The Train

Karen Osborn

© Copyright 2018 by Karen Osborn


Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash
Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

We lay in bed that night, just as we did every night at promptly 9pm, and we talked about our days. I was only four or five at the time,completely unbiased of the world still surprisingly. We talked about daycare and about the upcoming months, we talked about if I wanted to get married or if boys were still gross, we talked about everything under the sun. Except we never talked about my father. In fact, my mother never said two words about him after he left. 

But I remember one night when she told me it would all be okay, and I didnít have to worry as there will always be light at the end of the tunnel. Thatís when I turned to her and asked a very loaded question for a child, one that I didnít think was anything to think about. It was childís logic to me, but yet that question has stuck with my mother everyday. With little tears in my eyes and a heavy heart in my chest, I turned to her and asked very quietly, ďmama, is the light at the end of the tunnel another train?Ē 

She sunk through the mattress and could barely stumble across her answer. She looked at me and choked back tears, brushed my curly hair aside, and said ďBaby girl, thereís always going to be another train.Ē Thatís when she kissed my head, walked out of my room, and sunk to the floor and cried. I had no idea what I had just asked her as a light in a tunnel to a child means train, nothing regarding the burdens and hard times my family faced. I didnít understand what I had just said, but I knew one thing. There will always be another train coming. 

Why do you have a fetal monitor where a 40-week-old fetus should be? Sheís 24 weeks. Sheís 10 centimeters dilated, her water has broken, and she is fully effaced. If this baby Is born here, it isnít going to make it. And I will sit in a court of law and testify nurse that you killed this baby. Get me a loading dose of mag sulfate and morphine and get a transport team here stat. Is there anyone you need to call Mrs. Osborn?

And so, it began, but letís go back 4 years. Aug 19, 1996. Okay Mrs. Osborn, youíve been in labor 9 times in the last 6 weeks. Weíre going to do an amniocentesis to see if babyís lungs are ready so if you go into labor again, weíll see if he can be delivered.

3:30 sitting on the patio at Earlís restaurant. The phone rings. ďHello, Mrs. Osborn, weíve got the results of your amniocentesis and decided that babyís lungs are ready. Should you go into labor again, proceed to emergency to deliver.Ē

ďIím going to buy cigars, says Brent.Ē I went home and decided to have a bath. 5:30 p.m., yikes first contraction. ďBrent are you still on White Ave? I just had my first contraction?Ē Yes, I am, he replied, Iím on my way.

6:30 p.m. Arrive at Royal Alexandra Hospital. My water broke at 7:40. I remember Mrs. Powell counting out her contractions. She was so calm. My back was throbbing. Iíd decided originally not to have any drugs. Then I found myself begging for them. The Dr. arrived, I heard him with Mrs. Powell, ďItís going to be several hours.Ē I cringed. There was no way I would last several hours. The anesthesiologist was about to give me my epidural, much to the nurseís chagrin since according to her I was just being a baby.

ďI need to check her before you give her an epidural.Ē Sorry, sheís crowning, we must get her up to delivery: Whoosh. Up we went. 8:01 p.m., Madisen came into the world. Yes, Madisen the girl Iíd been told 9 times was going to be a boy. Mrs. Powell was screaming before I went up, I was here first. IN pain and insanity, I snapped. This isnít a drive thru MacDonaldís, itís not first come first serve.

Fast Forward,

July 2, 2000. Crap Leah, I think Iím in labor, can you call Brent, Iím headed over to the Misericordia Hospital. Yes, Mrs. Osborn, you are in labor, we are going to try to stop it. Have you called my husband? Yes, he told us, this is a common occurrence when you are pregnant, heíll be here tonight to see you.

