I wrote this for one of the Red Dress Club‘s writing prompts, but never hit publish or linked up. Now it’s too late to include with that group, but I figured I’d share with you guys anyway, since I’m kind of MIA this week.
I could never have imagined that I’d find myself back in the same situation I was in five years earlier. I thought I was cured- yet there I was, in a hospital bed, fighting for not only my life, but the tiny one I was carrying.
Last time, I lost half the battle. I may have left that hospital, but my baby did not. It was just too early, and I was just too sick. Last time, we bounced back afterward, with medications and extra monitoring, and a year later I was able to bring home a baby girl. Two years after that, her sister followed.
So when we decided to add one final little one to our family, I went into the pregnancy confident. I wasn’t that same scared baby loss mom I was just a few years before. Not only was I cured, but things like that don’t happen to the same family twice.
I was wrong, so very wrong.
This time, I was a week further along. Not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things, but I just so happened to be straddling the line between potential viability and certain death. Every day made a difference.
The specialist came to see me. Why aren’t you on the medications you took the last two times, he asked. I had no answer; the family practice doctor I was assigned to had felt they were unnecessary. He shook his head. This wouldn’t be happening if you were, he said.
After a week of tests, it was decided that the tiny one pound baby I was carrying would have a better chance of survival outside of my body. Unlike last time, this baby was going to be given a chance- one week made a difference of whether or not resuscitation was attempted.
She’s going to have problems, they told us. She may never be normal. She’s going to need lots of help, and she’ll spend months and months in the NICU. We didn’t care, she was ours. We were willing to fight for her, to brave the ups and downs. We hoped for the best.
The only sounds we heard when she was born were the doctors working on her, attempting to hook her up to machines to breathe for her. Once that was done, she was whisked away to the NICU and for the next 24 hours, I was left with nothing but a photograph.
For the next 8 weeks and 6 days, she fought for her life. In her short time with us, she underwent countless procedures, including several surgeries. It was six weeks before she was even stable enough for me to hold her. We were finally getting somewhere and we were seeing small improvements. I spent time with her every single day, even if all I was allowed to do was sit next to her isolette.
We were in for the long haul. Her progress was slow, even slower than most premature babies. We knew it would be months and months before she came home. But we made plans- we prepared for it as well as we knew how.
My husband was about to deploy, so after some discussion, it was decided to have my oldest children remain with their father for the school year, instead of returning home after summer visitation. This way, each child could get the attention and time they deserved. With the NICU being over an hour away, we felt it was the best choice.
Then, on that 80th day of her life, she couldn’t fight any longer. A blood infection she picked up somewhere in the hospital overtook her already weak immune system. It was something no one saw coming, not even her doctors and nurses. And then the whole world shifted.