It was the kind of day every mother found herself exasperated but still not minding the extra cuddles. After a family getaway to her family's favorite annual festival- a tradition that begun before the children were a part of it (and quite possibly conceived at 😳, shhh)- she found herself dealing with sick children. Two little sicklies on a beautiful day. It didn't seem like more than a cold for either, and they were playing and sleeping a lot. Then halfway towards the day, the baby threw up. Baby puke is seldom a reason for an emergency hospital visit, but by the evening it was apparent that the baby had what seemed like a tummy bug and couldn't keep breast milk down. Due to the baby's low weight and petite nature, she decided to take her into the ER. This had happened several months ago and after a night of IV fluids, the baby was back to normal. So at the very least, she was hopeful for a night of fluids and the bouncy baby girl by morning. Afterall, the baby was perking up and playing, but just could not keep milk down.
The Emergency room wait was minimal- they were often seen quickly due to the baby being premature and low weight. While in the emergency room, she was given some anti-nausea medicine and managed to keep down some milk. The nurses drew blood and started her on an IV. The blood results showed really strange results that were quickly dismissed as dehydration. It was the right call. There were no other symptoms to indicate anything more, so they made themselves comfortable in a hospital bed to spend the night. The baby was restless, which made for a sleepless night. But she held her baby and roughed through the night. By morning, the baby was very puffed from fluid but started nursing perfectly. It was noted by mid afternoon that her breathing was a bit rapid and shallow, but when blood work revealed severe anemia that had not been there the day before, the plan became to increase iron intake and watch overnight. She still remained on fluids because they didn't budge her blood count. By the next morning, the baby was breathing hard and put on oxygen. She watched her helpless baby and held her all she could, she didn't sleep, didn't eat. She also didn't think it was serious and allowed the doctors to do what they needed for her little girl. She began crocheting her a Christmas blanket for the pending holidays. The baby quit nursing and only whimpered. After the breathing started to become even more gasping, she called the nurses and demanded more tests.
An echo was complete and showed an enlarged heart, so the breathing was due to the blood not pumping. The baby was going to be medi-flighted to a children's hospital and be seen by a pediatric cardiologist. She knew it was serious, but she never expected to live through the moments of the next few hours. They transferred the baby to ICU while waiting for the helicopter that had to take the baby to another state. When the helicopter arrived, she kissed her baby goodbye while they strapped her into a different bed. They allowed her to walk with her baby to the helicopter and watch it take off before the family had to make the 4 hour trip to the hospital to meet the helicopter. She kissed her baby one more time, but noticed her legs and arms were ghostly cold. The baby opened her eyes (which she had not done all day), and looked at her Momma so innocently. "Keep my baby alive", she whispered.
While waiting for the helicopter to take off, the staff started yelling for someone to get the nurse. There was a lot of commotion and when she asked if the baby was okay, they said she just needed help getting comfortable, and quickly rushed her back inside.
It wasn't long after that she received the phone call that she needed to come back to the Emergency Room and the baby was too unstable to fly. She noticed when she went back inside of the ER, nobody was moving. The staff had stopped, watched cautiously, and her pediatrician led them to a room, tears in her eyes. It was confirmed that the baby had caught the Coxsachie Virus. Anyone could have been a carrier, and she could have had it for days, or could have just caught it- there was no telling. The next step would be to get her on a transplant list and await a heart transplant- and the likeliness of making it through surgery or finding a heart in time would be slim due to her low weight. Also, she would need several heart transplants in her lifetime.
But, with sadness, it was not going to come to that. The baby was not strong enough and her heart had given out on her. It was a flab piece of muscle and had atrophied as quickly as the virus had attacked her heart. So they wrapped the baby and brought her to her parents, to be held, loved, and kissed.... one last time. Her daddy cried and rocked her, but her mother stared forward. Empty, emotionless, gone. She knew what she had to do next, and she knew she had to do it. So she rocked her baby, kissed her baby, and spent some time in the emptiness.
But the story continues.