I sit here in the flesh-toned naugahyde chair and watch my daughter’s heart rate on the monitor. It dips into the low 40’s, sending off warning bells, and then jumps back to the 70’s, silencing them just as quickly. This is a cycle that will repeat itself through the night as her body digests, processes, and eventually eliminates the week’s worth of prescription medications she took earlier today. She was tired of it all, she said. Later she would admit that it was completely an impulsive thing when she felt her life was out of control. Her dad and I had gotten onto her about her attendance in online classes, she was smitten with a new boy, and, well, COVID. In an unthinkable moment of despair and impulsivity, she emptied her weekly pill case. She regretted it immediately, and texted me “are you home,” bursting into tears when I opened her door to check on her.
I have to admit, my first reaction was blind rage. How could she do this to me? To her sisters? To her father? Her friends? Once I calmed down I called Will and made arrangements for Rylee and Paisley, and then I rushed her to the hospital.
While I watched her sleep, I couldn’t let go of the nagging feeling that I had done something wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t have laid into her so much about her coursework. Maybe I should’ve checked on her more in her room. But she was a teen, I was giving her space that I thought she wanted and needed. And then in my own irrational train of thought, I settled on breastfeeding. I thought I had done the right thing, the good thing, the natural thing by nursing each of my children past a year. I nursed Jolie the longest, at just over 2 years, and while it bonded us when she was an infant, I wonder where those benefits are now. We have 3 mental illnesses, 3 suicide attempts, and 5 hospitalizations between the three kids. Did I unknowingly transfer all of my bad genes to them by nursing them so long? I recalled a facebook post my friend put up the other day saying, “Facts that are true: Your parents did the best they could AND their choices still wounded you.” This rung so true when I thought about nursing the kids. And it kills me to think that I did something out of pure love that had such dire consequences. Whether or not there is scientific basis for my conclusion, my oldest daughter still has a mountain to climb.
She needed monitoring overnight to make sure she hadn’t affected her heart or her lungs. We got the all clear this morning. Now begins the hard work of processing the why and making sure it won’t happen again. She has a tough road ahead of her, but she has an incredible support system. I’m certain with a little grace from both of us, she’ll be soaring again soon.