Sunday, January 25, 2009

On our way

Words cannot express my happiness and gratitude at the moment. Last week I had to desist kangaroo care and me holding Elena because it was tailspinning her into these deep oxygen desaturations that required intervention. Not fun. So I laid off for the last week which made me pretty unhappy. Our interaction has been me staring at her and grabbing her hands or toes or holding her back.

Well yesterday Elena reached a defining moment.

The whole goal of her oxygen intervention was to get her to room oxygen which is 21%. This would be a sign that her lungs were healing. As of yesterday Elena reached this goal. Elena being on the CPAP is a nonevent, but oxygen is a drug and is toxic to humans beyond a certain level of exposure. In all honesty I was expecting Elena to get to this sometime mid February.

She reached it yesterday, January 24th.

I have to wonder if all of this is related to the fact that my attitude about this experience changed. The first 2 weeks after I gave birth were a disaster. I had never felt such an inconsololable grief and I was like an open wound, constantly on the brink of spilling tears. I expected a call from the hospital at any moment with bad news. This never happened, but Elena was pretty sick. The attending doctor on call for her first two weeks sat down with Andrew and I (and Mary Jo) and thoroughly laid out his plans for her care. He told us he had high hopes for her. This was Elena's intubation period.

After two weeks Elena had a new attending doctor, Dr. Ten. Dr. Ten will always be in my heart. It was under his care (he would stop into her room 8-10 times a day or more) that Elena went from being intubated to the CPAP. During his time she needed his unrelenting drive and determination that she would get better and I felt like she needed consistency and someone to believe in her. Ten was on her like white on rice.

Every morning I would come to the hospital and sit through rounds (it's a teaching hospital) to hear her prognosis and the plans Ten had for her for the week. This time was a rollercoaster. She had one step forward and two steps back. But Ten never waivered in his optimism or fight. He was exactly what Elena, Andrew and I needed. I remember the day they put her on CPAP and I came in. Elena looked swollen and terrified to breathe on her own and I started crying. Dr. Ten said, "mommy why you crying? She is sailing." And he motioned his hand upwards like Elena was taking flight. My heart lifted a little.

For the next week Elena and her lungs slowly got better. Then came Dr. Parravicini. I walked into the hospital the morning of the 12th and Dr. Ten came to visit me with a doctor. I was confused. He told me that his attending duties were over and that Dr. Parravicini would be the new attending physician. I was gutted. I mean I was having Dr. Ten dreams at that point. He explained that Parravicini knew Elena's case and Parravicini assured me by her demeanor and warm smile that things would be okay.

This Tuesday Andrew and I had a sit down with Parravicini to get Elena's prognosis as Elena seemed to have hit a plateau. She was not getting better or worse. Parravicini ran me thorugh Elena's history and then said, "I believe that everything happen for a reason. I think she is teaching you patience." Parravicini assured us that Elena would direct all of us and let us know when she was ready to be better. She said, "she [Elena] is a good girl." I realized that perhaps I was the one limiting Elena and holding her back. I need to have patience.

Through all this I suppose I have realized or noticed that maybe everything does happen for a reason. Every doctor to this point has been exactly the doctor Elena and we (Andrew and I) needed physically and emotionally to get through those exact moments. And that we truly direct our lives. I will only be what I think I can be. So simple yet difficult to master.


  1. Thanks for this post J. I think we can all learn from this. Love to you all!

  2. I was just getting ready to lay my head down to sleep...when I said to myself..let me check up on Elena..and was this beautiful picture of her...she's I will be able to picture her in my prayers....hang in there Mommy and Daddy!

    With love, your cousin, Gena

  3. White on rice! Really? Sorry, that made me giggle.

    I am sooo glad she is making progress and teaching you, as I hear all children do. Thank you for the picture! Hugs to all 3 of you.