Some days the memories of that time are vaguely in the background of my life; like trying to see details in a heavy fog. Then there are the vivid days. Days when it is as if I am there again. In that hospital. The hospital where the antiseptic smell of the soap mixed with the slightly greasy aromas of the cafeteria can still nauseate me in a moment.
Memories of hope and disappointments; sometimes felt in the same moment. Mingling together. Hanging above me. A cloud of what if's and maybe's.
Why am I thinking of you so much today little one? Why can I remember the pain of losing you as if it were this moment instead of a lifetime ago, like usual? Your hair was so soft...feathery light brown. I would push your little hat up a bit to look at your hair until the nurse, having a bad day, would glare at me. I know- you needed to stay warm. I wasn't supposed to stroke your soft hair or your tissue thin skin. It would over stimulate you. But I am your mommy. My finger would move, as if on it's own, to the softness that was you. Memorize you. Most of the time you liked it. Your monitor's showed evidence of that. You knew who I was. I remember. I remember holding you and just breathing you in. Just breathe. Once I got past the antiseptic smell of the hospital room I caught the faint scent of you. That baby scent that I had anticipated since finding out you and your brother were on the way. Oh, how intoxicating! Baby soft skin and an undefinable aroma of just plain beauty.
And of course there was that moment. Where we just knew that our time with him was going to be so much shorter than we had hoped. When we prayed for one more heartbeat. Oh baby, please breathe, just breathe...
The human memory is an incredible thing. Every time I hear a helicopter I still feel that familiar feeling. Fear in it's most distinct form. I will often go find K and just engulf him in my arms when I hear that sound.
*Fear* "He's only been home for a month. Are we being asked to give him back to you? I can't...Please...I'm scared. Now I'm a mom. I won't be able to go back to who I was before this. I've known this mother love. It has consumed me the way you designed it to. I can't go back." Breathe...Just breathe.
So our eyes never left our precious little one as he was strapped to the board, which looked huge under his tiny body. He was as much a part of us as any integral physical parts of our body were. I asked if I could ride with him. No. Neither one of us would be allowed in the helicopter. All we could do was watch and pray. We watched it disappear beyond the clouds. I knew I would fall apart in a day or two. At the time I felt numb. Must put one foot in front of the other.
That day had required me to enter function mode. A mode where I act quickly and reflect minimally. K had cried most of the day. Extremely uncharacteristic.
His coloring was off. Or was it just the lighting? Was I over reacting? Breathe...just breathe. He'll be fine. Things only got worse. The crying became insistent. Some thing was wrong.
I have many who were heroes in my mind that day. The first being my forever friend Rachel. She stepped in when my function mode began to crumble. Her practical help and quick intervention built it up again. She sat in the waiting room at our pediatricians office for at least an hour. That is where he crashed. We turned his oxygen up. His tone became ashen. We turned it up again. He was a shade of blue that made me very uncomfortable. They tried not to let it show, but they were very uncomfortable as well. They called the ambulance. Function mode gave me a deceptively calm voice as I called Dave at work. "You need to meet me at the hospital." Seeing him almost crumbled my functioning exterior again. He was the one who could hold me and allow me to fall apart.
But I can't. Not yet. I must breathe.
So we watched them fumble with our child. They didn't know how to intubate one so small. They were not prepared for him at this hospital.
"What happened to the baby?" The Dr asked it again and again. "He was born 15 weeks premature. He has only been out of the NICU for a month. We don't know what is going on. Please help him!"
His stats plummeted. Pulse declined. "BREATHE JUST BREATHE!"
And then the other heroes stepped through the door. They flew in from the hospital which was his home for 3 months. They immediately knew exactly what to do. He was stabilized and loaded into the helicopter.
He spent ten days in ICU where he was treated for late onset strep-B infection. It was touch and go for a while, but he pulled through with that ever present fighting spirit. Four months later he was off of the supplemental oxygen completely. Two months after that the apnea monitor was no longer a fixture in our bedroom.
Maybe the days you bring these memories to my mind in vibrant intensity are the days you want to remind me of what you have brought us through. Your faithfulness. How can I doubt you in the little things when I see your power in every thing?