When the nurse came into the parent room and said Mikaere was 30 minutes away I let out the tiniest breath. When she came in 20 minutes later and said not only was Mikaere now in PICU, but screaming I wanted to cry. Screaming meant he was awake. Screaming meant he wasn’t on a ventilator. Screaming meant all the fear and worst case scenarios were not us right this minute.
I barrelled across the hall, washed my hands with lightening speed and rushed to comfort my baby. He’s cheeks were bare – no ng tube. He was covered in wires, and as he thrashed about he caught his hands in them. His little fingers scrambling in wires to measure his head rate, his respiratory rate, his o2. Red, green, yellow wires. The white chunky ones for blood pressure, the cuff around his forearm. The probe for secondary stats. Tubes going to his cannulas. A nasal o2 tube. And there, bang smack in the middle of his belly was his new button, stitched into his lily white skin.
So many tubes. So many wires.
But the relief was overwhelming. He’s fine. He’s alive and here and very opinionated in his objections of what just happened.
Despite the wires I scooped him up for a cuddle – that’s the bonus of having been in PICU before. You know which tubes are precious and which aren’t and which to watch for when you want a cuddle. I wasn’t intimidated by the wires. Not even close.
And sure enough, once he had a dummy and was safely snuggled in my arms, he settled a bit and stopped screaming.
My beautiful baby. It felt like we’d gambled for an improvement of his quality of life and we’d come through. The relief really was overwhelming and I felt like I was constantly holding back tears. He was fine. He was here. No coma. No vent. Just baby outrage and cuddles.
As he calmed and we settled into the afternoon, everyone relaxed. We stepped back in the world of intensive care. We said hi to the nurses we knew, who knew us. They all marvelled over how big Mikaere had gotten. We knew the system, we knew the room. It was all eerily familiar.
Once Mikaere was on pain relief and happy bundled up in my arms, the weight of the world dropped from my shoulders and we relaxed.
It felt weird to be in intensive care relaxed. The last time we were here we were being discharged into hospice on end of life care. Mikaere got baptised in that bay over there, a just in case emergency baptism when we weren’t sure whether he was even going to make to hospice. That bay was where he met his Grandad Gedge for the first time. We spent Boxing Day last year over there, and hours upon hours in the bay we were currently in. This room was full of grief and memories. Our fears were all here. It felt weird to be there and not feel that. Mikaere was *well*, the most vulnerable moment had past and we were in PICU just in case.
I could feel the grief of other families though. I heard a ventilator beep and recognised it as an o2 drop. Maybe a blockage in the tube, maybe some suction required. I heard someone else crying over their baby. I heard a pump beep indicating that the syringe needed to be changed over, a mum try comfort her son, a support worker talking in hushed tones and a musical light show as a distraction attempt.
I heard all these things and remembered and was infinitely grateful that none of those things were Mikaere right now. We’d lived that before and instead my son had only observational wires and a dextrose/pain relief solution through a single cannula. That and his brand spanking new gastro button. All positive things. None of these things were dire, intensive care things.
Even better, one of the consultants stopped by for a chat and some baby love. She mentioned that if they needed the bed we’d be the first ones to be evicted from PICU up to the ward. I loved her for sharing that. That if anything happened, Mikaere was the healthiest in the room. He’s never been the healthiest in PICU before.
And so we wait. We see how Mikaere goes overnight. How he tolerates formula. How he manages his pain. And tomorrow, fingers crossed, we’ll be discharged from PICU and make it up to the ward.