AGAINST ALL ODDS
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My heart stopped. Did I hear him right? I replayed that moment in my head over and over. Yes, I had heard him right. They were breathing for him. My ten day old son had stopped breathing. How could this be? This was not supposed to happen. Old people, yes. Babies, no. I needed my husband but he wasn’t there. That should have been a hint but how could I have known. I finally pulled myself together enough to walk to the nursery. As I stepped into the hall, I saw my husband and his sister round the corner. My legs turned to jello and I just sat on the floor, right there in the middle of the hall. Next thing I knew he was right beside me. All I could do was cry.
“No,” I said. “But he can’t breathe on his own anymore.”
They got me up and back into the waiting room. They kept trying to get me to eat. I didn’t want any damn food. I wanted to wake up from this hellish nightmare I was trapped in. His grandmother looked at me and said,
“God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
If that had been anyone else I would’ve slapped her.
“Well, he needs to stop because I’ve had enough.”
The doctor came into the waiting room and knelt down in front of me.
“We changed the ventilator tube to a larger size and he is doing much better.”
“Did he stop breathing?”
The doctor gave me the strangest look. Then the reality of what he had said to me earlier hit home.
“Oh my god, no! I’m so sorry. No, he didn’t stop breathing. He was working so hard to breathe that he would have eventually stopped. We put him on the ventilator to save his strength.”
He paused long enough to let that sink in.
“We are going to transport him to Sacred Heart in Pensacola. I know there is something wrong with his heart, I just don’t know what. The transport team is on the way. We just need you to sign the consent to fly him.”
Well, of course I was going to sign the consent. If I wanted my child to live, what other choice did I have? I asked if I could see him and they said for a few minutes. When I walked into the nursery, all of the nurses had that damn Grim Reaper smile on their faces. I wanted to slap every single one of them. I didn’t need sympathy, I needed solutions. I needed answers that they couldn’t give me. It was then that I realized how limited the resources and education was in this part of the country. My son was laying there on that damn bed, fighting for his life, and the “medical professionals” at that hospital didn’t have the knowledge to help him. They could keep him alive for the time being, but then what? How long did he have to wait for the help that he so desperately needed.
I had officially been up for twenty-five hours and my body was screaming for sleep. I went back to the waiting room and there sat a family talking excitedly among themselves. I sat down and tried to keep my tears hidden. The transport team got there at 8:30 A.M. I don’t think I ever, in my life, happier to see a group of people than at that moment. They went straight to the nursery. About an hour later the doctor came out and asked me if I wanted the Chaplain to come. If he was truly ok for the moment, why would I need a Chaplain? If he was going to get the help he needed, why would I need a Chaplain? I had a terrible feeling about the whole situation but I agreed. After all, what could it hurt? At this point, he needed a little extra help. When the Chaplain arrived, he immediately came to me and knelt down at my feet. There was a look in his eyes that said he knew something I didn’t. I think that was when I first realized that my precious little angel might not make it. I started crying all over again. As the Chaplain started his prayer, the other family that was there came over and joined in. When it was over, they went back to their seats, but this time there was only silence. That made me cry even harder. This should have been a happy day for them and I was ruining it for them. The doctor came back in and said that we could see him before they flew him out. As I walked into the hall, they were wheeling him out of the nursery. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My angel was grey, his lips were a pale blue and the only movement was his chest, in time with the ventilator, and this lump that I realized was his heart. The left side of his chest was enlarged, and if it wasn’t for the fact that I could see his heart beating, I would’ve thought that he was already gone. I kissed his hand and off they went. One of the members of the flight crew came up to me with a piece of paper. It was another consent form. I must have looked confused.
She said, “There is definitely something wrong with his heart. We’re actually going to fly him to UAB in Birmingham. That way, if he does need surgery, and more than likely he will, we’re not trying to move him twice.”
She told me more in that one statement than I had gotten from the doctors in twelve hours. I signed that consent form, too. She told me that I couldn’t go with him because there wasn’t enough room on the plane. She started to walk away, turned around, grasped both of my hands in hers, and said,
“Hurry. We don’t know how long he’s going to last.”
She turned and ran to catch up, leaving me there, wondering if I would ever see my baby again. Alive.