Sunday, February 17, 2008

From My Sister...

My sister Kerinda wrote this, and I wanted to share a portion here. Thanks, Kerinda, for sharing the experience from your perspective!

I entered this world as Kim's 9lb 1oz, broken collared, colicky screaming little sister. Life for us began in a very different way, and I’m told that I made it my mission to make sure everyone around me knew that it was different and exactly what I thought about it. We grew and before I could blink, she was getting married and starting a life of her own. I was soon flew the nest and was out on my own when I was 19. At 20, I became an aunt. Being single and very na├»ve, I was amazed at the miracle of birth, the tiny life that I held in my arms, and the absolute wonder of my infant niece Katie. She was gorgeous. She was so cute, little and incredibly snugly. I blinked again and she was 2, another blink and she was 3. I was so lucky to live near by and hardly miss a day and I didn’t think a more perfect child existed.

Then Sadie arrived. It was the scariest phone call I ever received, fearing for not only my sister- my soul- but more so for her baby. It was so fast, all the phone calls, not being able to leave and go to the hospital when I wanted, updates not soon enough, constantly worried, I couldn’t seem to calm down.

When I finally got to the hospital, my heart sank to the center of the earth at the sight of her. Cords looked to be thrown on top of her like snakes on Medusa’s head; they were everywhere. There wasn’t a spot on her that didn’t have a tube, a band aid or a monitoring patch. My sister looked fatigued but somehow determined; more so than I had ever seen any human being. I felt so angry, scared and mostly confused as to what was actually happening.

Then there was the night I got to stay with her alone. Weeks into this nightmare, my sister and brother-in-law were exhausted and desperately needed a break, and it was their Katie's 4th birthday. I felt my heart leap when they asked ME to stay for the night.

The first few hours were okay. I watched the nurses come in and out, checking monitors, fidgeting with tubes, squeezing bags, and fuss over the amount of hair this baby had. I tried to memorize everything in the room and read each monitor and guess at its function- but I couldn’t keep my eyes off of Sadie too long. Every breath brought hope. Every delayed breath brought irrational fear.

Late into the evening, an IV had slipped out of one of her hair-width veins and formed a huge, fluid-filled blister. God I was mad. How did this happen? It’s not like she’s moving all around to have this “pop” out- she was pretty much comatose. Where’s the nurse!? Where’s the nurse that initially put this in to begin with? Lights flooded the room, machines started beeping louder and louder and there seemed to be a sea of white jackets in a 10x10 foot room. Then came the most terrifying noise I’ve ever heard. A long constant steady beep.

The next sound was silence.Every pore on my body seemed to be on fire. My eyes were dry from not blinking. This was a dream or I, myself, had died and this was hell or purgatory or something worse.

Sadie's screams broke the silence and I realized that no silence had ever taken place and I had unknowingly blocked any noise I heard after that one, steady, long beep. She was breathing. The nurses were still trying to “find a vein.” I got annoyed and wanted to intercept and help so badly. Three of the nurses left and there were three continued to hover.

Getting the nerve to look down- expecting to see something completely alien to my eyes, I saw Sadie was red and blue with rage. She was kicking and fighting them so hard. How this little baby, on all those drugs, was capable of even crying was beyond my knowledge. Two nurses were having to holding her down. It seemed so savage. In shock, I found a pacifier and touched her sweat-soaked head and began to talk to her. I told her how proud I was of her, how I would always look to her as my strength, my hope and would look fear in the face- just as she was then. But I was still getting so upset and I was desperate trying hold back my emotions to keep my voice strong and steady.

Two of the nurses had been switching places from holding to “finding” and both were overcome by this seemingly endless search. They stopped for a second, and I kept talking. She seemed to be calming down. At least she wasn’t purple with rage at the moment.

The IV still had to be put in. The inside of her tiny thighs, the top and bottom of her feet had been stabbed endlessly without luck. It looked like she was getting used to the pain.... and I finally started to freak out a little. The nurses were frantically looking at the monitors and I could see from their expressions that it was crucial to have this needle find a vein.

