Losing Mila Rose
It was getting dark on our walk around the neighborhood that night. Mila was getting drowsy in her stroller, snacking on blueberries as we neared our house. By the time we got to the back porch she was sleeping peacefully with her little feet propped up on the rails. I remember looking at her sweet baby features while I sat outside for a few minutes longer, enjoying the May weather. I had no idea that in a few short hours, after laying her carefully next to me in my bed, I would wake up to the start of my nightmare.
Eric was working second shift that night, so when he got home around 2am, Mila must have heard him and snuck in the living room for some snuggles. I heard her getting sick not long after and hurried in to check on them. Poor baby girl was burning up and couldn’t hold anything down, so I brought her into the shower and cradled her against me in the luke-warm water until she finally was able to rest. We chalked it up as her first stomach bug and did our best to keep her hydrated and her fever down the rest of the day.
The next day she started to break out in a rash. We had her pediatricians cell number, so I sent her pictures and outlined every symptom she had since she became ill. Her doctor was confident that it was hand foot and mouth disease so she just called her in some nausea meds and told me to bring her in the next morning if she wasn’t doing any better. My mommy gut was telling me something wasn’t right, that maybe it was chicken pox. Since she was fully vaccinated for her age-three years old, I was told that chicken pox weren’t a possibility.
I spent my day making her comfortable and holding her bowl when she threw up. Her daddy got home that night around the same time as the night before and we were still on the couch. He took her to her bedroom and snuggled her in her big girl bed while they watched Moana and I tried to clean up. She slept in our bed every night since she was born, so when I was finished I made them come back to my bed so we could try to get some sleep. Mila woke up a couple times in a panic, like she forgot where she was or was having a bad dream. I calmed her down and got her back to sleep, but around 4am she woke up and began seizing.
I did all I could do for her while screaming for my husband to wake up and call for an ambulance. She went limp in my arms, she was so lethargic-but still breathing. I didn’t let her go until I laid her little body on that gurney inside the ambulance myself. My husband followed behind us in the ambulance calling family members the whole way to the closest hospital. While I steadied myself in the back with Mila,holding the oxygen to her nose.
Upon arrival at the ER knew things were worse than expected. I stood in the room they wheeled her into while frantic nurses came in and out looking at me with sadness in their eyes while they hooked my perfect child up to IV’s from head to toe. The doctor came in shortly after my husband made it to her room, “we think it’s meningitis” he told us before hugging me. The med evac team was already called and on it’s way to take her to a hospital with a pediatric ICU.
We were so scared, but still hopeful. I have a bit of medical back ground so I had already shut down completely at the news. That still didn’t prepare me for her next doctor in the least. It killed me that I couldn’t ride over with her in the helicopter, every moment she was away from me killed me. My baby was sick and didn’t know a single person the whole way over, my head was spinning in the waiting room. I needed to get to her room or just to her wherever she was, I’m her mom and she needed me. Surely they would at least come get me to be with her! Not quite..
The peds doctor came to the waiting room after a while to speak to us privately. He said his name then, “she will not survive this”. The rest was static in my head, but he was telling my family that our Mila Rose had contracted meningococcal meningitis. A strain he had only ever seen 6 cases of in his career, and out of them only one teenage patient had survived it. The next hour was sobbing, no one could stop. I wanted to scream, I didn’t want to believe him, but I knew it was true.
My whole world was in a big hospital bed hooked up to a room full of equipment when I finally was allowed back to see her. Her little body was splotched with blood poisoning, and sedated. I wouldn’t leave her side, I didn’t sleep, I barely ate or drank anything. I would have done anything in this world to take her place, but all I could do was kiss her little face and cry. It couldn’t be real, but it was.
So much happened in the few days I spent sleeping in a hospital bed next to my sick baby girl. But ultimately when it came time for them to ask the hard question, I knew my answer with out faltering. I would not let her suffer any longer, she was declared brain dead with all of the scans, tests, and retests to prove it. I had to give her the peace she deserved, so on May 20th at the same time of morning that she was born, we began turning off the machines that were keeping her body living.
I rocked her to sleep for the last time singing her all of our songs and reading her favorite book to her. And once she was gone, I rocked her some more. Her nurses didn’t rush me, so I gave her a bed bath and fixed her hair. They let me hold her and love on her until the funeral home arrived instead of taking her from me to set in a freezer down in the morgue, and I’ll forever be grateful.
The days that followed are a blur, I couldn’t tell you who was at her funeral or much of anything except how beautiful she looked in her Disney gown and real tiara surrounded by flowers. Or how it felt to have to leave her at a cemetery in the rain to be buried after the service.
My life will never look the same because she lived and I wouldn’t change that for anything. In her little life she left her mark on so many people, she was such a special girl. I’m so proud to be her mommy, even if it looks a lot different now.