I hope you like this,
Rita stood up from the table in the conference room as Peter and Sheila left. “Thank you Craig. I appreciate you taking the time from your schedule to help with this.”
“Oh, it’s no problem, she’s my patient.” he answered with a smile.
“Can I borrow that recording for a few minutes?” she asked.
“Sure, in fact, it might be a good idea to make it a part of her hospital record.” he said.
“That’s a great idea. Thank you. This won’t cause any issues with confidentiality will it?” she asked with concern.
“No. The fact that the therapy was done while she was an inpatient here eliminates any problems.” Craig answered with certainty.
“OK, good. I’ll see that this becomes part of her file then.” Rita told him as she took the DVD from his hand. “I need to go speak with the nurses for a few minutes. I want to catch them before the next set of rounds. I’ll see you later.” she explained.
“Alright, I think it would be a good idea if I spent some time talking with Sharon.” he told her as he followed her out.
Sharon still held Billy in her arms as Craig entered his room. “I’d like you to come take a walk with me if you don’t mind.” he told her with a warm smile.
“But who’s going to stay with Billy?” Sharon asked with concern.
“I’ll speak with the nurse and have her make sure he isn’t going to wake. Please, it’s important.” he assured her.
“Alright.” Sharon replied. She stood up as Craig left the room, took two steps and gently laid Billy in the crib. After giving him a kiss, she made sure the side was up and waited for Craig to come back.
Craig returned with Billy’s nurse, Faith. “Don’t worry Sharon, I’ll make sure Billy stays asleep, I promise.” she said.
“Thanks Faith.” Sharon answered with a grateful expression.
“Alright, let’s head downstairs.” Craig told her as he gently guided her out of the room. When they got off the elevator and entered the lobby of the hospital, he said “Let’s go right across the street for a little while.” and led her out the front doors, into a small park. He was silent as he walked, trying to determine the best way to start this conversation. When he got to a fairly secluded area with a bench to sit on, he said “Sit for a minute.” and joined Sharon on the bench.
Turning to face her he asked “Tell me something, what would you do if Billy passed away tonight?”
It felt like he had just slapped her. “Why would you ask me that?!?” Sharon cried as tears stung her eyes.
“Because any one of us could die in the next moment Sharon. Not one of us can escape it. Now please, try to answer the question.” Craig said softly.
Sharon didn’t want to think about that. At a loss, she said “I don’t know, probably lose my mind.” as tears fell.
“There’s a little girl upstairs that can’t afford for that to happen.” he told her. “She depends a great deal on you as well as her daddy. I spent thirty minutes talking with her today, and she made that very clear.”
“That’s nor fair.” Sharon said with a hurt expression.
“I know. Life is anything but fair or those two children wouldn’t be upstairs right now.” he responded. Letting her sit and think for a moment, he finally said “Look, you’re playing a dangerous game Sharon, you’re taking a lot of stress in but not letting anything out. It’s like a balloon, eventually, it will pop, and it usually destroys the balloon.” he explained.
As if he had just given her permission, Sharon burst into long hard sobs. She knew what he was saying was right. She had been trying to just get through, not dealing with the fear and stress, but keep moving until she had some time to take a break and work it out. The problem is, the stress kept coming and the breaks were never enough.
Craig pulled her into a hug and let her just cry for a time. Eventually, she said “I don’t know how to fix this.” and that told him what he needed to know.
“Well, I’ve always found that it’s impossible to solve a big problem, it just can’t be done.” with a warm smile.
“What?” she asked tearfully, really confused now.
“They’re just too big. The only way to get rid of a big problem, is to break it up into smaller problems and solve those. Once you’ve solved all of the smaller problems, the big problem doesn’t exist anymore.” he answered. After giving her a moment to consider this, he asked “So what’s the really big problem at the moment?”
Fresh tears fell as Sharon asked “How do I make them understand that no one is going to take them again? That they’re safe?”
“I see.” he said softly. “Hearing that the caseworker was coming didn’t make this any easier did it? You were as frightened as they are weren’t you?” he asked.
“Yes, I saw another nightmare coming.” she answered through her tears.
“I can understand that.” he told her. “Tell me, do you feel confident now that the state isn’t going to come and take the kids?” he asked.
“Yes.” she replied.
That question caught her off guard. “Do I still have a reason to worry?” she thought with alarm.
“No, you don’t have to worry, but I just want you to tell me why.” Craig reassured her.
“Because the caseworker Sheila cared. She told me that they weren’t going anywhere and talked about them with me.” Sharon answered.
“Because she cared.” Craig repeated.
“Yes.” she responded, not sure what he was getting at.
“I see.” he said with an impish grin. “Sharon, that’s exactly why your children started to feel secure before the incident this morning. They came here terrified and because they knew you cared, they learned to feel more secure.” he told her.
