Real quick like, let me make a note; I'm sure you (facebook friends of mine) have noticed a FLOOD of LMS blog related stuff.... I'm transitioning into a website and making a bazillion changes, one of them, networking more. So, there. Sorry for the annoyance... actually not sorry.
Anyways, about last night.
We put Henry to bed and he was his normal, insane self. He asked for 14 cups of water, and peed 30 times before he actually fell asleep, which is all routine.
It was just after 3AM and I heard what honestly sounded like someone slurping a milkshake and hiccuping next to the bed. In a sleep haze, it was completely confusing and terrifying. Ryan got up and walked him out to the living room and asked if we should give him some cough medicine. I think I asked, "Does he need to go in?" And almost immediately after asking, his breathing got remarkably worse. It was a race to the car, and then to the ER. Nothing was really sorted out or explained, I just grabbed him and went to the car, Ryan stayed with the other kids.
He was in his pirate PJ's, wrapped in his pirate blanket, gripping his beloved pirate hat. Driving, and having him in his car seat in the back of the car was pretty torturous. I could hear him struggling so hard to catch a breath. My thoughts were everywhere; "He's going to pass out. I need to pull over and call 911. Wait no, if I pull over that will take more time, right?" But wait, he's going to pass out." So I talked to him and he answered in his little hiccuping voice every time.
"Henry, did you like the pirate ride at Disney?"
"Henry do you want pizza tomorrow?"
"Buddy, are you excited to go to the BIG hospital where mama had Stella and Rosie?"
His hiccuping "yeps" kept me sane and in my head.
Thankfully the ER was dead. And when I carried him in, we were taken back immediately. His oxygen was low and his heart rate was high and the look in his eyes was just plain scary. He was struggling. It was obvious; and every whooping breath he took in I thanked God for. "One more breath. One more breath, Lord. Keep giving him just one more breath."
They gave him what they called a "great, very potent" steroid within minutes of getting there and as I saw Henry starting to relax, I could feel the room start floating back down to my feet. Henry wasn't so rigid and his gasps were spacing out, his breathing becoming more regular. My eyes were glued to his vitals and as numbers went up and down they way they should, I felt myself breathe.
Thirty minutes into our trip, I was lying on the bed, holding my boy. He was sleeping, every once in awhile, taking a hiccup in for a breath. I tried sleeping, knowing I had 3 other kids I was going to be getting back to that would need my full attention in a few hours. But sleep was impossible. So I stared at the ceiling, thanking God for the motherly instinct He gives us. Contemplating waking up my best friend to cry to her, or texting my dad, but instead found comfort in the warm blankets, Henry's heart beat and prayer. Those white ceiling tiles with the speckled holes, beeping monitors, and hushed whispers become everything and actually make a great incubator to pray.
We didn't have a room with a door because we were in a "trauma" room (which scared me even more). It was wide open to the ER. We could see and hear everything going on around us. Thankfully it was quiet.
At some point, I heard a man passing by our room, "She's my mother. I think she weighs 61 pounds. She's having a lot of difficulty breathing."
I lifted my head up to look and it was a gentleman about the age of my dad, pushing his mom, tiny and frail in a wheelchair to the room directly across from ours. Lifting my head up knocked my cell phone off the pillow and broke the hum of the room. The man actually leaned in and grabbed it off the floor for me, handing it to me, saying "Aw poor little guy."
"Thanks, I hope your mom feels better soon."
And that was it.
But I watched on. As I held my 4 year old son, comforting him, shielding him from the boo boos and hurts, I watched a 40 year old son hold his mother in the adjacent room. He draped blankets over her shoulders and asked her how she felt, and she replied just like sweet old ladies do, "Oh just wonderful honey. Thank you."
I squeezed Henry tighter. So aware of this completely beautiful situation we had just been put in. I was watching myself. I was watching all of us mamas. The tragedy of mamas turning into the hurt, broken and sick, and the children picking up the pieces. The complete turn around, the 180 that life takes at some point. Gosh, having kids is hard. I know I say this all the time, but parenthood, the complexity of it; the beauty of it, the bitter sting it can have at times, it's all consuming. It never stops.
I couldn't help but stare. And they knew, I'm sure. But I think we were both thinking the same thing. The mother, remembering when she was holding her boy. The son remembering when his mama was the comforter. And how the roles have now completely changed. The irony of this life, at the same time the beauty of it. That hard, unbreakable, unconditional love you have for your children, that "I'll take 10 bullets for you, throw myself in front of a bus for you" kind of love, and the way it circles back around so seamlessly.
Will my kids be strong enough to do that for me? Am I strong enough to do that for my parents? I imagined comforting my dad. "No ,no... that's not right. My dad rescues me! I call my dad when I need help. Not the other way around."
I watched on.
He read a book and she coughed quietly into her hands. He rubbed her back, asking how she was every few minutes. And she would always say, "Oh just fine. I shouldn't be here." And he'd answer back, "Mom, yes you should. You're sick."
At what point do you surrender yourself to your children? At what point could I ever let my kids know I have great weaknesses that can't be fixed, won't ever be fixed? When are they going to learn that they'll be the ones that will actually take on the responsibility of this family? When can I confide in my kids that I need them more than they could ever need me? That they can survive without me, but I can't be without them. That I'd be hollowed out, dead to the world?
I'm telling you- 4 AM emergency emotions are rough. They're no joke!
At some point the x ray tech came to get Henry for his chest x-rays. He was sleeping, and out if it. I asked the nurse if I could grab something to drink while he got his x-rays. She said it was fine.
I wandered to the coffee machine outside the ER and walked back in with two coffees. One for me, and one for the man. I handed it to him, and didn't say anything more than, "Hey, I hope everything is okay. I'm going to keep you guys in my prayers." He thanked me, and asked about Henry. His mom told me what a beautiful child Henry was and what a shame we were here. I agreed. And then I turned on my heels, tears streaming down my face, as I had just gotten a glimpse of my future. Our future, I guess.
My guy came back within a few minutes of me returning to the room and I got to lie on the bed, completely smooshed together with him. Henry's a cuddler in general, but rarely is it just him and I. I held him into me, wrapped both of us up to our chins in blankets and stuck my face in his wild hair.
I know things will change. I know things are changing daily and there's not a thing we can do to stop it. The Lord gives me these lessons and they're priceless. We all know not to take any day, any breath for granted. But sometimes it takes a 3 AM ER run and some heavy duty emotions for me to realize that one extra story at bed time is fine. Or that drawing pirate ships over and over (and over) again is a great way to spend an afternoon.
Love on your kids, mamas. And when you think they can't possibly take one more "mom hug", hug them tighter.
Oh- and his final diagnosis: Croup & walking pneumonia. Prayers for my little man would be so appreciated. xoxo