I haven’t taken much time to get too personal on this blog.
Lately I’ve been thinking about sharing something major that happened to our family.
It was a couple years ago now, but I just keep thinking I should share it with you.
Our story is full of miracle, after miracle.
It’s a very special story.
I am selective in when and how I share this story.
At least the details.
Miracles are special.
Big and small ones.
Today I will share a story of miracles with you.
Let me introduce you to my youngest son, and my 4th baby.
This is J.
This is his “Cheese!” smile, lol.
Figuring how to put sunglasses on.
This is my little J when he was first born. A day or two old.
This is J at 10 days old.
You see, by the time we took this picture, several of our miracles had already taken place.
Luckily for us, several more took place after this picture too.
I can hardly believe that’s my 2 1/2 year old little boy.
On Friday the 13, 2009 our family had taken a quick trip to the store.
We were driving home when J started crying.
He wouldn’t take his pacifier, and so he screamed the whole way home.
Once we got home, I held him, and he calmed down a bit.
We got the other 3 kids settled and in bed.
J still seemed to be having a hard time breathing from his crying episode.
I tried to feed him, and he just wouldn’t really eat.
It’d been a while since he’d eaten, but sometimes newborns are just unpredictable.
We tried to lay him down to sleep, but to no avail.
He would still do his little catch up breaths,
(ya know after you’ve cried super hard, and it’s hard to breath, that’s what it was like)
and then he’d randomly start screaming again.
There was finally one time I pick him up from his crib, and he looked different.
It took my husband and I a moment to make sure it wasn’t normal
(after all he was barely 9 days old).
Our baby was suddenly having a droopy eye, and mouth.
It really did come on very suddenly.
A little bit before I’d talked to my mom and she had advised to me
to make sure he was breathing consistently by looking at his chest.
I had done that about this time, and realized he was doing a catch up breath,
breathing 2-3 times normally, then NOT breathing for a couple breaths!
This was very concerning obviously, especially coupled with the droopiness.
I called my pediatrician (thank goodness for nurses in the middle of the night),
and was told to take him to the ER right away b/c he wasn’t getting enough oxygen.
By some miracle I was able to find a neighbor whom I knew and trusted
quickly to come over and stay with the other kids until my parents were able to get there.
The ER was about 10-15 minutes from out house.
I prayed the entire time.
I also cried the entire time.
What had I done?
What had I not done?!
How was this happening?
Please, let him be okay!! PLEASE!
We arrived at the ER at 10:30 PM on a Friday night.
There was NO wait.
They monitored his oxygen while they checked him in.
It was about 98.
It should be right around 100.
They were confused.
J was admitted to the ER.
The doctor finally came in.
He wasn’t sure either.
He almost sent us home.
An angle in the form of a nurse was there with him.
She left the room, found another doctor, and brought him in.
The new doctor wasn’t sure either.
He called the Pediatrician on call.
J was admitted to the Pediatric Unit in the hospital.
It was a blur in a way, yet so clear in another.
He was put on oxygen, little tiny monitors to make sure his heart rate and pulse were okay.
The doctor was so wonderful.
They would run blood tests, and urine tests, and do a spinal tap.
It all sounded just fine, as long as they figured it out.
We were given the option to stay or leave for the spinal tap.
The doctor said he’d probably leave if it was his baby.
They told us 15 minutes.
Twenty minutes went by.
Then Thirty minutes.
The nurse came into the waiting room and told us it was taking longer than expected.
It was draining slowly.
They’d be done soon.
We were finally taken back in.
I was so tired.
I had been crying a lot.
It was about 2:30 AM.
The doctor came in to tell us about the tap.
There was blood in the fluid.
He said they needed to do a CT Scan.
It could be something, or it could be nothing.
They told us the CT scan would be about an hour.
They took J, and I laid down on the totally uncomfortable hospital chair bed.
I tried to rest there while my husband tried to rest in a chair.
It was about 30 minutes later that they brought him back.
We asked the nurse if Friday night/early Saturday was normally so quiet.
“Never. There is normally at least an hour wait for a CT scan. There was no wait for him today.”
The doctor came in a minute later.
“We found a blood clot in J’s brain. It’s about 2.5 cm. That’s about 1/4 the size of his entire brain.”
Shock over came us.
What does this mean?
Well, this means that we will be taken by life flight to
What will they do for him??
“Well, the pediatric neurosurgeon team will meet him at the helicopter and do another CT scan.
They may need to do brain surgery.”
Tears were hard to come by for me.
Remember, I’d cried so much already.
Tears flow easy now when I think of this moment.
My husband called our parents with the news.
We’d call our siblings when we knew more.
We just looked at our baby, hooked up to things, and not knowing what would happen.
The sweet, sweet nurse asked us if we’d want to hold him,
since we weren’t sue when we’d get another chance.
That hadn’t even occurred to me.
Yes, we’d love to.
She double checked with the doctor.
We each took a turn holding our sweet little boy.
I believe we both wept.
Life Flight was there.
The nurses were AMAZING.
They took our cell phone number.
She said if we didn’t get a call in 30 minutes they’d made it.
We walked out with our little boy.
He was all hooked up to things, and on a little stretcher thing.
We stood back and watched the helicopter take off.
We pack all the things we’d acquired into the car, and took off for home.
It was 5:30 AM.
We packed a bag for ourselves.
We woke the kids up.
