We went to Children's not because we were scared. When Boo was born I told the nurses and the doctors that she was breathing funny. They sent us home, me the over-reactive new mother. A complete 180 from when I had Abby and they wrote in her chart, failure to bond.
We took Boo home. Went to the Pub because she was "fine" and it was David's birthday. This is back when they gave you a free meal on your birthday. The next day the VNA nurse came to our house to do a well-being check on Boo and asked, why is she breathing so funny. She was breathing at 110 breaths per minute. The average newborn breaths at 30 breaths per minute. Two hours later we were at Children's Hospital. Sure that this was a fool's errand and again we would be told that we were overreacting we brought Abby.
And spent the next five hours with Boo hooked up to monitors and her sister seeing first hand that Boo wasn't safe. David and Abby went home at 11pm when we finally got a room. It was 2am when after an ECHO and found out she had FIVE holes in her heart. Then came that scary moment when Boo lost consciousness and I received my first introduction to the NICU. They asked me to leave so they could do some tests. I will never forget coming back, seeing nurse straddling my 5 day old newborn and screaming at another nurse that I couldn't be there right now. Not because I was interfering but because she didn't want that image in my head.
But it is. To this day I see that nurse, Allison, straddling Boo trying to get blood out of dehydrated veins. I see Mary, who when Boo passed out in my arms and I was alone screaming HELP HER and she did. Then she taught me not only where the oxygen was but where the HOLY CRAP button was. I will never forget going home one night to try to sleep but not. Dropping Abby off at Kindergarten and the head of the school offering to drive me back to Children's because I looked like death warmed over. That morning I went back and Boo wasn't where I left her. I thought my child had died.
For one moment imagine walking into a hospital and not finding your child where you left her. Imagine how it feels that you left your child for eight hours and she wasn't there.
But no, she was safe. Just transferred from the scary NICU to the not so scary part of the NICU. The ward that looked like a cattle barn. 3 patients to every nurse. She was getting stable. We were sent home seven days later.
I was terrified. I didn't want to leave. Boo spent the next two years sleeping on my chest. She ended up with 10 doctors working to keep her stable. Over the next five years she would have surgery on her spine, she would aspirate and be hospitalized over 12 times.
Boo survived. Despite our fears. Because of Boston Children's Hospital.
The first year of her life we formed Bridget's Brigade. Our family and friends have walked every year since. Bridget's Brigade has raised over $20,000 in support of the only hospital we trust. We walk to fund the research that may someday, far in the future, tell us why Boo must suffer. We walk for the other parents who walk into the NICU and think our child will not come home.
Throughout the years we have acquired many specialists. We have held Boo down for sleep studies, lab work, EEGs, surgery and MRIs. We have also watched our child triumph. To do things no one thought she would be able to do. Love her sister, walk and run and jump. She has words. Boo has friends. Boo has more support than I would have ever realized that moment when I thought she was gone from my life.
The morning when my heart broke and was rebuilt in an instant.
We walk for Boo and the thousand other children who bear unspeakable pain. And the parents who bear witness.
We ask you to share our story and support our cause. Last year Boo and Abby kicked off the Walk. We walked with 20 of her friends and this year will walk again. We ask you to please donate to her team:
I only have one thing to be thankful for this week: My Boo and the hospital who never stops believing in her.