Okay, weíve stopped the labor, bed rest except to eat understand Mrs. Osborn? Yes, I understand. I returned home the next day. Made an appointment with My OBGYN. He saw me (Different OBGYN than who delivered Madisen) Itís just an irritable uterus. Return to work next week. Iíll see you in a month. In a month, how will you know I am okay then. ďAs I said, itís an irritable uterus. Youíll be fine.Ē But Iím predisposed to premature labor. ďAnd Iím telling you you just have an irritable uterus.Ē

Sat. July 15, Alright Staff, Iím going to need a lot of help over the next few months. I really need to take it easy. Letís talk sales, etc. The staff meeting went on for about another hour. I went home.

5:00 a.m. July 16, I wake up. Yikes that feels an awful lot like labor. 5:56 I awake again. That is labor.

I better go to emergency.

I arrive 6:19 a.m. The nurse asks how many weeks, I tell her 24. She replies rudely, well then you must go up to labor and delivery, but the elevator isnít working.

So up I go. Another ďcompassionateĒ nurse. Puts the fetal monitor on and checks my vitals. ďHoney you arenít in labor, you just have an irritable uterus.Ē So, there I fret I know what labor feels like.

8:30, in walks the Dr. He checks me and proceeds to tell the nurse all hell is broken loose. And while he is still doing an internal he tells the nurse she has misplaced the monitor and this baby is coming and if it doesnít survive, he will sit in a court of law and state her gross negligence. Then calmly he asks if there is someone I should call.

So, I call home, no answer DAMNIT. Again, I call, no answer, DAMNIT. And finally, the third time, still the voicemail. Okay, Karen think, what is the contingency planÖ.

I phone my neighbor I tell her to go to the house, pick up Madi, tell Brent I am in labor and they are sending me to another hospital with a NICU.

Apparently, Brent hears the phone ring the first time and thinks, who the hell is calling on a Sunday morning, the next ring Ė oh Karen will get it. Finally, the third time, where the hell is Karen? So, he goes into the kitchen to look at the call display. As he is doing this, the neighbor bursts in the door to see Brent buck naked and tells him Iím in the hospital as I have been injured at a baseball game, she needs Madi. What? (Little did I know; my neighbor was fast asleep when I called and didnít understand a word I was saying).

So, Brent arrives at the Sturgeon as I am being loaded into the ambulance. Heís trying to talk to me and he is panicked. I keep telling him to move. Finally, the paramedic says firmly, you need to get the hell out of the way, so we can take your wife to the Royal Alexander Hospital. Weíll meet you there.

Off we go. Denise the paramedic makes me promise I will not have my baby in her rig. My contractions are one minute apart. Anyone who has ever been in an ambulance would know. Ambulance rides are bumpy. Whew. Squeezing Deniseís hand, she tells her driver, we need to go lights and sirens full tilt. And reassures me, Iím doing okay.

So, we arrive at the Alec. Another ďwonderfulĒ nurse insists she needs to see me to do a nitro strip. Denise argues, tells her, itís been done, contractions are a minute apart and sheís taking me up to labor and delivery STAT. The argument ensues. Denise tells her to bugger off, sheís taking me up.

I get up to labor and delivery and they are all waiting. I have had a dose of mag sulphate and morphine and my labor is apparently slowing. A peri neonatologist is consulted to come in and to a BPP. She determines the baby is in distress.

Up go the sides of my gurney. The race is on. We are all bolting down the hallway. We get to the doors. I see a Dr. He is speaking to Brent. Brent is trying to push him aside to go through the doors with me. I hear the Dr. performing my surgery telling Brent ďThis is as far as you go., he argues, the Dr. is firmer this time. ďThis is as far as you go.Ē The next memory I have is something flashing in front of my face at rapid speed. Iím still coming out of the anesthesia, so itís freaking me out. Finally, the flashing subsides. I realize itís a polaroid of my new born. More tubes than baby. OMG. Is she still alive. What the heck?

They tell me she is alive and ask if I want to see her. Of course, I want to see my baby. They wheel me up to the NICU. Iím still quite foggy. The first thing I see as we come in on top of her isolet is a box of Saran wrap in a Red Box. Then they tell me my daughter has no skin and, so they coat her in Vaseline and then cover her in saran wrap to keep germs out.

