One Year Ago

I debated whether or not to even write this post, but Charlotte and the autumn leaves keep reminding me, so what the heck?

One year ago, my little family of three embarked on the 4 crappiest days of our lives. And you know what? It all turned out fine.

My almost-9-month old, you will recall, got quite sick and admitted to the hospital, per the saga already written here.

I recently re-read that post, and I’m glad I wrote it. As time passes, it’s easy to forget how absolutely terrified Chris and I were. How awful every second felt. How I started calling my dad instead of my mom to give updates (no offense, Mums) because my mom’s tears and shrill “She’s STILL bleeding in her diaper?!” threatened to sever the last thread of sanity I had.

I remember living in a multi-day daze. I didn’t leave the hospital except to go home very late at night twice (on Chris’s turns to stay overnight). I remember driving into my small town, totally pooped, and seeing the main restaurant in town all gussied up in autumnal splendor, its patio area lit with gold twinkle lights and stuffed with people. Happy people.

And I remember feeling absolutely shocked that life had been going on this whole time, outside the hospital.

I remember coming home the very first night, around 2:00 a.m., and I couldn’t go into Charlotte’s nursery. She had never been absent before. I remember seeing her (dirty) bottles on the counter (we had left it a big hurry—my house was a mess), and I felt sick to my stomach. Those bottles had been made that morning, when the sun had been bright, before I had any clue what the day had in store for me. Now, cleaning up seemed absolutely beyond my capabilities but the mess still bugged me.

I remember making coffee the next morning (I had promised Chris!), and that seemed like a monumental accomplishment. I remember pulling into the hospital parking lot, thinking I cannot believe I’m here to be with my own baby. I remember walking in on tired Chris and miserable Charlotte, her face absolutely flushed with fever, her arm splinted with an IV, and thinking, how did we get to this point? How is this happening?!

I remember rocking, rocking, rocking, rocking Charlotte, in between the horrible needle pricks and other exams. I remember her panic and terror every time the hospital room door opened, and always with good reason.

Chris had taken the photos below, a couple of which I didn’t even look at for a couple months. They’re just pictures, I know, but at the time they hurt to look at. At least for me.

But, in honor of one whole year passing, I want to celebrate this little girl’s toughness, and the promise that 99 out of a 100 times, kids bounce back just fine. I still cringe when I look at these pictures, as I can’t see them without remembering how scared we were. Remember, we didn’t know what was wrong, and the testing and questions dragged on for DAYS, as our girl’s symptoms progressively worsened.

I look at Charlotte today and wish that, during the darkest, scariest hours at the hospital, I could have had a 10-second preview of her a year later. Then, we didn’t know that she’d still get to participate in her first Halloween parade at school (barely, but she did!), she’d eventually sleep through the night again, the bruises from the IVs (lots and lots of IVs) would eventually fade, and she’d go on to play in the snow in Tahoe, play on the beach in North Carolina, and essentially be the happiest, goofiest, liveliest, sparkliest little girl ever. (Oh, and did I mention healthy--aside from lots and lots of ear infections?)

I cannot adequately articulate how quickly everything dwindles to absolute nothingness when your baby is on the line. Work, households, showering, eating—for Chris and me, all that mattered was what we loved a million times more than our two lives combined: that brown-eyed girl.

So then. A MUCH happier late October this year for our family! We remember the hard time, which was, in retrospect, quite brief and temporary, and we're grateful for the reminder from dear, goofball Charlotte Marie of what matters most.

In triage, soon after the morphine and before the barium enema. The poofy thing on her arm is a diaper they wrap around the splint that holds her IV in place. 

Day 2. Things continued to go downhill. 

My very sick girl. It was difficult to get her into a position in which she was comfortable, hence the awkward angle here. To boot, the IV machine made every movement very difficult and the tubes plus cord weren't long enough for me to get her into her more familiar nursing position--something I deeply resented the room set-up for.

 About an hour after her diagnosis--already sitting up!

Playing. The difference pre- and post-diagnosis (and treatment) was incredible. 

No more IV for Charlotte! FREE! I think this is the day we came home.


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