Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Monday, August 15, 2011


 Today is Jonah's birthday.

Let me tell you how grateful I am to have him here.

Late Wednesday night we were visiting with our friends Marty and Sarah here in Draper, Utah.  Jonah laid on his belly playing on the table between Marty and I as we chatted. Jonah's hand slipped out from under him, and his mouth bonked the tabletop.  He began to cry, one of those forever-long cries that has no sound.  In the past week he had done this several times, and on five occasions had actually turned blue and passed out.  I had assured Ethan that when babies do that they are okay, because as soon as they pass out they start breathing again.  I scooped Jonah into my arms and waited for him to catch his breath.  He cried out, but never took a breath in.  Suddenly his right arm spasmed and punched the air.  I looked at Marty and said, "That looks like a seizure..." and within that moment, Jonah's back arched and his whole body began to vibrate and jerk.  "Call 911!"  I called to Marty, who already had begun dialing. His little eyes rolled up to the left and he threw up. 

"Breathe, baby!  Breathe!" I repeated to him over and over.  "Please breathe!"

Guy walked in to see his baby in a full blown seizure in my arms.  Later he would tell me that though, as a special education teacher, he has seen literally hundreds of seizures, there was nothing but terror in his heart seeing it happening to his own tiny child.  "Put your hands on him!"  I said, trying to remember how to talk, how to ask him to give Jonah a blessing.  "Give him a blessing!"

Guy placed his hands on Jonah's head and uttered a prayer.  It soon dissolved into a few words,"breathe... breathe... breathe..." Jonah took a tiny hick of a breath, then another, and the convulsions slowed.  I realized I had been calling out to Marty as he talked to the 911 operator, answering questions, listening to Guy, and silently praying with him.  It had been about a minute and a half since the first jerk of his little arm.  He began, finally, to breathe, but was limp and whimpery.  I pressed my face into his little chest and gasped. 

The paramedics came.  There were questions and evaluations.  Jonah began to cry, and I was reminded of how wonderful his first cry had been after he was born and had not breathed for a full minute.  An ambulance came and took us to the local hospital.  In the ambulance as I watched his oxygen levels rise and fall on a monitor, I heard a whispery thought in my head that said, "Be grateful we got to have him with us for a year". I shuddered. 

We arrived at the hospital, where a nervous staff fluttered around Jonah.  CAT scans, x-rays and blood work were ordered, and nurses poked him endlessly and fruitlessly.  For a half hour they held him down, trying over and over again to place an IV, but after five attempts, we were told that Jonah would be transferred to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake.  It wasn't just that they couldn't get a line in him, they said, "he just doesn't look right.  They will know what to do with him there." 
It was both scary and reassuring.

At Primary Children's we were met by thorough doctors who had seen this situation before.  It was explained to us that though rare, some babies cry so hard and hold their breath for so long that they go into a seizure.  Because the event did not originate in the brain, but was in response to the lack of oxygen, the doctors sent us home with reassurances and instructions.  We were told to expect to see more seizures in the year to come but assured he would be okay, and as dawn began to creep over the Wasatch mountains, we headed back to the house.

As I lay in bed that night, I held Jonah to my heart and wept on his hair. 

In the days since, I have jumped every time Jonah cries.  I have been able to calm him so far, but it feels like we are balancing on a fragile thread.  For two nights I have lain awake in bed, and every time I closed my eyes I saw his tiny being seizing in my arms.  We know he is going to be alright, but the scare has shaved off more than a few of my nine lives.

Tonight we celebrated Jonah's birthday.  A year ago today that beautiful boy spilled out into the world, filling each and every day since with peace and joy, and for me, deep gratitude.  I watched him open presents and joyfully squish cake pulp through his chubby fists, and more than once, tears filled my eyes.

I wish he wouldn't grow up, but the thought of the real alternative takes my breath away.  I have never been more afraid in my entire life as I was in that minute and a half, but I think that in the time since,
 I have never -ever- been so grateful.

4AM - waiting to be discharged.


E. Phantzi said...

Oh how terrifying. I am so, so glad he is ok. *deep breaths*

Ruth said...

Still praying for you all!!!!

Jenni said...

As a mom of asthmatics, I agree that there is nothing scarier than when your babies can't breathe. I could feel your panic--glad he is doing better.