the wait

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 28th, 2012 - the wait

This wasn't the first time that Dr. Yung had been called back in to intubate Matilda. On the night we arrived, he was rushed back in because CT scans had shown swelling in Matilda's brain. On this night, I am sure it would have been easy for him to call in a favor with a doctor who was already here. The city was shutting down because of Superstorm Sandy, the winds were beginning to pick up and people were advised to stay home. I can only imagine what his wife felt when he told her he needed to head back in. But Matilda was his patient. He had taken care of her for a little over a month, and she meant something to him.

He rounded the corner and made sure to joke with us about all the trouble Matilda seems to cause, trying to lighten the mood. I had already given Matilda up, and now stood by her bed with a tear covered face. He understood that what was an inconvenience to his family was the world to ours. Matilda was our world, and knowing we were nearing the end was unbearable.

He sent us down the hall to the "parent's lounge" while he performed a few procedures. We were promised that a nurse would come and let us know after each procedure that everything was okay. And once Matilda was cleaned up, we could come back in.

I preferred to be in the room. If something were to happen, I wanted to be there for her last breath. I wanted to see that everything was done to help her. I wanted to feel her spirit leave into the light.

We waited. There was another couple in the room. They spoke Spanish, they were young, and I think they had a baby in the NICU down the hall. The room was quiet. As the time continued to tick away, I became more panicked.

I kept peeking down the hall. My stomach continued to sink. The lump in my throat continued to grow. The fear driven thoughts continued to race through my mind. It had been nearly an hour and no one had come to let us know everything was okay.

It never took this long.

I tried to pray, but kept picturing Dr. Yung rounding the corner with sad eyes, ready to recap my worst nightmare. The more I tried to push the fear away, the more it danced, the more exaggerated it became, the more I shook.

Tyler acted calm, cool, collected. His usual self. I was nearly hysterical.

And then it happened. Dr. Yung rounded the corner. My stomach fell deep and I nearly threw up. The couple had left and he took a seat. He asked how we were holding up. My words fell out of my mouth all at once into a heap at his feet. Is she okay, what happened, why did it take so long?

He felt awful, having no idea that no one kept us apprised of the situation in Bed 7. Matilda was fine. Her sedation went well. Intubation was fine. But he could not get a new line placed. She bled a lot, and he had to hold pressure for quite some time.

In reality, they were probably talking about the weather. In my mind, they were pumping her chest and struggling to keep her alive. Fear had ignited my imagination - and it got the best of me. Or, maybe my fear was justified. Because as the night moved forward, I saw things that my imagination never could have concocted - right before my eyes.

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