A Crashing Christmas Eve

The air escaped me in rapid, uneven and shaky breaths.  All I could think was “my baby….”.  There was smoke surrounding me and my face burned from the airbag striking me. My abdomen and chest ached from the seat belt grabbing me.  The book of baby names that I had held in my lap suggesting name as we drove, was lost in the car, knocked out of my hands as our cars collided.

As I opened the car door, I saw the man approaching with a look of panic on his face.  As he stared at me with eyes wide and mouth gaping, I realized that my thouhgts were escaping my mouth as verbalized words, shrill and trembling.  “My baby, my baby….” 

It must have been a scary sight to the young man who had crashed into us.  A crumpled car, smoke escaping from the now exposed engine, two children in the back seat of the car looking rather bewildered as the reality of a crash sunk in to their young minds, and a large bellied pregnant woman in shock repeating only two words as her husband made the rounds to check on everyone.  

The impact of the collision was on the fron passenger side, where I sat, just ahead of the door.  Every one appeared to be fine.  The girls did not have any injuries, but were frightened and tearful.  My husband was level headed and handled the police officers questions while also managing the children, as I sat at the back of the car, holding my belly, waiting to feel movement. Seven months along in my pregnancy, my mind raced with facts and knowledge that I had gained during the OB rotation of nursing school, all of which just served to scare me more.  Sometimes knowledge is a bad thing. 

The ambulance came several minutes after the accident.  I was loaded up on a stretcher and driven to McLeods Hospital. I remember the surreal feeling of moving backwards as I peered out the back window of the ambulance that was speeding away to the hospital.  Concentrating on feeling my baby girl moving in my belly, I barely remember the face of the young paramedic who cared for me during the bumpy ride.  

Upon arrival to the emergency department, I was placed in a large room, curtains running down the middle to separate me from the person in the opposite stretcher.  I was triaged and left in the room alone waiting for a doctor to come and check me out, clearing me to be sent up to mother-baby to monitor my daughter’s health. 

My panic had subsided mildly because I had felt a few kicks on the way to the hospital. I knew she was moving and I hadn’t felt any contractions.  But I was still feeling uneasy and quite tired.  Scared that the trauma of the collision would send me in to pre-term labor, that my baby would come early and have complications because of this wreck. Waiting…waiting… anxious and scared, and waiting…

An alarm sounded from behind the curtain, and a flurry of people ran into the room to check out the alarming monitor and patient that shared the room with me. 

“V-tach – do we have pulses?  Start CPR and prepare to administer epi” the doctor said.

The patient across the curtained all was crashing. I felt bad being able to hear all of this, knowing what each word meant.  Not being part of the team providing care, it was a very personal moment for that patient’s family that I was suddenly able to be a part of, if only by overhearing. 

  It was amazing to be on this side of the curtain and overhear the progress of a code blue just on the other side of the curtain.  There was no chaos.  It was rather quiet except the doctor’s voice, the alarming monitor, and the rustling of packages as equipment was opened and prepared.  For ten long minutes these heroes – doctors, nurses, nurses assistants –  worked quietly and collaboratively to save this person’s life.  Finally there was a “good job everyone” and I heard some of the staff members leaving the room, as a couple stayed and cared for the patient who lived. 

At some point after this, the doctor made his way to my part of the divided room and apologized for the delay.  Smiling, I realized it was going to be okay, and shook the doctors hand.  I was awake, breathing, feeling my child fluttering within my womb.  It could have been so much worse, and as the code had unfolded next to me, I realized one thing.  I could have been the code blue, code trauma, dead.  I was relieved. Thankful to be alive.  Sorry for the family suffering this emergency beyond the curtain, but relieved that it wasn’t me. 

This made my Christmas-eve stay at the hospital on the labor and delivery unit for observation much more tolerable.  I had to take medication to stop the contractions that had started several hours later, but we were healthy and safe.  My family survived the car accident and came out without injury.  
Daily Post Prompt: Relieved

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