I immediately jumped into a taxi, and Sergio stayed home with Hugo. I remember hearing her with the cabdriver’s ears, her pitiful mewing sounds, and thinking how bad she sounded. Still, I assumed it was something related to her allergies, at worst a deviated septum, and that we would be released from the hospital in time to walk home before it became too hot. We wouldn’t take her home until over 2 months later.
The cabdriver dropped us off at a back entrance and I inadvertently bypassed the intake process and triage center, walking right into the ER. The doctors looked at me quizzically, and not realizing my mistake, I told them that my daughter couldn’t breathe well, and could they please help. The room got silent and as soon as they could hear her shallow, labored breathes, they ordered me to take her out of the carrier and put her on a gurney.
Ari’s tiny body was suddenly dwarfed by nearly 20 doctors. One approached me, and began asking me questions about everything from my pregnancy to the last few hours. They were phrased in such a way that that she presumed information that was incorrect, and I was immediately put on the defensive. “She was premature, wasn’t she?” “She never breastfed, has she?” “She’s been throwing up during the night, isn’t that right?”
Frustrated, I told her that both her father and I have allergies, that she sometimes has problems breathing, and that last night her allergies were worse than normal. The doctor scoffed at my deductive reasoning and said in response “your daughter is in grave danger”.
I felt myself getting hysterical, but tried to counterbalance it with the knowledge that the doctor might not have intended to invoke the fear that now filled my body. “What are you saying?” I asked. “Could my daughter die?” She just shrugged in response.
Ch. 1: The First 6 Weeks
Ch. 2: To the ER (this page)
Ch. 3: The Transfer
Ch. 4: The Diagnosis
Ch. 5: The Rashkind Procedure
Ch. 6: 8 Weeks in PICU
Ch. 7: Ari’s Arterial Switch
Ch. 8: The End . . . and the Beginning