But, sometimes, life hands out really great endings.
Do you want to hear one?
I only briefly blogged about Van's hospitalization with RSV in February. As significant of an event as that was for our family, it's surprising that it didn't come up much here on this blog. By the time my third baby rolled around, I felt like a baby pro. However, I was a complete newbie when it came to respiratory illnesses, and most certainly with respiratory distress. Before my dad picked me up in a snowstorm to drive Van to the hospital, BJ and I didn't realize how bad it had gotten. Van was truly in respiratory distress, exhibiting strong "retracting" reflexes (which I was clueless about but quickly became an expert on--see the second video below if you want to be informed about what it looked like with Van), and was only breathing at an oxygen level of 83%. Admittance criteria was 92%, so he was well below that. Somewhere between the triage nurse hurrying with my baby in her arms through the emergency room and the IV going into his hand, I realized that this was really, really bad.
People, through their life experiences, invariably earn 'club memberships' to different groups as life takes them on their journeys. Some people become marathoners, and only other marathoners can really understand what they've been through. Some people earn 'homeless' memberships, and others earn memberships for 'hurricane survival.' Some people get 'badges' for eating ghost peppers, and some women join the club of 'miscarriage.' Some clubs you want to be a member of, and some you surely don't. On February 2nd, I earned my membership in the Club for Mothers of Tiny Hospitalized Infants. It is a lonely and frightening place to be, watching your tiny one struggle and wishing it could be you instead. One of the few membership benefits, for me, was an incredible amount of support from my entire community of friends and family. I felt the love all the time, whether from family visits or Facebook comments, and--believe me--I relied heavily on it. Some of my biggest supporters were fellow club members, and, even worse, friends who tragically belong in the awful club of Moms Who Have Lost a Child. Where those women found the strength to support Van and me I have no idea, but they did, and I will always love them for it.
For four days, Van rode the hospital wave. He was never the sickest baby on the unit, and I attribute this to his sheer bulk and to our good luck. I don't know why my baby got better when others didn't, and I don't think there is any semblance of a satisfactory answer for it. When we arrived at the hospital, Van was struggling so hard to breathe, you could hear him across the whole house. He had teams of doctors and nurses on him the second they laid him on the table. But you know what? Day by day, two steps forward and one step backward, Van beat that virus. It got worse before it got better, and I know without a doubt in my heart that he would not have survived it without medical intervention. Our baby is with us though, and he doesn't have a single ill-effect from his battle with RSV. If you're in need of good news this morning, there is a happy ending for you, my friends.
Vanners, my littlest babe, turns one year old in less than two weeks. I can hardly believe it, and the nostalgia is overwhelming for me at this time. I have found myself holding him tighter, kissing his cheeks more, smelling his hair with abandon this past week, because my baby is becoming no longer a baby. While I obviously have mixed feelings about this, the foremost emotion I experience for Van is gratitude. Grateful each day for this sweet, little Christmas babe.
*First video: my sweet babe interacting with me near the end of our hospital stay. Second video: that hideous, awful retracting. I think all parents should know what this looks like.*