May 4th, a day that passes usually with the anticipation of Cinco De Mayo, where Americans have an excuse to eat yummy Mexican inspired cuisine, drink too many beers or margarita's, and retire the evening feeling over stuffed and hung over the following morning. May 4th is different for me.
This day marks the beginning of me agonizingly remembering the painful moments that followed for the next 2 1/2 months until Ryan is lifted to heaven, the early monrning after his 6 month birthday. And then the moments, days, months after that begin to blur. But this day, is etched ever so intricately in my mind.
I replay it in my head each year, the day it all began. Really, our fears had already begun, however, we had finally resolved to do something about them on this day 2 years ago. I remember spending the morning with Ryan and Charlotte. Ryan wouldn't eat and as the morning drifted by, he became extremely agitated. Our little boy was fighting for his life that day and we had no idea until sometime around 7 pm that night how serious things really were. I called Chris sometime around 3:30 pm, telling him we needed to do something. He came home immediately and after a very frustrated phone call to the pediatrician's office, we decided our only choice was to take him to the hospital. The Emergency Room.
But we didn't fit in there, at least it seemed so at first. We strolled in with Ryan in the stroller, Charlotte in tow, hoping for help and seeking an answer as to why our little boy breathed fast, couldn't eat, and seemed to be worsening with each passing day. Others sat with crying babies, bandages, or legs propped on the adjacent chair. Ryan was as quiet as could be, a silence that had begun to haunt me already, and we were calm. We even smiled, thanking the secretary for bringing us back to the examination room promptly. As our story began to unfold to the triage nurse, I could see the distress on her face and could feel the weight on my shoulders lifting. This is when we should have begun to be scared ourselves, but we had carried this heavy concern for the past several weeks, that finally we were relieved that it wasn't our own anymore. That someone else could share it with us, validating our concerns and vowing to help us, help Ryan.
When the Physician came in, and I could see the concern on his face, is when I could see that we weren't over reacting (as I of course assumed everyone would think, me being a nurse and having been through so much with Charlotte). He examined Ryan carefully, and quickly determined that Ryan needed to be sent to the Pediatric ICU immediately. ICU? For tests I assumed, for Ryan's rapid breathing, for his fluttering heart, racing to keep up with the demands of his tiny, 3 1/2 month old body.
Because we didn't anticipate him needing to be admitted, we had to make a decision as to what to do with Charlotte. Chris and I agreed that she needed her own bed to sleep in. I chose to stay with Ryan, and Chris to take Charlotte home. As we wheeled Ryan up to the ICU, my sister, a NICU nurse came to be with us. I remember being so thankful she was there, and dreading spending the night in the ICU with our son without my husband. I overwhelmingly felt we needed to be together, but as parents of 2 children often do, we split up to do what was best for them. The night was long, cold, uncomfortable, lonely for me, but as I looked at Ryan, strung up with oxygen tubing and electrodes monitoring his heartbeat, I could see that his body was finally receiving the rest it needed. His heart rate went from over 200 beats per minute when we first arrived, to a more steady and normal 120-140. His breathing slowed and his eyes closed to allow a peaceful slumber. Just hours ago, the relief that had overcome me had been replaced by an unspeakable fear. I knew that if I let my mind entertain what was on my heart, I wouldn't make it through the night without the arms of my husband to hold me. Chris arrived early the next day after taking Charlotte to school and we prepared for the slew of physicians we could see gathering outside Ryan's room in the ICU.
May 4th. A day I will never forget. May 5th, the day we were told our son would not live a full life. Needless to say, I have a hard time celebrating Cinco de Mayo. The only thing worth celebrating is that Ryan was baptized by our Pastor, Robin, in the ICU that day. We weren't sure there was enough time for us to wait any longer. I see myself sitting in the Peds ICU waiting room, holding my head in my hands, sobbing with my husband by my side doing the same. A memory that will stain my brain forever.
Time heals the hurt I felt that day, the sadness, the fear. But will never take away the memory.