I’m not sure many people know exactly where they were six years ago from a particular day, outside of a birthday, death anniversary, those obvious dates. Sure you may see a memory pop up on your social media page from years past that may remind you, but these dates I’m talking about don’t need reminding.
Six years ago today I was in the ICU with Quinlan, a day after being admitted to the hospital for the second time in about a month. This time, instead of seizures, he contracted RSV and was put in the ICU with new machines we hadn’t seen before on the neuro floor. This time, he had a mask on his face, oxygen 24 hours a day, and the diagnosis of “this typically gets worse before it gets better”. This time, we had a nurse tell us that she most likely wouldn’t see us when she returns to work in a week because typically RSV patients aren’t there for too long (needless to say, we saw her again, and again, and again, etc). This time we were in a bed space on precautions, meaning anytime someone other than Bear or I entered the room, they had to put on a mask, gown, and gloves.
February 16, 2015 was the day that Quinlan was having a hard time breathing. We brought him to the pediatrician and after checking his oxygen levels we got admitted to Boston Children’s Hospital. I even took a picture of the Emergency Department sign, sent it to a friend, and remember saying I wasn’t going to say anything to anyone else because it would probably just be a quick trip (apparently I jinxed it). We spent a good amount of time in the ED before they decided the ICU was the best place for him to be. This was the first time we were welcomed into the ICU world. Surely this would be a quicker stay than our previous four week stay on the neuro floor just the month before (we all know this was not the case).
Being admitted to the ICU is quite a whirlwind for newcomers, although something that becomes quite routine after having the experience numerous times. By the time we got to the ICU that night, it was after midnight, and for any of you lucky enough to not have experienced it before, let me tell you, it is a circus. Every light in the bed space is on, spot light directly on the baby, numerous doctors asking questions, nurses hooking him up to the monitors plus getting an IV in for medications, as well as hooking him up to any other machines needed. As parents, we’re trying to answer all the questions as efficiently as possible, while still keeping an eye on our baby now laying in a crib that’s not his own, at home where we should be.
This being our first trip to the ICU, I remember us both being so concerned being surrounded by all these doctors and nurses in gowns, masks, and gloves taking care of our child. It was like a scene in a movie. One that you know is being made to be more dramatic than in the real life situations they are trying to portray. Except this was now our real life. Our nurse could see this fear in our eyes, came and sat with us, and told us that the precautions were for the protection of everyone to help prevent the spread of the RSV, not because Quinlan was some sort of dramatic movie character.
Six years ago today was the first morning waking up in the ICU with our baby. The first of many mornings spent in those halls. The first of many meals eaten in the family room sitting next to other families with the same fear in their eyes. If you ever want to feel actual existing fear in the air, sit in that family room for a couple hours with families not knowing what the next minute will bring for their child.
This is what grief gives you. Grief gifts you dates that you would never otherwise think twice about. Dates that bring you back to a place that seem like a scary, dramatic movie. Ones that surely aren’t anything like that in real life but, in actuality, are worse. And don’t think these gifts are wanted. I would gladly give them back.