And so this is what it is like to be Kendall’s mommy.
You are shaken awake at 5 am by your husband. He tells you that Kendall says she is cold but feels burning up and her heart rate is in the 160s.
You know instantly that this is not good. You leap out of bed into her room and you throw your body onto hers, try to stop the shivering try to tell yourself it’s just a dream this isn’t happening again. Hear her squeaky voice: “pray for me momma.”
So you pray, even though the only words that come to mind are “dear Jesus….” And then expletives. You pray with a moan that you hope God interprets as “fix this please”. And your baby, she keeps shivering so bad. These are the rigors, you think, and you remember the last time she had the rigors and how very very sick she got.
You call the pager for her doctor and you dial it wrong three times before getting it right because your hands are shaking. You leave a message that you hope is coherent because what you are really thinking is “don’t cry, don’t cry, you have to be strong and in charge right now.”
The doctor calls back and you are putting in your contacts and ripping off pajamas and you pray it’s not the doctor you don’t trust and you hear his voice and its him, the doctor you love and trust and know and just hearing his voice threatens to make the years spill over again, but he needs details not tears so you have a shaky conversation with him.
He wants her at the hospital ASAP and you think you can do it but you go into your baby’s room where she is trying to vomit and saying her legs hurt and the memories of her last sickness punch you in the gut and you don’t think you can get her there in time. Not to Milwaukee and not even to Edwards. Your husband is catching vomit and yelling at you to just breathe and think and move and DO and your hand shakingly again dials numbers on the phone.
You’ve seen this in movies and on tv before and you think it takes them forever to pick up the phone and why do they need your phone number/address/social security number/favorite color just send an effing ambulance because last time your baby had a fever and was puking she tried to die and we don’t want that to happen so send someone here now with magical blood pressure meds and stop shaking meds and just fix it fix it fix it.
And about five years later they come to the door and are so calm so calm and you are NOT calm but you try to be for your baby. And they don’t know mito, don’t know what a broviac is, don’t understand that they need to have the medicines and get her to her doctor.
And finally finally you carry her to the ambulance, her and all her tubes and pumps and attachments and they hook her up to more wires and the lights go on and they get out of the neighborhood and the sirens go on and out the back window you see people parting, splitting like the Red Sea to let the ambulance through.
And you don’t feel attached to your self or your body and you thnk of how many times you have been the one parting to the side of the road to let through an ambulance.
The EMT tells the hospital your ETA is 7 minutes and you know that means they are going fast because the drive is at least 20 minutes on a good day. You pull in to the bay and they wheel your baby in to the room and a nurse at the end of her overnight shift slowly takes report and does not herself understand half of the words the EMT is parroting at her and you are THIS close to yelling at them to please please please hurry and start the magic medicine and call Milwaukee NOW. But they don’t know what it is like with Kendall, they cannot know that four hours before this she was sleeping peacefully on her side, hands under her cheek, heart beating steadily, breathe in breathe out, no sign of the monster lurking inside her somewhere.
They cannot know how fiercely you love and fight for this little girl and how they need to hurry and make her heart stop beating faster and faster and make the puking stop. It is pouring out her nose and mouth and the stoma around her tube and she fights the suction going into her mouth. Fighting is good.
Please Jesus put your hand on her heart. It is 215, now 60, now 180, now 51, now 236 and the machine can not stop beeping its alarm that something is wrong, wrong, wrong.
Finally the doctor comes in and starts to see that we need magic medicine and I get him to understand the bad words like septic shock and DIC and purpura fulminans, and he calmly asks for milwaukees number and I think we are finally getting somewhere.
Your husband walks in then, staying behind to explain to the sister still sleeping what is going on. You watch as meds are administered and blood is drawn and you explain again what red mans is and clean up more puke, and hold your baby’s warm hot little hand.
You try to answer texts and messages but all you can think is “get the big sisters home, get kaylen to a good place, fix my baby, please let us all be home again together soon”.
You cannot must not will not think about not bringing your baby home. You hear the tech call out a temp of 107 and you want to crumple but you can’t.
And time goes so slow.
But in that slowness your baby finally catches her breath. The puking slows down and then stops. The alarms on the monitor slowly stop blaring.
God is in this place with you and he is holding your baby and holding you and holding your husband and holding your other babies and you are together even if you are apart.
You finally spot the blue jumpsuits of the transport team to Milwaukee and you breathe a prayer of thanks that your baby is doing “well” enough to go by ambulance because only super sick kids need the chopper.
A lot of hustle and bustle goes on to transfer a child from hospital pumps and monitors over to a mobile hospital room. You watch this with detached confidence. The experts are here now, kindly move out of the way slow people. She is going to be all right because the blue angels are here and they are taking her to the land of super hero doctors and magic medicine.
You are not allowed to sit in the back of this ambulance. There are three nurses who need to monitor vitals and give meds and watch your baby without you being hysterical.
You climb up in the back with her for a quick goodbye. Tell her to behave, tell her to get better, ask Jesus to ride in the back since you can’t. You give the nurses the low down on “nee-nees” (her binkies) and you get down and hug your husband standing outside the ambulance. Try to absorb his strength because you just aren’t sure if you have enough. Try to think of something to say to make you both laugh because laughing us better than crying.
Climb in the front.
You get on the freeway and see people in their cars, going to work, playing candy crush, applying makeup, eating breakfast. You want to tell them all- enjoy these moments, you could be in my place, riding shotgun in an ambulance speeding northward to save my baby’s life.
But you can’t.
So you stare straight ahead and wish the miles by as fast as you can and listen for the steady beep beep of your baby’s vital signs being broadcast from the back.
You are Kendall’s momma and you are her superhero and she is yours and you are both going to get through this.
Just sit back.
You’re on the ride.