I would whisper to him gently as I soaked up the gaze of my precious boy. Good morning, Zachy. Mommy loves you so much. How are you feeling today? They tell me you're doing great, sweetie. You just get bigger and stronger and we'll go home.
On Day 9 of his life, when Zachary was diagnosed with the infection, he was clearly suffering - had been for almost 24 hours - and fighting for his life. I was so helpless to do anything for him, but I knew he could sense my presence and felt comforted by my touch. He still searched for me with his eyes. The intervention notes from his medical records on that day say:
O2 saturations increasing after mother contained infant.
Calms for mom, containing.
During that night, Zachary was pumped full of antibiotics, fluids and various other drugs to help with his blood pressure, kidney function and pain. Blood and platelets had been given more than once. The sedatives they were giving him weren't relaxing him and he was still fighting the ventilator which he'd had since the prior afternoon. After a particularly bad desaturation episode early the next morning, they asked us to step out of Zachary's room. When we returned, we found that the neonatologist had medically paralyzed him, in hopes that his vitals would stabilize.
I haven't paralyzed a kid in probably 10 years, but I think we needed to do it. He's just fighting too hard. I really think it will help.
And, it did "help". Zachary couldn't fight the ventilator or get too agitated with the constant pokes and prods - both of which were causing him to dangerously desaturate. But, it also took away any ability he had to communicate. He could no longer cry, blink, sneeze, squeeze our fingers or move any part of his body. He couldn't show us that he was feeling pain. He couldn't look for me.
Of all the interventions they tried, this particular one nearly broke me. I remember feeling new layers being scraped out of the already cavernous pit in my stomach, upon seeing by sweet baby, now paralyzed. Of course, at that time, I also still had some hope that this would all be a distant memory, if Zachary could just pull through the sepsis.
There are so many things I miss about my precious boy. Looking into Zachary's eyes and knowing that he was trying to see me is just one of them.