I look around me as I stand in a small room. To my left, a hospital crib, my right, a bed. In the background, I hear a newborn cry from a nearby room, and the idle chat of nurses as they walk down the hallways of Pediatrics.
I am in the Pediatrics Ward, in the hospital I will give birth in only 2 weeks from now.
I feel the storm building behind me, I feel the thunder roll through me as my eyes rest on the crib, my fingertips gently brushing against it's cold bars. And for a moment, I'm 2 years in the past, and before me is my newborn son. Over my shoulders is the beeping of his machines, and around me, the cords that kept him alive.
I bite my lip hard as I'm brought to the present by the sound of a knock. And a fleeting thought crosses my mind as I turn to greet the doctor who will be over seeing my daughter;
Why are we back here again?
We sit, and we talk. My hand drifts to my belly as my daughter kicks within, and my smile is tight as I nod my head and answer her questions. Externally, I pray that I exude the mannerisms of a weathered, strong mother, prepared for the journey that lays ahead.
But inside, I'm shaking. Every time she mentions a 'worst case scenario', I'm dying. Every breath is pushed through a pinhole in my throat as I hang off every word she says.
She highlights that I'm a, "Special case". That my circumstances don't "fit most", and that she can't make any promises. She can't tell me any absolutes. Only that it's going to be touch and go from the start.
There is literally no research out there on people like me, who are on a combination of medications like this.
We are in the dark.
I smile as she departs, but I'm numb as I get to my feet. It doesn't sink in right away, the magnitude of the choices I've made from the start of this pregnancy. I'm numb as I pull on my jacket and leave the ward.
It only hits me like a rush, a blow to the chest, when I reach the nurses station at Labor and Delivery for my weekly NST. The station is empty, and I'm 30 minutes early, so I take this chance to find some air that I can actually breathe. I walk down the hall to some windows, and take a seat. I text my husband. As I look up, across from me, sits an empty incubator. And it hits me.
This is my fault.
"All the medications you're on affect the brain. So unfortunately there is no way of us knowing the extent of impact on her brain."
I did this.
"She may have problems with motor development."
I chose me.
I could've just not taken the medications...
"Her heart might have some problems."
She's going to struggle because of the choices I've made.
"There is a chance she could have a learning impairment."
"You should prepare yourself for the possibility of having to leave the hospital without her for a while."
"There is a small margin of lose."
"She will more than likely go through NAS. We will attempt to use your milk to aid her withdrawals, but she will probably be admitted to NICU."
I should've chosen her.
I jump to my feet and leave the seat by the window, across from the incubator. My eyes are burning as I look at the signs on the doors, my hands gripping and pulling at my coat as I look for the washroom.
And once I'm in, behind the door and twisting the lock, I take two steps forwards to the wall and let my head fall against its cold tile, my arms releasing the items they carried and my hands flying to my mouth, gripping tightly, nails digging into my cheeks, attempting to muffle the sound of my heart breaking as I sob loudly. I'm overwhelmed by the possibilities. By the consequences of my choices. By there being just one more thing.
I close my eyes tightly, shaking at the rush of emotions. The despair. I feel cold from the panic, and I know my world is spinning by the sway of my body.
Reaching out with a hand, I yank down the change table I've found myself in front of, and use it to support myself carefully as I cry, softer now, my other hand resting on my belly, my fingers twisting and digging at the sweater I wore.
I'm there for a good 20 minutes before I start the slow process of picking up the pieces of my heart. My shoulders are heavy with guilt as I finally return my husband's worried texts, and turn to face the mirror. My face is pale, my eyes dark and red. I clean up my makeup as best I can, and try to dry my eyes. I curse. I only wore this makeup to skip a step in Halloween dressing when I got home, so I can take my son out faster. I had no idea this appointment would go this way...I wasn't expecting this...
The rest of the appointments I have go smoothly for what its worth. My NST is easy, as always, and the nurse is smiling as she watches the bars that mark my daughters movement on the paper, "She sure is a happy one, huh?" She says, looking to me with a bright smile. I attempt to return it, my fingers running softly over the taut skin of my swollen belly, "Yeah," I say softly, with a weak smile, "She sure is a busy one."
Standing outside the hospital, I wait for my parents to come get me. I'm standing with one arm crossed, the other holding a kleenex. I am breathing deep the cold air, attempting to staunch my emotions with it's clarity. But it's pointless. I'm in so over my head, it's leaking through my eyes and down my cheeks. I'm constantly swaying, looking this way and that, attempting to hide the tears as I dab constantly at my face, trying to feign a casual appearance. Mostly, it goes unnoticed. Except for one man.
He's standing to my left. At first, he's a ways away, and I don't notice him. But he's begun pacing slightly, slowly, casually, till finally he notices I'm rubbing my belly with quick, frantic movements, and I'm failing at concealing the tears.