Immediately I freak out. Saran Wrap. Saran Wrap is disposable. Its for freaking sandwiches. What the hell is going on? In comes the Social worker. She tries to calm me. Bloody unlikely. LOL. She realizes my concern with the Saran Wrap and asks the nurse to remove it.

Iím allowed to touch her, not stroke her as she may stroke out with too much stimuli. Iím exhausted. They take me to my room. I sleep. While sleeping, I keep seeing a tombstone with the name Ryan Berkley Layton on it. Damn, what is God telling me, thatís the name we had picked out for our daughter. I wake up, Brent is waiting, my friend is waiting. I tell them of my dream. Itís an omen, I know it is I say. My girlfriend says weíll find a name. Donít panic.

Suddenly in storms Brentís mom. ďKaren, what did you do?Ē she screams. Sheís blaming me. I begin to cry. My friend asks her to leave with Brent. I drift off. The nurse takes me back up to the NICU. I sit, and I wait and watch. I look at the 6 different babies in her unit on the A side, also known as the critical side. I look at my daughter. I am lost. I look around the room. I see the screen savers with personal names, pictures, well wishes. I watch the generic screen savers roll on my daughterís computer. And suddenly one image stays a little longer. Itís a MIG fighter plane. My mind drifts. MIG, MIG, Meg, my little fighter Meg. That will be her name. MEGAN.

I wait for Brent. He happily agrees. What about a middle name he asks. ďHow about Mac, because she fits in a big Mac container.Ē Thatís perfect. Megan Mackenzie, it is.

Day 3, the nurse is laughing and trying to be firm telling me, Megan is trying to self extubate and being very determined in doing so. Her Oxygen saturations are good, her PEEPs are good. So, she got her way. She is breathing on her own. She has dropped 20 grams from the original 890 she was born at. Her weight will fluctuate. That is normal. Boy is it ever normal.

The next days were a blur. If I was at home on the deck having a smoke, the neighbors would drive up, roll down the window and ask is she up or down today. Sheís down grams today. Awe says the neighbor. Weíll have to adjust the neighborhood sign, she chuckles. I too smile.

The next day Iím in the shower and for no apparent reason, I hear the phone ring. (I have never heard the phone ring in the shower before). I run to answer it. The neonatologist informs me Megan is having a tough time breathing, she is critical. I tell them I am on my way. Damn it, I canít get a hold of Brent.

I get to the hospital. The scene is grim. All the specialists are conversing. Nurses running around. Megan is turning black and they are bagging her, and I am praying for God to take her. The scene continues. The Dr. informs me as a last resort we will have to intubate her again. I sink to my knees. The social worker and Dr. try to comfort me.

Who can I call to help. I give them my phone, tell them to call my mom and Brent. Everything is happening so fast. A LAST RESORTÖÖÖÖ Sheís going to die. Please God, Please GodÖÖ. Help me. Someone lifts me up and tells me I need to rest. They have the old nurseís residence they use for relatives of critically ill children. Each room has a phone. They will call me. I return for rounds the next morning after an exhausting night of going to visit Meg and back to the residence all night.

I am late for rounds. They are all at Mikalaís isolet. The last one on that unit. The Dr. leans over and says, we had to tube her. I collapse. I am devastated. The Fellow Helena comes rushing over, asking what happened, I explain, he said AS A LAST RESORT, they would have to tube her. Sheís dying. No, no, no Helena says, Megan is doing so much hard work and she is so sick, we are intubating her to take the load off her, so she can get well. Iím confused, he said it was a last resort. She soothes me, he perhaps didnít explain properly. But I assure you, this is to help her get better.

