What a weekend! Many of you have heard about it and have been praying for us, for which we are very, very thankful! I want to tell you about it....
For several days, I'd noticed that Wesley's soft spot, or fontanelle, on the top of his head seemed to be fuller than normal. At first I didn't really think much about it and figured it would go down on its own. But then, last Friday night, he woke up around 2am crying and didn't want to go back to sleep. Saturday morning, I noticed that he was running a slight fever and continued to be fussy, the latter being VERY abnormal for him. Wesley is probably the happiest baby I've ever seen! He never cries unless he's hungry or dirty. So when he insisted on being held and continued to fuss up into the night, not sleeping very well, I became worried. I also saw that his fontanelle was bulging even more and was becoming firm. Wesley would also start crying if I gently pressed on it. After finally getting him to sleep at around 10 Saturday night, I got online and researched his symptoms. Every site I found all said the same thing, "Swollen fontanelle, fever...GET TO THE ER IMMEDIATELY! There were three things that would most likely be the cause of it, Meningitis, Hydrocephalus, and one other, all three very serious and life threatening. We both began to worry and finally decided it was better to play it safe than sorry. So I woke Wesley up again, and headed to a hospital about 10 minutes away. The doctor looked at him, then left to confer with a couple other doctors. Finally, he returned and told me to keep an eye on him until Monday morning. If anything changed by then, I was to take him to his pediatrician. I left feeling only slightly relieved. By the time I got home, it was 3 am Sunday morning. Wesley woke at 7am crying as if in pain. His fever was also steadily getting higher, and his soft spot was noticeably getting bigger. When looking at him straight on, the top of his head bulged up abnormally. I was scared! Andy and I both wanted a second opinion. And fast! Andy called a fellow at church to fill in for him, then called a friend to come get the kids, and we loaded Wesley up and drove to Indianapolis, a little over an hour away to Riley Children's Hospital. As soon as we got there and told the nurse his symptoms, she went out and told a doctor. Very soon after, the doctor came in, did a quick examination, and asked a zillion questions, which we repeated again and again to many other doctors during the next couple of hours. The first doctor got a concerned look in his eye and said, "I'll be honest with you, there's only a few things that cause a bulging fontanelle, and all of them are bad. This doesn't look good. I can't give you much hope on this right now." Andy and I had heard those dreaded words before. The whole world came to a sudden, crashing halt as the news sunk in. Our baby was in serious trouble and it was very likely he wouldn't come home. If he did, he wouldn't be the same. The pressure on his brain would cause serious trouble. If we got him to the hospital fast enough to catch the infection before it did too much damage to the brain, we had a chance. But how long did it take before the damage would be done? Had we gotten here soon enough? As the doctor left us to order a CT scan, the tears began to fall. The flashbacks came flooding back. There we were again, in another hospital room, in the NICU, crying babies and children in the pods next to us, holding our baby and being told he had a serious, life threatening problem. Yes, we'd been through this before. I had thought I had remembered the pain, the agony of hearing those words, but can never get used to it. I held Wesley tight in arms and kissed his bulging head as the tears dampened his soft hair. I heard Andy whisper, "I don't know if we can do this again..." The agony tore our hearts out, the wondering how long we had with him, how bad it was, and would he ever be the same if he survived this. It is not an easy thing. Its a blow that hits you in the pit of the stomach and leaves you sick and weak. Andy and I are nobody special, but we had gone through this before, and we saw God's hand working in Rebekah's life and death. We had experienced the peace that God gives in the midst of the storm and knew without a doubt that His ways are better than ours. As hard as it was losing Rebekah, if we had to do it again, we would have given her back to God a second time as we did the first. And this very thought was racing though our minds as we digested this news for the second time. With tears streaming down our faces, we gave our son to God to do with as He willed, and braced ourselves for the worst. His ways are best, NO MATTER WHAT. God has a reason for everything He does, and its for our good and His glory. I had a calm within my heart, and the peace that is only found in Jesus Christ flooded my very soul! I knew that no matter what happened, God would walk with us. He promised never to leave us or forsake us, and we had tried and proven this promise to be true with Rebekah. We were holding onto it for all we were worth. Its only by His strength you can make it through something like this!
