December 30th 6:41am, this day seven years ago came the eternal silence the silence that has caused traumatic memories to surface over times, the silence that has caused question and wonder to no end, the silence that has been the noise of my nightmares.
We arrived at the hospital around 4:45 am, by about 5:30 a nurse realized my baby was breach (backwards) we’d soon find out she was frank breach (upside down and backwards) not ideal for a safe delivery. They called an anesthetist because at 5am on a Sunday there was not one on duty. I couldn’t wait the twenty five minutes it was to take her to arrive, I had to push, I wanted my baby out. A decision that would haunt me forever, the wonder if I had tried harder to wait, had we performed a successful caesarean would the outcome have been different.
At 6:07 am she came out flat and blue. That means not breathing, not moving, and a fading heartbeat. As she was taken to a bedside table to have CPR attempted to save her, the room, and the space in my head fell silent. I stared at the ceiling tears running down my face waiting to hear her cry.
I felt hands still on me, people telling me to keep pushing the placenta that was broken in pieces out, I felt pain as a nurse or doctor I don’t know was scooping me clean as if hollowing a pumpkin. I was scared to turn my head to see what was going on, the sounds were muffled, and the noise in my head as I prayed for her to be ok cleared out all other sounds.
And then the room was empty and silent. As if a bomb went off the room cleared. My husband held my hand as we sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity. At 7:35 am the doctor returned to tell us our daughter had to be intubated, was having trouble breathing on her own, she suffered brain damage and to what extent we will never know but was cause by her hypoxic birth. That she was being transferred to Children’s Hospital NICU and we could follow in an ambulance behind her or drive ourselves. We chose to drive obviously not wanting to be stranded in the city with no way home.
At 8:45 am we arrive after a silent drive to BCCH and figure out where we eventually spend the next three weeks.
They decided to freeze her in a incubator as a way of hopefully lessening the brain damage. I did not get to hold my daughter for a week. I sat in the nursing room attempting and failing to produce milk all the while as silent tears streamed my face. I became quiet. My boys, my young beautiful sons aged three and five came to visit every day, not understanding and me not having the words to explain. I asked to be discharged after 3 days, my sons needed their mom too. I couldn’t even hold Lily; only touch her hand through the tiny space of the incubator.
The next month was a blur of forgetfulness and silence. My husband returned to work because he didn’t know what to do, I would drop off the kids at kindergarten and preschool and drive the hour long drive from hell to the hospital praying something was better but also that nothing had happened. My nightmare was that she would die alone in the night when we were not there. After multiple MRIS and scans, they found much more was wrong with my perfect little bean. She had a feeding tube inserted and prescribed a daily anti-seizure medication as we begged to bring her home.
Our home was quiet; I was scared to hold her too hard for fear of her tube falling out and needing to return to the hospital for reinsertion. I spent hours on the phone with doctors about surgeries and with hospital aides about necessary equipment. I wish I had spent every moment holding her instead. Three weeks later she was carried by ambulance back to the local hospital after having stopped breathing, after me having to perform CPR on my tiny five weeks old baby on my living room floor. And again transferred to Children’s hospital where we learned of rare heart disease and trachea growth. She would never breathe on her own, she would never eat solid food, and she would never taste ice cream. She would never walk or talk. My brain shut down as I tried to understand, my heart broke more every second of every day and the silence screamed in my ears.
We signed a do not resuscitate as her episodes were coming more frequent, they removed her tubes and we held our fifty one day old little girl until she was gone. I regret not wanting to look at her, fearing her blue face would haunt me forever. I regret not bathing her, as I have heard of other parents doing. I had to get away, I wanted to run from the silence of that room.
The quiet walk down the white walled corridor to our car followed by the hollowed echo as we drove home.
People stopped by with food, I just stared as they cried, people came to her funeral, I said nothing but hugged them, people called, I did not answer. I spent weeks in bed, doing minimal necessities for my suddenly four and six year old boys. I think I threw them birthday parties.
I don’t remember much from that first year after she died.
I can only remember the silence.
Thanks for reading,