Sunday, November 23, 2008

Eleven

Darling boy,

You are eleven. Daddy and I are so in love with you, so enraptured with your unique you-ness, so crazy happy that we get to be your parents.

Also: sometimes you frustrate the shit out of us.

But mostly, we adore you; and we're grateful that you are here with us. When you were born, Daddy brought C. Peevie, age 2.5, to the hospital to meet his new baby brother. He ran into the room, totally ignored me, and commanded, "Baby A. Peevie! Me hold him!" He's been warm and nurturing to you ever since.

Not.

On day ten of your ex-utero existence, we noticed that you were too sleepy to nurse. Daddy and I went Christmas shopping, and when we stopped for lunch at a local Vietnamese restaurant, I tried again to wake you up to nurse you--but you would only latch on for a minute before falling back asleep.

By late afternoon, we were concerned. Ignorantly, we decided to wait until the next day to call the doctor if you were still abnormally lethargic--but then at 5 p.m. Daddy said, Let's just call the doctor to be safe.

He saved your life.

The doctor told me to pinch you to wake you up. You didn't respond. He said, pinch him again, HARD. I didn't want to hurt you, but he said, Pinch him HARD. So I did. You didn't even squeak.

"Bring him in to the ER right away," the ped said. My heart felt cold with fear.

At the ER, the in-take nurse said, "How long has he looked yellow?"

"Since birth," I said truthfully.

"Well, you should have brought him in sooner. He's very jaundiced," she said helpfully.

Fortunately, the rest of the ER staff was appropriate, kind, and professional. I do not know the name of the doctor who put his arm on my shoulder and told me as gently as he could that you were in very serious condition with and needed to be moved to a hospital with a Level IV trauma center--but I will never forget that he was as kind and gentle as he could be under the worst of circumstances.

By this time, your tiny chest was heaving, and you were struggling to breathe. The ER staff debated whether to intubate you right then and there, or to wait for the ambulance trauma team to do it. Meanwhile, Daddy called Roseanne, who was keeping C. Peevie for us.

"A. Peevie is very sick," he managed to choke out, before he burst into tears.

The first ambulance that came to pick you up was not equipped to handle a tiny infant in heart failure. There was a flurry of phone calls and conversations; we considered the possibility that you might die because of a failure to communicate. When the second ambulance came, at least 10 emergency transport personnel surrounded you as they rushed you out to the waiting vehicle.

I started to follow, but one nurse held me back. "You can't go in the ambulance," she told me; and I looked at her with despair. "There's no room," she explained gently. "Everyone in the ambulance has a job to do. Get in your car, go home and get your things, and meet us at the hospital."

Daddy and I just knew we'd never see you alive again, that you'd die in the ambulance on the way to the trauma center. We drove home in a daze, packed a few things, and called our pastor before heading up to the hospital.

The next time we saw you, tubes and wires stuck out all over your chest, arms and even out of your scalp. The intubation tube taped to your face kept you breathing in a regular rhythm; and for the first time since we brought you to the hospital, I started to cry.

I'll finish the story tomorrow; but let me just say for today that I'm glad you're still here, still growing, still being your own one-of-a-kind self. Happy birthday, darling boy.

Love, Mommy

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

JRO: What a beautiful, emotional, scary, joyful, touching essay. Thanks, E.

E. Peevie said...

Thanks, J. A. Peevie has given me a lot of good material to work with!

Hpaul said...

Ms Peevie, even though I was roughly familiar with the story, it brought tears to my eyes. We all have a lot for which to be thankful.
God bless you Peevies, God bless you every one.