Happy six weeks, baby girl!
Wait— six weeks? Why not one month? What is the significance of six weeks?
Well, let me tell you. There was several nightmarish moments over a week ago that had me questioning if we would make it to six weeks. Five weeks even. Maybe to Saturday? I wasn’t sure she would make it through the night. And it all started with a cough.
There’s been a yucky virus going around our home since the week Kara was born, and it seems like it just kept bouncing from person to person, in a never-ending dance of sore throats, hoarse coughs, and pools of mucus. It seemed that my sweet, brand new baby was somehow shielded from the worst of it. At first.
Have you ever been in a house full of sick toddlers? There’s no safety there. They’re horrible at covering their mouths when they cough, they sneeze on everything and everyone, and they have a tendency to wipe their noses on sleeves— theirs and yours. It was only a matter of time until one of them leaned over Kara’s full head of beautiful curls to tell me, “Kara’s cute!” for the one millionth time, and let out a big, hacking, probably wet, cough. I don’t know when it happened, and I don’t know which of our cuddly little kiddos let their diseased breath fly, but it happened. And it all went sideways from there.
The day that Kara hit one month of life outside of my now-deflating belly, I noticed she had a cough. A yucky one. And she was congested. And my always-happy baby wasn’t so happy. Normally, I wouldn’t worry too much, just do my best to take care of it and move on, but there was something off about this cough. By the next night, she was struggling to breathe. She could barely stay awake. She was coughing so hard it made me want to cry watching her struggle to catch her breath. I prayed, I tried clearing her nose of mucus, I tried steam, breastmilk up the nose, cuddles. Anything and everything I could think of. But it just got worse and worse. Finally, after having a shouting match with God, patiently and frantically waiting for her to feel better, I knew what I had to do. Leaving Jason with my sister (who was once again my hero), I promised him I’d be back soon, strapped Kara to my chest, and took off for the emergency room.
Have you ever been so afraid that your child might die in their car seat, in the dark, out of your sight, that you’re willing to risk it all just to keep them in your arms? Well, I was there. I begged and begged my baby girl to keep breathing all the way to the hospital, tears streaming down my cheeks, one hand on the wheel, and one hand firmly placed on my child.
“Keep breathing. Keep breathing. You can do this. You can do this.” I pleaded with her as she struggled to take in air.
Once in the Emergency room, things slowly started to calm down. Breathing treatments, swabs taken, silent prayers. It all blurs together when I look back and wonder how much time passed in that room, as I held my little miracle and prayed for something just as miraculous as her to happen.
“It’s RSV,” I was told, much to both my dread and comfort. It’s something common, something known, but something terrifying and foreign all at once. We were transported to the Children’s hospital in an ambulance, and as we bounced down the road, she never left my arms.
“You can do this. You can do this. You can do this.” I whispered to both her and myself. I needed to keep it together for her. And she needed to keep breathing for me.
Hospitals are horrible places to be in the middle of the night with a baby. Not because of anything dangerous in the hospital, but because it’s such a jarring place to look be. The bright humming lights, bustling bodies, the sterile air and all the latex gloves… I felt like I was watching a really dramatic episode of a medical show, except I was in it, and I didn’t have my script. All I knew to do was stay by her side, ask questions, and advocate for her tiny life.
Time moves differently when you’re in a crisis. Hours passed like minutes as they assessed, poked and prodded. My shirt was soaked with milk I was wasn’t allowed to give her, spilling from me as heavily as my tears did from my eyes. Eventually and all at once, we were brought up to the PICU, which was brightly painted with animals and Disney characters. It was a stark contrast to the doom I felt in my chest. As the room filled with doctors and nurses, I felt my feet grow heavy like lead. Kara was moved to a crib, all her wires and tubes following like a tangle of spider webs. Words were being spoken, and I was listening, but my soul was sinking through the floor as the colorful, crowded room spun around me. It was all I could do to stay standing, nodding, crying.
Hours passed, and daylight came, and with it a bit of hope. I was told she wouldn’t be able to breastfeed for days, maybe a week, but by 11am she was snuggled in my arms contently nursing. She continued to surpass their estimations for healing, albeit rather slowly. Throughout those endless days, I would speak to her as she slept, saying, “You can do this. You are healed.”
On our fifth night, after being moved from the PICU to the recovery floor and already having spent one harrowing, restless night there, my days-old prayer was answered. “If she doesn’t need all this oxygen stuff, let her be the one to take it off.” I woke up the following morning and stumbled sleepily to her bedside. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked down at my little wiggly baby. There were no tubes on her face— she was breathing on her own! The nurses came in shortly after and told me they had come to check on her and the O2 tubes were completely off and she was sleeping peacefully, and all her stats looked good so they let her be. A miracle! I’d previously been told we would still be in the hospital for 2-4 more days as they weaned her off the extra help, but lo and behold, there she was, ready and able to breathe on her own with ease. After a small dip in her saturation levels, they gave her some low-flow oxygen to help ease things along, but by the afternoon she was done with that as well. We could go home! As each hour passed, my little girl came more and more alive, more and more peaceful, and more able to rest than the previous days of fussy cuddles. I felt as though we had been given new life. As I carried her out of the hospital front doors that evening, I felt triumphant, grateful, and incredibly humble. We made it. By the grace of God, we made it. And now, days later, it feels as though the darkest night of our lives is nothing more than a bad dream. However, this testimony will be remembered forevermore, and every time I look at her bright eyes, I’m reminded of healing, of how strong she is, and how great my God is. I will never doubt my daughter’s ability to do ANYTHING. As I whispered to her in dim light of the hospital room, “You can do this,” I will continue to chant this mantra to her in every phase of her life, in every endeavor she pursues. “You can do this. You got this!”
Happy six weeks, baby girl. You did it. You can do it all, and there’s so much more for you to do.✨
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.