Where my mind goes as I drive, I think back to those long torturous drives that I had grown to detest, anticipating the anxiety that arose as I approached my destination. I have grown to hate the radio because of those long drives, angry at its insistence to play happy annoying songs, angry at its ignorance of my need to hear sad songs or silence because the music or talk it emits draws upon too many emotions that at the moment I cannot focus on. All I can focus on is my arrival at her side. I circle the building, over and over looking for free parking, I could park in cozy and safe underground parking but at fifteen dollars a day times forty two days so far is not realistic, so I circle, praying for someone to leave, desperate. Finally I find one a bit further away but I do not care. I need to get inside. I need to see her. I exit my car, often forgetting all that I will need for the day and eventually having to run back to get them. I run, my legs ache it feels as though I am not moving very fast, I push the doors open and begin my agonizingly painful walk down the long, white often empty corridor, trying to avoid the smells that surround me, wanting desperately to just magically appear at her side every morning; but having to endure this long routine of getting to her. I finally reach the room; I rush to scrub my hands, remove my rings, and sign my name on the visitor’s sheet although they should know who I am by now. I drop off the extra snacks I have brought for the kids of other families that visit in the adjoining family waiting room. I remember the first time I brought my other children here, in shock, not prepared for them to whine for food and having none. I did not want other new comers to have to feel that, I wanted to help. I wanted someone to help me. I felt so lost, so confused, so scared. Finally I get to her side, I see that they have been poking at her again; I hold back my tears as I stroke her beautiful little face, that is splattered with dried blood from their obvious failed attempts at finding useful arteries. Why. My mind so often wonders why. Why me, why her, why does this happen to anyone. I try to pick her up but it is so hard with all the tubes and IVs, so I lay my head on her tiny body, the body I grew inside my own, the body that grew unable to breathe on its own, the beautifully perfect on the outside but so broken on the inside body, that now has become mine as well. Broken; my heart is broken, my mind, now broken, unable to understand the jargon being spoken to me by doctors, specialists and surgeons. I am unable to function I just want to hold her and have everyone else shut their mouths. Stop talking to me; stop telling me to leave her so we can have a meeting about a future no one knows for sure. Stop making me drive all the way here every day, getting stuck in traffic wondering if when I get here will she be the same, will she still be there. The panic that has grown in me over these last few weeks is almost unbearable I say almost because I am still here. I just want to take her home; I just want her to be normal, to be able to breathe on her own, to not need multiple surgeries to fix the problems with her heart. I just want to stop feeling scared and sad. I often think back to all those times I knew something was wrong, all those appointments with my doctor where I could not stop crying nor could I explain why I was crying, I just knew something was wrong because of the morbid, guilty thought I often had was if I have a miscarriage that may be better. Then she came, it was traumatic to say the least. She was folded in half, I needed a caesarean but it was four in the morning and no anesthesiologist was on so I was supposed to wait till she got here, but I could not wait, not anymore, I was already two weeks late. I kept pushing, another thought that will leave me riddled with guilt, what if I just waited, what if I did this to you. So out she came, folded in half, not breathing and turning blue. The room went silent. Hours passed before someone came back to talk to us. I did not even know until months later that your dad was asked to hold your hand and talk to you as they tried to resuscitate you. A moment he is haunted by today. They told us you were being transferred to the neo natal intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital. They told us we should follow. They told us I would be admitted there. That they had to insert a tube so she could breathe but with an unknown amount of time without oxygen that she most likely had brain damage, there is even a name for it: asphyxiated birth- birth without oxygen. One of many new words I was forced to learn very unwillingly. That they would do what they could for her but that there were no guarantees. This was the first of many long, silent drives down to the hospital, to see my daughter that was born not breathing my daughter that we also later would find out was born with congenital heart disease: three holes in her heart, an abnormal trachea and needed a feeding tube. Her first surgery was when she was just 5 weeks old. But I knew none of this on that first drive. I was in shock, in denial, a part of me assumed that when we got down there, she`d be fine. The brain is funny that way. That was the first drive until 52 days later we made the last. We did not know it was the last of course, not until we got there and learned of the results from the latest scans, I did not know that was the beginning of my anxiety that surrounds driving now. We learn that the chance of you surviving, being so small and so fragile already, that the chance of surviving the surgery needed to fix you was slim if any chance of survival at all. We were told they would operate if we asked them to. But did we want to lose you on the operating table or in our arms. It is quite odd to have people speak to you this way, so matter of fact, about your child. That is going to die. They offered to move you to hospice but did not know if you would survive the transfer. So we held you, right there in the pediatric intensive care unit as they removed your tubes, always in the back of my mind was the thought -what if she breathes on her own, what if. A saying that will haunt me forever: what if. But you did not breathe on your own. Your dad and I held your amazing, precious little body until we could not. We walked silently back down that cold, white corridor for the last time and drove in silence for the last time that long treacherous drive home; never to see you again. Never able to drive again without thinking of the first, the last and the fifty lonely drives` in between trying desperately to see you.
That is what I think of as I drive.
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