I remember it was very hot that August night. Somewhere along the road from Galway to Dublin, Saturday had turned into Sunday. My neck was sore from staring at the car wing mirror for 3 hours. I was straining to catch the blue flashing lights as the neonatal ambulance carrying our 2 day old son sped passed. I never saw the lights. We arrived long before them. My apprehension intensified. The ICU staff were surprised but welcoming. We were led to the parents' room down a corridor into a foreign land. Machines beeped, whooshed and pumped. Kids were plugged in and zoned out. Parents keeping a vigil by their beds. Staff were calm, in control but very serious. We were in big trouble, I knew we wouldn't leave this foreign country for a very long time, and when we did, our lives would never be the same again.
The ambulance team arrived about an hour later. They assured us all was well. Rory handled the journey and was reconnected to the ventilator in the adjoining room. It was time to let the staff do their job, someone asked if we wanted to see a priest. I declined. Tests on tiny babies take time, a lot of time. At 3.15 am a very kind consultant urologist knocked gently on the door and introduced himself. First names only, no room for titles or white coats here. He was shaking his head, not in despair, but in disbelief. It had never been seen before. No kidneys but, as he put it, lungs in pretty good nick. This was one hell of a fighter we had. We're not sure though, it's never been seen, we need more expertise. They'll be here in the morning. So we were asked to wait.
I've learned a lot about waiting since then. At that stage, I was still a novice; I didn't cope very well. 12 hours of wondering would we have to steal a last look, kiss him goodbye and turn off a whooshing machine. 12 hours of hell. I couldn't sleep and, having just given birth; sitting was still a challenge. So I walked, I walked every corridor in Crumlin hospital, railed at every holy statue and blessed virgin mocking me with their benign, trust in Us eyes. For those of you lucky enough not to have darkened the doors of that hospital, believe me that's a lot of eyes!
The night stretched into day, the morning bled into afternoon before we were released. His lungs came up trumps. The risk was worth it. It would be tough, there would be a lot of time spent in hospital, there were no guarantees, but he was given good odds. We grasped that chance with both hands and ran like hell! In the space of an hour we had re-ordered our lives, secured a house to live in, plotted our move to Dublin and remembered how to breathe in and out.
Today was just as hot as that August night, but today, he walked into his new classroom, smiled at his junior infant class mates, turned to me and said 'see ya later chickenlicken'.
What a difference a day makes.