Sunday, September 8, 2013

The day my heart stood still

It's crazy how just a year ago I was writing a post about how there are no words to describe the moment your baby is placed in your arms for the first time. Today I am going to write about how there are no words to describe the panic and unbearable pain in thinking that the same precious baby may be taken from your arms for good.

I know now that what he went through was normal and relatively "harmless". I know now that he is fine, he is thriving, and he is the most precious littlest boy I have. However, that doesn't erase the image I have in my mind that was replayed over and over and over again as I tried to drift off to sleep last night. It doesn't change the fact that I now want to sleep with the baby monitor on full volume, and that I worry about every little cry and every little tremor in his little body. Right now my husband is trying to get him down for his nap, he is screaming and resisting, I worry about that.

Something changes when you see a little life flash before your eyes. It happened so fast, so unexpected, and yet I wish that I had listened more to my gut instinct. See, I tend to over react as is...and I try desperately hard to keep that under control...especially raising two boys. I could easily become a nut job if I didn't work on this constantly. If I didn't continually lay my worries and fears at the foot of the cross.

So when Bennett struck a high fever Wednesday night, i didn't panic, I was concerned yes, but didn't panic. I treated it with Motrin and Tylenol. Thursday he had a little fever but appeared to be completely fine, completely spunky, completely himself. He stay that way all of Friday. After kissing his forehead Friday night I noticed it felt a little warm. I quickly whipped out my temporal thermometer and it read that he had a 99.9 temp. Not bad, I chalked it up to being the possibility of a new tooth, but gave him some Tylenol just to be safe. He kept fussing on and off which was highly unusual for him. After bringing him to bed with me to nurse, I immediately noticed the heat resonating from his little body. I took his temp and it was 103.7 so I gave him some Motrin. He slept on and off next to me as he seemed more restful there. By the morning it had crept up past 104. And this point I made the decision to call off his birthday party that I had been working endlessly on all week. But none of that seemed to matter when I looked into my sick little boys' eyes.  I also, got him in right away to the doctor. By the time we got to the pediatrician his temp was back down to around 100 degrees. He didn't have any other concerning symptoms so they sent us on our way and said the main thing I needed to watch for was if his fever was gone and he was still lethargic and sick acting.

He fell asleep on the car ride hom, so brought his car seat up to his room and let him sleep peacefully. Since his temp had dropped, I didn't think I needed to worry about giving him any more Motrin for the time being, I had been told that sometimes it is best for the fevers to run there course. Kyle decided that he would take Cole and meet up with his brother and family (as this was the last day for Cole to see  his cousins before they headed back to Germany). Plus, we thought it might be nice to have a quiet house so that Bennett could sleep off his fever. He awoke shortly after the boys had left, he was very sleepy and very lethargic. And he wanted to snuggle. I can never turn down a good snuggle. So I had him lie down next to me and tried to nurse him, he nursed briefly and then pulled off and rested his head on my arm while looking up and staring in my eyes. At this moment i specifically remember having this overwhelming sense that something was off, that I needed to get up check his temp and give him some more medicine. But then his eyes slowly closed and he looked so peaceful. I tried to ignore my gut and told myself that I would let him sleep next to me, and check him when he stirred.

Then the nightmare began.

Suddenly out of nowhere his eyes flew open, he let out a deep scream and threw his head back. I thought he was having a fever-induced terror. So i immediately gathered him up to try and soothe him. I looked into his wide eyes, and he was looking at mine....only not, they were glazed over and he seemed to be looking through me, not at me. Then he began to shake violently, making awful sounds....I couldn't tell if he was breathing.

I tried to stay calm, I tried to soothe him....but when I realized he neither responded to my soothing or hysterical voice...the hysteria set in. Everything gets a bit muddled at this point. What I do remember is desperately trying to find my phone. I ran about 3 laps around the kitchen and the living room while my baby shook in my arms, drool dripping down his face. I don't know how I remembered that my phone was still in my car from our morning doctor's visit. I hardly remember digging it out of my purse or the means in took to get there.

I remember screaming "No" over and over again, I remember wondering why Kyle wasn't there, I remember screaming at God not to take my son from me. I remember desperately trying to dial 911, but unable to unlock my phone with one hand, and wanting to throw my darn phone, but not because I knew I needed it. I remember getting it unlocked and trying about 10 times trying to dial those 3 simple numbers. You always think that if you ever have to dial 9-1-1 it will come as second nature. What you don't anticipate is carrying your shaking baby, whose eyes have now rolled to the side in one hand and trying to get your fingers to hit the correct 3 buttons in the right order with the other hand. I remember wanting to cuss at my phone, I remember giving up in a panic and running to the front door....not sure how I unlocked all of the safetly baby locks and ended myself up on our front lawn.

I have often wondered to myself if I ever was in trouble or needed to get people's attention if I would have enough voice to do so. This part became such an out of the body experience it hardly seems real. I remember hearing a voice that I was sure was not my own. It was screaming "My BABY, my BABY....someone help my BABY!" I don't know how many times this was screamed, I just remember my blessed neigbhor coming running from her backyard across the street.