Sharon thought about this for a second before she smiled at how smart this man was. He had used her own words to prove his point.
"Look, there’s no quick fix for this one, no pill they can take or simple answer you can give. It’s going to take time to work this out. But I will tell you that you’ve already started fixing it. Can you imagine how much more frightened Billy would have been this morning if he hadn’t learned that you weren’t going to let someone take him? He would have definitely been on a ventilator.
You show both of them that they’re safe with every hug, every touch, and in this case, every diaper change or bottle held. That’s what’s made it so they could get this far and not have severe emotional issues and start acting out inappropriately. And by that I mean screaming, hitting and lashing out." he explained.
“I’m astounded at how quickly parents discount what they do.” he said with a smile and a shake of his head. “I imagine it’s because they couldn’t envision doing things any other way.” he added.
“You’re right.” Sharon replied. “I couldn’t imagine responding to Billy or Becky other than how I have.”
“That’s why Becky isn’t on heavy medication right now, and why Billy is sedated instead of in a coma. Take credit where credit is due, would you please?” he asked with a smile.
“You’re responsible for much of why Becky’s doing OK.” she told him.
"No, not true. I gave you advice. You and your husband chose to act on that advice the best way you saw fit, and made her situation better. It’s like I handed you a carving tool, and you made a beautiful woodcarving with it.
The point is, I could have given that advice to ten different sets of parents. Only one or two would have taken it and done as well as you and Rick have. Stop doubting what you know." he told her firmly.
“I can’t help it, I’ve never been in this situation before.” She justified.
"That’s where you’re wrong. Admittedly, the circumstances were different, but you can’t tell me that you’ve never needed to cuddle Becky or Billy to comfort their fears before, or to use hugs and kisses to show them, when they didn’t want to believe you, that they’d be alright.
It’s no different now, you’ve been through this before, just for different reasons." he explained.
Sharon had to laugh, he was right again. She had been through this before, just for different reasons. When Becky was afraid of monsters, she had offered comfort and eventually, after several nights of repeatedly getting up to show her there weren’t any in her room, Becky had believed. “How in the world did you get so smart?” she asked him with a chuckle. “Between you and Peter, I feel ignorant.” she added.
"I’ve studied a long time and worked hard to figure out how to get people to see what they can’t or won’t see. Just like Peter has studied and worked hard to help folks get better. And you and Rick have worked hard and watched those kids to learn how to help them be OK and learn what they need to learn.
We each have our area that we’re good at because we take steps to get good in those areas. I could never hope to be able to make Becky feel as safe as you or Rick do. You know that child better than I ever will. My part in this is easy. Yours is the hard one because you aren’t just trying to solve one problem, you’re trying to help Becky feel OK, while having to make decisions about Billy’s care that are scary. All the while life is throwing other issues at you that make it ten times more difficult.
You and Rick have done a hell of a job with all of this, but I will tell you, if you don’t take the time to talk with someone, whether it be Rick, your mom, Peter, April, me, it doesn’t matter who, then you’ll get to a point where you won’t be able to help yourself, let alone your children." He explained sternly.
Sharon was so thankful to have met this man. He cared a great deal. She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek and said “You’re right. Peter and Rick both told me the same thing. I’ve just been trying so hard to figure out how to fix this, I haven’t done anything else.” She answered.
“You aren’t the first person to wrack their brain over how to fix something that you’re already fixing.” he said with a smile.
“Thank you.” she told him warmly.
“You’re welcome.” he said, and then added “Just promise me you’ll reach out to someone when you get in a situation where you don’t know the answer.”
“I promise.” Sharon agreed.
“Alright. I need to go put a letter together for Sheila for Becky’s file. Are you going to be OK?” he asked.
“Yeah, thanks to some really wonderful people, I’m going to be fine.” Sharon said, and added “I think I need to go spend some time with my daughter right now.”
“That’s a great idea, she’ll be in heaven.” he said with a smile.
“Thank you again Craig, I really appreciate your help.” Sharon replied as she gave him a hug.
“No problem. Do me a favor and tell Becky I said thank you for helping me today and that she is such a good girl.” he requested.
Smiling at how caring Craig is, Sharon told him “I will.”
Craig made his way back to the conference room to get his laptop and then left the hospital to return to his office.
Sharon started back to the PICU to quickly check on Billy and then headed to Becky’s room.
