Its two weeks till your due date and finally – finally – the light at the end of the tunnel is more than a pin prick I have to squint to see. You made a remarkable recovery a few days after your second set of steroids. At first it didn’t look like it was working, so they stopped the course after just three days. The protocol is to wait more than 24 hours because the drugs usually take about a day to begin to work. For some babies they are like magic, eradicating the respiratory affliction within 48 hours. For some babies they just don’t work. Yet again you broke the rules, and our miracle picked up a head of steam after three and a half days, when you were no longer on the course of medication.
I’ll never forget it. After months of having mediocre saturations of mid to late eighties at up to 77% oxygen requirements, it happened one morning when I least expected it. Things happen so seamlessly in the NICU with a minimum of drama considering the intensity these walls absorb.
Through the weeks of doldrums, of babies passing through before us, of babies getting sick and dying before our eyes, of tender words from nurses and controlled frustration at the way your treatment has been managed – after countless doctors and ten times as many nurses holding you, caring for you, singing to you…yesterday morning I walked in as usual at 8.25am to see that monitor in a whole new light.
I checked it was plugged in.
I felt a tear. I checked with the nurse to make sure it was right.
I checked your summary sheet from the night shift. Your O2 levels had been as low as 26% and you were saturating in the high 90s.
You were getting better.
Dr Mary came in to see me at the nurses request, and double checked the monitor herself.
“What happened?” She looked delightedly surprised, just as I felt.
The doctor on rounds looked up at her. “The steroids must be working!”
Stella was started on the same course of medication in an effort to see if you had both suffered from the same infection. Dr Mary asked for a sit down with your Dad and me to set a plan in motion for bringing you home. The day was a blur of words and faces and surprised looks, but I barely registered anything but you. I was stuck in that moment from earlier that morning. The world had stopped again. All I could see was the picture of that monitor in my head as I began to process what was coming to fruition.
Then, for just an instant it was quiet in the HDU and I was alone. In a moment of complete and utter overwhelming emotion I began to sob quietly. I picked you up from your cot and held you close, breathing in your definitive victory. Part of me fell more completely in love with you in that moment – I didn’t know it was possible to love you more than I had yesterday, but today somehow every synapse, every atom feels more alive. I am brimming with unbridled pride in your tiny little accomplishment. You are not off oxygen, you are not home from hospital. The milestones are small but immeasurably mammoth at the same time.
You are healthy again. It’s such a basic thing, something I have taken for granted every day of my own life.
It doesn’t matter now. You are well. And soon, you will be home.