The next morning, I am at rounds on time with my mom who has flown in for support. Megís Dr. begins to present. STOP I say. He looks at me as though I have three heads and asks me why. I tell him, you are no longer her Dr. Everyone is still. He tells me Iím ridiculous, He is her Dr. Firmly, I explain, my Alberta Health Care pays for her care. As her mother, I decide who cares for her and effective immediately it will be Helena. He tells me that is not possible, she is a Fellow. I stand firm. No, Helena will be her Dr. If you have a difference of opinion, you will have that conversation with her, not me. She will be dealing with me. He stands back. They all leave. Nurses, LPNís, RTís, etc. come to me and say they have never seen anything like this before. I explain. He either is an advocate for my daughter and explains things to a lay person the way they should be, or he has no business doing what he is doing. They disperse.

Iím at the residence when the call comes. Megan is breaking down again. They donít know what it is, but they have an idea. I break into a run. I arrive again to a room filled with professionals trying to diagnose what is going on with Megan. Helena pulls me aside. She says chances are she has NEC. I ask, what that is. She explains 50% of preemies are born with it. The guts have a way of protecting the brain when deprived of oxygen. In doing so, the bowel dies.

Further tests reveal this is the case. Due to government cutbacks, the hospital has the surgery theatres, but not the surgeons, she will have to be taken to the University Hospital. This is such an arduous process. The transport team arrives, they take her off all her lines, then they put theirs on her. Brent is following us in the ambulance. We arrive. A gentleman walks toward me with a girl on his hip and I see another girl behind him coloring. He introduces himself as the Neonatologist who will be taking care of Megan. He tells me he got the page while out with his children. He wanted to make sure he was there when I arrived. He will take his children home, while Megan is in surgery. The surgeon approaches.

I size him up. He is over 6 feet; his hands could wrap around a basketball. He begins to tell me what the next steps are. I look around for Brent. Where the hell is Brent. My head is swimming. I take a deep breath and focus on what the Dr. is saying. Okay, so there is no such thing as a bowel transplant in preemies. So, the surgery should be about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, if itís longer, weíve lost her. I need you to sign the consent. Iím looking around. I need Brent for this. Where the hell is Brent? I need you to sign he says. I inhale, and I sign. Brent arrives seconds later. Where the hell have you been Brent, I scream. He screams back he had been stopped by the police for not wearing his seatbelt. Then he couldnít find his insurance and registration. He had tried to explain to the officer he was following the ambulance and the officer laughed and told him if he had a dollar for every time someone said that, heíd be a millionaire. Brent was fined $300.

We had to move past this. I explained what they were going to do with Megan. Just then the team arrived to take her to surgery. We both kissed her and told her weíd be waiting. The hospital NICU was under renovations. We were in a hallway; the surgical suites were so far away. They took her down at 6:30 p.m. Brentís coping mechanism for stress is sleep. Me, I pace. There was a hospital love seat and a chair while we were waiting. Brent was out cold. 7, 7:30, 8:00. 8:19Ö. A baby cries. Like a newborn taking their first cry. Thatís impossible. Brent wakes up and looks at me and asks if I heard that. I said I did, but itís impossible, there are no babies around. Where the hell is Megan, itís been over an hour and a half. 8:45, 9:00. The doors open at the end of the hall way. Four medical personnel are walking her down. I notice the blanket is covering her from her toes to over her head. I sink down the wall. The anesthesiologist yells that itís okay. She is okay, babies loose heat out of their head. They are taking her to recovery, then the will speak to us. Brentís phone is frantically buzzing. He shuts it off and tells me its his mom. She is probably wondering how Megan is.

The doctors come out and ask us to come to her bed. The surgeon begins to tell us she has done well but not out of the woods yet. At 8:19 Megan stopped breathing on the table, they administered CPR for one minute and 52 seconds and revived her. The next 24 hours are critical. There are so many medical staff around her checking vitals, writing things down, putting things in the computer and Brent looks up at the Dr. and asks, where are Meganís nipples?Ē What?Ē says the Dr. Where are her nipples he repeats? Look he says, I donít think you understand the gravity of what Iím saying and again, he asks, but her nipples, where are her nipples. The Dr. clears his throat and says. She is 25 weeks old, her nipples have not formed yet, they will come. This seems to satisfy Brent, the Dr. proceeds with what the next 24 hours will entail. He leaves. The nurse assures me, Megan is comfortable, they have given her a large dose of fentanyl. She is less then a poundÖ.

