I walked as slowly as I could to the Surgical check-in. From that moment on it all became real. An actual event.
Central lines and arterial lines and intravenous lines and intubation tubes and other various wires and monitors and she will be okay and don’t worry and relax and soon it will be over. Someone said all of that.
It was maybe one full minute from the time she was taken from my arms to the time she disappeared through doors I could not see/bust/claw through. That minute will stay with me forever. Every cell in my body, every essence of soul, pulled slowly like taffy away from me. I fell apart, standing.
Someone was talking about waiting rooms and cafeterias and elevators and coffee. My instincts were rabid – but the heaviness of fear and empty arms kept me from swinging.
Where was my baby? Was she crying? Was she terrified?
Harder than my darkest hour the night she was born. Harder than knowing she would someday undergo numerous surgeries, harder than watching her struggle to breathe at 7 weeks old – this one minute.
I of course cried, I shook, I grabbed my son and held his head too tight to my chest and thanked him for being so strong. I hugged my loved ones who were there to wait with me. I distracted myself by “mothering” others until I could breathe in again. And then peace washed over me.
To be completely honest, I was angry that I felt peace. Disturbed that, while my infant daughter was undergoing major cranial surgery – I was able to eat a croissant, sip coffee, and talk intelligibly.
99530. Her existence and progress had been turned into a number on a screen.
Then this large pager starts screeching and lights are flashing and I am running toward the surgical waiting room. It has only been 4.5 hours. They are done. She is alive. I am about to see her.
There she is. Being wheeled down the hall. Her head stitched neatly back together. Her chest rising and falling on it’s own – they were able to remove the breathing tube. No further intubation. No need for a tracheotomy. Just breathing! My Poppy, on the other side of surgery.
One week later:
She looks different.
Of all the frightening and horrid, heartbreaking moments – now that the swelling is down, she is active and alert, the realization that she LOOKS DIFFERENT is the hardest to swallow.
Not the hardest moment, no. The hardest realization to come to. I look at her and feel, once again, a loss. I am ashamed and saddened by this feeling – yet here it is, deep in my heart.
I will write more about the missing week – I just can’t quite yet.