I've had a hard time writing on this blog since we got back from Florida. Though I can come up with no logical reason why the two should be connected, capturing moments of my children's lives here remind me of the night in Orlando when we rushed Molly to the emergency room and I was scared she was going to die. Maybe I think if I don't write small paragraphs summarizing her existence then there won't be any way that those paragraphs could ever be all I have left of her.
Dean and I were at a movie and my in-laws were with the sleeping children when Molly woke up from a dead sleep struggling to breathe. By the time we walked in the door, she was lying on my mother-in-law's lap, raggedly inhaling, too focused on getting enough air to be crying. I took one look at her and yelled for Dean, who immediately took her out into the thirty degree night air. We knew it was croup, though she hadn't been sick, but she was well past the barking cough stage and straight into severe stridor at rest, a medical emergency. She was struggling. I saw legions of croupy kids in my pediatric practice and nothing has ever scared me like this. Even Dean, used to crisis after crisis on the pediatric ICU, knew she needed to be in the emergency room. Now.
I think Molly could sense my terror. She refused to go to me, preferring to lie limply in Dean's arms, so it fell to me to find out where the nearest children's hospital was and how to get there. We were sure she would be admitted, concerned she might be intubated and wanted to go to a children's hospital if she was going to be staying somewhere.
Dean held Molly in the backseat of the car, not wanting to risk obstructing her airway further by making her cry if we strapped her in her carseat. Her loud painful inhalations were slow and widely spaced enough that I continually cried out, terrified, "Is she still breathing?." At one point she coughed and vomited, and there was a long pause before she could take another sucking noisy breath, and it was all I could do to keep my hands on the wheel as I just pleaded with God to keep her breathing long enough to get to the emergency room. I knew if we could just get her there, she would be fine, they could intubate her and all would be well. But in that twenty minute drive to the hospital, it seemed that every breath was more constricted than the last and all I could do was envision the terrible silence if she didn't take another one.
While I drove and prayed and wept, Dean kept her calm, rubbing her wild hair back from her face, softly singing 'Be Thou My Vision' like he does every night with her before bed. When we finally pulled into the emergency room, we bolted from the still-running car, and took her in while she vomited again. And just like that, as she threw up phlegm and pizza, she was better. She still had stridor, but it was mild. I tried to sign her in, but I was shaking too badly to write her name.
She got steroids and X-rayed, but the crisis had passed and she was fine. Thanks be to God, she was fine.
But even though she was fine, I still can't shake the memory of that drive down an Orlando highway where my life as I knew it was balanced so precariously between mercy and disaster.