Can someone Waste with me?

When we lived in the NICU, our nurses would ask each other to witness wasting controlled substances. The tiny patient needs a scheduled morphine dose, so his nurse recruits someone who has a second. The two walk to some locked location, retrieve the morphine, the correct dosage is pulled out, and the rest is “wasted” into some receptacle (that neutralizes it? or it goes somewhere it can never be retrieved? I never actually saw it). Then, both nurses log in to a computer to verify the time, amount, etc.

Sometimes, I still find myself biting the insides of my mouth.

Lately, when I am very still, I am both now and then. I am sitting holding baby Breen in my home, and I am sitting in the ECMO room the night of the bowel perforation. I am breathing now, and at the same time, I am desatting then. I am warm and cozy and peaceful, my face is snuggling his fluffy puff of hair; I am cold and aching and tormented, my face is wrapped in a yellow paper mask. I am (comparatively) safe; maybe, I am sending some safeness back to the then-me.

We are scheduled to have Breeny’s hernia surgery on February 1 (back at Primary Children’s in SLC).

He slept all night last night, and his nosies only slipped out once. He still laughs at everything except his own exhaustion, any too-slow feeding technique, or his gassiness/hernia gurgliness.

Breen still kicks and splashes in the tub like it is his Solemn Duty, his Life’s True Calling, his Gift to the World.

He still eats everything, we haven’t used the G-tube in over four weeks. In fact, I’ll take a page from Jon’s book and say: Happy One Month Anniversary of No Gavaging! This morning Jon told his sister (visiting from WA) and I, “Happy Three Month Anniversary of NICU Graduation!” (Paraphrasing.)

Breeny left the Portneuf NICU on October 15, 2021.

The wall I’m leaning against remembers when I was on bed rest, cringing, losing fluid.

Sometimes, one of me is still in that first hospital room. Sometimes she comes back home to the now. Other times she visits me in a series of NICU bedspaces, of rooms in the Ronald McDonald house where our phones rang at wrong times of days. She is still in shock. I am still shocked.

CALLING ALL ERINS, CALLING ALL JONS. Sending up a flare from Meadowlark Lane, inviting the spooked, the shocked, the agonized pieces of your souls to come on home now.

We are home now.

— -…

much later…in a house asleep… Sunday, January 16…

The adorable, fluff-laughy pictures didn’t upload in a suitable fashion, so i walked back into Saturday. Nora came home, exhausted from playing with her Nonna. She recharged while watching Totoro, then flamed out during our friends’ (the Monarch Trio) concert. No stress to percuss the wee Breenlet; his aunty performed CPT midday!


Sometimes the past curls around my ankles like a purring putty cat.

Sometimes it’s a serpent-dragon that smacks me between the eyes, throws my neck and spine out of alignment, and disappears.

Sometimes the past is just a tiny poem. The winter light on a Nantucket floor, the detritus of hurricane Bob up in Maine, the richly colored tablecloth and feast of Lebanese foods in La Crescenta. The phone call that knocked the wind out of me. I fall to my knees. I fell. And I beg the new year for a fragment of her birthday.

Birthday wishes.

But lately, the past is me, I’m sittting in an underpopulated ECMO room, and I miss my deceased musician friend who had unending faith in my strength. No one knows why the mind does these things. I’ve been practicing EMDR with a therapist since March, 2021. I remember numbly telling a nurse about that deathiversary.

Sometimes EMDR therapy is like pushing crumbs in circles around the kitchen floor with a saggy broom. Sometimes it’s more like massage therapy, when there is the knot and there is the howl, while the pain becomes endorphins.

Sometimes, I just stare at cell phone Falmouth sunsets or a sleepy cherry tree sent from back east. I move quietly like the one who uncovers the icthyosaur.

We drip drops of saline in his nose, so the secretions don’t cement. He smiles.

We plop Breen on as many aunties and grands as KN95/ safety allows.

We weep at the surge that stresses caution, and farther away family stays far. We hunker. We limit the introduction of invasive species.

This. Is. Not. Easy.

When you waste, it’s because there was too much there for that tiny frame to take. The witness keeps everyone safe.

When you waste, it’s gone for good. It is not a public decree, it’s only a passing feeling. Excess. It is neutralized, and then it’s safely disposed.

Nora Poetry Corner:

upon receiving a kids’ sized play-kitchen: I love my kitchen set, and you love your kitchen set, and it’s a whole new world!



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store