The beeping, the intermittent alarms sounding, the frigid air, the staleness in the hallway. The strong scent of antiseptic lingering on my fingertips. The hushed voices, the sleepless nights, and the cat naps whenever you can sneak it in. Getting to know the staff, and feeling sad when one of your favorites leaves after a full day’s shift. Going home for a quick shower, a nap that never happened, and catching up with whatever is happening at home.

I had a glimpse into being a hospital family. I did not like it…one bit. Going back and forth, trying to remain calm and serene for our older child, all while trying to keep his normalcy in check.

Hailey was fighting Croup so often, so we assumed she had it again. We kept her home on a Friday, took her to the pediatrician, and by the evening, her health took a turn.

I think for the first time in my life, as I reflect back on those moments, I was truly scared for her health. Her color maybe changed just a tad, and her breathing worsened. I  had been watching her tummy all day- breathing deeply, pulling and tugging, trying to get comfortable breaths in. It was finally decided that a visit was necessary to the emergency room.

Five hours into our visit, I was hopeful that we would go home, but realistic that we would not.

1:00 a.m. and we are finally brought into a room in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

Well, here we are again, I thought to myself.

This was deja vu. Almost three years ago, my son was here, at the same hospital, fighting off the same viruses: Rhinovirus, RSV, Bronchiolitis.

This was a lot for my son then, and it was a lot for my daughter now.

It was hard to watch how hard she worked every single day, but this felt wrong. Watching these viruses put more stress on her already tired little body.

It felt the same, but also so different. Hailey’s stay would be prolonged. Noah was out within two days, maybe three from what I could recall. But Hailey, as we know, does not have a clear cut, easy plan.

Given her health conditions, specifically her low tone, fighting off infections, or even being able to get full breaths in, were not so straightforward.

It is never a good sign when the specialists come in to evaluate her and have a discussion with you.

Pulmonologist. Check.

Hailey may have weakened or floppier airways because of her anatomy and tone. A possible scope is needed to rule out a condition.

Another condition, another complication.

I took this all in stride.

It wasn’t until I sat at my computer at 1 a.m., after a 3-hour nap, and wrote it out, that I allowed myself to feel the emotions that were mostly bottled up.

This seems to be the case, often. I am so able to hold it all together, until I unravel.

I give myself a few minutes- I don’t allow too long of  a period to grieve, for it could truly always be worse. Plus, this was Hailey’s hardship- she was the one struggling.

Being in this setting, however, does change my perspective. The sounds that are so loud for many, have become second nature for us.

The whistling of oxygen being distributed into her adorable little nose, and the breathy noise of the cool air surrounding our room almost felt comforting.

Her little chest rising and falling, sometimes so fast that I felt my heart beat was in sync with hers- moving quickly, yet steady enough to ground myself in the moments.

Her hospital crib seemed jail like- and we both wanted her so badly to break free. Her eyes, watering with tears and sickness, pleaded with the hospital staff and me to help her.

Her beautiful voice had been dulled and weakened, so when she cried, it was subdued and dull.

The one thing that kept us going besides our family and friends constant updates and support, was the reassuring staff members who talked to Hailey and made her comfortable.

They made this feel normal. I mean, it was a very common occurrence for kids to get sick and hospital with these viruses. But, they made it feel normal for our Hailey. They talked to her, commented on her beautiful blue eyes, her adorable curly hair, and her strength even during her weakness.

Hailey, the strongest girl I know…

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