“We need to get through to the children’s hospital!” We shouted at police officers standing by a barricade to a closed road that our GPS has lead us to. We could see the helicopter carrying our baby touch down on top of the hospital. It was just after midnight and the road around the hospital was lit up blue and red with police lights. An officer helped us with a detour. We found out the next day that someone was trying to blow up a Sam Houston monument in protest. Of course.
Chris was already there so he guided the rest of us by phone on where to go in the huge mall- like building. The hospital was dim and empty. The only sounds you could hear were the whirl of floor buffers and the ding of elevator doors. My mother, brother and I were quiet in the elevator, all of us on three days of no sleep and terrified at what was waiting for us when the doors opened.
On the seventh floor, we met up with Chris and walked to the lobby. He said the doctors were coming back to speak with me. His eyes were swollen and he squeezed my hand over and over as we waited. After a few minutes, the doors to a staff only entrance opened and a team of doctors speaking in a low huddle walked toward us. My heart pounded in my chest.
“Hello, Mandy, I am Dr. L and this is Dr. H. Have a seat and let’s talk about little Miles.” She shook my hand and held it for a moment. She was a thin older woman with a yoga body from way back. She wore turquoise and silver. Her hair was salt and pepper and short. She looked kind and smart. We all sat at a small, colorful kid’s table.
“Mandy, Miles is very, very sick. I will be honest, his heart beat was almost nonexistent as the life flight landed.” She began. She had tears in her own eyes as she held my hand from across the table. “We have a machine that Dr. H and his team control called ECMO that is his only hope at this point. If we don’t get him on it very soon, you need to go and tell him goodbye because he will die.” She said. Thick tears fell from my tired eyes as I blinked at the thought.
Dr. H, a handsome young guy that looked and spoke more like the cool youth pastor at a church, grabbed my other hand from across the table and began to describe how the machine worked. It would basically pump his poisoned blood out of his carotid artery from his neck into a machine that cleaned it and then would pump it back in, keeping him alive by acting as his heart and lungs.
Dr. H reiterated that the machine was only going to give Miles a fighting chance. His body had to rise to the challenge and take to the antibiotics as well. He had to fight too.
50/50, they said. A coin toss.
“Questions?” They asked as they slid a clipboard with documents requiring my signature toward me. No matter what my questions or concerns were at this point, it didn’t matter. Like they said, this was his only chance so I signed and initialed as fast as I could.
The surgery to connect him was successful and Miles’ sick blood began to be cleaned in the ECMO machine. Later that morning we were taken back to see him in the NICU. He was in a pod with several other sleeping babies. It was quiet except for the constant hums and beeps of all the machines keeping all those babies alive. I stepped up to the tall platform of the ECMO that looked like something out of Star Trek’s mission control room. I looked down at my sweet baby. He had made it through the surgery but his fight had just begun. The next 48 hours were going to be the deciding factor of life or death. Period.
“What do we do now?” I asked Dr. L as she stood among my family and I around his little bed.
“Go home, eat, shower and pack a bag. Then come back and be here for him, especially these first two days. We will just have to wait and see what happens.” She said.
Wait and see what happens. We had heard that so much in the two days that he had been on this earth. Patience was never a virtue.
Before she left I asked her to write down all of his diagnosis so that I could research them and understand more of what was going on with him.
In doctor scribble she wrote:
Group B Strep
I stared at the those words over and over in a quiet Denny’s restaurant early that Sunday morning. We stopped in for a quick breakfast before heading home to shower and pack a bag for our indefinite NICU stay. I googled each ailment as we somberly sipped coffee and poked at our eggs. The doctors were right.
50/50. A coin toss.
It was one of my darkest hours, that breakfast. Over the years, my faith in the Lord has been somewhat in question. My views have always been a bit controversial. But for some reason that morning, I knew the only thing that was going to tip the scales in our favor, the only thing that was going to save our baby, was prayers. Lots and lots of prayers.
I grabbed my phone and opened my Facebook app.
Dear Facebook Friends and Family…