Want to make God laugh?
Tell him your plans. -unknown
Two weeks ago I was planning my return to work, as my maternity leave was coming to an end. I had been fortunate enough to have been home with our sweet little miss for 10 weeks… bonding and loving and caring and snuggling. I had created multiple to-do lists, nesting all over again, preparing for the moment when I would once again add the title of 1st grade teacher, to my already heavy load of responsibilities. I felt the pressure of the countdown and tried to make sure all our meals were healthy and planned, all the kids clothes were organized as they had changed sizes, my closet organized giving me some selection for my post-partum work attire, all while also trying to maintain a clean and organized home, adorned with freshly printed pictures of our three beautiful children.
I was getting myself worked up trying to plan everything to make for what I thought would be a smooth transition into our life with two working parents and three children.
Then reality smacked our family in the face.
January 12-Nate’s lively and beautifully spirited Aunt Bernie suffered a massive stroke.
January 13– Nate injured his foot in basketball practice, putting him on crutches.
January 18– Nate’s funny, loving, family oriented Aunt Bernie passed away. She was an incredible person, with loads of personality, and will be greatly missed by many. We immediately started to plan how we would orchestrate supporting the extended family without having our children take away from what support we would be offering. We decided that Nate would go with his parents on Friday to support the family during the visitation and funeral, while I stayed home with our young children.
January 19– Will and Collette go into the doctor as we notice a cough in Collette and a fever for Will. They are both given antibiotics to cover some bases, as Will’s ears were starting to look red. We were told the symptoms to look for in Collette that would warrant a trip to the ER.
January 20– Collette goes to the ER in the morning. She is put on oxygen and will have to be admitted. Being that we live in a rural community and only have a small hospital, the doctors have to decide whether to admit her to our hospital or transport her to a larger hospital over an hour away. After making a few calls and discussing staffing, the doctor decided to keep her in our town, as she will only need oxygen and monitoring. I was warned that if she did not show improvement or seemed to need more, we would have to be transported.
January 21– This is the day that I am supposed to be returning to work. My maternity leave is over. However, I did not return to work. I continued to hold our sweet girl. While still in the hospital, the doctors noticed that Collette was still having quite a bit of trouble with her breathing and that a bigger facility with more resources would be better for her. Nate immediately left work, packing bags for all 5 of our family members. Collette and I had our first ambulance ride, with Nate driving behind. My mom jumped on a plane, then shuttle, then car, to come help take care of Adeline and Will, so that we could focus on Collette. In the meantime, our amazing friend/daycare/nanny/super-hero kept the big kids overnight.
Upon arriving to the much larger hospital, we were taken to the pediatric wing, and there an even stronger dose of reality hit. Yes, our sweet girl is on oxygen and has cords hanging off her, and we are being escorted by EMTs, but we are grateful for where we are and that only this is our story. The rooms around us are dealing with much bigger issues.
Our sweet girl is given a full run down of tests and the support here is wonderful. The idea of her having Pertussis is presented, along with RSV (which had already been ruled out), and many other cold viruses. She is put on a liter of oxygen, after having another one of her bad coughing fits and breathing so hard that her chest is having large retractions. We lay on makeshift chair/beds and listen for her wheezes and the sounds of the monitors. And then we wait.
January 22– now. Our sweet girl is still having coughing fits, but she also has great periods of sleep, like this one. She still isn’t drinking her milk, but slams her Pediolyte. This means she still does not need an IV. This is a success. The doctors say we will probably be here for a couple more days, until she does not need any oxygen at all. She gets nebulizer treatments about every 2 hours to help her feel more comfortable. The test results came back and it is not Pertussis, another success.
The rest of our Lindner side of the family is heading to Wisconsin to honor Bernie and her life. We will be here, in our girl’s hospital room. Everything is on pause right now, while we wait for our girl to breath smoothly on her own again.
So, we wait and we listen and now, I reflect. Our room is right next to the doctors’ desks. There is a medical student and a few residents, so they are often talking about different cases and how to best support anonymous patients. Their conversations are another reminder that we have it very easy here. Very.
As a baby size NICU bed goes rolling by, I am reminded that we can hold our sweet girl and she is sleeping in a very basic hospital crib, without a need for places to hook large monitors to and hang bags from.
As I hear about a child whose face hit the glass in a car accident, covered in stitches, and broken bones, I am reminded that our little girl will leave here with no trace of this stay.
While each person who enters our room has to dress up in a yellow gown and a face mask, I am reminded that they are protecting another child down the hall, who is battling Cancer and receiving chemotherapy, from the simple cold virus our child has.
As I hear the patient care coordinator discuss the transition back to home-care for another child and what will be needed for his trach, I am reminded that our little miss will breathe on her own in just a few days, without ever needing such drastic interventions.
Our sweet little girl will be fine. We are fine. And all those things that I wanted to get done and was frantically stressing to do, will not get done before I return to work, and that will be just fine.
We have an incredible “village” helping us raise our family. People dropped everything to support us:
- The friend who brought Collette a sleep sack that I thought would help her sleep when we were still in town.
- The friend/family who kept our children overnight, loving them, cleaning up Will’s throw up from coughing and staying up all night with him as he battled the same cold our sweet girl has. Then took our sweet boy to the doctor, helped him through his first chest x-ray, picked up his medicine, and loved him like her own.
- The doctor who called while we were in the ambulance to check on us and has been continuously checking on us to make sure we are ok.
- The mom who flew across country, rode a shuttle for 3 hours, and rented a car to watch our children, so that we can stay with our girl. (And the brother who told her to and the dad who didn’t hesitate to help make it happen.)
- The sister-in-law who watched videos of our girly, letting us know it was time to go to the ER.
- The other family, who still continued their plans to go to the funeral that we had been planning to have Nate attend, as we would not want our situation to change the chance for the family to love and support one another through the loss of an amazing woman.
- The co-workers who stepped right in so that Nate could leave work to follow the ambulance.
- The endless number of family and friends who called, texted, emailed, prayed, and offered their love and support.
- The nurses, nurses aids, doctors, custodial staff, EMTs, cafeteria staff, respiratory therapist, child life staff, and nutritionist who have gone above and beyond to make sure our little miss is supported in the best of ways.
It truly does take a “village” to get through this life and wow, did ours show up when we needed them to.
In just a few days, we will return home and life will continue. The same cannot be said for all the other families here. Many of the families’ visit to this hospital was either as a result of a terrifying, life altering diagnosis, or a tragic accident. Perspective.
We have learned so much in these past two weeks, but three things strongly resinate:
- We are stronger than we think we are and can get through a lot more than we think
- We need a strong support system and we are very blessed to have one
- We have gained a new perspective for what rough/challenges/struggles really are
and maybe learning these lessons was the plan.
When everything seems to be falling apart, it is God putting things together just the way He wants it.