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