Brave Mom Face

This past winter my son was hospitalized for the first time in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.  He started developing asthma like symptoms after having a cold, and I took him into the emergency room one morning since treatments at home didn't clear it up.  I took my 2 kids, expecting and hoping they'll give him stronger doses of his asthma medications and we'll be sent home.  After a round of treatments and then some, my sons asthma didn't improve.  He didn't have his typical wheezing, instead I could see his chest pulling.  He couldn't tell if he was totally okay or not either when I asked him.  That's the tricky thing about being sick, even for us adults too, it's hard to tell what's going on in our bodies sometimes.

And then the unexpected happened.  They told me they'd have to admit him.  I tried to stay strong, but it killed me.  In my short few years of being a mother, the hardest thing has been feeling so helpless when my babies were sick.  Too many times I get too close to losing my little boy.  Food allergies and asthma has been a real challenge, to say the least.  I put on my "brave mom face" as I smiled at my strong little boy and told him he'll have to stay in the hospital.  Explaining to a young child that they are sick is difficult, my poor little boy has been through too much already. 

What's the term that's used for parents like me?  Helicopter parenting?  Well, whatever the term, I'm the kind of parent that likes to know how my children are doing at all times.  Which is why when they told me we had to go to a partnering hospital to get him admitted because they don't have a pediatric unit upstairs, and that they'd have to take him in the ambulance without me because I had my little girl with me too - I broke down in fear.  I wanted to hold my little boy as he lied there with things attached to his little body.  He was struggling to breathe and yet still smiled at me when I told him how cool it would be since we'd be riding with sirens & lights on.  Since I didn't have any other ride, and no where for my daughter to go, they let me ride in the front seat with her, and my son in the back of the ambulance.  Thank goodness for the ambulance driver who allowed me to.  I talked to my son in the back while I sat hugging my little girl who was asleep in my arms through the whole ride.  I kept asking him if he was okay, and assuring him mommy was right here in the same vehicle.  As I write this now, I think I was re-assuring myself that my baby was right there...

The worst asthma episode to date.  He still couldn't breathe right, his chest was still pulling, and they had given him all that they high doses.  His body empty without food, was given dose after dose without relief.  I felt helpless.  I only had a few little snacks in my bag since I had hoped to be back home by then, and yet I had two kids without food.  No food for them that were safe.  Luckily my daughter still nursed back then so that gave her something.  That day we all stayed without food until daddy came in the evening with food, he had to go home after work and make it.

Before daddy could come, my sons condition took a turn for the worse.  Suddenly he complained of a headache and cried.  I saw his whole body shaking from his heart beating so fast, his chest still pulling in between every full breathe.  My little boy isn't a typical little kid, he drinks all his medications without complaint no matter how horrible tasting, even takes a shot without a tear because he understands (and hopes) it'll make him all better.  He was always this way, being sick had made him this way.  So to hear him in tears and in pain, was extremely scary.  I told the doctor and nurses, who then rushed over to offer more medications to help with his headache!?  They recommended I give him acetaminophen, and although I was reluctant because of his empty stomach & the fact that I don't like to turn to medicine for anything unless necessary, I agreed.  They handed him the little cup full of red liquid, and my little boy with his shaking hands & tears running down his cheeks quickly drank it - for relief.  In the same minute as he swallowed it, he continued to shake & cry in pain with a headache - then suddenly tells me he had a "puke feeling."  Just then he threw up. 

Then he started scratching his neck when I noticed hives.  We lift up his shirt and see more hives.  I remind the doctor of his severe allergies, as they refuse give him epinephrine.  They tell me, they give Benadryl first despite my concerns.  So they give him the Benadryl and walk away.  In the same minute, nothing was getting better.  In fact worse, so I called them over as they ran to get the epinephrine.  I brought out my Auvi-Q injector, and we used it - giving my son relief.  It sadly took them my son almost dying to take my words seriously, and probably to finally understand why I was the kind of mother I seemed to be.  I find that most medical professionals don't like to be wrong, and they don't like a parent to know more than them - so unfortunately they like to think they're right all the time until proven wrong. 

Luckily they lowered the dose of asthma medications so his heart can get closer to a normal rhythm, and his headache could go away - naturally, like I had asked them in the first place.  The shot helped his hives go away, and his life wasn't in danger anymore.  I still don't know, I don't think they even know, but the combination of the epinephrine must have helped his asthma as well.  Instead of getting worse, his condition was becoming more steady. 

We stayed in the hospital for 3 days, I stayed by his bedside day & night.  My daughter went to sleep without her big brother and mommy for the first time.  Kids are kind of amazing that way.  She used to nurse to fall asleep, didn't even fall asleep in the other room without me and suddenly she would walk out holding daddy's hand from the PICU at the hospital.  She knew she had to be a big girl, she knew her jumping silly big brother wasn't the same lying in the hospital with monitors attached to him and a mask on his face 24/7.  Now that she talks she says "member you were so ouchy and with the doTor" to her brother.

THIS, this is just a glimpse into how difficult life has been for us.  It has shaped me into the person I am, and the reason why I put my "brave mom face" on.  Nothing is certain in life.  Life is so fragile.  24 hours before we went to the hospital my son didn't even have a cold, and there he was fighting for his life a day later.  No one knows the answers to food allergies and even asthma, all the treatments are routine and again no one seems to really know the answers.  Having difficulty breathing, gets treated for a headache and almost dies!?  To think they were telling me I could leave him there, and how they had an eye on him and not to worry.  IF I wasn't there they wouldn't have had me reminding them that he is anaphylactic, and maybe they wouldn't have brought over the shot in time if I didn't bring it out of my purse.

Sometimes the things we go through are even hard to explain in words, and maybe my words even come out all scrambled when I do try to explain.  But one thing's for sure my kids will never know how much I fear & how much I hurt because I'll have my "brave mom face," in the end of the day I just want them to know how much I love them.

What's a time you had to put on a brave face in life?