I saw my baby die. He had just come out of surgery the day before, and was moved from the NICU down to the surgery floor, which meant he was doing well. After a day of chaos, things felt like they were starting to settle down and maybe I could breathe again.
I had just laid my head down to sleep for the night when alarms started going off. I looked up at the monitor to see my baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels dropping. It didn’t take long before 2 nurses were in my room, and they were able to get his vitals back to normal.
His nurse and the charge nurse were standing guard over his crib debating what might have caused his vitals to drop when it happened again. Suddenly, my room was alive with activity. An emergency team was called to my son’s room to determine the cause for my baby’s feeble hold on life, and a young man was struggling to attach EKG leads onto my baby’s soft skin. After a third crash of his heart rate and oxygen level, the team determined that he was overly sensitive to his morphine. They turned off his pain killers and the NICU reclaimed custody of my baby boy again.
We had not been back to the NICU for 20 minutes when the alarms went off again. Unlike the Surgery floor, where parents have a bed to sleep near their little one, the NICU offers tiny rooms filled with large machines to keep the delicate babies alive. I was quickly pushed outside my son’s room while a team moved into action. His little body turned purple and went stiff as he conceded his grip on life. A respiratory therapist waved an oxygen mask in his face to try to “wake” him, but to my eyes he looked dead already. I had learned a little in the past few hours and could see that my baby’s oxygen level was down to 22%.
|Skin to skin with Lil O inside my tank top.|
I couldn’t do a damn thing. Except stand outside his doorway sobbing and pleading with God to bring my baby back. A nearby nurse held me and tried to explain what the team was doing to resuscitate him. I heard some of what she said.
Apparently when a little baby is in excruciating pain (because their morphine meds were turned off and they no longer have anything dulling the pain from recent surgery), the baby’s body bears down. His little body tightens up against the pain and forgets to do anything else… like, breathe or pump blood.
My son. My sweet, little baby. He didn’t even have a name yet, but this was that baby boy that I had been praying to God for years to please give me. Less than 48 hours prior, I had held my newborn son and, with a great sense of guilt, questioned whether I could ever love him as much I loved my older son, Jack. Now, my doubt was quickly erased.