We gathered them into our room and tried to explain things.
The other kids were 4, 2,1.
We prayed together.
We hugged, kissed, and we were off.
We finally got to the hospital at 7:00 AM.
J was just coming back to his room from a CT scan.
We called our siblings.
Finally around 9:00 – 9:30 AM a neurosurgeon came into J’s room.
He showed us the comparison between the two CT scans.
He couldn’t tell if it was getting bigger.
He wanted to get an MRI to make sure there wasn’t a mass.
If there was a mass, they’d be doing surgery.
If not, it was up in the air.
MRI was done by 10:00 AM.
LOTS of waiting.
Neurosurgeon had gone into surgery.
It was 2:30 PM.
The neurosurgeon came in.
There was no mass.
He told us that his gut was telling him that he needed to do surgery
(opposed to letting the body absorb the blood clot).
After almost 12 hours of knowing about the clot,
we were up for it.
We knew J was up for it too.
Papers, and information were given to us in a blur.
We knew what we were signing, but hardly did at the same time.
We talked with Jack before he was wheeled back.
We also got to walk with him when they took him.
We then sat in a waiting room.
It was empty.
Surgeries aren’t scheduled on Saturday’s.
It was a bit dark.
That’s all I remember.
The time didn’t drag like I thought it would.
Soon a nurse was in the waiting room, telling us things went well.
Soon the doctor was in the waiting room, telling us the same thing.
He told us a few details of what he found.
We were also told that we may never know WHY it happened.
J would be back in his room in about 30 minutes.
We went there to wait for him.
My sweet boy was so swollen from all the fluids.
My sweet little boy was so brave.
He did wonderfully.
We asked the doctor, best case, how long would he be there?
Best case? Seven days.
We had 3 other children, we had to know what we were looking at.
On Monday I was home with my kids.
I got a call that afternoon.
J was OFF his breath tube!
What WONDERFUL news!!
I was so proud of my little guy.
No tube. Hooray!
Tuesday I finally got to hold my little baby again.
J had a drain that was put in his head to darin the fluid from his brain.
AWAKE! Ah … love those dark eyes.
I HATE yucky things like cuts, blood and stitches …
I was holding J, and I just snapped this without actually looking at his head.
On Wednesday J was moved out of the Pediatric ICU.
Another HUGE milestone.
Daddy helping him.
It was so scary to hold him, lol.
The drain that he had, had to level with the machine it was connected to.
If we tilted his head wrong, it would or wouldn’t drain properly,
and would give him a huge head ache.
No pressure mom and dad, lol.
It was of course WONDERFUL to hold him too.
The biggest hurdle for J now was to eat!
He’d lost an entire pound while in the hospital.
He was mostly on a feeding tube when we were in the recovery unit.
However, we were supposed to get him to drink a certain amount each feeding.
He was getting breast milk, formula, and thickener to help him.
He had to have thickener to help him swallow since he was struggling.
He would also often fall asleep while eating.
He couldn’t do that because once he was asleep,
he wouldn’t eat, lol.
What a happy site this brought!
I loved seeing these little socks on his feet.
This was one week after surgery.
Bright eyed, and awake.
Things were crazy.
They were busy, and it was so exhausting in every way.
My husband and I had tickets to see our favorite college team play their BIGGEST rivals.
We weren’t sure we’d be able to go.
Guess what though?
I was taken away and on a date close to home to watch the big game.
I always hated being away from J.
It was SO good for me though.
It was rejuvenated enough,
and reassured that he’d be well cared for.
If there was a problem, they’d call.
I could always call too.
The rest of Saturday was spent at the hospital.
On Sunday we found out some wonderful news.
J was coming home!
We were so excited to dress our little guy in clothes again, and whisk him away
(with specific directions of course about feeding, follow-ups, other doctors to be called,
and what appointments needed to be made …).
J did come home with his feeding tube.
We knew that could happen, and we were okay with it.
He was coming home.
J spend a total of EIGHT days at the hospital.
Remember what the doctor told us?
Best case, was 7 days.
We did 8.
Pretty close to best case if you ask me. 🙂
All bundled up.
Our drive home was strange.
We’d been there for what seemed like SO long.
Although, I am VERY aware of the patients that stay in these kind of hospitals for months.
I know we were lucky.
We had a miracle we were bringing home.
One of the saddest things I realized while at the hospital,
we didn’t even a family picture yet!
Not even a candid one.
The kids weren’t allowed at the hospitals during this time due to the swine flu breakout.
They didn’t meet him when he was first born while in the hospital,
they weren’t allowed to see him at the children’s hospital either.
One of the first things we did when we got home?
Tried to take a picture.
With a 4, 2,1, and newborn, it was SUPER hard, lol.
We were okay taking whatever we could get.
We’ve seen them happening with our little J since he was tiny.
He continues to do amazing.
He has met all milestones in the “normal” range, or close to.
He is a CRAZY 2 year old now.
He LOVES to attach and wrestle his siblings … even if they don’t want to.
He is kind and loving, and as sweet as can be also.
Because of all of this, I am reminded often
that I need to have gratitude for what we’ve been through.
I need to appreciate the hard times.
I need to find joy in being a mother …
even when that’s super hard.
When they’re all driving me crazy, I am still grateful that they are all here, and healthy.
Love these kids.
W, K, S, J, H
Photo by Leslie Miller Photography