“Zoe’s doing well but doctor Diaz wants to speak to you,” said the nurse one morning when we called to check in.
“What’s going on?” One thing was for sure: the doctors did not want to talk to you if the news were good.
“She’ll call you as soon as she’s done with another patient.”
I waited for the phone to ring. It took less than half an hour for doctor Diaz to call.
“The baby had some convulsions last night. It wasn’t extreme, but her arms and legs were jolting, particularly on one side of the body. I ordered an MRI and an EEG, to monitor her brain activity for 48 hours,” she said.
“What can this be? I’ve never seen her do this before.”
“Typically convulsions are the consequence of a neurological condition, but this was a very light seizure, and premature babies sometime have reactions like this. I just ordered the tests to discard any problem in the brain,” she said.
When I arrived at the NICU Zoe had just arrived from the MRI, which took place in another area of the hospital.
“Her first field trip,” said the nurse. “She behaved very well. The technician should arrive anytime now to set up the EEG.”
I chatted with the technician as she glued several probes to Zoe’s head. Each one of them had a wire that was connected to a box and read her brain activity. The glue had a strong smell. A big screen next to her isolette showed red and blue lines, zigzagging with no apparent pattern. There was also a camera filming her, so that if she had a seizure they could see her physical reaction and read the brain activity.
Gretel was in a rocking chair holding her baby.
“Apparently Zoe had some convulsions last night. She’s on this machine for two days,” I explained, with a knot in my throat.
She nodded slowly. “Been there, done that,” she said. “Matthew here had that same test done. They didn’t find anything. Look at him now.”
“Really?” I said, once again relieved. “Now they say it can be something in her brain. It’s just so scary.”
“It is. I was scared at everything that happened to him. Let me tell you one thing. At the end of the day this is my baby, and nobody is going to take that from me. No matter what the doctors say, what the risks are, today I’m here and I’m holding him, and that’s all that matters.” Her eyes shone with pride as she held her son. “When our babies were born the doctors told us about all the risks and all the things that could go wrong, and gave us all these brochures and papers about preemies. You know what we did?”
I shook my head.
“My husband and I threw them away. We would read it when the time came, if we ever needed it. Right then and there we decided that these babies would be what we claimed, not what the statistics said. Our babies will be loved, and they will be happy, and that’s the way it will be.”
My knot in my throught melted away with Gretel’s words. I sat next to Zoe with a light heart, knowing that I had something that nobody could take away from me. I replayed our conversation in my mind several times, and it never failed to make me feel the blessed owner of an amazing treasure, that would stay with me forever.