It was a love-hate relationship.
When it came into our lives, almost three and a half years ago, it sounded like the ugliest, most foul word we had ever heard. Tracheostomy. T-R-A-C-H-E-O-S-T-O-M-Y.
A silicone tube that would be placed in a surgical opening in our daughter's throat. An artificial airway that would be secured in place by cloth ties constantly around her neck. A tiny little piece of medical technology that would take so much time and care that we felt as though we paid as much attention to it as we did to our daughter herself.
But we quickly realized that this little tiny piece of silicone would allow our daughter to breathe because she was not strong enough to do so on her own. It would allow her to leave the hospital, two and a half months after she was born, and come home to finally start being part of our family. It would allow her to grow and develop and get so strong. It would save her life.
This tiny, light weight little thing would become such a heavy presence in our lives. We had to learn how to care for it, keep it and the site clean, and what to do in an emergency, life and death situation. We had to recruit a small army of family and friends to learn this stuff as well. We could not go anywhere without a suction machine and emergency supplies. Heck, we couldn't even switch rooms in our house without taking along enough stuff to stock a hospital room. Having it meant Rissa did not filter the air she breathed normally, so she was much more susceptible to infection and illness. We had to be so vigilant as to make sure nothing fell into it, causing her to aspirate. We had to walk a fine line between keeping Marissa humidified enough, but not too much, causing her to be "juicy" and require suctioning all the time. We had to keep an eye on it all the time to make sure she did not accidently take it out, thus threatening her own life.
There were many times I resented the trach. I resented the fact that Marissa depended on it so much. I resented the fact that she would never be "normal" because of it. I resented the isolation it brought. I resented how people stared at my precious girl because of it. I resented the "club" we had been forced to join because of it, even though this club brought so many awesome people into our lives we would have not known without it.
In it's final days, I found myself growing sentimental about, even thankful for the trach. It changed our lives so drastically. Looking back, it made Jeremy and I stronger too. It forced us to grow up and not take life for granted. It brought to light all the trivial nonsense that seemed so important in our lives before. It made us see our daughter's inner beauty, which radiates from her like the brightest sunlight, every day.
In the end, of course, we are glad to see it go. But we are also acutely aware of how we are all better people because of it.
Thank you, Tracheostomy. You served us well.
May 9, 2007 - September 20, 2010
P.S. I did two posts at once, so make sure to scroll down to the next post to see more pictures and another video!