I was so caught up in the moment I didn’t even realize I had been told we must leave. Seriously? Already? Didn't we just get here? How was it possible for the time to have moved so slowly before and so quickly now? Joe stands next to her on one side, and I lay in my bed on the other and we get our first picture as a family. Me in a hospital bed and her in an incubator. Not the ideal setting, but when I look at the picture now, it is obvious we couldn’t have cared less. I also notice what a hot freaking mess I was and I have to laugh. I was so swollen. I had the baby already, and yet my stomach looks like it was housing a family of four in there. And those aren't catchers mitts.. those are my hands. My fingers looked like little smokies attached to a frying pan. All the fluids they had pumped into my body were not doing kind things to me. Guess I did get a little bit of “normal” after all….
It was time to go and I try not to cry. “Just hold on Corinne. Look at her. She is amazing. She is fine. Go and get rest so you can see her again soon” is what I said in my head, but it didn't make the pit in my stomach go away. I reached over and touched her hand. She grabbed my finger for a moment and I immediately noticed she had a good grip on her. She was so strong. I relaxed a little. I wish I could remember more. I was so doped up on a cocktail of pain meds and fluids that my brain was swimming. I remember feeling her hand wrapped around my finger. She let go and I was carted off, my finger was still warm from where her hand had wrapped around it. It was as if she was trying to comfort me, to tell me that she was okay and I could go now. I was trying so hard to be strong for her. She didn’t need it. She was already so much stronger than we knew.
*A littleoff track here, but just so you understand a little why she was taken to the PICU and why they were not rushing to let me be with her, here is a recap: A child born with Hypo Plastic Left Heart Syndrome will be the lucky recipient of several surgeries. A set of three operations are the customary route cardiothoracic surgeons take to assist the heart of these kids. The first, the
That and the fact that we had a 20 person entourage working in shifts throughout the day. Everyone worked together to make sure someone was always in the room with Sophia, especially when Joe or I could not be, and made themselves available to run errands, get lunch, send text/email updates to family and friends or to answer and/or ask questions when medical staff came in. We were like a small organized crime family. We had the Don to be the decision maker, the Capos running around giving the orders, the henchmen to carry them out. We even had a “bookkeeper” to track Sophias vitals, intake of food and number of diaper changes... The hospital staff loved us but I am sure they thought we were all complete lunatics. In a good way, of course.
I was only supposed to go see her for an hour at a time. It was important that I not sit for too long as it could impede the healing process of my c-section. Not caring what they told me, I stayed for hours next to Joe, my mom and a host of other constant visitors. We all kept watch. Overnight, Joe stayed in her room while I was exiled to the next floor up. At 3 am he walked in quietly, thinking I was resting and trying not to disturb me. Silly man. “The jig is up Ninja Master” I told him. I knew he was there before the door even opened. He would have made a lousy secret assassin. The room was dark, but I had been wide awake most the night and his arrival only made it harder to sleep. He begged me to get some rest and I told him to shove it and made him give me details of whatever happened since I was forcibly removed from her room to lie down. We talked about how well she was doing and how amazed the doctors were at her level of progress. Now, you may think this sort of news would make a person happy. It didn’t. In fact, I think it made it a little worse. For her to be doing so well left us both feeling that the other shoe would drop at any time. We were filled with anxiety at the very idea that she was doing better than expected. What a shitty way to feel. Why weren’t we more excited about this? This overwhelming feeling of dread was somehow surpassing our feelings of happiness and joy at the birth and progress of our little girl. How dare it do that? How dare our hearts once again make it past our heads in their race to see who had more control? We made a deal that night that neither of us would do this to ourselves anymore. We had done this before and it got us nowhere. This was a relapse. Stop the pity party (again) and wake up. We decided we would take everything any doctor or nurse told us for no more than its face value. We had to become clinical again, turn off the emotion. We had to get our heads back in the game and we had to do it now. It can be so hard to stay in that frame of mind while you are trying to fight back your emotion and remain clearheaded, but enough was enough already. No more waiting to see what they would tell us, no more allowing them to give us open ended answers to our never ending list of questions. We were going to get back to our old selves now and get some God damned control and there was nothing anyone was going to do or say that was going to derail us from that mindset. This was our ship now and we were at its helm We had to stop being such selfish pricks and this would be the final time we would feel sorry for ourselves. We had said it before and we had failed, but that didn’t matter. We were human and we had to forgive ourselves for letting the situation get the better of us. What mattered is that we kept trying. We just got back on that horse and tried again. We were geared up and ready to move on. Fuck a woman scorned, Hell hath no fury like that of two overwrought, overwhelmed and under rested parents! The next morning, we gathered with the doctor and nurses at rounds and we insisted they include us in their rounding from that point on. Thankfully, not a single one of them argued. In fact they preferred it (Lucky for them or someone was going to get an ass-whoopin’). We were to be made privy to all information from then on. No more dancing around or beating around the bush. Hard, cold facts and straight answers...and damn did it feel goooooood. Like a cloud had been lifted and carried away. We no longer felt like we were walking a high wire and could come back down to solid ground. It was time to give all our focus and attention to that little miracle in there and we weren’t going to let her down.