Dear Lord, I will never, ever, ever complain about my children again. Ok, I probably will, but not for a while at least. I just got home yesterday from 3 days with Caroline in isolation at Seattle Children's Hospital. I didn't expect quite such a visceral illustration of Ash Wednesday to intrude on my life, but that's the way it works sometimes, isn't it? The ashes on the foreheads of some of the parents I saw walking around the hallways seemed a little redundant - like they really needed a reminder of how fragile life is. One man looked at me in the elevator and shook his head with a wry smile: "This place. You're glad it's here, but..." "You'd rather be somewhere else?" I finished, and he nodded tiredly. My own experience seems pretty paltry compared to theirs, but I have definitely had enough of seeing people poke needles and tubes into my little girl. On the night we arrived in the ER with breathing problems and a fever, she had to have a blood draw, a catheter to collect a urine sample, and (the one I really had to sit down for) a spinal tap that took three tries to get done. In order to open up the spaces between her vertebrae, they had to fold her practically in half and hold her there until they got the right spot. When they handed her to me afterward, she looked at me with vacant, cloudy eyes that showed that she had mentally gone somewhere far, far away to deal with everything that had happened to her. I don't think I've ever had a sadder moment in my life.
The diagnosis of RSV meant that we were in a room by ourselves for 3 days. My meals were brought to me, and I spent the days eating, watching TV, sleeping, and rocking her in the chair they found for me. I left the room when Mark and Sam came to visit so I could take Sam to the cafeteria or gift shop to have some time with him. When I wasn't holding Caroline, she spent much of her time in a metal crib, swaddled in two blankets with her little boarded IV arm sticking out at an angle and her oxygen prongs taped to her little face. She went away from me for a day or so, sleeping for almost 24 straight hours while her body fought off the virus, waking up just to eat every few hours (which she thankfully was still doing well), and getting diaper changes. On the second night, the antibiodics they gave her upset her stomach, and she spent most of the night writhing around and fussing, while I rocked her in the chair and nodded off holding her. Finally, on Thursday afternoon she turned the corner, breathing just room air and starting to come back to us. On Friday, she was fully alert and given the ok to go home.
We've been practically giddy having her back and having our family reunited. This was obviously hard on Mark and Sam, too. Mark told me on Thursday that Sam had pointed at a bus on the road and told him that that bus was sad because his mommy was far away. We made up for some lost time this morning by piling on the bed together as a family, reading a book and admiring Caroline. The real reward for me, though, was a moment that we two had by ourselves earlier that morning. She had slept peacefully in her cosleeper for most of the night, but by 6:00 she was fussy and not settling with my usual pats and rubs. So I picked her up and laid her little head on my arm and snuggled down into the bed with her, something I hadn't been able to do for 4 days. She rewarded me with me most gorgeous, peaceful smile before drifting back to sleep. We're all so grateful to have her back.
6 months ago