Intubating my Child & COVID

The last few weeks have brought back so many memories. Memories of a time when my newborn was rushed out of a hospital and taken to another to get the care he needed while I was left behind, waiting for 24-hours until the doctor released me. They wheeled him into my room in a little clear box, and they had a tiny blanket swaddled around him. The blanket they let me hug to where it had my scent on it. A way for me to feel like I was going with him even though I wasn’t. That moment … was soul crushing. My husband had been recalled and was overseas. He had no idea his son had been born. He had no idea that while he was fighting for us, his son had a battle of his own he was fighting.

There wasn’t any sleeping that night. I didn’t know what was really wrong with my son. Why couldn’t he breathe? What if he died, and I wasn’t even there? What if … What if … What if … Those were the worst 24-hours of my life.

After I was released, my friend drove me to the children’s hospital in Louisville. There was so much worry and fear eating away at me. My mother-in-law was with my son, and I knew he at least had someone there with him. He wasn’t alone. After suiting up and scrubbing my hands, I was able to go back into the NICU to see my child. Blue and white tubes jutted out from his bloated face, and I had to pause. I studied the machine next to his tiny bed on wheels, and I watched his oxygen levels. I slowly walked over to him, and my eyes gravitated to all of the wires coming from his small body.

I felt like a failure. What had I done wrong during my pregnancy? I made it to 37 weeks. I ate healthy, I exercised, and I took care of myself … so why was this happening? I didn’t take any pictures those first few days. I was scared to. When I was finally able to speak to my husband, I didn’t break down … I couldn’t break down. My husband needed my strength, so I held myself together – barely. My husband was alive. Our child was alive. In that moment, it was enough.

Every single day over the next few weeks, I was by my child’s side. I vaguely remember all of the people who made the long trip up there to be there for us. It was because of those people and the church that my mother-in-law was able to afford to be with me the entire time. It is something I will never forget. Something I will always be grateful for.

As my son started to improve, I watched other babies around him worsen. I wanted to be happy that he was slowly getting better. He was needing less oxygen from the machine. He wasn’t as bloated. Instead, I cried for the mother next to me who was losing her child. I cried for the twin who was born without a brain stem and didn’t have a parent by his side.

My child was intubated. He fought for his life. But he had my family by his side – even when I wasn’t allowed to be there with him, he had someone who loved him nearby. I think about COVID. I think about the children who’ve been admitted due to complications from it. Their parents aren’t allowed to be there. Strangers in gowns and masks are there while the parents are waiting at home, hoping their child is one of the ones to make it. Nurses, God love them, are facetiming loved ones before their patients take their last breath. It’s heart wrenching.

COVID isn’t a joke. People are dying, and we don’t have the capacity at the hospitals to take care of everyone if we all get sick at the same time. I don’t want our health workers to have to choose who lives and who dies because we weren’t responsible enough to stay at home. I stay at home because I love my family. I stay home because I don’t want it on my conscience that I was part of the problem. 2008 changed my life forever. It changed my perspective on everything. Life is precious. Never take it for granted.

Stay safe, and God Bless the frontline workers.

~Tiff~

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