Our daughter was only six days old when our cardiologist announced the time had come for surgery. Again we were forced to listen to a jumbled mess of medical jargon while signing a giant stack of paperwork. Somehow, even while taking high doses of pain meds, I was not only supposed to listen, I was supposed to understand it all. Basically, I was not allowed to sue if somehow something went wrong in the middle of all this stuff I didn’t even remotely understand. Got it.
“First we are going to repair her VSD,” the doctor said.
Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention our daughter had other issues besides a missing pulmonary artery and pulmonary valve. Just add it to the pile. It was all more than I wanted to know.
“We will be taking a… blah… blah… blah… and implanting a blah… blah… blah… then we will be detaching a blah… blah… blah... and then finally the surgery will be complete.”
I must confess I don’t remember all of the details of this conversation. Sorry. In this instance, the details aren’t really important. It’s just a bunch of medical jargon anyway.
“Oh. So it’s like plumbing,” said my husband with an attempt to inject humor into the stress.
“Yeah. Sure,” the doc said with absolutely no laughter. “It’s like plumbing.”
So much for lightening the mood.
Soon after this conversation, I remember standing in the hallway that led to the pediatric surgical wing. It was a mere matter of hours between “we will be taking your daughter to surgery” and the actual taking of her. I remember standing next to my husband in a brightly lit, white hallway while holding my seven-day-old daughter in my arms. I remember looking down at her and thinking to myself, No way. There is no way I’m handing this child over to those people. No way, no way, no way, no way…
Back to the movie.
CAMERA HOLDS on MOMMY and DADDY standing in front of sign that says “Pediatric Surgery.” MOMMY holding BABY. DADDY stands with arms around MOMMY. Two young DOCTORS stand nearby waiting to take BABY to surgery.
I don’t think I can do this.
MOMMY and DADDY cry over and hug BABY murmuring “We love yous” and other reassurances.
DOCTORS motion that it’s time to let them take the BABY.
MOMMY won’t let go. She clings to the baby, wetting the baby’s face with her tears.
DADDY makes small motion towards helping MOMMY hand over BABY.
Not yet… not yet…
CAMERA HOLDS ON: MOMMY - hugs baby close almost “blocking” the doctors from taking her.
(with great emotion, through tears)
OK, baby girl… this is it. All you have
to do is take a nice long nap while the
doctors do all the work. OK?
MOMMY makes small motion toward letting go. In one swift move the DOCTORS seize their moment, swoop in grab BABY and walk quickly down hall toward double doors to surgical wing.
CUT TO: MOMMY and DADDY - left standing in hallway with empty hands and obviously deflated spirits.
CAMERA pulls back from couple and continues down hallway away from MOMMY and DADDY. (from POV of BABY as if BABY was looking back at her parents and seeing them fade away)
Emphasize smallness of two parents standing lonely in a large, colorless hallway.
FADE TO BLACK
I was standing in that bright, sterile hallway when for the first time in a long time I let my tears flow appropriately in the moment they were supposed to flow. Unfortunately, once the water works started I really and truly could not turn them off. That’s how come I was wailing like only my inner two-year-old could wail when it came time to hand over my baby to the surgical team.
I knew I had to do the unthinkable. I knew I had to hand her over to the doctors and trust she would come back to me. I knew it, but I couldn’t do it. I was sobbing uncontrollably and my heart was breaking, and yet, I had no choice. I still had to let go of my little girl and give her away to… strangers.
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