I cannot imagine the panic that comes with saving your own child's life.
I also cannot grasp the raw pain and frightening uncertainty of seeing that child hooked up to a mess of tubes and medication in the intensive care unit.
That's where my niece is after a crisis situation Monday night.
I still can't believe Maeve is in the hospital.
This weekend she was a smiling, wide-eyed child whose gaze was glued to her parents' whereabouts. I spent the weekend making goofy faces and talking in a high-pitched tone, exchanging conversation with a five-month-old. Maeve would moan her own "words" and then a smile would shine between her pillowy cheeks when Aunt Kate would mimic the same low, nasal groan.
Out little conversation of moans and smiles lasted about 15 minutes. I spent the rest of the time singing silly songs and cooing glowing affirmations.
Little did we know Maeve would take an ambulance ride to the hospital one day after my visit.
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Maeve battles chronic acid reflux and so feeding time is an occasion ushered in with tears - tears of hunger and tears of dread. Maeve is so so hungry sometimes and yet she knows the 90 mL of milk she needs to drink (she only eats as much as a newborn and so she has extra feedings through the day) will hurt going down - and back up.
Feeding Maeve is an ordeal.
Where most babies would spend five to 25 minutes drinking a bottle - it takes Maeve about an hour. Then Bridge or Steve must burp her gingerly as to help prevent Maeve from spitting up. The whole process is tense if Maeve is keyed up and crying. Sometimes my sister or brother-in-law will try to get the baby to fall asleep before feeding her because then Maeve is more likely to take the bottle without any trouble.
Monday night Steve was taking a turn feeding Maeve. Bridge decided to take the opportunity to go to the grocery store - a chore for most people has become a welcome break from the challenges of feeding a five-month-old.
Bridge arrived back at the couple's Suburban Atlanta townhouse and found a crisis in progress.
Steve was trying to help Maeve, who had turned blue. They grabbed one of the oxygen tanks on hand from when Maeve came home from the hospital to try and help her breathe better. The baby was born with a laundry list of health problems and we were anticipating an open heart procedure in a few weeks, but this new situation proved to need instant attention.
Bridge held on to her sweet baby as Steve drove the young family to a neighborhood hospital a quarter mile from home.
Medical personnel attended to Maeve, and then she and my sister got in the back of an ambulance bound for Atlanta's children's hospital. Steve followed behind in the family car - running red lights and breezing through traffic along the way.
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Today we learned Maeve had a collapsed lung and yet another heart problem (congenital heart flaws now number four). Doctors are uncertain what came first - the new heart trouble or the lung problem, but they are certain Bridge and Steve saved the baby's life.
Maeve was originally admitted to the Trauma ER but is now in the cardiac ICU. Doctors have pushed up her open-heart surgery from sometime in April to this Friday.
My parents and I would take a trip to Atlanta in a heartbeat - but Bridge has asked us all to stay put. She says she'd rather avoid the commotion of a hospital full of anxious family members, but will let us know if our support is needed.
We are literally waiting by the phone - on our knees in prayer.