There are questions that a parent never wants to answer about their child. The most terrifying question I've ever been asked is "is he gone?". Even more terrifying, not knowing the answer.
I was faced with this question this past Wednesday.
I woke up Wednesday morning and looked at the clock. 8:30am, and Little Man was still asleep. A bit odd for him, as he likes to rise with the sun. I went in to check on him and he was awake but just laying there. No smiles, just laying passing his Sofie the giraffe between his hands. I felt his forehead and could feel the heat, checked his temperature and it read 99.9. I gave his pediatricians office a call so I could bring him in that morning. I was concerned because he has been battling an ear infection that would not seem to go away. We set the appointment for 9:45am. I gave my Mom a call to let her know what was going on, and she offered to go to the store and get whatever medicines he may need so I wouldn't have to worry about it. I told her I'd give her a call after we left the doctors office and we would just go from there. I quickly got CJ out of the bed and dressed, got myself dressed then packed up a banana and english muffin with some water for him to have on the way to the doctors office. He was a bit fussy on the way, only taking a few small bites of the banana and maybe one or two sips of his water. The doctor checked CJ out, noticing that his ear was still infected and that his throat was a bit inflamed. His temperature had also risen to 100. They gave me a new prescription for his ear, gave him a dose of Motrin and sent us on our way after saying he more than likely had a viral infection, and Motrin should clear up the fever.
Things fall into place.
I called my Mom on the way out to let her know I was just going to go ahead and run to the store myself to get the new prescription and some Tylenol and Motrin. She insisted she didn't mind, she was already dressed and ready to go so I headed home instead. CJ began to cry while we were stopped at a light, I turned around just as he was vomiting the small bites of banana and Motrin. It was a good thing I decided to go home instead of the store. When we got home I changed CJ's clothes, wiped him down and offered him some cheerios while he cuddled up on the couch to watch some cartoons. I gave the pediatrician's office a call to let them know he had thrown up the Motrin and that I was concerned that none had gotten into his system. The nurse I talked with said that was a tricky scenario, it's hard to tell how much of the medicine actually got into him and we needed to be careful about over dosing him- I should just wait until the next scheduling dosing time. She told me to just keep a close eye on him, keep him hydrated and to call with any other questions or changes. My Mom showed up with meds in hand and some cute little books to try to cheer up Little Man. He was in and out of naps and drinking water more and only seemed interested in eating cheerios and crackers.
Just in case.
At about 2:30 or so my Mom decided to go ahead and go. I asked her to please stay just in case something happened, I didn't want to be here by myself. I'm not sure why I asked her to stay, I guess this is where Mommy's premonition comes into play. Jimmy was in a training class for work and should be home at about 4:30 or so. She decided to stay until he got home, I think for peace of mind for me. CJ woke from a nap and was very shaky. Shaking from head to toe. He is usually shaky when he wakes up so at first I didn't think anything about it. 20 minutes go by and he is starting to burn up, shaking uncontrollably. But he is babbling to us and eating some cheerios. I checked his temperature... 103. I called the pediatrician's office back, worried about the rising fever and the shaking. I let them know what was going on, and reminded them that he had thrown up the Motrin from the morning. They asked me if he was coherent, yes. Did he seem confused? No. Did he seem to not know where he was? No, he knew where he was. The nurse again said we needed to be careful of over dosing him, and to hold off on more meds until the next dosing time- 4pm. She said he was probably cold, to try covering him up and maybe putting a cold rag on his head. I hung up with the nurse and got the cold rag and sat back down with my Little Man. The heat from his legs and arms was horrible, but he was still babbling to us and was eating the cheerios I offered to him.
Take me not him.
At about 3:15 or 3:30 I was still sitting on the couch with Little Man, my Mom was trying to call my Dad to let him know she'd be here until Jimmy got home. CJ was touching my nose, smiling and still munching on some cheerios. Then it happened. His eyes rolled into the back of his head, his body stretched out and his face twisted up into the most horrific way. He began to have convulsions. I picked CJ up into my arms screaming his name and screaming for my Mom to call 911. I couldn't see his beautiful eyes. His tongue was out of his mouth and he was jerking his head up and down gasping for breath. I didn't know what was happening to my baby. I was screaming "what do I do, I don't know what to do". I could hear my Mom on the phone with the 911 operator between my cries for them to please hurry. My Mom yelled to me to put a cold rag on his face. I ran into the bathroom grabbed a rag and barely wet it before putting it on his face and tried to hold it there with my cheek. I went down on my knees with my baby in my arms jerking uncontrollably and said over and over "Jesus take me not him, not him please not him". Why wasn't the ambulance here yet? Please someone help my baby! Then the jerking stopped and his body went limp and his head went back. He was not breathing.
I don't remember how much time passed. It feels like 3 hours. There were so many thoughts racing in my mind. He hasn't even been to the zoo yet. He hasn't been to beach. He hasn't had a chance to go fishing with his daddy. Never been to the movies. We wanted to take him to Disney World. Teach him to ride a bike...
My son's mouth was turning blue. I yelled to my Mom that he was not breathing please ask them what I do?! He's just a baby. My baby. My Mom told the operator that he was not breathing and that his lips were turning blue. My baby wasn't moving. He wasn't breathing.
I was screaming, NO. NO. NO.
