Last Tuesday, November 19th, 2013, is a day I can never forget. My just-barely 2-week old boy was rushed to the ER, limp and unresponsive. I felt so helpless, wondering if his little life was only to be a short-lived gift.
It was the longest 20 minutes of my life. For the sake of remembering God's faithfulness to us, to him, I wanted to write about the events that took place that morning here. So I can look back and remember, lest I forget the details of how God worked.
It was . Lucy had play-school, and I had been wondering how I was going to manage to get both kids in the car and there on time. I didn't feel ready for it, having only been home from the hospital for 12 days, and not yet getting the hang of life with two kids. Andy's mom called the day before and offered to come get Lucy ready, take her, and pick her up, like she had the week before. Thank goodness. Offer accepted! She got there around , took Hudson from me, and I proceeded to get Lucy dressed, fed, teeth brushed, hair combed, back-packed and ready to go. Lucy and Grandma left right around . As I was walking them out the door, I noticed my dad had was outside in the freezing cold, finishing up some brick work to our driveway. He had started it the day before - a gorgeous 70 degree day. I was surprised to see him working away that early, and in the cold. But that's my dad. Faithful to get the job done.
I didn't say much, other than good-bye to Lucy, went back inside to shut the door - partly because it was cold, and partly because Hudson was upstairs sleeping (I hoped), and I wanted to check in on him. As I shut the door, I heard him cry, thinking "Man, Grandma just got you to sleep, and I was hoping to take a shower and have a few minutes of quiet!" That's just honesty :) So, I went in our room, scooped him up, nursed him and tried to get him back to sleep. Nothing doing. I seem to be terrible at getting my own son back to sleep while everyone else seems to have the touch. "Oh well." I thought. He seemed content to lay in the bed with me while I checked some email. He did just that. Happily laying there, looking around, while I got a few things done. Very alert. Very NOT asleep.
Backing up. Grandma Lynch had told me on her way out that morning that she would come back to our house “after” and hold Hudson so I could get some things done. She normally has a women's Bible study morning, so I just assumed she meant that after she picked Lucy up at , she would bring her back and stay for a little while. Great!
Around , Hudson started to become discontent with lying on the bed and began to cry. I got up to pick him up and heard a knock on my bedroom door. Who in the world is in the house knocking on my bedroom door? Dad doesn't have a key and is busy outside. My mom would have called if she was coming. Grandma is at Bible study. "Who is it?"
"Sheryl, (Grandma Lynch's voice), do you want me to get him for you?" Oh, no! Grandma had been here since probably waiting downstairs to help me out, and I'm up here with my door shut! She had meant she would be back after she dropped Lucy off at . I totally missed that, and I felt bad she had been waiting around for an hour.
I opened the door, of course, and told her I was sorry! I had misunderstood when she would be back. "I think he's still hungry,” I said. "I just need to feed him again and then I'll bring him to you." I decided to check his diaper first and, sure enough, it needed changing. I cleaned him up, and took him downstairs to her to see if that was all it was. I told her I'd hop in the shower, and if he was still fussy when I got out, I'd feed him. Good plan, we thought. I had really wanted to go for a walk outside instead, even though it was cold, but decided this may be my only chance at hygiene for the day, and I had better take it.
I proceeded to shower and was almost finished when things got strange. Grandma opened the door to the bathroom, while I was showering. Number 1 sign that something wasn't right. I didn't pick up on it though. If there was humor in anything that day for me, this was it. I was thinking to myself, "Now, if he's still fussy and hungry, it could have waited until I got out of the shower!" A little odd to have your mother-in-law bust in on you like that! But it didn't take long for me to realize there was a reason. A problem.
I can't remember the exact words Grandma Lynch used, but she told me he seemed “drowsy.” That she couldn't get him to wake up. What do you mean??? Of course, I got out, threw a towel around me and ran to her. He did seem really drowsy, but then again, maybe she had just “the touch” that I didn't seem to have when it came to getting him to sleep. But he did look kinda pale too. And kinda blue. I began to feel some panic rising, but kept asking myself if I was overreacting. If I was imagining things because she was scared. I told her to grab a bottle I had in the fridge and try to feed him. My boy always wants to eat. That ought to do the trick. I threw on some clothes and ran downstairs, panic rising ever more. By this point, I was begging God, out loud, not to take Hudson from me. That's all I could say. "Don't take him. Don't take him. Don't take him."
