Letter to Trisha

By Patricia Uhde, LdyWrslr@aol.com

Letter to Trisha

As I walk across the hospital parking lot, I hold your pink, blue, green and yellow crocheted blankie next to my face and inhale. Sunshine and stale formula, it smells like you. 

There are some things a grandmother should never have to do. Some things she can't afford to not know how.

Last night was to be your first overnight stay at grandma's house.  Your mother works very hard just giving you care. Every 2 to 3 hours you are due something, Either a breathing treatment, suctioning of your trach, medication, tube feeding, or other medical care is needed.  Between times your Mother naps, and gives you lots of TLC, because that is what any mother does who loves her daughter as much as she loves you.

This was to be a treat for her, as much as for your grandpa and me. 

But yesterday?

The alarm sounds on the your monitor, again.
Grandpa starts to 'bag' you back up. That is the term we use when we use the ambu bag to help you breath deeper, when your respirations get too shallow.
This time it is different. You color gets worse and your lips are gray. 
Your eyes wide open appear fixed. I feel for you pulse on the inside of your upper arm.
My heart beats faster. I don't think yours is beating at all.
I tell your grandpa to grab the stethoscope and listen for you heart.
He put it to your little chest. He asked me "what do you hear?" as he hands the earpiece to me.
Nothing, I hear nothing.
I lift you out of the bassinet and on to the floor.
I hear someone, either your grandpa or me say ?
"Start compressions"
I visualize you chest, look for your nipple line. 
My fingers touch your soft baby skin.


Grandpa calls 911. I hear him, but it is like a distant radio playing.  
"Pediatric code, in progress."

It feels like I have become a split personality. One calls off numbers  while your grandpa breathes for you. One is screaming and running.  The screamer loses out for the moment. The nurse/grandma will do what she has been trained to do.

"Stop compressions"
"I have a heartbeat"
"Resume respirations"

I breathe again too. I have YOUR heartbeat.

I am aware of your 7 yr. old Aunt Maggie watching. She sits quiet on the couch. I tell her to go outside and watch for the ambulance. Tell them to come in the back door. Seconds later the medics come in behind your Aunt Maggie. They say what a good job she has done, flagging them down.  I bet her little arms where waving like a windmill as soon as she heard the siren. Aunt Maggie has been talking to you and loving you since she knew you were growing inside her sister. When you were only weeks old Aunt Maggie got to go into the NICU to see you for the first time. When she spoke your name you searched for her with your eyes, even then.

The paramedics talk to your grandpa. Grandpa continued to breathe for you, as he gives a history of what just occurred. The paramedic in him has won out over his screamer too.  The equipment is hooked up, it is confirmed your heart is beating on its own. They try to get an IV line in your tiny little veins.  I hear Grandpa ask if he can ride along. Someone says something about another set of hands?  Grandpa rides in the ambulance to the hospital.

I drive the van. I'm fine now. At least that is what I tell myself.  Until I open the van door in the hospital parking lot outside ER. I think I am going to vomit. The receptionist ask if she can take some information from me, I ask where the bathroom is. I do vomit. The screamer gets the last word after all.

Hours later you rest quietly in the crib at PICU. You are on a ventilator, but you will come off. Your life has never been, nor will it ever be 
carefree. But you are alive. I will see more smiles. Today I found your first tooth. First two teeth really, right there bottom front. I was applying an oral moisturizer. Your mouth gets very dry when the vent is breathing for you. I joke with your nurse as she gives you another sedative, "most babies only get baby ora-gel when they are teething."

I will find more teeth.

You will walk?
and run?
and pull your Uncle Keith's petunias up by the roots from his flower garden.

I inhale deeply the sweet smell of sunshine and stale formula. 

You are sedated now, but when you start to come out a little before the next IV medication, you will have your blankie to hold on to. 

We all need something to hold too.

Hold tight grandma's girl.


By Patricia Uhde
Grandma to Trisha, 32 weeker, 2lbs, 13oz arrived on 10-26-98 Trached at 4 months currently on BiPAP (the wavier we signed says it is NOT a vent, yeah right) G-tube tracheomalacia, tracheoesophageal fistula, BPD, hydocephalus, sezuire disorder.

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