Friday, February 19, 2010

Clara's scare

After waiting five plus years to become parents, Karey and I really thought we were prepared for anything. In the early days of our time with our new miracle, nothing has phased us. We fly out of bed at 3:30 a.m. for middle of the night feedings with bright smiles and we feel privileged to wade through smelly diapers.

Yes it has been early, but while many parents are surprised and even a little naive to the responsibility, we are as capable as old pros. Nothing could possibly shake our resolve.
Nothing of course, except for these eight words:

"We are going to have to admit her."

That is right. Just a little more than a month and we have already been brought to our knees. Our little baby is in the hospital. I won't make you wade through the entire post to let you know that she is going to be okay. The little trooper is as tough as nails. We hope to have her home in the next couple of days.

Our non-parental friends (a world we were a part of just a few weeks ago), have probably never heard of this ugly baby sickness called "RSV". RSV is an acronym for a much too long name of this awful respiratory virus that hits children and only children. It is a version of the adult flu, but it attacks the young with much more vigor and it is more difficult for their little bodies to fight off.

On December 1, the day Clara was born, the term "RSV" was nowhere near my universe. However, a little more than a month later, once we picked her up, it was all I heard. "Be careful she doesn't get RSV," "my nephew got RSV, it is terrible," "has she gotten her RSV shot yet?" RSV became like the smoke monster in LOST. It may never be a problem, but you walk around at all times wondering when it is going to come up from behind and carry you off.

To answer your question - YES she got the RSV shot. In fact she got two of them. It's not really called the RSV shot, it has another, more unnecessarily complicated name, but she was "vaccinated." A development that would give me a false sense of confidence.

For the last few weeks, Clara has labored with every breath that she takes. She always seemed plugged up and just uncomfortable. Karey would stick this tiny turkey baster suction cup thing up her nose from time to time and pull out snot, but it never really seemed to make her feel any better. We took her to the pediatrician who diagnosed her with acid reflux. The baby equivalent of Mylanta made her feel better for a few days, but she still wasn't right. You have to understand that when we first brought her home, she was the picture of perfection. She hardly ever cried. She ate and slept like a champ. Recently that disposition had clearly changed. I shook it off as just normal growing pains (remember, she was "vaccinated"). Karey, however, just said over and over, "she has RSV, I know it."

There were a couple of times that Karey's worries would grow and we would get into little snits over how serious the issue was. Finally, Karey looked me right in the eye and said, "we are not going to do this! She is sick, I know it and you are just going to have to accept that this is mother's intuition."

That stopped me in my tracks. I will be honest, the adoption process is a bumpy road. It's not like traditional parenthood where your baby is born and there is no question that he or she is yours. With Clara, every new experience brings us a bit closer to her in a unique way. A way that isn't just given to you. A way you have to work for. Karey has somehow built up her mother's intuition and, it turns out, we better never mess with it again.

On Thursday, Clara and Karey ventured to the pediatrician to see if they could figure out this issue with her breathing. I wasn't there. I had worked two incredibly long days, and needed to get some stuff done around the house. I wasn't all that concerned. I thought maybe they would put her on a baby medication and give us some techniques to help with the breathing and that would be that.

Then I started getting the text messages:

"Clara might have RSV, might have asthma. Dr. said it might be a rough six months."

WHAT?? RSV!! But she got vaccinated!!

It turns out that the RSV test at the Doctor's office was negative, but that wasn't necessarily a good thing because at least then they'd know the course of treatment.

At that point my heart started racing and I was so angry I wasn't there. Karey later relayed how our wonderful pediatrician gently sat her down and told her that she was going to give her a "pep talk" and that she needed to drive straight to the hospital, and not even stop for gas.

I met Karey at the emergency room and stayed with her as they used an industrial sucker to pull the mucus and phlem out of Clara's little nose. She hated it, but started breathing better right away. I decided to run to work to get a project done and said we would reassess later.

I was at work when Karey called to break the news: "They are admitting her." She did indeed have RSV and on top of it, there was even a chance of pneumonia. I left work to meet up with them and eventually we got her up into her room and met with the doctor and the nurse who asked 50 million questions. Questions, I might add, I did not know one answer to, but Karey knew immediately.

During this whirlwind of activity, I had this uncomfortable feeling in my gut. I just could not get a read on just how bad this whole thing was. Finally the doctor asked us, "do you have any questions?"

"Ya," I said. "Just how worried should we be?"

For the first time during this tumultuous five hours I was able to relax when the nurse shook her head and said, "not at all."

So now we just wait this thing out. It is a virus so they have to let it run its course. Clara, being a preemie, needs to be in the hospital, just to be safe. They had her hooked up to oxygen and are carefully monitoring her breathing, her heart rate, and how many breaths she takes per minute. She can come home when she is off the oxygen for 24 hours. Our tough girl started breathing all by herself at a comfortable rate this afternoon.

If there was any doubt how important this child has become to us, it has all been erased by this experience. My incredible mother dropped everything she had to rush to be by our side (that is saying a lot, because she watches our nephew Jonathan every day and my sister and her family had to do quite a bit to accommodate her leaving. We are so thankful to have such an understanding family.)

When I called my mother to fill her in on what was happening, I did my best to be tough and act like we could handle this. But I felt the tears come rushing when I said, "I have to admit, I am really scared." She then told me the story of the time 30 years ago when she was in a very similar experience, rushing to the hosptial with her first-born. A story that has a happy ending, because I am still here. (Well.. that may be debatable depending on your perspective.)

So Clara is going to be okay and we are a little stronger surviving our first scare. I am sure it won't be the last, but seeing my daughter already starting to feel better has filled me with an incredible rush of thanksgiving for God's grace.