When I got downstairs it was becoming clearer that he truly was not himself. We were not imaging things. His lips didn't budge when the bottle touched them. His face, his eyes, his body didn't respond to my plea to wake up. He had been so alert not 15 minutes before. What happened and how could he have gotten this sleepy? Was he breathing? I couldn't tell.
Grandma suggested to take him outside and let the cool air hit him. He made a slight face at this, but nothing like I had hoped. But enough to let me know he was still with us.
As we're doing all of this, we're making a plan. What in the world do we do? Do we take him to the pediatrician? It's only 5 minutes away. Or Urgent Care? There's also one close, and that seems better than the pediatrician. “No," I thought. “If something really is critically wrong, he needs to be at the ER and fast.” Chapel Hill? No, it's too far. We decided on the local ER, still 15 minutes away (at normal speed limits, of course). That's eternity when you think your little one possibly isn't breathing. But it was the best option. In those moments, you're just hoping and praying your fast decision is the right one. You have to decide something and act, hoping you won't wish you had made a different choice in the end.
We grabbed our coats, my purse and whatever else we were able to comprehend we would need in that moment, and headed out the door. We yelled at my dad, and he jumped in the backseat, Grandma driving, me in the front, holding my limp, pale son, still trying gently but firmly to shake him in order to get something, anything, out of him. Still nothing.
Grandma told me to breath in his nose. Right. That's something I could do. I began to awkwardly breath into his tiny nostrils as we sped out of the neighborhood, trying to talk to him in between. Looking back, if I needed any more confirmation that something wasn't right, that was it. If I were to blow in his nostrils now, or anyone's for that matter, it would elicit some sort of response!
But the Lord began to give me focus. I suddenly remembered the CPR course we had taken just a couple of months before. It took me a second, but the instructions came rushing back to me. I began doing 30 chest compressions with my two fingers, then blowing into his nostrils and mouth between each set. I could feel his chest rise, as my breath entered his body. Still nothing. Now, I have no idea if he really needed CPR, or if it helped at all. The Lord knows. But at least I was doing something. God gave me this. He allowed me to calm down, focus and do something. Rather than panic, scream and cry the entire way, losing my mind. I am so thankful we took that class.
My dad was the voice of reason and calmness in the backseat, directing Grandma at each light, each lane change, each approaching vehicle. He teases her now that she has a future in Nascar. But she did great getting us there - flashers flashing, horn blowing, pedal to the medal, even running a red light or two. She is the most cautious driver I know. But not last Tuesday. She had one thing on her mind. Getting Hudson where he needed to go. And fast.
She pulled up to the ER at ARMC. Dad and I jumped out, him running in ahead of me, alerting the staff we had a baby possibly not breathing. I remember seeing a swarm of staff come from nowhere, urgent faces, leading us through the doors and into the first available room they could find. No checking in and waiting for us. Everyone felt the seriousness of the situation.
Several people rushed into the room, I was directed to put him on the bed. And finally, within a few seconds. He. Screamed! Biggest relief of my life and best sound I have ever heard. And, finally, my tears began to come. I remember just sitting and holding my head in my hands, weeping beside his bed as the staff attended to him. All of the fear and emotions I had been suppressing were able to come out.
Now, my boy was ticked! Every poke and prod and prick that was happening to him was making him mad, and he was letting us know. While I hated, hated, hated to see all of that, and eventually began to cry over that stuff too, I was just so relieved to see him okay. Breathing. Reacting. Responding.
This whole ordeal had to have been at least 20 minutes long. Enough time for Grandma to notice he was not right, come and get me, let me assess him, try giving him milk, take him outside, make a plan, drive to the ER and finally lay him on the bed, totally trusting in their care. That is way too long to have your newborn, or anyone for that matter, not be themselves. Especially when you can't even tell if they’re breathing.
The next several hours were hard as I held my baby's hand, trying anything I could to soothe him. Wanting to be able to communicate to him. Wanting to take his place. Multiple IV attempts, blood draws, a catheter, a spinal tap. All tests ordered to hopefully find out what was going on.