I take her small hand. She opens her eyes; her skin pinks up and she smiles, and I know she will be okay. We wait outside recovery. Brent finally decides to let his mom know what has been going on. He listens to the voicemail. His face goes ashen. He dials his mom. She informs him his grandmother passed from a massive coronary at 8:19 that evening. They did everything they could, but grandma Margaret was gone.

The next few days were ups and downs. They were doing fly bys as all the NICUís in British Columbia and Alberta were at capacity. Somehow, the ambulance had lost my breast milk I had pumped, but luckily all Megan was on was 5 ml of breast milk every 8 hours.

Finally, her spot at the Alec had opened. The surgeon told us when she was able to have 13 ml every 6 hours, they could re attach her and take off her colostomy bag. Back to the Alec we went. Ups, downs a varietal roller coaster. I knew they rotated babies on the A side to other rooms down the hall, so moms didnít know babies had passed, but as I walked passed the B side (babies on their way to going home soon), I saw the name Aiden. I ran down the hall to Megís bed on the A side. I started screaming at the nurse, demanding to know why Aiden was getting ready to go home soon when he was born after Megan and statistically boys do not strive as well as girls. I was so angry. Greta, (the nurse) calmed me down and told me it wasnít the Aiden that had been on Megís unit, it was another one. What was happening to me, I was losing my mind. Angry another baby was well. How selfish and crazy I had become.

As usual, the next few days were a blur. My mom returned home, my sister who had also driven out with her husband from Manitoba also had to leave. I was a wreck. I could only speak in medical lingo. I could only relate to the other momís in the NICU. People wouldnít come to see us because they were afraid to see us. I was in my own world. My friend Mike came up to see her and aside from family, no one had held Megan. The monitors constantly beeping, which I now looked up to and just shut off after adjusting her probe were intimidating. I told Mike not to worry as I gently passed him our daughter. He held her so precariously. Then the monitors began to sound. I looked up. She wasnít breathing. He started freaking out. Whatís happening. I calmly said nothing and gently took Megan back as the nurses charged in. I assured him this happened all the time. Knowing full well it did not. The nurses hooked her back up to her canula and all was good. Mike left shortly after.

The next morning at rounds, the Dr.ís were talking about Meganís brain bleeds. And all the possible complications. They always started with there is a 50/50 chance this will happen and invariably if it didnít happen to Megan, it happened to Kendra, the baby beside her. The mother and I had started our journey together, talked long into the night many nights, but now she became angry. I totally understood. She couldnít nurse, or pump and the food required was going to cost $3500.00 a month. Her daughter was partially paralyzed from the brain bleeds, the list went on. If it wasnít happening to Megan, it was happening to Kendra.

Another ally lost in the fogÖÖ.

It was late one night about a month later after a particularly exhausting day. The babies had as usual been rotated. Helena came in and sat in the rocking chair beside me and put her head in her hands. I said she looked exhausted but also bothered. She began to cry. I was so scared she had bad news for Megan. She said she knew she wasnít to tell me, but she had lost another baby that night from complications from RSV. I touched her shoulder gently as she wept and just sat there. She eventually got up, straightened herself and quietly walked out. I spoke to God and thanked him for sparing Megan and prayed for the child he now held in heaven.

Madisen was an awesome big sister. Four years difference and she was a big girl. It was time to hold her sister. So, I sat her in the rocking chair. Placed all the leads just right, put her gently in Madiís arms. She beamed. I told her to be careful, I was going to the washroom. I had just sat down, when I heard the alarms. I flew out of the washroom with my pants half on and there was Megan on the chair, half her leads off and Madisen was sitting on the floor. I looked at Madisen and asked what the hell happened. She looked confused and didnít understand my concern. She informed me she was bored and done holding her sister. I didnít know whether to kill her or hug her. Finally, someone who treated Megan like a regular baby.

