They told us that the diagnosis had been wrong.
That you'd be in perfect health.
That you'd be coming home with me when I left the hospital.
That we shouldn't worry.
But I knew.
Something old and deep down in my bones whispered to prepare my heart.
To prepare my spirit for what was to come.
So even though everyone brushed my questions aside as an overworked, overprotective mother… I kept pushing. I kept asking. I prepared mentally.
The thing is, you can never really prepare yourself for watching as your baby suffers.
They pulled you out, and my joy of bringing you into the world and seeing your beautiful face was stolen as panic and anxiety washed over me.
I knew. I just kept repeating those words.
I knew you weren't OK.
I knew. I knew. I knew.
You can't prepare yourself for not being able to hear your baby cry because there's a tube down her throat, so you don't know there's a problem unless you sit next to her, watching her heart rate for a spike and monitoring her face for signs that she's hurting.
You can't prepare yourself for not being able to hold her in those moments of pain.
To lift her up out of that bed with all the wires and wrap your arms around her and hold her to your chest.
You have to settle for patting her and singing to her and touching her tiny feet. Getting into her face and looking into her eyes and praying she doesn’t forget what you feel like.
Praying she doesn’t store this feeling of abandonment deep down in her psyche.
Praying she doesn’t associate your face with pain.
This is not how it's supposed to be.
Mothers are supposed to take their babies home, and comfort them when they cry.
Babies are supposed to be able to cry.
They come in to do what they do, and my heart drops.
I hate this part so much...but I force myself to stand at your bedside and hold your tiny hand.
They do the first turn, and my knees go weak.
They do the second turn, you're crying… and I will never forget how that cry was so much different from all of your other cries.
How your face looked.
How you couldn’t make a sound.
It will haunt me forever.
I’m whispering “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry…” through my sobs.
Everything in me wants to scream and fight and punch those nurses and doctors out of the way and just grab you and run.
Run until we’re out of this room,
and out of this NICU,
and out of this hospital and all the way back home where you're comfortable and safe and wrapped in blankets and inside my arms.
But I know this is what you need. I know I have to be strong for you. I know these people are saving your life.
When it’s over, they leave, and I’m left trying to pick up all of the broken pieces of myself.
But you look up at me, and smile the most beautiful smile. And in that instant, our roles reverse, and you are the one comforting me.
This tiny little warrior.
Blood of my blood. Bone of my bone. Flesh of my flesh.
You are as fierce and brave and strong as they come.
And I realize that together we are anything but broken.