Rick sat in the bed with Becky snuggled up in his lap. He turned the page and continued reading aloud as she listened intently, nursing her binky and snuggling Minnie close. He had asked her nurse if there was a place to get a book to read to her. The nurse had returned several minutes later with three books in hand. When the nurse approached Becky and asked "Which one would you like Daddy to read to you Baby?" Rick and April both had taken notice. Jackie was her name and she had not made any attempt prior to that to interact with Becky, other than taking her vitals. Becky looked at the three different book covers and decided on one. "Dat one." she said shyly. "That's a wonderful book." Jackie said as she handed it to Rick. "Thank you." Rick said as he took the book from her hand. "You're welcome Mr. Avery. I'll be bringing Becky's dinner in in just a little bit." she informed him. "It's Rick, please. And thank you." he told her. "Alright Rick, I'll be back soon." she said and left the room. "Hmmm." was all Rick said as he glanced at April. "I think someone is a bit better informed." April told him. "You know, I think you're right." Rick replied. He opened the book as he pulled Becky up into his lap, making sure that she had her Minnie, and began to read. It was thirty minutes later when Jackie came back in the room carrying an old highchair. It was the old style made of metal tubing with vinyl padding and a metal tray. "I had to go down to the basement to find this, it was the only kind we have that would fit Becky." she said with a smile. "Thank you very much." Rick said, certain that Jackie had spoken to someone about Becky's history. "Tell miss Jackie thank you for getting you a place to eat Baby." he told Becky. "Tank you." Becky said sweetly with a smile. "You're welcome Sweetheart." Jackie said. "I'll have her tray here in about ten minutes." she told Rick. "Great. I'll get her set in the chair by then." he said and watched her leave. "Wow." he told April. "Yeah, let me go find out what changed." she replied as she got up and left the room. Two minutes later she came back into the room bearing a big smile. "You know that issue that Craig talked to you about?" she asked. "Yeah." he answered. "It's been taken care of. There's also been some education done with the staff. It should be easier now." she told him. Rick smiled a big smile. He hadn't heard news this good in a long time. "Excellent." was all he said. "What Daddy?" Becky asked, having no idea what they were talking about. "Oh, I'm sorry Baby, the nurses just think you are such a cute Baby Girl, that's all." he told her with a kiss. Becky smiled big when she heard that. "Weawwy?" she asked. "Really." he told her and sat forward as he said "I know a baby girl that needs to get ready to eat." and shifted her so she was sitting on the bed. He got up, slid the highchair so it sat in front of the second chair in the room, and removed the metal tray. Picking Becky up, he sat her down in the seat and gently attached the strap that would hold her in place. He didn't think it was needed, but figured the hospital might balk if he didn't use it. Snapping the tray in place over Becky's lap, he gave her a tickle to her tummy and a kiss to her forehead as he said "There, all set Baby Girl." Becky giggled and said "Daddy!" when he tickled her. Jackie entered the doorway and said "Someone's here to see youuu." in a sing-song voice with a smile. Becky clapped her hands excitedly and exclaimed "Mommy!" when she saw Mommy come walking into her room holding a tray. "Hi Baby! How are you?" Sharon asked as she set the tray on the bed and gave Becky a hug and kiss. "I'm gonna eat." Becky said. "I know Sweety, I'm gonna feed ya!" Sharon said as she tickled her daughter. As Becky giggled, Sharon leaned over to give her husband a kiss. "Everything is fine." she whispered. "Thank you." he whispered back as he gave her a quick hug. "Alright, where is your bib Baby Girl? You can't eat without a bib." Sharon said as she went to the diaper bag and pulled out the Minnie bib and one with Cinderella on it. Holding them out to Becky, she asked "Which one Baby?" Becky looked at both of them and pointed to the Minnie bib and said "Dat one." with a big smile. "Alright, Minnie it is." Sharon said as she tied the bib around Becky's neck. Becky giggled again as Mommy tied the bib. "Are you ticklish?" Sharon asked as she purposefully wiggled the tie. "Yeth!" Becky said as she laughed. She loved playing with Mommy so much! "Yes you are, my little tickle butt." Sharon told her with a chuckle. "Alright, let's get you some yummy food Baby Girl." she added as she picked up a plate from the tray along with a spoon. Sharon knew she could probably use a fork without a problem, but decided that if Becky wanted to be fed like a baby, she would get the full treatment. She scooped up a spoonful of mashed potatoes and said "Here comes the choo choo." making the sound of a train. When Becky spit her binky out and giggled, she knew she'd made the right choice. Jackie stood watching the interaction between Sharon and Becky and couldn't help but smile. She hadn't known what to think about Becky's behavior before, but after Rita showed her the video of Becky and Craig, and explained what happened, she understood why the poor girl was acting like a toddler. She resolved at that point to treat her just like she was two because she understood it made her feel safe. Becky looked worried when some of the macaroni and cheese fell from her mouth and landed on her chest. Sharon smiled and said "That's why babies wear a bib Sweety. It's alright." That made Becky feel much better and she smiled. Not only didn't Mommy get