July 25, 2013

The Day that Hurt


 "He's not just anyone;
he's my son."
-Mark Schultz

The sonographer had hardly begun the test before he nodded and said, "I think we've got what we needed." And just like that, I knew.

He said, "Good luck to you," as he led us out of the dark room, and I knew. They told us to wait, and I knew. The receptionist barely spoke above a whisper when I heard her say, "Well, they are right here in the waiting room," and I knew. Then she called my name, handed me a telephone, and Walter's doctor was on the line. And she told me what I already knew, and I was so shocked at hearing what I knew said out loud that it hurt to breathe for a few seconds. I asked her if she was sure. It felt so unfair. We walked out to the parking garage as a couple was loading a car seat and "It's a Girl!" balloons into their minivan. I had to look away. We were just there. And now we're here- a place full of fear instead of joy.


We spent yesterday evening zooming past endless sunlit soybean fields, the light searing through the dusty windshield. I looked out at the windmills turning so slowly, and realized I had never felt less equipped for something in all my life. The myth that most of us believe as children- that I myself believed and trusted- is that parents have it all together. But that myth fell to pieces once I became a parent. Feeling the bumps and jolts of the interstate as we drove, I thought to myself that I must surely be closer to 18 years old than my 28. I had no idea what I was doing.


And you know what it's like to take a baby into the hospital? A lot of mothers do, and they do it for scary things like heart surgery, or they spend months in a cramped NICU room, or they fear for their child's life as it hangs in that fragile space of unknown. I had hoped that the surgery Walter needed- a fairly common surgery to correct pyloric stenosis- would be less frightening because it wasn't as extreme as those things.

But then they put on the smallest hospital bracelet. They made me continue to have him fast, even though he woke up crying every two hours, hungry and not understanding. They did tests, and used long words, and there was blood, talk of risks, assertions that the surgery was needed and would be for the best. This little soul had been trusting me for three short weeks of life, and I felt like I was already failing him. It didn't feel like protection. It felt like I handed him to the wolves.


I've lost count of the emotions I have felt in the last 24 hours. I'll always remember what it felt like to hand him to the nurse, bundled in his blanket and so tired and hungry, and watch her walk out of the room with my son and down the hall to the operating room. I'll always remember the surreal daze of the surgeon explaining the procedures to us. I'll remember the anesthesiologist's kind face, and how I wanted to explain to all of these people coming in and out of bright, sterile, cold rooms that this is my son. I have had him for such a short time, but he and Millie are my life. I wanted to beg them to be careful with him more than any other patient they've had, because he's mine. I wanted to tell them everything caught in my throat, everything he means to me, and the fear that made my heart swell sick.

Walter is sleeping now. The surgery is done, and they tell me that it went well. Curled up on a pillow on my lap, with cords, bandages, and the leftover smell of the anesthesia, it'll be a few days or weeks before he's back to seeming like the baby we brought here yesterday. We'll go home tomorrow or the next day, he'll begin eating again, and eventually it will be like it never happened. He will be well, and he won't remember these days.

I am so relieved that it's over. I'm so relieved that we're starting to hear good news instead of bad. And now, after this day of feeling shattered, I have the utmost respect and empathy for those mamas who have gone through this and much, much worse. It is harder than any labor pain, harder than fighting any war. It is war. It is the giving of your very heart to complete strangers, grasping for faith that they will watch over it.

My heart is going to ache for a while, I know. But having him back in my arms after it all was as precious as his birth. I cannot wait to take him back home, guard him from the world again, and nuzzle my nose into the top of his head that still smells like sweetness and bravery and brand new things.


Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for your prayers and thoughts.

18 kind comments from you:

Mary Owens said...

It breaks my heart that within three months that I have had two daughters go through the heart wrenching trauma with first my Granddaughter Mackenzie and now with my Grandson Walter. I Love You All

Allison said...

I'm so glad that the surgery went well and that he is back in your arms and recovering.

Marcella{The Life After "Trust Me"} said...

Oh my goodness Erika, so many prayers sent your way.
Hugs to you.

Mrs. K said...

I cannot imagine. I'm so happy to hear he's doing just fine.

Forget The Dog Not The Baby said...

Continuing to pray for you and your sweet family, I cannot imagine how scary this all must have been for you. You are right though, one day you will look back on this and it will be just a memory, for now, one day at a time!

Holly Robertson said...

I've been SO worried for you all. I'm so very happy it went well. If you need ANYTHING. call.

Love you guys.

Michelle said...

Thinking about you guys. Hugs from Colorado!

Sarah said...

Ugh, this hurts my heart for you. And for that sweet little boy. I worried myself sick when Charlotte had jaundice, and that was pretty much nothing. I can imagine it would be the worst thing in the world to not only make your sweet, tiny baby FAST, but to hand him over to strangers to take care of, even for just a little while. I'm SO glad his surgery is over and that it went well. Praying for this day to be just a little blip of a memory for you soon. <3 HUGS

Jen said...

Hugs my friend! Praying for a quick recovery for sweet Walter.

JG said...

I'm glad the surgery went well. Prayers for a fast recovery!

Semper Wifey said...

I'm so sorry you and your family have had to go through this. Thank you for sharing your heart. Praying for Walter, you, and your family.

Jenn said...

Oh my goodness girl. I cannot imagine. I watched two nurses struggle to draw blood from Molly the other day and I cried over that. I seriously cannot imagine sending a baby into surgery. I'm glad the operation went well and am praying for a quick recovery!

Mrs.B said...

I am so glad all went well and that brave little boy of yours is resting. xoxo

Chantal said...

What a sweetie :( I hope recovery is quick and easy for all of you!

ashley schlax said...

this. this is beautiful. I'm clinging to my baby as I type, filled with thankfulness that I haven't had to endure this, and that you have endured so well. still praying for you, friend.

beka said...

ack. this brought tears to my eyes.

KelseyB said...

I just found your blog and read this post. I had to bring my baby girl to the hospital last week, my heart goes out to you and your little guy.

Fran said...

My heart still aches for you all - I'm so glad the surgery went well, I was thinking about Sneezy all night *hugs*

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