After receiving a phone call that my girlfriend had been in a terrible car accident, my life will never be the same again...
January 10th, 2019 started out as a typical workday. Kayla's routine was 6 am wake-up and usually she'd roll out of bed at 6:15. Then she'd check on Ryker, subtly arouse him from slumber by turning on his bedroom light and listen to the news as personal hygiene and dressing rituals were completed.
The night prior she had worked late and she contemplated calling in since she was scheduled to start a new job on Monday anyways. Kayla is a driven, committed, smart and compassionate person who leads from the mother effing front! She wouldn't allow herself to soften up to the opportunity of taking it easy. Kayla wouldn't be too concerned about causing her coworkers to adapt to staffing situations. She is more concerned with the resident's she has been in care of for the past few years. Kayla is proud of being an accomplished Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. To her, calling in means letting two floors worth of residents down at Loretto Health and Rehabilitation.
Ryker was dropped off for preschool in Rome, NY between 730-745am most weekdays and would arrive to work roughly an hour later in Syracuse, NY. On her drive down route 365 that morning the roads were clear. The air temperature hovered in the low 30s and high 20s. Weather reported snowstorms were barreling in but wouldn't hit Oneida County until later in the day. While traveling at 50 mph in a 55mph speed zone, an inattentive driver pulled out in front of Kayla as if she wasn't even there. Kayla swerved, planted her foot on the brakes and immediately began to cry before suffering the inevitable impact.
I took a 56 second phone call at 8:11am. Kayla's mother Christina delivered the news to me. I needed a minute to gather my thoughts and emotions before I got behind the wheel for a 45 mile drive to her. My boss, Donato, quickly relieved me of my work duties and reassured me that the Therapy Team would be okay. Therapy was around before I was even thought of yet so I needed to get over the fact that my work was incomplete as fast as possible, it would still be there when my family duties were satisfied. Boy.... I had no idea what was in store for me yet.
The drive back to Rome was the longest ride I have ever experienced. They say, the average mind thinks up 2,000 thoughts per hour. I must have had 6,000 during that harrowing 45 minute drive. "What if she broke her jaw? She'd have to get nourished through a tube! How long does it take for a jaw to heal? What about Molly? Is Molly dead? No fucking way, my daughter is made of steel! How would I ever continue to live if I have just lost the love of my life? She was grumpy as I kissed her and left in the darkness of 5am. Why did my punk ass leave without hugging her until she woke up like I usually do?" I had to find a way to get my head on straight, so i sped up and drove like I was in an action movie.
When I got to the hospital, I blasted through the ER doors, learned which room Kayla was admitted to and ran in there. She wasn't in the room. A nurse mentioned she would be back in 20 minutes as medical imaging was doing their work. I sprinted through Rome Memorial hospital and barked questions at the clerks. "Kayla Snyder, where is she?" It took 10 minutes to get an answer as they had to call the operator, be forwarded to another operator, placed on hold and told a staff member was coming to escort me. No one ever came. Christina saved my time yet again. She'd called me, gave me an idea of where she was and we found each other in less than 20 seconds. Keith Snyder pointed to door number 2 and I walked in ready to power bomb the next person who couldn't give me a straight and expeditious answer. Kayla and I locked eyes. She was on the stretcher getting an ultrasound done. I noticed the blood on her lip, makeup smeared all over her face and she was dead silent. Fear and relief were in her eyes. It took every bit of my manhood to keep myself together as I knelt down, gripped the back of her neck with both of my hands through her hair and held her head to mine.
After a plethora of testing at Rome Memorial hospital, we discovered an "abruption" had occurred on the umbilical cord. A blood clot had formed between the attachment site of the cord and the placenta. Baby was slowly leaking blood back into Mom. Mom's body was attempting to return the blood to baby but it was a slow negative feedback loop. We were sent to Crouse via ambulance. I followed in my Equinox packed with 24hrs of clothing and comfort items, naively.
Shortly after arriving at Crouse and locking Kayla's rolling bed into place in room 8006, a team of Operators appeared. They hinted at the possibility of emergency surgery and openly discussed potential action plans. It was a strategy they employed over time to decrease the cognitive dissonance that comes with the sudden discovery that surgery is going to happen in minutes.
Kayla underwent a cesarean section with me be her side. It was the freakiest thing in the world. Her words. To me, my mind was focused on keeping order during the chaos so it didn't seem totally real. That was, until I saw Molly wrapped in plastic with a tube down her throat, manually forced to take breathes, under UV lighting and not crying at all. She was about the size of a plantain. At 13 inches long, she only weighed 1 pound and 13 ounces. Molly was love at first sight, she is beautiful. She's got her mother's hands and feet but shes got my long toes and big nose. Her eyes were sealed like a brand new puppy's at birth. And her skin was as smooth as an egg and more fragile than wet tissue paper.
She was taken away immediately from us. Doctors pulled me out of the room so that they get give it to me straight without upsetting the girlfriend who was setting there with her womb open. "Molly has injuries from the accident. She is bleeding internally in the abdomen. We will do everything necessary. But it does not look good. Prepare yourself." I was in awe as i gazed at them through my tear filled glasses. I bit down and replied, "Do what you need to do" and returned to Kayla thinking about how I would tell her. She had been born 15 weeks early at just 25 weeks and 2 days of gestational age.
We didn't hear about Molly nor get to see her for at least another 3 hours. But when we did, it was a huge relief. In the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit, she lives in a translucent acryllic box fed with IV and respiration lines. The air temperature and humidity is controlled and a Nurse has been assigned to Molly alone because of her critical condition. They found a few things that work to keep her breathing, at a cost that is unknown to her development from minute to minute. Her condition changes rapidly and it is painstaking to watch.
Kayla trusted me enough to push hard to recover. She let me guide her in building up some functional mobility tolerance. We started with frequent trips to the toilet after the catheter was removed. Then we took to the halls and walked further and further with each try. She's tough and I love her for it. Iron sharpens iron. She let me bathe her in the shower, to an extent of course. She accepted my help to get dressed. Her pride wasn't hurt. She knew she could trust me.
At the time of my writing this up, we have been awake for over 36 hours. I tried my best to leave out the nuances. I am not someone who asks for help, I try to be as independent as possible. Solve my own problems. But for the first time in my life, I have little control and I need help from my community.
I am returning to work 1/14/19. Monday. Kayla is potentially going to be discharged on that morning. We cannot afford to travel 90 miles round trip, daily to be with Molly. My goal is to book a room at the Ronald McDonald House in Syracuse. It is $25 dollars a night. I am striving to book nearly 4 months of tenancy in support of my girlfriend and daughter. Molly cannot leave the hospital until her age, weight and health meet certain criteria. Her original due date was April 26th. She continues to be in critical condition. We cannot allow Molly May Snyder-Blanc to spend 4 months alone, in an acryllic box without her mother. I need help maintaining a room at the Ronald McDonald House so that my girlfriend can maximize her time with Molly. Kayla is not returning to work for at LEAST 8 weeks. I am going to be working my tail off to ensure our two boys continue to live as normally as possible. That means having hot home cooked meals at the dinner table, doing homework and going to school. Of course we will visit but we cannot let these difficult times string our family apart from being able to function.
Please join me in my efforts to support Molly May and Kayla. I don't know how else to say this but its not just a "donation". $25 means what Kayla, the boys and I have a 24hr window to be with Molly. The Ronald McDonald House hosts volunteers who cook for families experiencing medical emergencies that have to leave their home town for skilled services. The excess monies provided will be donated to the Ronald McDonald house to assist the next family who needs it. This is not for personal gain. Please, help us!