The First night we stayed with Joseph as long as we could. Even though you feel helpless you are drawn to stay watching the monitors, listening for any alarm and ready to ask “what’s going on”. We were accomodated a couch that turned into a bed in another section of the hospital so after only being reassured they had our cell phone numbers and they knew where we would be did we go and try to get a few hours sleep. We awoke really early and went down to be with Joseph again, checking in to make sure all was well. I waited in the room while Mommy went to express milk for him when he awakened. While waiting, I met the nicest folks, Felicia, who was there for her son. Her Mom was there as well. It was so nice to have them to interact with and her mom actually saved me and offered me a cup of coffee–which I gladly accepted. The cafeteria we normally would have gone to which was closer was closed for maintenance and the other cafeteria was really far and opened a bit later. Mom and I waited. The hospital had a program for breastfeeding mothers – coupons, 3 dollars in the morning and 5 dollars for both lunch and dinner. This was nice, but if they only knew how she ate, they would have giggled at the amount; being silly here a bit, it really was a big help and we were very glad for it. Felicia and her son were about to go to a different ward but we kept up with each other’s child from time to time either at the Ronald McDonald House or the hospital itself. The Hours seemed like days while we waited for his chest to be closed. We learned that not much would happen during the late evening hours, and since he was sedated to sleep there wasnt’t much to do so we headed back to the Ronald McDonald house and spent time with Joseph’s brother and his Grandma (Lola) before we laid our weary bodies and tired minds to bed.
The very first milestone was when the surgery group came in and said it looks like we can go ahead and close Joseph’s chest. With seeing him for 4 days like this and coming in and out of conciousness, it was a relief. Nights and day, day and nights become one while waiting for this milestone to be overcome. Lots of praying, hoping he makes it through this crucial phase. Each day we would religously be there to welcome the large network of doctors and specialists that would come to discuss his recovery. So many people to thank here. Of course, the wonderful Dr. Reddy – Joseph’s surgeon that saved our son’s life, is on top of the list. Just imagine, this man actually takes grown up tools and heals the heart no bigger than the size of a grape. Amazing! Jerry, the kind and informative respiratory specialist who was there to make sure the machines were perfectly set for Joseph to breathe and the correct mixture of oxygen, that life sustaining element we all should hold dear, that will aid in his recovery. The nurses, so many to thank–but we thank you for caring and nurturing our son. To the Surgery team of Dr. Reddy that would come up faithfully at least twice a day to make sure recovery is in the right direction. Every day at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. we would be asked to leave while the nurses relieved one another and discussed the prognosis of Joseph between each shift change. During this time, we found it to be the right time to both break away for something to eat. Hurriedly, we would eat our meal-driven by the unconditional love we have for our son to be back to his side. Finally, the moment came that the surgeons were there to close his chest. Mom went to express milk while this hour long procedure was taking place, while I waited in their small waiting area, sort of like a booth outside CVICU. The room is equipped for this surgery so it was done right there. They created a sterile enviroment and bordered the area. We weren’t able to watch but were offered information of what they would be doing. They took six strands of surgical steel wire and tied his little rib cage back together and then sutured his tiny muscles and finally closing up the wound and suturing his soft skin back together. We stayed there for much of the day and night awaiting for him to awaken from his slumber and to make sure all went well and the chest was able to hold all in and together.
So many milestones to speak of during the time we were in CVICU.
The next milestone would be for him to at least be able to breathe by himself. For this to happen, he will need to awaken a bit more and slowly. A few days went by and he was able to breathe with the aid of oxygen.
The next milestone is for his feeding tube to be taken out of his mouth — the one going through the nose to his stomach will stay for awhile, but it seems so hard for him to swallow with the tube going down his throat by way of his mouth.
The next milestone is he doesn’t need oxygen anymore and his heart is pumping more on its own with the aid of less and less medicine.
Finally, he was learning to eat again with Mommy’s milk but through a bottle at first, just to entice him to see if he would remember the taste even. It seemed he did.
When he was able to eat somewhat on his own, go potty on his own, breathe and his heart pumping on his own, he was ready to go to 3 West where they will observe him for a bit before release.
Each day we found ourselves informing loved ones of Joseph’s status. Mae and Lola informed there family while I had several good friends very dear to us, Noreen and Jim and Ian. Also, as my family knows I know no stranger and so many nice people at the Ronald McDonald House. Greg and his daughter and son in law and Jeffrey his wife and Daniel their son. April and her boyfriend Cain and Maggie and Missy from Hawaii. So many others where my memory fails me, but thank you for being our friends. The staff at Ronald McDonald House was also very friendly and were wonderful to speak with. All this helped us muster the strength we needed each day to be there for our son Joseph.
One thing to make mention of is how often you will be reminded: “Children–babies are so resilient; they are little warriors; they will come back in no time; Oh, they don’t feel that”. Just smile and continue to be their advocate and smile at those trying to be kind and say something that they think will comfort you. Always remember though, this warrior is my child, my baby. I’ll be there if he falls. There’s not much we can do as of yet. Much of the time, you feel pretty helpless, but our baby knew we were there. And I will always be there… for this warrior is my Son.