mad cause she spilled her food, but Mommy also made her feel just like the baby girl she knew she was. When Jackie saw that Becky was almost done, she reached over and picked up the empty bottle that sat on the bedside table and said "I'll be right back with her bottle." "Please make sure it cold though or it'll make her gag." Sharon said quickly. "No problem." Jackie said with a smile and left the room. April quickly got up and followed her out. "Jackie?" she asked once she saw her in the hall. "Yes?" Jackie answered. "I'm April, Becky's aunt. I wanted to introduce myself and to ask what you were going to put in her bottle." she said. "I have some PediaSure in the fridge. I was going to give her that." Jackie answered. "Great, she loves the vanilla. If you find you don't have any PediaSure on hand, then a bottle of milk with a teaspoon of sugar will do fine." April explained kindly. "Thank you, some times we run short, that's good to know." Jackie replied with a smile. "We go through that all the time. Back home, I'm a PICU nurse." April offered. "Oh! I didn't know that. How long have you worked in pediatrics?" Jackie asked. "Twenty one years. I know, don't look now, but my age is showing." April said with a laugh. Jackie laughed as she said "Tell you what, follow me. We can continue to chat while I get her bottle. I don't want her to have to wait." "Great idea." April said as she followed beside Jackie and the two began discussing the merits of pediatric nursing. Sharon was fascinated to hear Jackie and April talking like they were old friends as they entered the room. "Miss Jackie has your ba ba Sweety." April said as they entered. Becky, having endured the terrible task of having her face and hands wiped clean, reached her hands out and said "Ba ba!" with a pleading expression. "Here you go Baby." Jackie said as she brought the nipple to Becky's mouth, smiling as Becky began to nurse instantly. She was a bit surprised when Becky let her hold the bottle rather than take it in her own hand, but stood smiling as she held it for her. A few seconds later, she asked "Do you like that ba ba?" Becky smiled around the nipple and nodded her head as she took Minnie from Aunt April's hand and hugged her tight. Just then, Peter walked in the room and Becky said "Unca Petew!" as she held her arms out to him. "Hi Baby Girl!" he said as he approached her highchair. Sharon had already removed the tray and released the restraining strap as Peter reached for Becky and picked her up, taking her bottle from Jackie's hand. April said "Jackie, this is Doctor Richardson, Becky's family doctor, one of the best neurologists in the country and…ummm…my fiance'" Sharon's head snapped around quickly at that announcement, and her eyes shifted to notice the engagement ring on April's hand. "April!" she said exasperatedly. "I'm sorry Sharon, with everything that's been happening, I didn't have time to tell you. He just asked me this morning." April told her with a blush. Rick moved closer to Peter and offered his hand. "Congratulations Peter." he said with a smile. "Thanks. I should have done it a long time ago." Peter said with a loving gaze at April. "Hey, better late than never." Rick said with a chuckle. "You're right about that." he replied. Sharon stood and hugged April saying "There is NEVER a bad time to tell me about this!" in a mock scold. "I know, I just didn't want to make a fuss." April answered blushing a deeper crimson. Jackie smiled and said "Boy do you have a lot to learn! That's what weddings are all about, fussing over the bride." Sharon laughed and said "Oh we're going to get along just fine." The three women began chatting about the ring and everything to do with weddings. Peter stood holding Becky as she nursed her bottle. Rick had returned to his chair. After ten or fifteen minutes, Peter said "I hate to interrupt this, but I know a nursing mother and her husband that haven't eaten since this morning." Sharon blushed immediately, so Jackie knew who he was talking about. "Well that just won't do at all." she said as she looked directly at Sharon. Peter looked directly at Becky and asked "Baby, would it be alright if I held you for a while while Daddy and Mommy went to eat some dinner?" Becky immediately started to cry and said "No." as she looked around for Daddy. Jackie really understood now as she saw Becky's reaction. The poor girl was frightened to be away from her daddy. "Sweety, Daddy and Mommy need to eat. They'll get sick if they don't Baby. You don't want them to get sick do you?" Peter asked. Still crying, Becky answered "No." "I promise Baby, I won't put you down the whole time they're eating OK?" he told her. Becky really didn't want Mommy or Daddy to get sick, so she hugged Uncle Peter tighter and just nodded her head as she nursed on her ba ba. "That's a good girl." Peter told her with a kiss to her forehead. Rick kissed her on her forehead and said "I promise Baby, we won't be gone long." Sharon also kissed her and told her "It'll be OK Baby Girl, I promise. We'll be back in just a little bit OK?" and she was glad when Becky nodded. Peter looked to Rick and said "You two go eat, and April and I will go when you get back." Sharon said "We'll be back soon." "Not too soon." Peter said with a wink. Understanding that he wanted her to take some time with her husband, Sharon smiled and replied "OK, not too soon." and they headed to the cafeteria. Peter settled in one of the chairs, took Becky's bottle in his hand and began patting her diaper, trying to make things easier on her. It didn't take long before she was sound asleep. With the meds she had today, a full tummy and a bottle to nurse, he wasn't a bit surprised.