Brent was so seldom there. He was a cement finisher. He was at the job site at dawn, doing headlight finishes. Madisen was starting preschool. Sigh. It was a crazy time. Madisen went to school Tuesdays and Thursdays for the afternoons. It was always so stressful. Drop Madisen off, go to the NICU, pump, see Megan, go back pick up Madisen. This one Thursday, I was pacing waiting for them to unlock the doors. My breasts were sore, I was exhausted, Madisen was in her own world. Suddenly this woman approached me and said, if you donít mind me saying so, you look like crap. I was floored. She continued. I know you have a baby in the hospital, your daughter and my daughter Leenie play together and Madisen told her. She told me she could take Madisen to her house after and give me time to get to the hospital, see Megan and come home when I needed. Madisen would be fine.

First off, who the hell was this woman. Second, Madisen had never been looked after by anybody but family. This woman was a crackpot. But she saw my hesitation and persevered. Look, how about you bring Madi over tomorrow morning to my house. We can have coffee and you can see where we live, meet my kids and chuckling she added, and youíll see Iím not a whack job trying to steal your kid.

I laughed. Wow, that was the first laugh in so long. We planned to meet the next morning. I would be over after rounds with Madisen to check out her place. I was so excited. The next morning, I decided to skip rounds, have a bath, shave my legs, things I hadnít done in so long. Take care of me. I phoned the NICU, Megan had had a good night and I would be up in the afternoon.

I arrived at Sheilaís. Rang the bell. She answered. I walked in and thought I was going to stroke out. Her youngest had cheerios stuck all over him, his nose was runny. Her house was mayhem. Kids screaming, running. What was I doing here? She looked at me and chuckled. My house is seldom clean she said. I prefer to be on the floor playing with my kids then cleaning house.

Daily, I gowned up, washed my hands as did all my family, my house was pristine. Megan was always in and out of isolation. But then I had to think. I mean really think. This totally makes sense the way she does this. Our hour-long coffee turned into 3 hours and Madisen stayed there while I went to the NICU to see Megan. A friendship was born. She became my crutch. She became my friend. She became, well there isnít a word. Madisen and Leenie became best buds. Sleepovers, parks, school. And Sheilaís other kids were a part of my family.

I went to the NICU daily, I knew Madisen was okay. Her father and I were two ships passing each night. When I saw him, it was when I came in late at night and he too was exhausted, agitated, cranky as was I. I was starting to understand why 84% of all marriages in the NICU fail. Days turned into weeks and many babies moved to the B side, many didnít make it at all. It was time for Megan to go back to the U for her anastomosis. It had been so hard on her. Even though 50% of babies have NEC no one has ever invented a proper colostomy bag with a proper adhesive for those tiny babies. Her skin would break down and bleed. It would get infected. It was endless. But the time had arrived.

Again, a four-hour ordeal to get her there with unhooking her from hospital equipment to transport equipment off that to the equipment at the U. Her surgery was seamless. My mom & dad drove out. This was the beginning of her journey home. It had been 102 days.

The Dr. was so pleased with how it went. Megan was fat now. She was over 2 pounds. Yay. Mom and I were chatting beside Megís isolate and Natalie, the charge nurse was chatting with us and her and I were reminiscing of the old days as we had gone to High School together. Suddenly Megan started seizing. The monitors were going crazy. Natalie looked at me and said you know the drill, you must leave while this is happening. Iím paging the Dr. and Iíll let you know what is going on as soon as I know. Another nurse rushed us out.

