you know how when something really wonderful happens, no matter how hard you try, you can’t explain how really truly wonderful it was to people who weren’t there? horror is inexplicably the same. that day, i took a deep breath as if to scream and i was so scared that i couldn’t let it out. maybe i did, but i don’t remember.
evie was crying non stop. something didn’t feel right. she was breathing rapidly. a nervous call to the pediatrician’s office left me feeling foolish for counting. foolish new mommy. “you have better things to do with your time than count your baby’s breaths.”
was it days or weeks later? i don’t remember. i insisted on bringing evelyn in to the pediatrician. the nurse, maybe the same one that i spoke to on the phone, put a heart monitor on evies toe. i saw the numbers jump all over. she tried to dismiss it and tell me it was fine. but it wasn’t. i knew it wasn’t. i would not allow my instincts to be brushed aside. i could feel my voice rising, cracking. but i was heard.
evelyn’s heart was racing over 200 beats per minute. my mother was with me. who drove to the hospital? i don’t remember. it doesn’t really matter. my husband met us there. the cardiologist, she didn’t seem that worked up. i allowed myself to relax for a moment. just a moment. as they glided the probe over evelyn’s tiny chest, i saw the nervous glances that were exchanged.
emergency room. i don’t remember how we got there. but we were there and there were so many people in the room. 20? 30? i don’t know. this was bad. i knew this was so bad. a social worker came over to speak with me. i don’t remember what she said. but this was bad enough that i needed a social worker? oh my god, i can’t do this.
the doctor taped my four week old baby to the table. he taped my baby to the table. i think the table was metal. she was screaming. she was screaming so loudly that there would be a long excruciating silence before the blood curdling screech. and that is what was happening. my blood was curdling in my veins as they poked unsuccessfully at evie’s tiny veins.
my arms were aching to hold my baby. to comfort her. i think it was hours. i could be wrong. they finally got the line started. they started blasting medicine into her veins. the numbers on the cardiac monitor fluttered and returned to 200+. they were all shaking their heads. the cardiologist was on the phone with another cardiologist.
we were sent upstairs to the intensive care unit and told that she needed to have cardioversion. they wanted to put my baby to sleep and restart her heart? how does a mother even make a decision about this? google was not an option. this was one of those leap of faith moments. i put the life of my tiny daughter in someone else’s hands.
i don’t know how much time elapsed. my dad was there. i had so many questions. actually, i had one question. but for the life of me, i was too afraid of the answer to ask it. so i wondered. and i watched the same question in the eyes of my husband, in the eyes of my mother, in the eyes of my father. none of us asked. i really don’t remember much of anything except the answer to the question. …cardioversion successful…evelyn okay.
when you have to ask that unthinkable question about your child. even if it is just in your head and you never say it out loud, something changes. your lungs never completely fill with air. you’re too afraid to totally exhale. your heart beats a little bit differently. butterflies are always nearby to jump into the pit of your stomach and beat their furious wings.
this isn’t everything. i can’t give you everything. this is what i can give you right now. from that day. the day i thought the unthinkable question.
all of it. unimaginable. only now, i could imagine.