The Long Week

We are going to write under this picture in Junior’s baby book that he took out a two-year-old at the playground, and hurt his hand in the process. In reality, though, they gave him an IV after Martin brought the baby to the ER last Sunday morning because Junior’s cough did not sound right to me.

When it comes to the kids being sick, Martin and I don’t always see eye-to-eye on what to do about it. Some of our worst arguments have been a result of us butting heads over our kids’ health. He thinks I worry too much. I think he goes into denial that things can be that serious.

In this instance, when Martin went to bed, it wasn’t yet to that point. I, however, couldn’t fall asleep at all. Instead, I hovered over Junior like a moth, eventually just standing with him on my chest so he wouldn’t cough so much. Something just didn’t feel right to me, and I grew more anxious. Just as the sun began to rise over the horizon, I took Junior into the bathroom to run the hot water, hoping the steam would help his congestion. It got pretty warm in there, so I pulled off the baby’s onesie. That’s when I noticed the chest retractions. 

Chest retractions are when the skin between or around the rib cage get sucked in when inhaling. This includes the skin around the collarbone. I’ve seen it many times with Jaz during his asthma episodes, and yet, it was still shocking to me. It’s just horrible to see it on a little newborn body. All the alarm bells in my head started ringing just as all the nerves in my body seemed to spike, and I quickly went to Martin with the baby in my arms.

“See this?” I said, shaking him awake and pointing to our son’s chest.  “This is serious. He shouldn’t be breathing like this. You need to take him to the hospital now,” I said.

For the first time ever, there was no argument from Martin about going to the hospital. No rubbing of sleep from his eyes. No insisting that I was just seeing things. He just immediately sat up and began pulling on his pants. I moved to get the baby ready to go, throwing together a diaper bag. They were gone within five minutes.

The last thing I said to Martin was that maybe the doctors would say I was just seeing things, and maybe they’d be sent home 20 minutes later, in which case, we’d all enjoy a nice breakfast together.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

Upon arrival, the doctors agreed the baby had some breathing difficulty, did some blood work and an x-ray, and in less than 30 minutes, decided to keep Junior in the hospital for at least three days to make sure the antibiotics worked as intended.

I was a wreck as Martin texted me the updates.

This wasn’t our first rodeo with a sick kid, but oh, man… the guilt and worry were still as raw as ever.

Parenthood.

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I joined my boys at the hospital a few hours later. Eventually, we learned that Junior was in the early stages of a lung infection … there was inflammation of the lungs on the x-ray, but not yet a fever. Nevertheless, the doctor said our timing was good, that we were “ahead of it” with the antibiotics instead of trying to catch up.

They couldn’t say for sure what it was, but everything seemed to indicate that he probably got something that his lungs and immune system were too new to handle on their own, probably something that wouldn’t bother so much an older baby with more antibodies to fight it. They saw this sort of thing with other infants, and everything looked to be treatable.

It was good to hear that, but also terrifying as the “what-ifs” paraded around in my head.

I was so glad Martin trusted me when I said, “We need to take him in now.”

By the time I arrived at the hospital, they already administered the first dose of antibiotics. It was shocking to see him with an IV, but he looked and sounded better … alert and unfazed by any of it. Martin stayed overnight that first night with him so I could go home to the others and try to get some real sleep, too. It was hard to leave him, but at the same time, I was so glad he was there being monitored.

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The next morning, we learned we were going to be at the hospital for at least a week, standard protocol for the type of newborn infection he was experiencing. When I broke the news to Junior, though, he flashed me this impish, little grin. He clearly appreciated how all the nurses fawn all over him during his check-ups.

Sorry, kid. There’s no TV in here, and all Mom’s got is a cell phone camera, an expressive baby, and a lot of time on her hands.

 

Martin had to go to work during the week, so I stayed with the baby all day. I also spent the last few nights with him since Martin also had to go on a work-trip for a few days. (Of course he did!)

There wasn’t much to do. The room didn’t have a television, but I brought a book about the Revolutionary War and my laptop and tried to stay on top of my university studies.

At one point, I actually read some of the Revolution War book outloud to the baby. He seemed impressed.

“Under heavy fire, the charge of the Hessians failed. They fought valiantly, but were overwhelmed by the weight of American fire…” Paul is clearly feeling the stirrings of stoic patriotism as we read from the book “Washington’s Crossing.” I haven’t told him yet the Hessians were German. All he knows is that things were getting CRAZY in Trenton.

 

I was actually pretty busy with the baby, though. He still needed to be nursed every hour, and changed, in addition to his breathing treatments. I also tried to nap when he napped.

By the third day, he was still congested and his breathing was still labored, but it was all improving as the antibiotics did their thing. He was eating a lot and sleeping well, and when awake, he remained alert and interested in everything around him. My anxiety level dropped considerably.

Unfortunately, though, the kids back at home were feeling pretty nervous about everything. They hadn’t seen him since that Saturday night. They went to bed and he was congested, but okay, but then they woke up, and he and Dad were gone and Mom was crying in the shower. They only saw their Dad and me for minutes at a time as we went back-and-forth from home to hospital.

Wynter and Oma were there holding down the fort, and keeping them updated, but I knew this was hard for them. I arrived home one night, and Jaz was asleep in my bed. Miss C cleaned the whole house.

And Lola and I finally got to have a heart-to-heart about how scary it is to love another person so much. (Her words.) These kids and their huge hearts. It was a scary time for all of us.

They finally got to see and chat with Junior one morning. He was asleep, but I noticed his heart rate went up when he heard them cooing at him.

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Two of the nights, we had roommates. On the last night, a little baby girl born a few months early (she’s now three months) and her daddy checked in for observation.

Between the feedings, changings, monitor adjustments, and fussiness between the four of us, nobody got much sleep. It was pretty cute, though: the babies’ oxygen monitors are tiny red lights attached to their tiny feet. In the dark, it looked like a pair of fireflies moving around as they kicked out their legs.

After six full days at the hospital, we were finally back home! Junior returned a whole pound heavier, sounding great, and eating like a champ. Siblings quickly resumed mutual admiration society activities under a cloud of soap bubbles and disinfectant.

Throughout the thing, we received so many calls, texts, messages, and offers to help. We appreciated it all so much!

I told our baby boy he can’t give us any more health scares. At least, not for a long while!