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Saturday, July 18, 2015

From the ER to Children's Hospital Orange County

Once the EMTs from CHOC finally arrived around 8:00, things started clicking into place. Three of them arrived with a gurney complete with a car seat strapped within a row of machine after beeping machine. I carried B2 from the room to the gurney, gently clicked him in, then kissed his tiny forehead as he continued to struggle to breathe.

The female EMT smiled and handed me a stuffed bear with an IV wrap which matched my son's. I nestled it between B2 and the side of the carseat, and he snuggled up to it and grabbed it with his non-IVed hand. He looked so fragile juxtaposed with all of the technology intended to monitor his signs of life that I almost cried, but with great effort, I managed to reach out and hold his hand instead, and he seemed to relax, at least a tiny bit.

Soon, we had all of his paperwork and a disk with his chest X-rays as we rolled into the second ambulance of the evening. I rode in front with B2 in the back while my husband took my car to fetch B1 from my friend's house.

(May I here thank the universe for friends who don't ask questions, who gladly house and feed and care for a child when his parents are frantically trying to care for another. Women who are friends with women deserve more praise then I am here able to give.)

Back in the ambulence, it seemed as though B2 screamed breathless screams the entire time I was trying to call grandparents, trying to make logistical choices about carpools and daycare and camp. Every decision which had previously been put into place had to be reviewed, revisited in the light of the ambulance headlights as we drove slowly up the five. His obvious fear and discomfort did not make the process any easier, I can assure you. It is almost impossible for me to think rationally when my offspring are in distress.

As we drove, the female EMT was talking to B2, telling him to stay calm and that his mommy was nearby. Over the beep of the machines and the noise of the traffic, I began to sign a hymn I usually sing to him at night, and I sang as loudly as I could to make sure he could hear me and know I was with him:

Breathe in; breathe out.
Breathe in; breathe out.
When I breathe in, I breathe in peace; when I breathe out, I breathe out love.
When I breathe in, I breathe in peace; when I breathe out, I breathe out love.

I sang the song over and over again, ignoring the EMTs and the cars and the beeping, releasing my stress and pain for my baby, a piece of my very soul, with every repetition. And as I sang, he listened, and his cries subsided; I imagined that he inhailed strength from my song, exhaled more slowly and found at least the smallest bit of confort in the words of his mother, singing a familiar song in an unfamiliar place. At long last, the male EMT in the back said B2 had fallen asleep, and I stared silently at the tail lights of so many cars through the windshield, full of love and utterly devoid of peace.

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