Then that question... "Is he gone?"
I was holding my baby in my arms. No breath. I will never forget that feeling, the heartbreak of not knowing if my child was alive or not. I thought I was holding my dead son. I said "I don't know".
I didn't know what to do. I yelled for my Mom to ask if I should do CPR. I didn't even wait for an answer before laying him on the floor, my little baby's still body. So small, so innocent, my beautiful son that I dreamed of for years before we were blessed with his birth. He didn't deserve this. I prayed for the Lord to keep him, and to take me. I couldn't loose my baby. My husband could not loose his son. I tilted his head back and blew into his mouth just once and sat up. I stared at CJ, it felt like an eternity. This was my son, my baby boy. He couldn't be gone. Then I heard a sickening gurgling sound and saw his chest rise. I picked him up as fast as my shaking arms would allow. I was crying hysterically and still screaming his name and for him to please look at me. My Mom came over and tried to keep me quiet so she could tell the operator every time she felt a breath from CJ. She said it a few times, I remember, breath... breath... breath. Just as the fire truck pulled up my baby let out a heartbreaking cry. I'll never forget that cry. I think he was telling us, "I'm still here".
Is he okay?
Everything was a blur from there. Someone had me lay him on the couch. They were asking me questions I didn't know the answers to. Was my baby okay? Is he going to be okay? That's all I wanted to know. CJ was crying loudly as they put the oxygen mask on him. I was shaking, holding onto the back of the couch to keep from falling over. Why were they asking so many questions? Just please take him to the hospital, make sure he's okay. Someone asked me where his carseat was, they needed to put in on the stretcher in the ambulance. My Mom was telling me she couldn't get Jimmy to answer his phone. I told her she needed to call his work phone, the number was in my phone. They told me to get CJ a bag together. My Mom said she couldn't find my phone. I couldn't find it either. Someone was holding CJ as I was flipping over couch cushions looking for diapers, his shorts, my phone. I finally found it and called Jimmy's work phone. He answered with a frantic "what's going on". I cried we're going to the hospital CJ's going to the hospital before my Mom took the phone to explain. I was too shaken up. They handed me my baby and I could barely hold myself together enough to even hold him. I was scared I'd hurt him. I carried him to the stretcher and tried to show a medic how the straps of his carseat worked. My baby still wasn't looking at me, he was sobbing, I was sobbing. Someone was explaining to me that he had a febrile seizure. I didn't know what that meant at the time. Nothing was making sense. All I knew was something was wrong with my baby. In the ambulance I tried to sing "You are my sunshine" to CJ to calm him down. The medic riding in the back was attempting to calm me down too. She was asking lots of questions and I tried to answer the best I could. I remember her saying to me "I understand this is scary, I'd be scared too if it were my child, he's going to be okay". I just wanted him to look at me, to know I was there. When we finally got to the hospital I got sick several times before even exiting the ambulance. In the hospital room I remember them telling me his temperature was 104.5. They gave him a suppository to bring his fever down. He finally looked at me after he calmed down a bit. I still remember that look of Mom what's happening? So confused. I had my hand on his and told him how much I loved him. Jimmy came into the room and I broke down again as he hugged me then went to CJ. A doctor came in to explain what a febrile seizure was. He told us it was more common than people realize and that CJ would be just fine. A nurse came in to do some blood work and I left CJ in his Daddy's capable strong hands and excused myself to the bathroom to splash some water on my face.
We came home with CJ that night. As soon as we got into the house CJ went to his high chair to let us know he was hungry. He munched on some crackers and drank some water and pedialyte. He had some energy for a while and was ready for some sleep at about 1am. Me and Jimmy camped out in his room that night to keep a close eye on him. I slept in there the next night.
I am happy to say that Little Man is doing a lot better now. He has his appetite, humor and some energy back. He's not 100% back to his old self, but getting there. Were still battling to keep the fever away, and neither me or his Daddy are sleeping well yet. I still have the images of that day in my brain. I am praying that they go away, I don't want to remember him like that. I want to see ONLY how he is now. But I don't think a Mother ever gets over the feeling of not being able to help their child.
Looking back on that day I see how things lined up to happen the way they did. I am grateful my Mom came over that morning instead of staying home like I told her to. I am grateful my Mom stayed after I had a gut feeling I would need her. I am thankful to God for my Mom's strength while I didn't know what was happening to my baby. If she hadn't had been there I don't know what I would have done, not knowing exactly where my phone was to call for help. I am thankful for my husband being a rock while I am a still not over this. I am thankful for my Mother-in-Law who prayed and prayed for our Little Man. I am thankful for all our amazing family and friends. Eternally grateful for those that came to the hospital out of concern for all of us. Blessed with the phone calls and prayers that we received. It is safe to say that I have a renewed faith now. I am learning to leave things in God's hands and trust his plan.
Several people think that maybe he choked on a cheerio when the seizure started... they say that that one simple breath into his mouth saved him. I don't know if this is the case- or how that could be, but I do know the steps to take now in the future. A child that has one febrile seizure is more prone to have them in the future, and will eventually outgrow them before kindergarten age.
I don't think I will ever get over what happened. I will never get over the feeling of not being able to answer the question of "is he gone"? I will never get over the thought of holding an angel who had gone on.
But I am counting my blessings that he is still here.