Shortly after 12:00, Sarah and I got all checked into the Children's Hospital at the Cleveland Clinic. The floor had recently been given a complete makeover, so everything was shiny and new. I remember looking around and thinking they had done a nice job of giving it a homey feel. Nice pastel colors, adorable wood cutouts around the walls and a sink sized to comfortably wash a baby. I so appreciated that all the rooms were private, although I believed we would be spending such little time on this floor that it hardly mattered. Little did I know this would become our home away from home for many years, Club Med as we lovely referred to it.
For a half hour or so, Sarah explored her new crib while I read the mound of paper work I had been given. Shortly after settling in, John joined us while we waited for the team from cardiology to arrive. We were so unprepared for what was to come. Remember, this was 1990. There was no internet, no blogs, no list servs. We had only met one other family through the Upside of Downs in Cleveland that also had heart surgery. Reference material was sparse.
But that was all about to change. In walked Sarah's cardiologist, Dr. Daniel J. Murphy. (Dr. Murphy is now at Stanford in Palo Alto - curious if any of our California readers have met him?) Dr. Murphy and nurse Rita sat down and thoroughly explained everything that would be happening the next day. They even took us up to see another patient in the ICU to get an idea of all the tubes and machines that would be required to take care of Sarah the next few days.
Then we met with Dr. Eliot Rosencranz her cardiothoracic surgeon. We discussed the risk that we were taking. Sarah was not a healthy baby. Her heart defect had gone undetected for six months. She should have been on medication during that time and would have been had we known. Her lungs had already been compromised. Pulmonary hypertension was an issue. Yet without this surgery she would not survive. Looking back, I realize I was so naive about the dangers that lurked ahead. Yet, I'm so glad I was. Otherwise I might not have been able to hand her over the next morning.
After the doctors left, we sat in the room and watched a little television. They asked us not to walk the halls for risk of picking up a bug or virus that might be floating around. John stayed with me until it was time to pick TJ up from daycare. Then it was just me, Sarah and Minnie Mouse. I spent most of the evening cradling Sarah in my arms. I sang her favorite lullabies, soothed her whispy growing hairs and massaged her fragile body like I had been trained by the therapists. And in the quiet of that room, I prayed like I had never prayed before.