Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mercy Visits the Hospital

About 2.5 weeks ago now my mom, the kiddos and I headed for Boise to visit my sister.  A day and half into that visit my boys woke up sick.  They had coughs, but it didn't seem extraordinary.  However, my sister was due anytime with her third child, so we packed up and left early so as to try to minimize the odds of them getting sick, too.

The other reason for our visit was that we were getting a "new to us" vehicle in Boise.  The folks we bought it from turned out to be a little bit ornery, and we left without the car.  Mom would have to drive it back when she returned several days later.  You'll see why that's relevant later.

Anyway, the boys got sick on Friday, Mercy came down the bug on Sunday, and I followed suit on Monday.  By Monday the kids were really quite sick.  Abel was having a hard time nursing because of the nasal and lung congestion.  So, I made an appointment for him.  Where we live you have to drive 40 minutes to get to the doctor, so this isn't a minor outing.  I got the kids all bundled up and loaded into the should-have-already-been-replaced vehicle, which is very difficult to load them into, and it wouldn't start.  Seriously.  I've had better moments. 

I called the clinic and rescheduled the appointment for the next day, Tuesday.  While I was at it, I made appointments for Mercy and Gilead, too, since they were getting worse.  I didn't want to have to drive 40 minutes two or three days in a row.  The car fix was easy--Ryan's Dad was able to talk him through it on the phone.  He's handy that way.  We were so thankful.

We had a blizzard on Tuesday.  Really and truly.  The sirens never seemed to stop.  Thankfully conditions had eased up some by the time we had to head out.  We had to drive slowly and carefully, but we made it.  Mercy had a sinus infection and Gilead and Abel had bronchitis.  Abel still wasn't nursing much and Mercy was coughing until she vomited, but I thought that surely we would be on the upswing.

We weren't.

My days became a blur of holding Mercy while she coughed until what little she'd taken in came back up, trying to nurse Abel every 1.5 to 2 hours, pumping because he wouldn't eat, and then trying to syringe what I'd pumped back into him.  It was definitely one of those "motherhood in the trenches weeks."

Thursday Ryan had to work 12 hours.  Mom hadn't planned on coming home until Friday, but because things weren't going so well here she decided to come back a day early.  Until she got to the new car and it wouldn't start.  We couldn't believe it.  As it turns out, the battery on the car was dead, but the previous owners hadn't disclosed that.  She would have to wait another day to come home.  The kids seemed pretty much the same that day until evening, when Mercy got worse.  After clinic hours, of course.  Ryan walked in at 8pm to find Mercy wretching again.  She hadn't had the energy to do anything but lie on the couch for days, she'd only taken in about 6oz. of fluid and a bit of jello, and it wasn't staying down, so we loaded up and headed for the emergency room.

Mercy, first thing in the morning after spending the night at the hospital.

Both Mercy and Abel were checked in.  Both tested positive for RSV.  Mercy was nebulized pretty quickly.  Her lungs didn't sound so great.  Because of the dehydration and I.V. was placed.  That was terrible.  It took three tries to get the line into her tiny, dehydrated veins.  Poor Ryan held her while she cried "Daddy (gasp), help me!" over and over again.  Once that was over she was sent for a chest x-ray, which showed quite a lot of fluid in her lungs.

Abel really wants to get his hands on Mercy's ER duck.

The same scenario, minus the I.V. was repeated for Abel.  He, too, had quite a lot of fluid in his lungs.  However, once he was nebulized, he nursed well for the first time in days.  His oxygen level also came up to 96.  He was given a few vials of albuterol to be administered at home and discharged.

Abel being nebulized at home.

Mercy, on the other hand, still only had an oxygen saturation level of 88 even after using the nebulizer, so they decided to keep her.  She was high on albuterol, steroids, and nerves and an absolute riot at this point.  I've never seen a child talk that fast or that constantly.  

Lunch at the hospital.  Mercy actually start to look perkier and ate a few bites.  Gilead was excited about her chips...

It was nearly  midnight by now, and Ryan's working 60+ hour weeks.  Because wherever I am, Abel needs to be, we decided that Ryan would stay at the hospital with Mercy and I would take the boys home and return for Ryan and Mercy in the morning.  Gilead, Abel, and I didn't get home until nearly 1am.

The next morning we loaded up as soon as Gilead was up.  I anticipated that Mercy would be discharged first thing in the morning, and we would basically be going to pick them up and come back home.  I was wrong.  Mercy wasn't discharged until nearly 5pm.  In the meantime, mom finally made it back to town, with the new van, and picked Gilead up and took him home.  Ryan's office graciously gave him Friday and Saturday to care for his family.