We were told we were going to be transported to UNC Children’s Hospital overnight - praise the Lord. I felt great about this, as it's where he was born - all of our records would already be there, and they have a great pediatric unit. Eventually, I was able to get 2 oz of breast milk into him, because I had managed to think to hang onto the bottle from the fridge. So thankful for that, as it had been a long time since he ate, and I knew he was getting dehydrated. It wasn't enough, but it was something.
A team from Wake Med came with the pediatric ambulance. They had to put the IV in his head as it just wasn't cooperating anywhere else. That was tough for me. They loaded him up in a little clear box-type contraption, and we headed for the ambulance. They let me ride along. So grateful for that, too. By this point, we all knew he was stable. I was relieved, but the stress of the morning was beginning to hit me even more.
We eventually settled in a room, getting hooked up to all kinds of monitors and cords. The overnight stay ended up being 3 nights. All kinds of tests were run and results were awaited. Hudson barely spent any time in his little hospital crib as all we wanted to do was hold him, reassuring ourselves he was okay. Thanking God he was okay.
I could write plenty more about those three days, but it became clear he was healthy and strong. He had been struggling with some congestion for almost a week prior to that morning. The doctors could not say definitively that that's what the culprit was, but all sorts of other things were ruled out, leaving not much else. Possibly some reflux, too. They mentioned something called an "ALTE" - apparent life threatening event - that happens to some newborns. Whatever it was, or wasn't, our little boy was pale, blue, unresponsive and limp. Not normal. For way longer than any of us were okay with.
But because of our hospital stay, we now know more about our little guy than most parents do about about their two week old! We've seen an ultrasound of his heart and know that it's doing what it ought. We know all kinds of things he doesn't have. We've had neurologists take a look at him and declare him strong. There's something nice about knowing some extra details about his little body that we wouldn’t have known unless we'd been through this.
I'm not convinced God is done with this little story in Hudson's life. Who knows how He'll use it, but I pray He does.
He's given us a peace at home too. I was concerned I'd be a nervous wreck once we left the hospital. Despite the annoying cords that were hooked to his body, making it hard to hold him, feed him and change his diaper, there was something reassuring about all of the constant monitoring. I could look on a screen at any time and see his heart rate, oxygen level and respiration. I won't lie. It's hardest at night when I know it's time for me to go to sleep. But God has given us the ability so far.
Looking back, there are so many "little" things that God did that morning to make the situation "right" for getting Hudson taken care of. I want to make sure I remember those as well. I want Hudson to one day know how he was being watched over with great care and detail by his Maker:
God was in the details:
*Grandma Lynch was there when it happened, holding him, able to notice immediately. Had I been by myself, I would have eventually gotten him settled, layed him down and showered, not noticing anything for quite some time.
*I decided not to go for a walk, and was home when it happened, enabling us to get out the door that much faster.
*Lucy was at play-school during all of this, and still has no clue of anything that took place.
*My dad was there, able to go with us, keeping us calm and helping Grandma drive.
*Andy was meeting with his C12 Group in Greensboro. A room-full of godly men and women who were able to begin praying for us on the spot when he got the call and told them he had to leave and why.
*I had grabbed Hudson's bottle, able to give him some quick nourishment in the ER amidst all the chaos, as otherwise he probably would have gone 6 hours or more without eating. (Not the end of the world, I know. But it did this mama's heart good to know her boy had something.)
*We had decided to take the CPR course during our pregnancy, which covered infant CPR. (I strongly recommend this, especially now, for parents and grandparents.)
*That I was able to remember any of the CPR information despite the panic that was inside of me.
While I pray we never experience those feelings of panic, helplessness and fear again, I know there was a purpose in it. Our days are all numbered. We are all finite human beings who will meet our maker one day. Whether we are 2 weeks old or 100 years old. It reminds me that everything I have is His. To hold loosely to the things of this world.
Hudson Clay, we love you. God watched over you that day. He has a purpose for your life. We love you so much and are ever more thankful for you. I can't wait to watch you grow. Forgive me if I give you lots and lots of extra snuggles the rest of your life!