I can’t thank you all enough for the encouragement, support and prayers in response to my instagram update yesterday regarding Caroline. In a matter of minutes my picture was saturated with uplifting comments that I really needed in those moments. I owe you all a hug. A lot of you asked for updates on Caroline’s tests and a lot of you also asked what the heck happened. It’s still very raw and traumatic for me to recap but I’m going to do my best. And again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for lifting our family in prayer. We’ve never felt so covered in God’s love, healing and protection.
For those of you who just want an update and not all the scary details I highly suggest skipping all except the last paragraph of the following…
I rocked Caroline to sleep at her usual bedtime. She was hungrier than normal so I gave her 6 ounces of milk (she normally takes 4 ounces). I rocked her into a deep sleep, said a prayer over her and tip toed to her crib to lay her down. She didn’t stir – success.
Hours later Matt and I were watching some TV in our living room. This is worth mentioning because it’s pretty uncharacteristic for us as we normally run to our room and collapse into bed much earlier than this. I heard a very brief but frightening scream come from Caroline’s room (which is right off of our family room). It was unlike any scream I’d ever heard but it was just a short burst followed by silence. If I were in my bed I don’t know that I would have responded to her since it was just a short outburst and it seemed she slipped back into her slumber. But for some reason the cry upset me and Matt and I both jumped up to go rescue her from maybe a bad dream?
In less than 3 seconds I was standing over her crib in the dark, gently patting her belly to let her know I was there. Her typical response is to curl up into a ball, roll towards me, make some eye contact and smile. She didn’t do that. I suspected she was in a much deeper sleep so I started to rub her belly a little harder and whisper her name. It was then that I realized her sleep sack was completely saturated in vomit (and so was half her crib – so much vomit) so I hurriedly picked her up to change her. In that moment my heart sank to the floor. Her body was lifeless and collapsed into mine as I put her to my chest. She didn’t squirm or sigh or show any ounce of reflex. Her head had no control and her face crashed into my chest rather than the side of her head. I screamed for Matt to turn on the light and that I thought something might be wrong. We laid her on her changing table and it was then that we recognized she was completely unconscious and not breathing. We screamed her name, shook her a bit (safely) and Matt immediately went into back blows as I called 911. Her coloring went from pale to red to purple.
I was a complete mess on the phone with the 911 operator. I tried to give him all of the information he needed in between my pleads to “please hurry!!!” and screams of “she’s still not breathing!!” He told us to lay her on her back to begin CPR (we took infant CPR prior to Caroline’s arrival). Everything was happening too quickly yet time managed to stand still. It was in those moments that I could hear the comforting sound of sirens approaching our house. The ambulance had arrived in less than 4 minutes. I ran outside screaming for the paramedics to please save my baby and an army of paramedics, firemen and policemen came storming into my house. Each responded as if it was their own child and immediately took over for Matt. At this point Caroline had started taking shallow breaths, opened her eyes but was still unresponsive. The next few minutes were a blur as we were watching the medics care for Caroline simultaneously to giving them all of our information. They loaded her into her car seat and ran her out the front door where there was a stretcher sitting in our front yard. I lost it. Watching your baby’s car seat be strapped to a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance is an image I hope none of you will ever have to see. I rode with her and Matt followed us in the truck.
When we arrived to the emergency room she was immediately taken back to the children’s ER wing and stuck with a thousand needles, monitors, a catheter and a bunch of other wires. She started to cry and it was a relief that I just can’t describe. I’d never been so happy to hear her cry. It meant that she was awake and alert. However, she was also in a lot of pain and it was equally excruciating to watch nurses poke her a million times. Test after test after test was ordered. I can’t even recount everything she went through.
A few hours later we were admitted to the children’s floor where we spent the night. The doctors were really worried about an increased risk for SIDS so they wanted to observe her. We didn’t sleep. Every 15 minutes a nurse or a doctor came in to check vitals, give updates, etc. We were also told by the pediatricians that they hoped to find “nothing” in her tests and that “no answers” was likely the best answer. But we wanted answers! How were we to go back home not knowing why or how this all happened?
We tried to sleep. It was 3 am and we were utterly exhausted. The 3 of us squeezed together on the tiniest couch and Caroline went to sleep on Matt’s chest. When she awoke in the morning she seemed completely normal. She smiled, fussed, took a bottle and played with toys. The doctors ordered several more heart x-rays to be safe but everything came back normal and we were scheduled to be discharged.
Just before we left one of the pediatricians came by and told us that based off of all of the tests the team of doctors on the floor believed Caroline survived a case of SIDS. They speculate she choked on her vomit, screamed out using her last breath and her body shut down to conserve energy, air and relax her tummy muscles so the vomit could go back down (or out). Apparently infants have a remarkable ability to use the air in the body for several minutes and it was by the grace of God that we intervened at those exact moments. They also believe that this was an isolated event that should likely never happen again. We were happy with those answers and even happier to bring our healthy baby home. I swear there was an angel (most likely my mom) who was with her that night and ignited a panic in me to respond to that cry. I am forever grateful to our Lord for healing our Caroline.
Now go squeeze your babies!