Then I heard them say that they wanted me to help. ME. I was asked to help hold her down, keeping her pacifier in her mouth and her arm from knocking out a different, perilous looking IV. Having lost track of the number of times they stabbed her before, I started the count again.
Three pokes later, the room began to calm and the drone of the steady beeps were welcomed again.

I felt ill but didn’t allow the thought to remain in my head for long. I had no complaints to bring to the table. In fact, I didn’t have a single thing in my entire life remotely comparable even to the last 30 minutes Sadie had fought through.

The rest of the evening was mostly, thankfully, uneventful. I couldn’t stop staring at her, watching her freshly cut skin beat from the thump of her determined heart.

Days later she went home and the drug withdrawals came along for the ride. The rest of the family was settling in, but exhausted. Screaming filled their heads, their house, their cul-de-sac and what seemed to be all of Central Virginia. Day in and day out there seemed to be no rest for Sadie's family. Swaddling and rocking and bouncing were what occasionally settled the savage beast-child. Dark circles found the best place to reside and quickly settled onto three faces. Katie was tired, somewhat jealous, but mainly the greatest big sister. She’d get close to Sadie in her swing and tell her it’s was ok, and how much she loved her. Kim and Jason were overcome with exhaustion and work-related stress. I tried to offer my help and the one or two nights that I relieved them, I was shocked how Kim, Jason and Katie had adapted and adjusted to that sort of hectic lifestyle. Weeks later the withdrawals subsided and Sadie's personality emerged.

Now Sadie is into EVERYTHING. I my job at an optometrist's office and started work for Kim’s business, and was around the girls every day. Katie is growing like a wild fire and Sadie’s scream has become a well practiced, banshee-like siren noise. It's great. I can’t turn my back for 10 seconds. No- I seriously, literally mean 10 seconds. Crawling was fun... but then the walking thing happened (UGH). And if that wasn’t fun enough, teeth grew into the fun zone. Yea! Of course it couldn’t be one at a time, but 1000 at a time instead!

As they grow, so do their personalities. Goodie for me – I have Katie, who wants constant attention, but even better that I have Sadie biting me and shoving Katie to have me to her self. She makes it very clear that I am her beef jerky and NOT Katie’s. It’s an endless war.

Everyday I spend time with the kids, and everyday I learn something new. Sadie is a spit fire. If I wasn’t in love with her Tin Man “icon,” that we've chosen to represent her, I’d somehow incorporate spit and fire into the next tattoo I get.

Katie is a total mush-ball. It’s hilarious to watch her freak out and “awwww” over a dead moth. But her in-tune nature makes me daydream that she will become a veterinarian. We all have decided that Sadie will be some sort of extreme sport junkie, as she loves to play "stick the hand in the pitbull/German-shepard’s mouth" and stand on chairs. (Wise investment Kim and Jason… “but noooo, Katie wanted a puppy”!!)

It’s a never ending, extravagantly fun, fast paced house hold. Need a heart attack? Come on by for a visit!

I took the Katie and Sadie to the Dollar Store recently to buy a ton of crap that Kim will later scold and swear me for. Then I took them to the park, only for Sadie to immediately pick up handfuls of mulch and offer them to anyone within toddling distance. Katie found a friend in about .00000019 seconds and I had to laugh at them needing to scream- just because. When it was time to leave and I was putting Sadie into her car seat when she decided that “anytime’s a great time to throw a fit.” Full-fledged, screaming tantrum. Not being the Mom, I don’t smack, but often have a little “Kerinda-devil” pop onto my left shoulder and say “Go ahead, one little POP on the butt would do her good. I won’t tell!” Instead I simply smile and look at her and say “Aren’t you glad that you’re not MY kid?”

I got them home and made a bottle for Sadie to go down for a nap. She threw herself on the floor beside me, screaming, then pulled at my jeans and found the right spot to bite as she decided that I wasn’t paying enough attention to her. *Ouch.* I finally got her into the rocking chair with a bottle. Katie ran into Sadie’s room just to tell me that she loved me. She left the room and Sadie and I settled again.

Before Sadie took the bottle, she looked at me and said “Ni-nah,” her name for me. I thought to my self that I was so lucky to live near by and hardly miss a day and I didn’t think a more perfect child existed.

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