Wesley got a CT scan done on his head, and some fluid drawn from his spine for testing for meningitis. It would take 24 hours before we would know anything from the spinal tests, though. Wesley was top priority on the NICU floor and the doctors were racing the clock to find something definite so that they could start pumping antibiotics into him. They were pretty confident it was meningitis, and finally decided to give him the antibiotics anyway, even before the test results came back. Andy walked out of the room once and saw several doctors huddled over a computer screen quietly discussing Wesley's condition. Three nurses tried to get an IV started in him, but couldn't find a vein in his chubby little arms and legs. They even used and ultrasound to help guide the needle and still failed to get a vein. Poor Wesley learned very quickly that the cold alcohol swabs meant pain shortly thereafter and he would begin howling before the needle ever met skin! He also quickly learned that anyone wearing white was a mortal enemy and was given a wary evil eye as he watched every move they made when they entered the room. He soon decided the safest place was in mama's arms and refused to let me put him down. So I spent all day Sunday and all that night sitting upright in a chair holding him while he fitfully slept. I didn't mind. As I sat there through the long night hours, I remembered another time five years ago doing the very same thing. Not for just one night, but six long, bone weary nights watching a vigil over my dying infant. I wouldn't sleep. I couldn't. I wanted to be there when she died. I wasn't going to miss it. So I sat and waited and prayed and wept through the night hours. I would do it again. Five years later, I sat and I waited for news, and I prayed and wept. And I hugged my baby boy close, loving him in a way you can only do when you think you might lose him. They suddenly become so precious and you do whatever you have to to be there for them, to comfort them, to shield them from their pain. So I sat and rocked him late into the night.
After many tests, the doctor came in and told us that with each hour that passed, our chances that he did not have meningitis were getting better. So far, nothing had shown up in the spinal cultures. One by one the blood tests also came back negative. By morning, the news came that meningitis was ruled out, as were the other two life threatening illnesses. The doctors concluded that Wesley had some strange virus that caused a fluid build up on his brain. The pressure had begun giving him headaches, and that, on top of the fevers and flu like symptoms, well, no wonder he was so miserable. The doctor said it was very rare that babies have the fluid build up for basically no reason, but they wanted to see him back in a month to check on him to see if the fluid was staying at a normal level. When they drew the fluid from Wesley's spine for testing, the pressure in his head eased and his soft spot returned to normal with is slight pulsing indention.
They went ahead and updated Wesley's vaccinations, and said we could take him home. The virus would last anywhere from 5 to 10 days, but that he should be fine after it ran its course.
Our hearts were filled to bursting! It was if our baby had been snatched back from the grave in a way. The doctors really didn't have much of an answer as to why it all happened the way it did. For Wesley to fool every doctor on the floor, and then nothing to show up in the tests? Just makes you wonder....
I like to think that perhaps God heard some prayers going up for our family and decided to answer and give us back our baby boy. Our children in truth belong to God. He entrusted them to us for raising, sort of like a loan from Heaven. I think He likes it when we give them back to Him. He chose to take Rebekah back. And He chose to let us keep Wesley for awhile longer. Oh how I praise him for answered prayers! How I thank Him for my children! When you lose them, they become so so precious! Sometimes we tend to forget that they truly are gifts from God. We get frustrated with them, get weary of constantly breaking up fights, or those numerous bedtimes excuses they can dream up! But a little jolt like the one we experienced this past weekend will make even that 10 trip up the stairs with a drink of water, or a forgotten teddy bear seem a little more special. You may even smile as you watch them snuggle back down into their blankets with a contented sigh. You might just be a little more patient when you kiss an imaginary boo boo for the umpteenth time, or wipe another stinky bottom. Yes, they are precious! And I am guilty of taking my children for granted as well. Two of those jolts in one lifetime is enough, though, and I hope that I have learned my lesson! I can't take too many more of them! Whew!
We are home now, and even though Wesley is still pretty miserable with the virus, the fever, and vaccinations, I think we'll make it just fine. He's sleeping a lot, but is terribly happy to be home and away from all those terrible people in white jackets! He visibly relaxed as soon as we walked in the door yesterday. He was smiling through red, droopy eyes at everyone who looked at him, and even played for a little while on the floor. He hardly even fussed when I put him down in his bed. Yes, he's happy to be home.... and so am I.
We thank every one of you for your prayers! Prayer can truly move the hand of God!!! He is so good to us!