Monday, December 16, 2013

A Simple Snowman

Sometimes something as simple as a snowman in the backyard can make you burst into fits of tears and laughter.  As you're watching your husband and your tiny son carefully (but not so gracefully) roll balls of snow and then hoist them one on top of each other, you realize that nothing else in this world matters except for them and the life you've built together.
The last time I blogged, Liam hadn't eaten in a day and he was wheezing, and we were trying to figure out what was the matter with him.  After a trip to the doctor, she diagnosed him with croup (I had no idea kids even GOT croup any more!).  We started him on nebulizer treatments, which he took like a champ, and Tylenol every four hours, and lots of love and attention.
By Friday, he was looking a little better.  His eyes were still red, but he had managed to eat a little "cracker soup" as my mom calls it.  And he was drinking like crazy- anything he could get his hands on, drink drink drink.  Mom and I went to the mall to finish some Christmas shopping, and after about two hours, he started to get fussy.  We finished where we were and just left.  He had enough.  It was 7PM- we'd been shopping since 5PM- there's nothing we couldn't buy online.
Andy sat with me while we did his nebulizer, now deemed his "fishy medicine," and we settled in for a night of cuddling and rest.
The key to parenting is to expect the unexpected.  But there are some thing that aren't even on your parenting radar- things you never even knew to be an issue until they became an issue.  About 15 minutes after his nebulizer treatment, as we were cuddling on the couch, Liam's little body stiffened up.  His eyes rolled back into his head.  His face changed color.  "He's not breathing."  I said, "Andy he's not breathing."
I ran for the door, thinking the cold air would help open his air passages and he would stop all this.  "Please breathe, please breathe, PLEASE breathe, PLEASE BREATHE!!!!!!!!!"  I screamed at my son, "BREATHE, LIAM, BREATHE!"  His little eyes were back in his head, his face was swollen and yellow.  I heard Andy calling 911, "My son.  My 14 month old son, something is happening to him, please come.  PLEASE COME!"  He was frantic.  I was frantic.
The sirens started in the distance.  We knew they were for us.  "COME QUICKLY!"  I screamed into the phone.  "SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH HIM!"  Liam's little body shuddered and danced in my arms, like a little toy stuck on repeat.  His arms would flail in the same motion every time.  He began a little eerie choke/cry/scream- as if he was on repeat.  The 911 person told us to lay him on the floor and put our hand behind his neck and check for breathing.  "He's breathing!!!!"  I screamed.  I was told to check his mouth for vomit- his jaw was clenched.  We rolled him to the side and the drool ran from his mouth.  I laid him back on his back and held his head still.  He was still on "repeat" and a portion of me wondered if he'd be on repeat forever. 
I kissed his face, "God, save my son."  I cried.  "God, PLEASE, please save our SON."  I screamed over and over.  The ambulance sped up the street and stopped in front of our house.  An entire LEGION of EMTs and police were ready and waiting.  The police officer kindly asked me to step away, and in one fast movement he scooped Liam up behind the head and under the butt and held him high.  "He's breathing, let's go." 
I ran out behind them as they hooked my VERY tiny son up to a VERY large stretcher.  They started another nebulizer treatment.  I stood in the corner of ambulance, watching them check pulse, hook up a little indicator to Liam's toe, stroke his tiny cheek and call him "Buddy."  The police officer asked, "Do you want her in here with you?"  Instantly, I knew if I didn't calm down, they wouldn't let me come with him.  I breathed.  "Please don't take me away from my son."  The EMT nodded.  My parents pulled up in the van behind us- I saw my dad in the backup lights,   Off we went to the ER.
The didn't use the siren, so I knew we were going to be okay...that or the damage was already done and there was no use rushing.  I didn't know, and I was too afraid to ask.  Liam's glassy eyeballs stared at the lights and the EMT name "Julian."  I could see every vein in my son's tiny hand.  His face was still yellow.  I wiped the drool from his little mouth and spoke softly to him, hoping for ANY sign of normalcy.  ANYTHING.  Mentally, I thought he was a vegetable.  Is this how it happens?  I heard stories of "one minute he was fine and then the next..."  I wondered if this was going to be our story.  Would we move so he could be on one floor with his wheelchair?  Would there be physical therapy involved?  Would I quit my job to take care of him? 
Externally though, I just kept singing and talking to him.  "Want to sing, Liam?  What sound does a bell make?  Liam, we're passing daddy's work right now but he's not there!  Liam, did you know Grandpa is driving behind us in the van?  Do you know what he'll say when he sees you?  Hi, dude!  That's what he'll say!  Do you think he brought his tractor?  Nooooo, tractors don't belong at hospitals!  Liam, what does the tractor say?  Do you want to sing a song?  Want to hear a funny joke?  Liiiiiaaaaammmm, no sleeping baby, look at your momma!"  And endless monologue lasting from Elizabethtown to Hershey.  I watched his little fever pass from 99 to 100 to 101 to 102 back to 99 up again, down again.  His little eyes would flutter.  I'd kiss him.  He'd stare at me, then back to Julian.
When we got to the hospital I realized I had no shoes and no coat.  Didn't matter.  Liam was starting to respond.  The ER nurse did an anal probe and this GREATLY upset Liam.  Good.  Make him cry!  I want to see my SON, not this little veggie baby who was scaring the crap out of me.  I held him tightly in my arms.  We played an impromptu game of "peek-a-boo" with the unsuspecting registration lady.  "He's adorable!"  She told me.  We marched back to the pediatrics ER.  Kids artwork and bright snowflakes and nurses in cute scrubs lined the hallways.  I told Liam to wave to all the patients as we passed.  We got many "hi there cutie!" and "Aw, look at him!"  As we walked along.
He was in hysterics.  Andy and I kept our eyebrows and voices high- telling Liam all the while how brave he was and how proud of him we were.  I sat with him on the enormous bed and rocked him back and forth.  And then, like MAGIC, Andy pulled a pacifier out of his pocket.  Liam took it and put his head on my chest.  We rocked and rocked and his stats slowly started to come down.  His BP evened out.  His heart rate stabilized.  He became Liam again. 
The doctor explained all about febrile seizures and what had just happened to our son.  His fever had spiked so fast, he went into shock and started to seize.  He was going to be okay.  They gave him a dose of steroids and some more Tylenol.  His fever dropped and he slept soundly on my chest, and then on Andy's chest.  By 1:30AM we were released and on our way home in the back of my parent's van.
We were shocked to see our Pastor in the waiting room.  He came back to Liam's room and laid hands on him and prayed for God to heal his tiny body and our minds after all we had just witnessed.  It was still hard to let Liam anywhere out of our sight for the next two days.  Even today while I'm typing this, I know he's safe with my mom but...he's not in my arms.

I don't know how to end a blog post like this.  So I'll just click publish and let it be what it is.  Everyone is safe, everyone is on the mend, time to move ahead.