The minute I saw the look on her face, I felt I’d made a mistake.
We had been calm, casual even as we drove to the ER.
“Mommy is going to see the doctors so they can help me feel better,” I said.
We worked very hard not to let her sense the tension of the moment, the concern we were experiencing.
It seemed we were successful. She sat in my lap in the waiting room, relaxed and chatty and eating a snack as we waited for me to be called back.
I had wanted my husband to simply drop me off at the curb and take her straight home. I didn’t want her exposed to it. But, with a history of very bad ER experiences, he wanted to come in to make sure I was attended to in a timely manner.
“You could die in the waiting room,” he explained. “It happens.”
I knew he was worried, too. So they came in with me. I made them stay in the waiting room when I was taken back to the ER. But once I was in a room, I texted him:
“I will be here for hours. Why don’t you bring her back so she can say goodbye, and then take her home?”
I thought it would be best if she have a chance to see me before they left.
And then I saw her face as she stood in the doorway, looking at me in a hospital bed with tubes and wires coming and going in every direction.
I instantly had tears in my eyes. Not from my own emotions, but from hers. From the fact that she was experiencing seeing her Mommy like this.
Hubby helped her up onto the bed, and she sat next to me. I chose my words carefully. I didn’t want to make promises I might not be able to keep. She’d remember that even more.
“You’re going to go home with Daddy, and Mommy will stay here so the doctors can take care of me. We’ll talk on the phone before you go to bed.”
“I see you in the morning? You come home?”
“I don’t know if I’ll be home in the morning. But if I’m still in the hospital, we’ll talk on the phone as soon as you wake up. And you can come back to visit me.”
At that moment, the doctor came in, and I tried to pass her to my husband so I could speak with him without distraction. That’s when her tears came. She clung to me and buried her head in my chest, not wanting to be separated from me.
He peeled her off me and sat with her in a chair across the room, where she wailed and stretched out her arms in my direction. I told him to give her back to me, and held her close, whispering in her ear that it was OK and wiping away her tears, my heart breaking in a way the doctors would not be able to fix.
In the end, she was fine. She spent hours with me in my hospital bed the next day, playing with the buttons, watching TV, reading books. I was fine, too. The doctors sent home with a new medication to regulate my heart’s rate and rhythm.
But it had an effect on her, and that hurts me.
“I worried about you when you in the hospital, Mommy,” she said once I was home.
“I know, sweetie, but I’m OK. And I’m so happy to be home with you again.”
I hate that I put you through that, sweet girl. I don’t ever want to make you feel that way again.
Elizabeth blogs about her struggles and successes as a writer and a mom at The Writer Revived. She is the author of Cease Fire: A Call to End the War Between Women, which she is currently working to get published. In March 2011 she launched The Mom Pledge, an online campaign to eradicate cyber bullying among moms. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. She loves social media!