"I've noticed you're expecting," He says gently as he comes to stand next to me, "How far along are you?"
I smile and look to the man. He's an older gentleman with a kind smile. There is a sense of familiarity about him, and I notice it right away. He reminds me of my father.
"I'm two weeks away with a little girl," I respond softly with the best smile I could possibly produce in the middle of my storm.
He returns my smile, "Ah, the last two weeks...they sure are hard, aren't they?"
In that moment, my voice catches as I nod, and I quickly pull the kleenex to my face, my breath catching in my throat. I know that line all too well. He was inviting me to open up, if I chose to. And with the broken state my heart is in, I can't help but show my true emotions. "S-Sorry," I whisper as I wipe frantically, my lips trembling, "It's all very complicated right now."
He nods knowingly and reaches out to touch my shoulder, squeezing it reassuringly, "It's alright. I'll stand with you."
I nod with a smile and bow my head, looking to my belly as my hand completes another circle on it, "I was just up in paeds, and they were telling me about the complications we'll face. I've been here before. I did not think I'd be back."
"But everything will be okay," He says dipping his head slightly to catch my gaze, "You both will be okay, I have confidence in that. You are strong. It takes a strong woman to show herself openly in the face of hardship like this. And you are a good mother, I can tell. She is lucky."
I look to him, and for a moment, I'm okay. I nod my head slowly as I look out over the parkinglot and spot my parent's car coming towards us, "It's a blessing and a curse, you know?" I say softly, "I didn't know with my son, so I was lost and confused when he was born sick. I now know with my daughter, and I can prepare." I look back to him, "But I don't know if this is better, or if I would have rathered ignorance again."
"I understand completely," He says with a knowing smile, squeezing my shoulder one more time before I step away from him, gesturing to my parents car.
"Thank you," I turn to face him, giving him my best smile, "Thank you for standing with me. I have faith that we will find our way."
"Blessing to you, dear. Just remember that everything will be alright!"
With that departing, I crawl into the back seat. But just as quickly as I managed to calm my storm, speaking with that man, it's brought back by my mom asking if I'm alright. And I barely close the door quick enough before I begin sobbing again, my head in my hands, relaying the information I have.
I stand outside my husband's workplace, breathing in deep the cold air. I'm not crying anymore, and I feel a bit more solid on my feet. But I know its only temporary. I grip the tissue in my pocket and venture forth.
He turns as he hears the door open, and standing in the frame of the door to his office is his wife; defeated, worn down, heart broken. The look on his face matches the state of her heart, and he opens his arms and beckons her softly. Their text messages had been hard for the last 2 hours. Her guilt is heavy, and he feels it now as she clears the room in a few quick steps and practically falls into his arms. He feels the weight she carries as he stands with her in his arms, and he pulls her closer, protecting her, turning her towards his desk to shield her. A hand slides up into her short hair, pulling her head against his chest as she buries her face in her hands, attempting to muffle her soft cries. Her heart ache.
His other arm wraps around her waist tightly, and he holds his broken wife as he shares her burden, reassuring her. He now feels the depth their troubles, and it's weighing heavy on him.
"It's not your fault," He whispers into her ear, kissing it, "Everything is going to be okay. She's going to be okay."
Over the next 30 minutes, she relays to him softly, between trembling breaths, what the doctor said. She confirms his concerns about NICU and the possible week, to weeks, that she will be there. The confirms the complications they will face.
When she feels confident enough to pull away, he pulls her back for a kiss, before taking her hand and packing up his things. It's time to go home and collect their son. Unfortunately, as much as their world may have stopped, the rest of the world must continue.
The rest of the night carries their tension. Every moment he has when no one is looking, he squeezes her hand and smiles at her reassuringly. He hugs her often, and whispers, "I love you"s into her ear. Despite the tantrums of their two year old, the night goes long, and surprisingly okay.
And by the end of it, behind the safety of their bedroom door, they stand before each other, bare and raw with their emotions. They feel the fear shared between them, the uncertainty of whats to come. He embraces her tightly once more, holding her against him as she cries softly in his arms, and protects her from the world once again. As they crawl into bed together, he holds her for the rest of the night, touching her face, brushing her hair back, delivering soft, comforting kisses to her blotched cheeks and cracked lips. He holds strong for the both of them as his wife begins the arduous process of collecting herself and piecing her heart back together in his arms.
And by the end of the night, she whispers in the dark as she slowly drifts off beside him,
"She's coming home. I just keep telling myself, she's going to come home."
"That's right," He says softly, kissing her hair, following her gaze to the empty crib beside their bed.
"She's going to come home."
· Thu Nov 01, 2018 @ 02:57pm · 0 Comments