Welcome my friend Amber to Deconstructing Doctor. Amber is a Neonatologist that I convince to write for my blog from time to time. She writes so beautifully and lovingly about her patients and her chosen career. Enjoy her latest post. To find similar posts by Amber click on Guest Blogger
I see the longing in your eyes every time you tiptoe to the incubator window, willing your son to heal and grow, wishing you could do everything his nurses do for him. I see your gratitude for how gently they handle him, how softly they croon to him, how expertly they feed him, how they love him. They’re skilled, responsible, loving substitutes, but it’s just not the same as his mother’s touch…when that touch is possible at all.
I see the desperation on your face when your tiny child needs her breathing tube put back in after she went so many days without it. I see the bewildered expressions on your face when we talk about IV fluid ingredients, calories, and amounts in terms like “cc per kilo,” and the panic that you swallow when we describe “spells” on rounds. I see you fight to remain calm when her heart rate drops and fourteen people swarm to her bedside, because it’s that kind of alarm. You understand that’s why she’s here and not home in your arms, but the weight of uncertainty is crushing.
I see that you feel helpless to guide your daughter’s journey, this little life you’re now forced to entrust to someone you’ve never even met. I see you holding back tears as you struggle to accept that sometimes painful things happen to her here, and that it’s not you enveloping her in that strong, safe father’s comfort, because you have a spouse, household expenses, other children, life away from here that needs you, too.
I see you smile when she wriggles himself into the corner of her bed, snuggled into a perfectly round little ball, comfortable and quiet. I see you ecstatic over that first successful oral feeding, carefully documenting one milestone after another as, one by one, the tubes, lines, and wires fall away. I see your relief, the first time you get to take her photograph without anything attached to her perfect little face. I see you amazed by her personality, her personhood. You’ve learned our language full of confusing acronyms, and gotten used to the daily scrubbings, rules, and protocols. I see that you want to let your guard down a little, but that the joyful moments come with some pain. It wasn’t the experience you were expecting or wanted. You had other plans for her, plans that evaporated instantly as a matter of life and death.
I’ve watched as you prayed incessantly, adapted, cried an ocean, and now feel at once free, yet nervous to be free. I see your dread that you’re not really done with this, that there might be another bend in the rollercoaster, knowing you will be twisted into knots, then untwisted with dizzying spin. I see that you want to run as far and as fast as you can from these memories, but that you need to hang on for awhile. I see, and appreciate, how years later, you have extended yourself to grieve with, and for, other parents.
I can see that you need me to see you.