Oh God, what now? I laughed to myself then, because I realized every time I asked that question, he sent me something else. At that moment, I changed my plea. Okay God, Enough! No more Please not now. And so, me and mom waited. Chatted, prayed, cried. Finally, the Dr. on call came out and said, it had to do with her brain bleeds most likely. They would know more in morning. In the meantime, she was sedated and stable. In we went. She looked so weak again. So helpless. Natalie explained that she was also septic. And due to her seizure, her incision had opened, but due to the infection, they could not re suture as it would be like sewing in the infection. Minutes turned into hours, hours turned into days and finally Megan was okay. She got the stamp of approval to be sent back to the A side at the Alec. The diagnosis for the seizure was brain bleeds, grade 3. Again, common in preemies. The damage further down the road Ė unknown. The gaping wound in her tummy Ė collateral damage. It could be repaired some day. But at this point, she was pieced together as best as they could do, time for her to go back to the Alec and wait and wait and wait.

Throughout all this, I was always in touch with David, Madiís pediatrician. He always talked me off the ledge, didnít pull any punches and told me what was really happening. No false hope. No bullshit. He often checked in on Megan and called to let me know how she was doing. It was a lifeline. And all this time, Madi was either with Sheila and her family, at the hospital or with me at home. She was so left on her own devices so often. Too often. But she never once said anything. Or maybe she did. I just didnít hear.

Finally, Megan was going over to the B side. She was fattening up. LOL, she was over the 3-lb mark. Her stomach looked as though sheíd stepped on an IED and her face was partially paralyzed, but she was going to be okay.

Her Dr. was going on holidays. Helena had by that time transferred to another NICU to train, but kept inn constant contact with me. While Megís Dr. was going on holidays, I had asked David to check on her because I didnít want to listen to another Neonatologist. I was pretty much one myself. I Knew no other language then medical jargon. Her Dr. would be back long before she was to be released. A month before.

I was at Sheilaís and David called to tell me he had done the car seat study; the sleep study and he was discharging her the next day. I was in a state of shock. How in the hell could I take a baby home before her own due date? How could I take a baby home, whom Iíd never seen breathe off a monitor? How could I take a baby home I had never held without being attached to a lead of some sort? No freaking way.

I bolted down to that hospital so fast, Iím surprised I didnít get a ticket. I stormed in demanding to see Greta. I had left a message for Brent to meet me at the hospital. Greta ushered me into a conference room seeing how distraught I was. She brought me water, had me count, even got me an Ativan. Finally, Brent came, and we sat in the conference room with Greta. She explained how normal this was. Our reaction. They had family rooms for us to sleep in with Megan and we could do so that night, but David was right. If we didnít take her to malls, restaurants, or where there were a lot of germs and didnít put her in her car seat for more than 45 minutes because thatís when she had bradycardias, we could take her home the next day.

Holy CrapÖ.

The night was fraught with emotion. Every few minutes, Megan would awaken as would we, monitors going off, her SAT probe coming undone. I was exhausted. I was in the kitchen for parents mixing Meganís Bottle. 3 oz of breast milk, one table spoon of canola oil and a package of fortifier for calories. Finally, Cheryl, the night nurse came in and saw me coming undone. She asked me if Iíd ever seen Bug off a monitor and I said no. She said; come with me. So, I followed. She came to our room, disconnected Megan (Bug) and told us to Look at our baby. Watch her breathe, not wait for a monitor to tell us if she could. She placed her in my arms and I watched her chest rise and fall. Cheryl stayed for an hour. When she was convinced I would awaken only to the sound of Megan crying, she left, I slept for the next 4 hours.

The next morning at the case conference they reiterated Megan would be deaf, dumb, blind and severely retarded. Brent chose this time to say that wasnít what he signed up for to be changing diapers on a 40-year-old. He left. I was certain it was to collect himself. I was wrong. I returned home to find he had moved out.

The next few months were harrowing. I had very little contact with Brent and both myself and my eldest struggled through. It was during this time, I found out Brent had become addicted to methamphetamine. His logic was it was the only way he could work full shifts and then go see Megan. He became volatile and eventually I had to have an emergency Protection Order placed against him after he showed up on Fatherís Day to take my eldest severely agitated and obviously on drugs. He struck me and vowed he would kill me.

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