I was sitting in a room in Infant(neonatal) ICU in Children's Regional and Medical Center of Seattle. I had spent my day watching my child come close to dying from intractable seizures. He was 5 months, 3 weeks old. Because of medical intervention Brennan Reed was on a ventilator and monitors in the Neonatal ICU. I was still wired from all the adrenaline that had been zooming around my body from 8am-midnight. I could not pull myself away from Brennie's side. They had a small room up a floor(a "call" room) I could use for 2 nights but I knew I wouldn't sleep. Who can sleep when your infant is in critical condition?
Not me. My mind kept going round and round like a merry go round who's off button was broken. It was making me slightly nauseous and dizzy but I could not stop my brain. I looked at my sweet little baby who was pale and covered with ivs and tubes and lead wires to the monitors. He looked immense next to the most common occupants in NICU which were preemies. My boy weighed around 15 lbs and had chubby little wrists and thighs. Preemies are known for their no fat look. The irony was my boy ended up being one of the sickest children in that NICU even if we did not know it. The vast majority of those preemies went home and lived. And are still living, hopefully going to school as 6th or 7th graders. I hope they are living the life Brennie never got to live.
Part of me could not comprehend the events of the day. It was as if I could force myself awake and this would all go away. No such luck.
The reason I had children was because I knew I could love them, take care of them, teach them, make them vital parts of our family and eventually send them out to make families of their own. In theory, I knew illness or an accident or SIDs could happen but I never considered those events for very long. It's too painful to even conjecture your child being ill or dead. As I spent the long night in the NICU, little unthinkable thoughts began to creep into my sub-conscious mind and bleed slowly into my conscious mind. This was shooting my whole super protective mommy self image all to hell. I wouldn't let that go yet. I shut those thought down. I clamped them with stainless steel and refused to visit until I was forced there weeks later.
Why kept running through my brain? I went over every minute of my pregnancy, delivery, his newborn habits, his "slightly slower that his older brothers' developmental curve". What had I missed? What had I done wrong? Why this baby? This baby was sweet and slightly fussier than his brothers had been, he did not deserve the pain he had gone through in the past 24 hours! No baby deserved this. WHY? Okay Lord, I've been praying and praying and yet this still keeps happening. WHY? Then a little more existential...what had I done wrong in my life that God was punishing this baby? (Catholic upbringing, I was taught God punished sinners, always no matter how long it took. That is why there was limbo and purgatory. They had not taught me about hell on earth, I learned that one on my own....cuz hell is where I lived for the next 5 months of Brennan's life and his death and the aftermath...)