Monday, April 20, 2009
In one hour it will be the 21st, and it will have been 2 months since Charlotte passed away.
Two months ago I was sitting in the corner of PICU room 31/32 with Zar and trying to see Charlotte. She was surrounded by doctors in blue, bright lights and wires. Occasionally I could see her foot, gleaming white. Or her hair. Or her hand.
I already knew Charlotte was not much longer for this world. I had known earlier when the nurse had sent us away so she could be intubated. I had asked the respiratory therapist to take a picture of me kissing her. As we walked away from her room, I ran back and took one last look. I tried to tell myself I was being silly and over-dramatic.
The intubation went well, her best ever, actually. I let myself be relieved. But at dinner, during the hour they kick you out of the PICU, Zar had said we should call and check on her. I didn't want to. I knew this was the...last...moment of normalcy. Relative normalcy.
And then we were sitting in the corner watching the doctors work. And try to place an arterial line. And a PICC line. And hook her up to 8 different syringe pumps. And then a ventilator.
Our family came that night. They were encouraged but I stood shaking my head. Why do I have to be so negative?
I went to the sleep room and lay down for awhile. I thought of her birth, I thought of her early sleepy days, I thought of the first time she looked me in the eye and the first time she smiled, and laughed. I remembered the therapist saying early on that a goal for her would be "to hold a toy at midline" and even that, even just that, made me think "She will never do that. "
But she did. She held a toy at midline. She sat up and looked at books and kicked over drinks within her reach just to be funny. She was amazing. I said her name into the dark.
Zar came to get me.
She just couldn't keep her oxygen up. Suddenly she was dropping like a rock. Her oxygen sats dropped to the 30s, and Zar and I were on either side of the bed, holding her hands, saying goodbye. The doctor said "Let's try one more thing" and I reluctantly let her hand go.
Out in the hall I made that horrible sound that mothers make. My knees buckled and I went limp in my husbands arms and wailed, and wailed, and wailed, and I hate to think of the other mothers that had to hear me that night.
When it was over Charlotte was on a new ventilator, and satting higher, and I thought "Why did we pull her back again? She just wants to go!"
I sat at her bedside til dawn and Zar went to the dark sleep room. At 7 am, when the nurses have to send you away for an hour, our nurse said I could stay, but that I really should get some sleep as it could be a long, long day. Charlotte wasn't coming back. We all knew it. But the last hours can be the longest.
I went to the sleep room. I woke up Zar. We talked.
We called our family.
Maybe, soon, I'll talk more about what happened after that. When the night was over.
But not tonight.