Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Charlotte is very sick.
She has RSV. Moms of winter babies will know what this is. We always make our eyes big and say "It's RSV Season! No you can't take the baby to clinic! It's RSV season! I can't be the nursery leader! It's RSV season! Wash your hands! It's RSV season!"
Charlotte used to get the vaccine, what amounted to two shots in the leg on the 15th of every month from October to March or April. It was expensive and annoying, but she never got RSV.
I sit alone with her in our hospital room, 3033. It is quiet except for the hiss of 5 liters of oxygen delivered by mask, the high pitched wheezing, snorting, crackling, gurgling of her lungs, the click of her feeding pump, her occasional cry of discomfort and the odd pager going off in the hall. So not quiet at all.
Charlotte has had a cold pretty much all winter. When she starts breathing through her mouth, we put her on an oxygen mask and her saturation go right up. We say "see, it's just her sinuses. It's not in her lungs." And we are comforted.
I worked yesterday and Zar was home with the girls. He sounded sad and discouraged on the phone. She wasn't satting well, even on the mask. I figured she needed mom. She needed mom to give her a bath, thump on her back, saline and suction out her nose, and tape the probe on correctly. So I went home. I did all my mom things. I tried everything, even a suppository. Nothing to heal your lungs like a good poop. But nothing worked.
Zar did his dad things. He gave her a blessing, held her and begged her to be okay. He let her pull off his glasses and kissed her. Nothing worked.
We put our heads together and prayed. Even though we didn't want to, and we didn't think it would help, and we have a baby and it's RSV season, we loaded up and went to the hospital.
The waiting room was packed, what seemed like hundreds of bundles wrapped in blankets, tired, sad looking moms, a girl in a wheelchair, a crying ten year old with a sling, a family in ski clothes, and we almost walked out. The triage nurse looked at Charlotte, cradled like a big 34 inch tall baby in her piggy jams, in her daddy's arms, and took us right back. Her heart rate was 175, her temperature was 105, her sats were low, she was pale and blue and screaming. Everyone else waited five hours, but we went right back.
Charlotte has an IV. Her first in nearly two years. She is exhausted, and uncomfortable, and she tosses and turns and tries to get a good breath. Her hair is full of sweat and her nose is bloody and runny. I can hear her heart beating from here, it gives her wheezing a rhythm. It is terrible.
All I can do it sit by her side and pat her when she cries, put her mask back on when she wiggles out of it. It is hard to be a mom. It is hard to have a sick child. It is hard to understand why. Why. Why does she have to suffer? Isn't it enough? Enough to be on oxygen 24 hours a day, enough to be fed by tube, enough to not be able to walk, or speak, or live a normal life? Couldn't RSV just passed us by?
When is it enough?