Photo Credit: Dana Romano
Ever see a movie where the person is just standing there, and they press fast forward on everything else around them? I don’t know why but Grand Central Station comes to mind, maybe this was a movie where I saw it. Where you’re frozen, but everyone around you is going a million miles an hour.
Just traffic moving back and forth, back and forth. That’s the best way I can describe what the next 36 hours were like while Julian was in the NICU. I was frozen, out of body, while the nurses and doctors kept working on him.
Oh, how they worked on him.
My husband and I weren’t prepared for what was about to take place as we entered for the first time after they whisked Julian away once he was delivered.
I’ve never seen people move faster in my life. I can’t begin to tell you how incredible these people are. It takes special kinds of human beings to do what they do. You’re trusting them to keep your child alive.
Read that again. That’s pretty huge.
You could only hope that they know best when all you want to do is scoop up your baby and make everything better, because after all, isn’t that what mommy’s and daddy’s do? Isn’t it supposed to be our job?
But I couldn’t. My husband couldn’t. I felt like I was failing him.
I kept repeating to myself over and over, HOW COULD THIS BE?
How could Julian be moving so much inside of me that now he just lay there so lifelessly? It looked as if every possible tube and machine were attached to him.
One of the very first things I noticed were his chest compressions. The machine was doing his breathing for him, so his little chest kept going, up, down, up, down, up, down. I remember thinking, OMG someone please help him! It looked so abnormal for it to be going as fast as it was. I still have visions of it in my head. And the noise. The beeping.
Oh, that damn beeping.
Once I got past the appearance of what was happening, I was able to focus in more as to what it was they were doing. But I couldn’t even tell you exactly. I specifically remember Julian laying there and a doctor on the side of him, working tirelessly.
There was that traffic again.
She kept touching and poking and grabbing. She kept going, she didn’t stop, all while asking loudly to be heard over the machines and chaos, “Are you his mom?”
“Yes!” I sobbed.
She proceeded to tell me how Julian was sicker than what they had anticipated. That he was born with edema (fluid under his skin) all over his body; his limbs, his neck, his head. He still had the pleural effusion and some, that we were now being told, was also in his abdomen.
Her words pierced my soul. I just had an ultrasound less than 7 hours ago and no one mentioned ANYTHING about any more fluid other than his lungs.
Julian was born with hydrops. The word I feared throughout my whole pregnancy when we found out about his pleural effusion at 19 weeks. The word that I knew, once diagnosed, would leave him with a small chance of survival.
The doctor kept talking as I felt weighted down with each word she said. “We’re trying to get him to respond but so far he isn’t responding to stimuli.” Her eyes couldn’t even be fixated on me as she was talking because of everything she was doing to save our baby boy’s life. She kept talking as she was taking his vitals, trying to get him to respond.
Nurses were alongside, touching machines.
So many machines.
Reading off numbers to one another.
So many numbers.
People moving back and forth, and I was just frozen. Wondering if this was all a dream when in reality, it was a parent’s worst nightmare.
I felt out of body in that time. Like I was in slow motion, yet everything around me was going a mile a minute.
And it was in this moment when I first thought, my baby may not ever be coming home.
And he didn’t. Julian took his first breath on August 3rd, at 12:28 am, and his last in our arms on August 4th, at 12:18 pm. And it was in this moment that I realized I would never be the same person I was when I walked into the hospital.