october 17th, 2012 (part 1)

Every Thursday I look back at a specific day and time that was spent with my daughter Matilda as she waited for, received, and recovered from a liver transplant. She was in the hospital for 72 days and we remained in NYC until she turned four months old.

October 17th, 2012 - part 1

After what was a very exhausting and emotional couple of days, Tyler said his goodbyes and left for a solid night's rest at the Ronald McDonald House. I sipped a pumpkin spice latte and sat quietly in the corner chair reading the mounds of information the transplant team left us to look over.

None of my nurse friends were there that night, plus there was a transport going on so everyone was busy and everything seemed calm. As the new family made their way to the back room kitty-corner from us, I made eye contact and exchanged half smiles with the mom. She was holding a suitcase, pillow, stuffed animal, and a book. She didn't seem new to this process and it looked like they were planning on staying a while. Her daughter was adorable, and I could not help but smile at her. She was maybe two, and had pigtail pom poms on the top of her little head.

The screams and shrieks of help from the mother let me know that something went horribly wrong. I immediately ran to Matilda and held her hand. I prayed along with the mother as she continued to scream, "No God! No! My baby!" Adrenaline rushed through my veins and my heart nearly leapt out of my chest. The screams continued for a full half hour, even after the doctors solemnly left the area.

And then something happened inside me that I never expected. Something that changed the idea of who I thought I was. I stopped my tears, as if to turn off a light switch. I stood there watching no longer out of sympathy, concern, or sadness. I watched out of necessity, so that I would know what to expect if Matilda were to die.

They brought water to the parents, they called the social workers, they gave her family all the time they needed. Relatives poured in to provide comfort and say goodbye. I stood there for five hours, taking note of everything.

One of the residents came in as soon as he heard. He was crying and his body language was floppy and worn down. He was obviously devastated and took the time to grieve with the family before trying to compose himself in the hall. He didn't expect me to be awake and watching, and I didn't expect him to notice my shadow in the dark. He tried to smile, and asked if Matilda was okay. I said she was fine and asked if he was okay. He apologized but I told him there was no need, it was nice to see he cared.

I stood next to Matilda the whole night staring at her sleeping face. The mother's screams and shrieks echoing on repeat in my mind. Death was cold and standing right next to me. I did not flinch, I did not cry, I let it wash over me, and then I let it go.

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