We are so lucky to be blessed by this child.

Okay.... enough mushy stuff. Here are some cute pictures, which is probably the only reason you log onto this blog:

Karey has a technique to capture every smile on camera. Even with the O2 hooked up.

Grandma got a firm grip from Clara during one of her many breathing treatments.

We got to spend the morning together, just the two of us. I am pretty sure she knows I am her daddy.


Life In Mazes said...

So glad Clara is on the mend. Praise God. I do have to admit, I talked to Karey about it a few days after yall came to get Clara and I hated to even bring up the worry to her mind to worry about it. I am so glad she trusted her instincts. Will continue to pray for Clara's progress and for you to as you care for her and one another.

JellyBelly said...

Thanks for the update Ryan!

Poor little thing! She still is awfully cute even hooked up to oxygen!

We're continuing to pray for her recovery and hope she comes home soon!

thecheckoutgirl said...

she knows, my friend. <3

pupsnbuns said...

That is one precious are truly blessed. Your mom is in my lifegroup at church and is so in love! I'm so happy for all of you!

Kristin said...

My heart aches for you both as my husband and I have yet to deal with our 4 month old being sick yet. It is a whole new world being a parent and wanting to protect your child at any cost. Clara is so lucky to have you as parents. May she continue to get better and stronger every day! I will keep all of you in my prayers.

Trustful Surrender said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
merrystephens said...

Many prayers for Clara and her wonderful parents. We just went though something very similar with our 16 month old and just reading the account of your experience had me in tears again. You just want to be able to take away any sickness or hurt they are having and just do it for them. She is so blessed to have you both to comfort and love her through this. Cuddling does wonders :)

Jason Wentworth said...

I just read the blog, from first post to the recent news, which brought tears to my eyes. I will pray for Clara and for both of you...she is quite obviously a tough cookie! Ryan, the thought of you being a doting dad makes me smile. It also makes me feel very, very old. : )

Bonnie said...

We have two adopted children (ages 2.5 and 1.5) who have both had their rough patches. Like you, it was in those moments that I felt both incredibly thankful to be their Mom, but also as if somehow we were closer than we were before. Clara knows who her parents are. You are so blessed to have each other! The whole mother's intuition thing is amazing--God knew what he was doing with that one. I am sure by now Karey can distinguish Clara's cry from other babies and even tell you why she is crying. It's a miracle.

Praying that Clara will be home soon--happy and healthy. You are an amazing family!

Complicated Life said...

She knows your her daddy, Ryan. Don't think twice about that.

Jeremiah 29:11 said...

Beautiful post Ryan!! I was laughing out loud at the Lost reference. I'm so glad she's getting good care and feeling better. :)

some how, some way, some day said...

What a touching post! You are such a beautiful family! I am so glad Clara is on the mend. You are all still in my prayers.

B-Mama said...

Praise God little Clara is starting to feel better! Praise God for her loving parents and family! Praise God for the talented medical care we have in this country! And praise God for the hospital-grade bulb syringes--they are amazing (ask to take one home, you'll never regret it!!)

Many prayers and continued blessings. What an awesome family you are!

Tom/Lorraine said...

So glad to hear Clara is going to be okay. We are praying for you guys! Thanks for keeping us posted.

Ann - Building a Nest said...

So glad to hear Clara is doing better. I know you can't wait to have her back home.

Aunt Ashley said...

Adam said it best. " Im just thankful that we have modern medicine that is able to help her". I cant believe how much her cheeks have filled out! She is so much bigger then the last time we saw her!! Love you guys and we will keep praying!

Right Said Red said...

What a beautiful post! I have been praying for Clara, as it is scary when the a baby that little isn't breathing well. Our Claire had RSV when she was 3 months old (but she wasn't a preemie so the situation was a bit different), and the hospital trip was pretty stressful. It seemed like she had good moments and bad, but when her breathing got bad it was really frightening. Clara is a strong little girl, and I'm sure she will pull through just fine. You are both great parents. Thank you for sharing your love for her so beautifully with the rest of us.

And I love the pictures! She is such a cutie and is starting to get that cute baby chub!

barbie said...

you write beautifully Ryan, and Clara is looking great, she's even adorable all hooked up to tubes etc.
praying for you all!

Shannon said...

OH, Ryan... you write beautifully!
Thanks for letting your wife scoot down to meet me the other day. Karey is a TOTAL gem!!! Aren't you lucky!

And, Clara... what a little love!! I wish I had gotten to meet her. I'm so glad she's feeling better. STill praying for all of you!!

Tridentine Wife said...

How scary for the both of you, I am praying she comes home soon and in good health. Thanks for sharing this story.

A said...

Loved this update! And the last picture, especially! Continued prayers for her healing!

Christa said...

Glad she's feeling better! My poor niece went through this last year (full recovery), but it lead to months of obsessive hand washing, sanitizer, and staying home to be safe. Obviously it was all worth it, and she's healthy now!

This_Cross_I_Embrace said...

I don't know first-hand, but I know from several friends how scary RSV is, but also that it is just that- a scare. I'm so glad Clara bounced back so quickly and is breathing on her own again. What an ordeal for you guys!

And... of COURSE she knows you're her daddy! :)

WheelbarrowRider said...

How terribly frightening! Charlie had what they called "rsv-like virus". His cousins gave it to him and they all tested neg for RSV but the doc said it didn't matter b/c it manifested itself just the same. If this is what she had, then the vac wouldn't help. So frustrating and scary! Also, Charlie has reflux pretty bad (still medicated at 16 months) so I would be happy to answer any questions about it.