He just. . . started. . . BREATHING.
He was immediately rushed to the NICU. Dr. Hernandez sent Ricardo with Junior and time stopped. This was the antithesis of what this moment should be. I had pictured a baby laying on my chest while nurses wiped him off and swaddled him up. Everyone smiling, Ricardo and I crying with joy, and a healthy baby crying. I WANTED to hear my baby cry. Instead I was alone in a quiet, dark room. No baby, no Ricardo. My nurse was crying with me. For far too long, I was left alone with my thoughts. Guilt, fear, sadness. I knew our families were probably awake, waiting for news, but what could I say? I didn't know if Junior would survive the hour.
When Ricardo returned I knew we were not in the clear. They had x-rayed our baby's little chest, drawn blood, and ran more tests. Ricardo looked shaken. The news was not great. The blood test showed signs of moderate acidosis, indicating possible brain damage from the lack of oxygen to the brain. In 6 hours, they would retest. If they still found significant acid in the blood stream, our son would be emergency air-lifted to Children's Hospital in Seattle. He would be placed in a cooling cap, where his brain and body temperature would be reduced to curb swelling and further damage.
We decided it was time to call our parents. I can't speak for Ricardo, but at that moment I felt like a little girl again. I just wanted my mom and dad. While we awaited their arrival, I was finally told I was allowed to get out of bed and go visit my baby boy for the first time. Ricardo wheeled me to the NICU, we scrubbed up and I was rolled over to my son's bedside. I cried when I saw him, taking in all the cuts, bruises, scrapes, and swelling. But when I looked in his eyes a calm came over me. I looked at Ricardo and said, "He is fine. He's going to be just fine. I know it." I don't know if I just NEEDED to hear those words said, or if it was the first hint of mother's intuition. I was scared, but I knew he was strong. My parents arrived first, and I took them down to see Junior. It was difficult for them, but they were incredibly supportive. Then Ricardo's parents came and I sat in my wheelchair and watched as they met their new grandson, too. Pilar said the same thing I had, that he would be fine.
And on Sunday, when my stay at the hospital was up, we waiting for the final word on if he would be coming home with us or moving to the Pediatric Ward for further recovery. His doctor on duty that morning wasted no time when she arrived on the floor, she walked straight to me and said they would be checking both me and my son out together today.
You can't imagine.
Maybe you can.
I tried not to respond out of respect for all of the other sweet little patients and their worried parents in the NICU that day, so I went out to the main hallway and just sobbed. I told every nurse that walked by, even ones I didn't know.
"My son is coming home today!" "My son gets to come home with me!" "He's coming home!"
Something I had truly taken for granted the days before his birth, by the way. Perfect pregnancy, perfect birth. Duh.
Thank you for reading this LONG version of the best and worst day of our lives!