On the Mend: RSV Reflections

I originally began writing this post (the section in italics below) sometime on Jan. 9 or Jan. 10. I honestly cannot remember because last week was a complete blur.

I am currently sitting on a fold out bed in the pediatric ICU (PICU) unit of Children’s Hospital Colorado. Caden, now 11 weeks, has RSV bronchiolitis. We’re here because his perfect, tiny little body simply doesn’t have the mechanics to fight this nasty virus on its own. He needs the love, support and expertise of the doctors and nurses here who are monitoring every aspect of his recovery by the minute. There is nowhere in the world I’d rather be right now. Except, of course, at home with my baby who was perfectly healthy just a few short days ago.

I’ve seen parents sit on these beds before, looking worried, exhausted and helpless. I am shaking my head because I never thought about how I’d handle being one of them.

Sure, as a parent, you say things like “…I can’t imagine!” every time you read a story about a sick child. But when you have to live the unimaginable you do it. You do it with vigor and determination and pride in the fact that no one knows your baby better than you. You turn into advocate and pseudo doctor first, mom second.

I am lucky to know a lot more about the types of kiddos Children’s Hospital Colorado treats than many parents here. I am on the PR team for the hospital at my agency and I’ve walked the heart-stopping halls where brave kiddos are being treated for cancer, chronic diseases, cardiac, prematurity…the list goes on. The halls that are filled with parents who would give anything in the world to “just” be here for RSV. 

Despite the tubes surrounding my sweet Caden and the endless steam of doctors and nurses, I know we’re here for RSV. I know he’ll recover. I know I’ll be back to battling naps in the blink of an eye. I know I’ll have, and try to hold on to, this completely refreshed perspective that fills my heart and soul right now. 

I never finished the above post in the hospital because there was really never any down time. There were nurses and doctors to talk with, round the clock pumping while he was on a feeding tube and then on-demand nursing when he was able to breastfeed again. If I wasn’t pacing the room or holding him I was sending countless texts to update family and friends. Sometimes I slept. One night Mike took over for a bit so I could take Rylan out for dinner and give him the love and attention he deserved from me too. There were tears, but not as many as I would’ve expected…because it was my job to be calm, rational and strong.

We were home as quickly as we were admitted it seemed, in hindsight. Five nights total, four of which ended up being in the ICU. The nurses and doctors who cared for Caden were the best. I hugged as many as I could to say thank you. Thank you for giving him the love and care that kept him calm and soothed.

Caden has been home for one week and the remarkable turnaround felt impossible when I was sitting in ICU. He is getting back on a good schedule, eating well and smiling more than ever, especially at me. He has HUGE smiles for his mama. I was able to take a few extra days of maternity leave to make sure he got on the best healing track and for that, I am extremely grateful.

I head back to work Monday…more on those emotions soon. Let’s just say the emotions from the hospital, combined with heading back to work, are intense and overwhelming. #NoMascaraOnMonday

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