Shortly before mom picked Gilead up and took him home to take a nap.

We crashed so hard for the next couple of days.  Truth be told, we're still not recovered.  Mercy is on an "every other day" recovery trend.  One day she's nearly her old self.  The next she's low on energy, melts down easily, and doesn't eat well.  I think it's going to be awhile before we see our spunky girl daily.

Mercy seems to have blocked out all of the negatives of being in the hospital.  She simply has fond memories of the nice ladies and sleeping in the same room with Daddy at the doctor's and asks to go back.  Mommy and Daddy don't care to repeat that slumber party anytime soon!

Mercy and Abel continuing to recover at home.

On Babies...

I'm always amazed by how critical, unloving, and downright unreasonable we mothers can become.  Particularly when it comes to babies.  Yes, "we."  I've been just as guilty as the next woman.

We have opinions about diapers, immunizations, laundry soap, sleeping.  Ah, sleeping.  That one becomes a big issue.  And, like everyone else, I do have my opinions.  We are not an attachment parenting family.  Yes, we sleep train.

We also love our babies.  More than life itself.  We try our hardest to model Christ to them.

I know families who do follow more an attachment parenting style who also love their babies and try to be Christ to them.

And yet we fling whatever we can find at one another to prove that our position is right.  More holy.  

Both sleep training and attachment parenting can become extreme, and in those cases, unloving.  However, most in both camps, don't lie in the extremes.  This is an important point.  Co-sleeping and waking to feed my baby during the night for 6 months, or a year, or longer, doesn't work well for our family.  Our marriage bed remains that.  My husband's and mine--not the entire family's.

With Mercy, sleep training was the natural thing to do.  She would have hated attachment style parenting.  She despised every carrier I tried, didn't love to be held, and slept best in her own bed.  She was my first, and honestly, I wanted to snuggle her more.  But she'd pull away, and as soon as you put her down, she'd laugh and coo and bat her adorable little arms at me.  Later in her first year, when she entered physical therapy for some severe gross motor delays, her therapist would dub her "the happiest baby ever."

With Gilead, it was harder.  He would have loved co-sleeping.  He nursed every 2 hours all night, every night, for his first eight weeks.  I was exhausted. I logged countless hours on my knees, by his bassinet patting him, comforting him, so that he'd learn to sleep in his bed.  It didn't come naturally to him.  It was initially harder than co-sleeping would have been, but we loved him through learning to sleep in his bed. Then, he suddenly started to sleep 6 hours at night.

Abel spent his first 10 days in NICU.  Here's the ironic thing.  Most lactation consultants have told us to nurse on demand--even if that means every 40 minutes.  I've always focused on giving my babies a full feeding.  Then, if they start to fuss 10 minutes later, I know that hunger isn't the issue.  I start exploring others potential causes.  In the NICU, babies were fed every three hours.  We were sent home with paperwork saying to try to give full feedings and not to feed more often than every two hours.  It could lead to bad eating and sleeping patterns.

These are the people who rather successfully care for critically ill infants.

It was nice, in the midst of criticism we've received for using flexible routines with our babies to get some affirmation.  Not only was this not hurting our babies, but it was actually good for Abel, our little one who'd had a rough start in life.  And his inclinations fall somewhere between Mercy and Gilead.  He's more of a snuggler than Mercy was, but not so much as Gilead.  He didn't sleep well until 10.5 weeks, but when it happened, it happened naturally.  As it did with all of them.  There wasn't any forcing about it.  The routine lent itself to eventually sleeping.

Yes, I do feed my babies in the night when they wake hungry.  And, on some occasions, it has been in the midst of tears of exhaustion.  I won't lie.  I'm thankful when they sleep through the night.  I'm thankful that the eat, sleep, play routine facilitates that.  If you want to know more about it, I'm happy to share.  But it doesn't mean that I love Mercy, Gilead, and Abel any more or less than the next woman loves her littles.

Our babies eat, they play, they sleep.  We're not rigid about times.  If the baby wakes up at 6am, the routine starts then.  If at 8am, that's when we start that day.  At 6 months, Abel eats every 3-4 hours.  We all know what to expect in a given day.  

He's happy, as am I.

But I know people who get stressed out just thinking about using a routine with their babies.

I guess my point is this.  Let's not forget that a mother is capable of modeling Christ and His love to her children using both models.  View your fellow mothers with the grace you'd like to be extended to yourself.  The baby who's been taught to sleep through the night is likely just as loved as the one who's still feeding at 3am.  As is the reverse.  

God uses all varieties of women to raise up the next generation of fruit.  And He knows each of our weaknesses.  This article was particularly helpful for me today.  And I think it applies to this conversation beautifully.