The nurses at the hospital immediately plugged Juniper into the machines that would them about her insides. The standard EKG and Pulse Oximeter.
She lie there, still and lifeless.
The nurse began to attempt an IV. If you have ever seen an infant receive an IV, you know the heartbreak this brought to me. The nurse haphazardly stabbed at Junipers skin and flesh, fishing for her very small veins. Juniper screamed until sound stopped coming out of her tiny body.
She gasped for air.
I could not process the pain any better than she could. I could not understand what was happening to her any better than she could. The nurse finished the IV, started her on fluids and left the room. The defenses in my mind collapsed and I cried by her bedside as she slept.
For the next 5 days, we desperately tried to keep Juniper alive.
We worked with speech therapists to try feeding techniques and specialized bottle nipples. It was a two person job. We had to force feed Juniper every two hours around the clock. One person would hold her perfectly upright as the other played darts with the rubber nipple, dodging her tongue and lips.
The speech therapists were very helpful. The physicians simply came into the room periodically to threaten us with a feeding tube.
It took about 50 minutes to feed Juniper: 10 minutes to strip her naked and get her uncomfortable enough to wake her, 20 minutes to force feed her about an ounce, and 20 minutes to hold her upright and try to limit the re-flux. This relentless routine would continue for weeks after we left the hospital.
Later I would refer to the whole first few months of the girls lives as The Death Zone. This time is difficult for any parent to survive. If you have twins it will be even harder. If you have a special needs child it will be harder yet. If you have both twins and a special needs child, be prepared for parts of your self to die. They'll be reborn in new, perhaps even better, ways down the road so don't worry too much about it.
I will admit it did think it would never get easier. I thought people that told me it would get easier were lying to me. I convinced myself that having kids was all some big conspiracy. A lie that parents told to themselves and others. It did get easier.
But not before it got far more difficult.
[for the next few posts, we will take a break from our timeline and move forward a few months to discuss some new perspectives...stay tuned next Tuesday]