AGAINST ALL ODDS
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We got to the hospital at exactly midnight. Ominous in itself right? Once in the ER they started all the usual shit. Listening, poking, prodding, meanwhile Will is screaming. They decided they needed some blood work, but there was just one problem with that. He hadn’t eaten in eighteen hours, so his veins were non-existent. They called one of the nurses from OB over, Felica. That name will always be synonymous with an angel to me. While she was trying to feed Will, the ER doctor was on the phone with the pediatrician, who was ordering tests. Will ate some formula, and then brought it right back up again. Felica did her best to keep me calm but my resolve was almost gone. She had him swaddled, which he hated. The ER doctor came back in and said they needed some blood. They tried to start an IV but couldn’t find a vein. Watching my child in obvious pain was the hardest thing I’ve had to do… up til that point. I had no idea that things could get worse than this, or that they would.
Felica got blood from his foot, while the ER doctor had a needle in Will’s arm, looking like he was trying to cut a steak. If my husband hadn’t grabbed my hand, the ER doctor would’ve been laid out on the floor. Felica told me to go outside for a minute.
“Over my dead body.”
“Just go out and get some air Mom, he’ll be fine. Go take a breather.”
I stormed out of the ER wanting someone to be out in the parking lot. I needed to hit someone or something. I settled for sitting on the tailgate of our truck. It was 1:30 A.M. by this time, and all of a sudden this full sized Dodge Ram roared into the parking lot. About ten minutes later, my husband came out and said the pediatrician was here and got an IV started. I ran into the ER I don’t think an army of ruthless cannibals could’ve kept me out of there. They had shaved Will’s hairline at the forehead, where they put in what was to become his lifeline. They took my lethargic angel to the nursery that was the size of a closet. They had him hooked up to the monitors, fluid dripping every ten seconds. They were in and out checking his breathing, all the while not telling me shit. Agitated wasn’t the word for how I felt, murderous was more like it. The pediatrician came in to listen for himself.
“Turn all those damn machines off! I can’t hear a damn thing.”
All the monitors were turned off.
“This baby’s got a murmur he didn’t have ten minutes ago.”
The room started to spin. Somehow I found the bed. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. There were two newborns in the nursery, and they didn’t want to risk getting him sick. If that’s what was wrong. They decided to put him on oxygen. There weren’t enough outlets in the closet, which seemed to be getting smaller by the minute for all the equipment. Felica disappeared for a minute. When she came back she had a look of pure determination on her face.
“They can fire me if they want to, but this baby’s going in the nursery/ I need room to work.”
He was moved to the nursery. Felica had taken the newborns to the parent’s rooms, and told the parents they were there until further notice. Once in the nursery they put him under an oxygen tent. His breathing was obviously labored, and no one would tell me anything; which really pissed me off. I was his mother for God’s sake! It wasn’t until later that I realized they couldn’t tell me anything because they didn’t know themselves. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. I called my mother to let her know what I knew, which at that point wasn’t much. She told me to keep her posted. My husband called his mother, who in turn called his sister. His sister thought I was overreacting calling me, “paranoid and stupid”.
That was fine. She wasn’t the one watching her child struggle to take his next breath.
I was exhausted, but knew that sleep wouldn’t come until I had some answers. I went to the nursery to see if I could go in to see him.
“Oh my God honey! Yes! Get in here!”
I had to scrub up, gown up, and wear a mask. When I walked into where my sleeping son lay, I got a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. Everyone was quiet as they watched me touch his tiny hand. You could’ve heard a flea fart. He didn’t move, and with every breath he let it out with a grunting sound.
“Why is he making that noise? Does it hurt?”
The nurse looked at me, she smiled sympathetically. I hated that smile. I would imagine that’s the smile the Grim Reaper would give you right before he takes off your head.
“It’s called ‘grunting’. He does it so that his lungs will stay expanded so he can take another breath. If he didn’t do that his lungs would collapse and he wouldn’t be able to breathe.” She went back to her magazine, and the gravity of the situation finally hit home. My precious little miracle was in a fight for his life. Not an exaggeration, fact.
I had been up for almost twenty-four hours. My body was telling me to sleep, but my brain wouldn’t let me. My sister in law and her grandmother got there. She was crying and saying over and over that she was sorry. I really didn’t want to hear it. This was the same person that had called me paranoid and stupid. I went back in the waiting room wanting some kind of information. My granny in law was fussing about the doctors and nurses working on him. I guess I’d heard enough, so they closed the blinds to the nursery. I could’ve strangled her with my bare hands. Now I was truly in the dark. My husband and his sister went to get food, and as I sat there wondering what was next I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up and saw the doctor standing there. He looked me dead in the eye and spoke a phrase that froze my heart.
“We’re breathing for him.”
With that he turned and walked away.