Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Big F Word

Do you remember a time before you had children?  When you could sleep through anything?  When a freight train could come barreling through your house and you would simply sigh and turn over?  Isn't it crazy how giving birth can change all that in an instant?

Isn't it absolutely insane how, now, I can literally feel the air in the house shift when my children wake up at night and my eyes open immediately anticipating the pitter patter of little feet or the whimpery cry for me?  I am not even kidding.  Many nights, since my children are anti-sleep, I will be in a dead sleep and I will jolt awake for no reason, only to be joined by one or both of my turkeys within minutes.

I wonder if I actually hear them, or if I am just that attuned to them that I just know.  You have nine months to prepare and dream (or 7 months in my case) about your baby(ies).  Then they arrive and you must anticipate their every need.  You must discern what every cry really means.  Eek.  Scary stuff to think about while pregnant.  After they were born, not so much.  At least not for me.  I was just terrified that every sniffle was the dreaded RSV which is crazy dangerous to premature newborns.  I was just terrified that they would die.

After they were born and I spent 71 nights apart from them, it would often amaze me how I could close my eyes and perfectly visualize every detail of each of their faces.  Each and every detail.  I would try to do it with other members of my family and each time I could see their images but they would always seem a little blurry.  But my boys, crystal clear every single damn time.  Each detail was and still is implanted into my brain because I am terrified my boys are going to be taken from me too soon.  Are other moms like that?  Probably not, I'm just a morbid freak of nature.

I never really worried about the little stuff with my babies.  I often dealt with and still deal with the big stuff.  The big Fear.

I found a blog about a month ago and against my better judgment read it.  And it didn’t take me long to completely lose it.  The fear and pain came back, fast.  The absolute gut wrenching fear that every mother has about losing her child.  Even though my boys are snuggled safely in their beds, the fear consumed me that night as it often does.  I literally dropped onto my knees and prayed and prayed and prayed that my boys would live to be 110 years old.  I prayed, rather selfishly, that I would never have to experience the loss of one of my boys.  I prayed that I would never feel like Jack's mom, Tripp's mom, or Grace's mom.  Isn't that horrible?  These women have recently gone through the worst of the worst, and I am hoping I never have to feel it.  I guess in some twisted, weird way I think if I keep it at the front or even back of my mind, then it won't happen.  Pretty effed up, huh?  So sometimes I read blogs that make me cry and pray and beg and try to bargain with God.  Now that I have my faith in tact, the fear is much more manageable, but it is still ever present.  

I know, it sounds morbid and it is.  But it is something that ALL mothers feel and fear at some point.  I experienced it early.  My boys were on respirators helping them to breathe during the first moments of their lives.  I was insanely lucky, I only had that incredible breath stealing moment of pure unadulterated fear once during their NICU stay. 

I won’t ever forget it.   Nobody knew about this except for David and my mom and dad.  I didn’t post it to our caring bridge site because I didn’t want to see it in writing.  I didn’t tell anyone else because that would make it true.  If I ignored it, then it would go away.  I cried myself to sleep many nights in a row. 

I had been out meeting with some hospital people about insurance stuff.  The boys were about 4 weeks old, maybe 3 ½ pounds.  I came back to their room and the doctor was there with David.  I entered, he said please sit down.  My heart literally dropped to my feet.  That’s never good.

He told us that Hayden had tested positive for the bacteria that causes MRSA which is a antibiotic resistant strain of staph infection.  He said the boys would be separated and Hayden isolated until they determined if he was either infected with it or not.  The first words out of my mouth were, “Are you sure?”  I asked him if there were anyway this test could be a false positive.  He said that in his experience he had never seen a false positive in this test.  I asked other questions about MRSA.  I don’t really remember what he said anyway.  I just remember feeling shocked and terrified. 

I was even more terrified when I went home and googled “MRSA.”  That was definitely not one of my better moments.   The internet was my worst enemy during those days.  That night was the first of only five nights during their precarious first months of life that I let myself even consider the possibility that one or both of them might not make it.  I memorized their tiny faces just in case.  I spent every second I could at the hospital with them.  I cried and prayed and cried and prayed.

It must have worked.  God listened and blessed us beyond belief.  I walked into the NICU about 5 days after the boys had been isolated.  I walked to Hayden’s room and notice that the table with the gowns, masks and gloves which isolation required was gone.  I looked at the nurses and they gave me the biggest grins ever.  “We wanted to surprise you.”  I peered into the room and BOTH of my boys were in there.  The doctor came by shortly thereafter. 

He said that he thought about my question regarding the false positive for quite some time and decided to order two more tests on the same sample.  Both came back negative.  He said he had never seen anything like it before. 

I know it was a miracle from God.  I wonder often why my boys were chosen to live and other children have to die.  It is almost impossible for me to comprehend.  Everyday that those little arms wrap around my neck and those little voices say, "I love you" is a miracle from God and I wonder what I did to deserve it.  

So those few terrifying days were over.  I was lucky.  There were many other parents in the NICU who were not so lucky.  I know they dealt with the gut wrenching fear every moment of every day.  I could barely make for 5 days. 

The blog I found that night was found completely by accident and I cried for this mom and prayed for this mom with my whole soul.  She lost her young son to an overflowing creek following a storm.  She was raw in her writing.  So raw, I felt her pain all the way to my bones.   And I prayed that I would never have to feel what she is feeling.  Ever.  She actually wrote the words, "I am your worst nightmare."

And the horrible part is, she is absolutely right.  

Love and peace,



  1. How odd that you would post this today. This morning I awoke from a dream, crying, after finding out that three of my five children were dead. It was a weird sci-fi kind of dream. I had an awful one once, while pregnant with Rachael, in which I literally watched Richard get killed. I awoke shaking and had to cling to Craig for almost an hour before I could calm down. I have felt the same fear, every mom does, but you have more reason than most to feel the reality of it. I don't think you're morbid, you're just like that person who has been burned, who after healing, still feels it burning now and then. Too many people take their kids for granted. You will never do that. :-)

    1. What a horrible dream! Thanks for listening...this was a post I've been working on for awhile and didn't know if I would ever post. I edited it and made the decision last night. I felt the "pull." :)

  2. it's preemie mom thing...being overly worried and overly protective and overly started your relationship with them in a state of anxiety and panic and it is not only innate, but it becomes a habitual way to interact with them. being a NICU mom makes you crazy, but also so so appreciative!