One week ago tonight I was driving home to shower and grab a change of clothes after being admitted to the hospital following Calvin’s first neurosurgery appointment.
I was bawling my eyes out, praying loudly, asking God how much he expected me to take, and telling him that I couldn’t handle much more.
The next morning Calvin went to the OR for an emergency shunt placement.
He was discharged 2 days later. When we took him home he cried and cried – when we moved him, touched him, tried to feed him. It was awful. He was in pain and there was nothing we could do about it.
Saturday night he started breathing funny. We watched him for a while and then decided to take him to the ER. When we got there he had fallen asleep, so we decided to not check in and just go home.
We watched him all night and at 8 am we got too nervous and took him back. After 6 hours in the ER, it was deemed that his breathing was totally normal and we took him home.
Monday and Tuesday I watched him and watched him. He kept breathing different, eating different, crying different, acting different. We tried to convince ourselves that, like the ER Dr. said, that was all normal. We attributed it to post-operative pain, to him being more alert now that the pressure on his brain was gone, to normal baby fussiness….
I got more and more worried until I was no longer functioning like a normal person. I couldn’t think, couldn’t focus, couldn’t talk, couldn’t eat or sleep, couldn’t even look at Nate. All I could do was watch Calvin’s breaths. Every motion I went through was to make sure he was still alive.
He had an appointment with his pediatrician this morning, and I could hardly wait to hear another confirmation that, yes, this was all normal.
Then this morning, as I was holding him, Calvin went limp, turned blue, and stopped breathing.
When I was 17 years old I was driving home from a friend’s house when it started snowing – and snowing hard. I had just began the descent down a large hill when my car started to fishtail.
In my head, I repeated what I knew I had to do.
“Whatever you do, don’t slam on the breaks, steer toward the skid, don’t jerk the wheel.”
I’d been told many times, taken driver’s ed, passed my driver’s test.
I knew what I was supposed to do.
But my body couldn’t do it.
I slammed on my breaks, spun the wheel opposite what I should have, started spinning out of control, and slammed into a tree.
When I looked down and saw that my sweet little baby was blue my heart stopped. Immediately I thought back to the last blue baby I coded at work. I remembered that baby’s face, his eyes wide open staring blankly into space. I imagined my hands holding that little boy, doing chest compressions. I remembered the team doing CPR.
I knew what I was supposed to do.
But my body couldn’t do it.
I let out what, if anyone had heard, I think they would have described as a blood-curdling scream. But no one heard, because I was home alone with him. I screamed out his name, told him to wake up.
I kept screaming.
He kept not moving.
I ran down the hall, and somewhere along the way remembered that I should do rescue breaths and call 911. I was shaking too badly to do either. I put my mouth on his face and attempted to breath for him, but I knew I didn’t do it right at all. I ran down the stairs and out the front door.
As I ran across the street to my neighbor’s house, I tried to call 911.
But I couldn’t get past the home screen on my phone – I couldn’t remember how to place a call. I kept looking at the calculator square and trying to remember how to press the right numbers.
When I reached my neighbors door, I pounded and screamed. Nothing happened.
They weren’t home.
At this point, something inside me clicked.
I was all alone, and I needed to be in control.
I was finally able to call 911. I was not, however, able to talked in a normal voice.
After waiting on hold (REALLY!?) for what was probably seconds, but seemed like an eternity a lady answered.
“911, is your emergency medical, (something, something)?”
I told her medical, my baby is blue, please send someone NOW.
“Calm down ma’am! I can’t understand a word you are saying. What’s your location?”
That made me mad enough to remember to give another rescue breath. This time Calvin gasped a little and startled. He looked at me, his eyes were so wide. He started to go from blue to grey and was trying with everything he had to breathe. I ran back to my house and tried to answer their questions in between my screams to Calvin.
“Does he have any medical history”
“Is he responding appropriately?”
Again, this jolted me back to reality and I was able to give another breath, which is good, because not once did the lady actually tell me to breathe for my baby.
He began breathing irregularly, and went from grey to white.
At this point my neighbor drove by on her way home. She ran up to us, and I threw her the phone – I couldn’t handle the 911 lady any more.
I gave him a few more rescue breaths and he started to come to.
Finally, a fire truck came around the corner. They immediately put Calvin on oxygen and he started to improve. He was still pretty limp in my arms, but he was breathing.
My neighbor called Nate and minutes later we were both in the emergency room -my emergency room- once again.
They began to run some tests, and took the oxygen off to get a swab of his nose.
This time Nate was holding him when he stopped breathing, and once again, started to turn blue.
The Dr. watched him.
Finally I asked him if he would maybe like for me to give my baby some rescue breaths.
“I want to see what he does,” was his reply.
He turned blue, and went limp.
They called a code on my baby.
People came running.
Nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists….
My co-workers. My friends. They worked on my baby until he was intubated and stable. They hugged me and gave me tissues. They stood next to me while everything was happening. Comforting me, saying just the right things. (Not like the 911 lady.)
After a few hours, and things had settled down a little, and we were in the pediatric ICU, we tried to get a grasp on what was happening.
The intensivest told us there are 3 main things that cause a baby to stop breathing.
Obviously we are worried most about brain, because he had a shunt placed last week.
His heart has been strong throughout everything, and every lab that has come back so far testing for infection has been negative.
Calvin had a CT and an MRI checking his brain and his shunt. His neurosurgeon has been out of town for a few days and was flying back today. She came straight to our hospital room when she landed.
She told us the CT looked good, the shunt is working well.
The MRI is another story.
She had difficulty getting a good view of the back of his brain, where his herniation is. She said that was either a good thing, or a very, very bad thing.
By the time she got here it was too late to do another MRI, so he is having another one in the morning so she can get a better look.
Right now he is sedated with a breathing tube.
We will know more tomorrow.
Please pray for our sweet little boy.
I just want to take him home and hold him close.
Love, Nate and Cami