend. I was totally depleted. One of the nurses approached me and gently led me down the hall back to my room, tucking me into bed while assuring me that she would personally stay with my baby the rest of the night. I was too exhausted to even form the words to thank her, and as my head lay down on the pillow, I immediately drifted off to a blissful place where no conscious thoughts could penetrate.


Early the next morning, as the sun made its appearance, tentatively peeking over the horizon, I was once again standing at my son's side, thanking God for another day. I had become accustomed to all of the tubes and wires and the whirring of the machines, and I marveled at my tiny little fighter. Every breath taken was a victory! One by one, I counted them as I continued to talk to my special little one, telling him over and over how strong he was and how much I loved him.

And so the day went, hour after hour after hour. Nurses came and went; doctors came and went; all encouraged me to go to my room for some much-needed rest. But I simply could not. I could not leave him alone as long as I had the strength to stand and the voice to talk.

A tiny glimpse of hope began to appear as the hours slowly ticked away. I had to stay positive for Jeffrey's sake. I instinctively knew that at a later date I would absorb the severity of what was happening, but for now, any negative doubts and fears simply had to stay at a far distance. They could not creep into this protective bubble I had created for my son.

Eventually, a kind nurse enveloped me in her arms, and she gently escorted me back to my room, all the while speaking soft, soothing words. I was so beyond tired that I could no longer resist her gentle prodding. And, although her words could not penetrate the thick fog, it felt good to just let someone else take charge, even for a short while.

After a brief rest, I hurriedly made my way back down that now familiar hall with renewed energy, only to be blocked from entering the Intensive Care Nursery where my baby lay. A doctor was working on one of the babies, I was told, so no one could go into the room. Once again, I sat in the lonely chair with eyes focused on the swinging doors, fervently hoping and praying that they weren't speaking of the doctor I knew—the doctor I had come to know and love for taking care of my son. I berated myself for leaving him while I rested.

What seemed like an eternity passed before the doors swung open, allowing a now familiar face to walk through, shoulders somewhat slumped as he slowly came toward me. Kind sympathetic eyes looked at me as he proceeded to tell me that my baby had started breathing on his own earlier, so the breathing machine had been unhooked and set nearby. He continued to explain that it was critical for him to be off the machine as soon as possible in order to prevent other long-term health issues, but, after only a few short breaths, his lungs collapsed again.

Thankfully, his doctor had been near the hospital. (Coincidence? I think not.) Another surgery was performed, again inserting a tube into that tiny little chest, allowing the lungs to drain—another emergency surgery that had to be performed right at Jeffrey's bed in the Intensive Care Nursery.

Tears were dried up as I hurriedly made my way back to my baby, and as I saw the big machine with all the tubes and wires breathing for my little one, my heart physically ached. Oh, how I wanted to pick him up, tubes, wires, and all and just hold him! I yearned to protect him from all that pain and fear, yet I couldn't. I felt so helpless as I took his tiny hand in mine, for that was all I could do.

What was he thinking? To think that this little soul was suffering so much was almost more than I could bear. I begged to change places with him. I wanted to make it all better, to assure him that his life on this earthly realm would be a great one. We had to believe that; we just had to believe that! I knew that the greatest gift I could give him at that point was just pure love and boundless strength. If he could not breathe on his own, then he would have every bit of strength I had to help him. He would know what astounding love was surrounding him now and awaiting him in his future. He would know that he was not alone and that we could do this together. He must know and feel those things!

I vowed that I would not leave his side again. After all, look what happened the last time I left to get some rest. Was I thinking rationally? Absolutely not! And as the hours ticked away and the stars filled the sky, I vaguely came to the realization that I was doing my little one a disservice. It was time for me to practice what I had shared with others over the years. If I didn't take care of myself, how could I possibly be here to take care of him? So easy to say; so hard to do!

Finally, when the numbers on the clock began to blur and my words became such an effort to even come out of my mouth, I knew that I had no choice but to get some rest for the next day. And as I slowly stumbled down the hall, literally telling myself to put one foot in front of the other, I fell into my bed and was instantly in a totally exhausted sleep.


Early the next morning, as I drifted back into consciousness, I immediately knew that something was terribly wrong.

Oh, dear God, what has happened to me? I silently cried as I realized that I was bleeding. I didn't know what was going on, and I didn't have the energy to care. I didn't have the strength to talk; I didn't have the strength to walk. I could barely move. I couldn't think. There was just nothing: no thoughts, no words, just nothing—a blank canvas.

A little while later, the phone in my room rang, but I couldn't talk, so it just continued to ring and ring. Family and friends came into my room, trying to engage in conversation. I heard, yet I didn't. I simply stared into nothingness.

The doctor was notified as I continued to lie in my bed totally listless. One nurse who had been taking care of my baby all night came to my room to report on his progress; she knew something was terribly wrong for me not to be with him.

I listened, but I couldn't comprehend what she was saying. I simply lay there, an empty lifeless shell. And so the day continued.

Evidently word spread among my very close friends who were attending a special symposium based on love and understanding that weekend. The phone again rang. My new roommate answered it and reached out to me, phone in her hand. I barely turned my head. My arms couldn't move.


Excerpted from NEVER ALONE by Linda Bartlett. Copyright © 2013 Linda Bartlett. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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