Her and her husband are my heroes.

 As soon as I saw her I started screaming call 911, please call 911......My baby, save my baby! She came over to my side, took my phone, said I needed to take a deep breath and help her use my phone. Not sure how I was able calm my fingers enough to actually press the buttons, but I did.

Then I remember that same panic filled voice that had been screaming for help was now screaming "Don't leave me, my baby, don't leave me!" over and over again. At some point I had laid Bennett on the grass and had his neck and head cupped in my hands,  my neighbors husband had kneeled down beside me and was helping support Bennett's head. I think I draped my whole body over my little boys seizing body, his eyes now closed...and I began to scream in hysterically.... my sweet neigbor who was speaking with the dispatcher  had to ask me to try and calm down as the dispatcher was unable to hear over my screams.
I was sure I was losing my baby.

I tried to be quiet, I really did.....but that voice just kept screaming, "he's leaving me!" To which the husband kindly bent down next to me and said gently but firmly, "your baby isn't leaving you, he is right in front of you, and he is going to be ok". 

I strongly believe that was God talking through him. Because at that moment the seizing stopped. And Bennett lay there limp and letting out tiny, barely audible whimpers. We were able to get his attention and he began to cry and then his eyes started rolling off to the side again. At this point my neighbor asked if i could speak with the dispatcher, I honestly do not remember what she asked, or what I responded with other than sobs. I do remember her saying that she was a mother and she would have responded the exact same way.

the ambulance arrived, and other neigbors had gathered, one whom I had not met yet said she was a trained emergency responder, she helped me go get Bennett's car seat, filled up a water bottle and lock up my house. All simple tasks, but I am absolutely positive I would not have been able to do any without her calmly by my side. I believe God provided the exact people I needed in such a situation, he knew I was beyond capable of being in any sort of sane mind.

Once the paramedics had my baby boy, I felt a flood of relief. It was then that i was able to cohesively call Kyle and my parents. And looking back, I am actually quite relieved that Kyle had taken Cole....I think he would have been more traumatized had he witnessed his mama losing her sanity and seeing his baby brother shaking in my arms.

The nurses were incredible at the hospital. They were a Godsend.

They had planned on running a ton of tests, but ended up able to rule out some of the more invasive and painful ones due to his symptoms and the results of other tests. I laid next to Bennett in his hospital bed the entire time, except for when they put in the IV and catheter.....I don't think emotionally I would have been able to handle it. Afterwards we lay together, him often rolling up next to me, sticking his precious hand in my armpit (his favorite safety blanket). I can't tell you how many times I lay there thanking God that I still had him next to me, and that the outcome wasn't a different one.

My heart breaks for anyone that has gone through something like this and worse. It broke before, but now I have had a wee taste of what goes through a mother's heart when she stands up against the reality that God may be calling her little one home. It is a position I pray over and over that i will never ever have to face with again. It's to hard, to debilitating, to overwhelmingly heart-stopping.

I cannot express how thankful I am, I can't....I really can't. But I am.

My baby, my baby.....thank you for not leaving me.


  1. Oh Caley, my heat breaks for you! I am so glad little man is okay. I hope you never have to experience anything like that ever again. We'll be praying little Bennett makes a full recovery!

  2. Caley, you did everything right. From checking his temp as often as you did, to having him sleep with you so that he could get some rest, to going to the doctor, to giving tylenol and motrin at the times you did, to letting him nap in his carseat, and even running into your front yard when your fingers failed you. You are an amazing mommy and I'm so glad that Bennett has you.. and that you still get to love on him. Tears flowed down my face as I imagined your horror. Praying that you never have to experience anything like that again. Feel free to call me anytime you think I can answer medical questions.

  3. Caley,
    I am so glad Bennett is okay. I cried as I read your post. I deeply felt for you. I can't imagine how scary that was. You did amazing and I am so thankful your neighbors were able to help and support you. Sending love and hugs to you, your family and the Lil' Birthday Boy!
    Thinking of you,

  4. Thanks for all the kind and thoughtful words. we appreciate your thoughts and prayers tremendously. Bennett seems to be doing so much better today, we are praying he will continue to do well so that we can celebrate his birthday this coming weekend!

  5. Caley, I followed your most recent link off of Facebook and got lost in this beautiful story of your life. I found this post and I am now sitting here with tears running down my cheeks praising the Lord for her mercy. Goosebumps overtook me as I pictured your words come to life - I can't even imagine. Words fail. How scary!! Praise the Lord your neighbors were there, and thank you Jesus for sparing sweet Bennett, and for giving this sweet mama the heart to hold her babies close always. Thank you for sharing this awful experience, I am so, so glad everything turned out ok!

    1. Oh Stephanie, thank you! For some reason writing about it really helped me process it, and I am so so thankful the outcome was as it was. Blessings to you!