I did not want to harp on the sadness we endured but I did want to continue with My Perspective because we learned a lot through this journey and if we can help just one family through an emergency it will all be worthwhile.
I left off with my sister in critical care and no idea where her eighteen month old little girl, my most precious niece was. Me and my family were huddled together in the ICU waiting room anxiously taking turns being with Kate, waiting for miraculous news from the doctors and piecing the events of this tragedy together. Why didn't Zach rush to Kate's side? How bad were his injuries? Why didn't Zach's mom or Zeb's girlfriend come to Miami Valley or even stop at my house? The crash site is a mere ten minutes from my house if that with Atrium being only fifteen minutes away. Just as thoughts of going to the other hospital were going through my mind to try to find Ava and Zach a nurse wheeled Wilson, Zach's brother, out to our huddle. Praise the Lord! To be quite honest I was glad he was ok but most importantly I would be able to get Zach's moms phone number. Immediately I made the necessary phone calls and relief flooded my heart. Ava was with her grandma and was fine. Zach was going to be okay with minor injuries to his face and shoulder and maybe even be released that next day. Zeb, the pilot Zach's other brother, would have a longer stay as he was going to need surgery on his neck but he too would be released within a few days following his surgery. It being late already (not for sure but I from what I recollect it was around ten or eleven o'clock) Zach's mom thought it was best to keep the baby in her own surroundings at her own house and I would pick her up around 7:00 a.m. so she could go back to the hospital with her boys. The only thing I could think about was what would Kate want me to do? I knew the answer but I found myself taking a step back, agreeing with Zach's mom but none the less regretting that decision for every second till I could hold her in my arms and keep her safe. Around 3:00 a.m. me and my sister tore ourselves away from the hospital, our mom and Kate and headed back to my house for a few hours of sleep.
I am completely unaware if I had even slept but by 6:30 a.m. all I knew was that I couldn't take it anymore and rushed to pick up Ava. Emotions flooded my entire body when I saw her. Oh sweet baby! Stay strong, I told myself. Ava couldn't know what we were going through, what her mom was going through. She had to remain the sweet little Ava that she was. Zach's mom said she did not have a good night's sleep waking up several times upset. Oh how I wish I listened to my inner self. I scooped her up, held on tight and gathered some of her things that I would need to take care of her. There would be no tears or talk around Ava about the accident only fun silly crazy playing with her cousins and many hugs from us all. Kate would wake up today and be fine wouldn't she?
I will never forget for as long as I live the very first night. After a fun day of playing with her cousins, me and her went up to bed. We immediately started a bedtime routine where we hugged and kissed everyone before nighttime, brushed our teeth and got into pj's. We had gotten into bed and were starting to lay down when she looked me straight into my eyes as if she knew something...that something was wrong. I held her close and told her "everything is going to be okay baby". Trying to not only reassure her but also myself. She lifted her head off my chest and with a little sniffle she said "kayyyyy". It was almost like there were unspoken words between us...that she DID know what was going on and she wanted her mommy. Tears flowed out of my eyes as I held her tight again reassuring her everything is going to be okay and again with her sniffly response "kayyyy"...Was everything going to be okay? This happened several times before we both dozed off to sleep.
Things that helped me through this journey as a caregiver to a small child whose parents were injured.
-Laminating several pictures of Kate. Some with just her and others with Kate holding Ava. This helped at bedtime and throughout the day to give mommy lots of hugs and kisses. Thanks Julie.
-Sending many picture texts of Ava to Kate after she woke up to reassure her throughout the day of what Ava was doing. Kate was always anxious about what Ava was up to so this helped a lot.
-Taking small breaks. I was responsible for Ava's welfare and safety.What a responsibility when parents are unable.Have support. You will need a moment to scream/cry or just take the pressure off so have backups available even if it's just for a half an hour. Make sure they understand how to keep them safe.(thank goodness for my nephew,his fiance and Ava's cousins)
-Keeping a routine in place. She was an angel and I think putting a daily routine in place helped her transition to my house. She knew exactly what to expect and never gave me any problems or fits.
-Staying occupied we spent many days at the park, library and our local YMCA. This helped us keep our mind off "reality" and also find a great books for my research for Kate along with books for Ava. Unfortunately we couldn't find any to help Ava in her situation but did find the GoGoBoBo Shapes, Colors and Opposites books by Simon Basher. It was a great reference for Ava after Kate woke up I could tell Ava look it's just like Mommy with a little boo boo on her head.