It's never fun to have a sick child, and a sick baby seems even worse. Despite our best efforts, Baby Kate picked up a bug that started with some congestion and coughing. The timing was bad; it started the night before we left on a roadtrip to see family in the Midwest. She was healthy enough to travel, but as the trip continued, her cough worsened. Early one morning, she had a fever of 100.6. Our pediatrician had advised that if she ever has a fever of about 100.4, we need to see a doctor. Kate's fever earned her a trip to the emergency room near my parents' house, but it was her diagnosis of RSV and labored breathing that landed her in the pediatric intensive care unit. As the doctors monitored her oxygen, they saw her levels drop while she slept and decided to keep her overnight in the hospital for observation.
I was devastated. Even though I knew having Kate under the careful watch of doctors and nurses was the best course of action, the sight of an oxygen tube in her nose broke my heart. Though her oxygen level was perfect while she was awake, the ER doc had prescribed giving her oxygen while we waited to go the PICU. That made Kate very gassy and very mad. Very little would comfort her, and she was too upset and gassy to eat, which really made things so much worse. It is hard to hear a baby cry for even a minute....this last for what felt like an hour before we finally got her gas resolved and moved her to PICU, where they did not prescribe keeping her on oxygen.
It was surreal seeing my seven week old baby in the big hospital bed, wearing a tiny little hospital gown. The staff monitored her oxygen level with a monitor attached to her sweet little foot, and I spent hours just staring at the number on the screen, even though an alarm would sound if anything was wrong. That silent screen held my attention in the overnight hours while listening to the chatting of the nurses in the hallway and the rattled breathing of my baby girl.
All of this was happening 1,000 miles away from the pediatrician we love and trust in Greenville and from the hospital we know so well. Fortunately, what we lacked in familiarity of surroundings and health personnel, we made up for with loving family members. My parents kept our toddler busy while Chris and I tended to Kate, and in the evening, two of my three siblings and my childhood best friend came and spent time with Kate and me.
After a difficult day, Kate slept hard that night, from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. When she did wake to eat, she didn't have much trouble. By 8 a.m., the pediatrician told us Kate was breathing well enough to leave the hospital. It was a relief. Kate now has an ear infection, but her cough and congestion have cleared up.
It crossed my mind more than once that Kate was not the sickest child in the PICU that day (not by a long shot), but as far as I was concerned, she was the most important. It all reminded me of our annual telethon to support Children's Miracle Network and Vidant Children's Hospital. When there is something wrong with your child, your baby, nothing is more important than her getting well again. While the sickest and most seriously injured children spend much longer in the hospital than Kate's one-night stay, I feel like I have at least a tiny glimpse of what it's like for parents whose children need the life-saving help of the hospital. And that just cements my belief in the good work the money raised by Children's Miracle Network does.