Of all the red-letter days in my life, this one has had the most prayers, the most fasting, more tears and anxiety than any other. Eloise is in the OR at this moment, in the hands of her competent surgeons and a loving God.
The hardest part of this isn't the big things, it's the constant stream of small insults. It's that Eloise has had her heel poked four times in the past two days to draw blood. Last night I had to wipe her down with surgical wipes that stung her skin and made her cry, turned her all red. It's the crappy thermometers that indicate inaccurate low body temperatures. So she gets a swaddle and a hat. When I come in and unwrap her, the poor thing is red as a lobster and sweaty. It's the IV in her foot for 4 days. It's all those stupid cords and wires and lines that tangle and make it difficult to treat her like a normal baby. It's that everyone at the hospital refers to me as "mom," whether or not I in fact gave birth to them. Which is actually only one little human being in this sea of people. Is it so hard to remember my name, for sanity's sake?!
It's having to ask permission to see my child. Having to wear a badge every minute I'm here. It's having to deal with a new nurse every shift, who may not know Eloise or even worked with a replogle before. It's the stinky elevators and bathrooms. It's the dead fly I found in my cafeteria salad on Monday. It's the crying parents all over the place. It's the inconsolable wails of drug babies. It's the fact that I hate hospitals, but have spent more time in hospitals in the past six months than I have ever spent in a college classroom, art museum, library or bookstore (where I love to be.)
It's that my three girls at home cry every single blasted time I even put my shoes on. That I still have to orchestrate all the goings-on in my little house even if I'm not there. Still have to plan meals, laundry, school, groceries, budget. I still have to keep my three girls at home healthy and fed, and try to spend all my time at home loving them, even with a stack of medical bills that demand attention. It's having to rock and sing my girls to sleep every night because they miss me so much while I'm gone.
I suppose this is why at this moment, when Eloise is literally enduring a painful, long and life-saving procedure, I feel strong. I feel unbelievably calm. Because even though this is probably the most important five hours I'll ever have to go through, I feel hopeful. This big thing means the end of all the insulting little things.
We are one step closer to home. We are one step closer to summer afternoons on the lawn, one step closer to sleepovers in the glamper. We are one step closer to life!