Deafening Silence

There is so much silence in my life right now.

There are no kids for me to wake up in the morning. There are no tussles for me to break up. There is no prodding necessary to get everyone out the door on time. 

It’s just me and the TV that’s still on from the night before.

During a normal week, my husband and older kiddos are fast asleep before I get back to the home away from home to eat supper and work. When I do finally hit the hay, I often struggle to drift off to dreamland. I’m still not used to the quiet of this empty room, and I miss the sounds of my infant son crying to signal that he needs a bottle, my other three moving about in our house, and my husband snoring.

I very much look forward to the end of each week when they come to visit. We often go to the museum or the zoo or shopping or somewhere to distract them from the distance that’s been between us for nearly 27 weeks.

This week, however, it was just my husband who came for Garrin’s surgery. We hurried to the hospital earlier than normal on Friday morning, trying to soak up all Garrin’s sweet smiles and coos, not knowing when we will see or hear them again. 

When Garrin was wheeled away for his “baby makeover,” we were told that the general surgery procedures would take about 45 minutes to an hour. We didn’t hear anything for more than an hour and a half, and my heart began to race.

One in a thousand babies experience cardiac arrest while under general anesthesia, the anesthesiologist had told us. 

I mentally scrolled through a list of possibilities.

We had signed up for text alerts — yes, that is a thing even at the hospital — and we received the customary welcome text messages but then: radio silence.

I finally asked at the information desk, and the nurse came out to tell us that the first doctor was done and everything went fine. I breathed a sigh of relief before she mentioned the second doctor beginning the tracheostomy. Cue increase in heart rate. Thankfully, everything went as expected with each of the procedures.

Garrin beat us back to the NICU, and by the time we got back over the sky walk, the nurse was holding his first blood gas results.  It was 7.43, 43 for all my medical friends.  It was as close to NORMAL as he’s had in his entire life. What a relief those results were, particularly to this mom who has had such a hard time accepting the tracheostomy. 

Even with the solid test results, it was difficult to see my baby wake up agitated, thrashing his head from side to side, and I didn’t want to leave him.

Once Garrin finally got comfortable, his nurse encouraged us to get sleep while we can, promising to call if anything changed.

If only I could’ve slept. 

I really thought that I handled the day well, and I don’t know specifically what was bothering me, but I was up most of the night.  We sluggishly hauled our buts back to the hospital Saturday morning.

As my husband and I walked into the unit, there was no noticeable sound coming from Garrin’s room. Obviously he’s sedated, but he makes no noise: no coughing, no crying, no burping, no cooing, nothing. The silence is deafening.

So we sat in a quiet room, attending to our sweet baby each time one of his drugs started to wear off or he started to move about.  This “healing silence,” as one of the nurses coined it, will last until at least Wednesday, when Garrin’s trach tube is changed for the first time by the ENT doctor.  After that, trach cares and trach changes will be all hands on deck.

I am finding myself letting go of the fear that I had before Garrin had surgery.  He got his “baby makeover,” and this is our life now.  There is no going back so it’s time to buck up and learn everything we can about taking care of him so we can eventually bring him back home.

Speaking of bringing him home, I had the opportunity to visit with the gal that coordinates the transition to home.  She indicated that there is a statewide wait list for in-home nursing.  It could be a year until we get enough nurses lined up to bring him home. 

My response: silence.  Only silence.