And then there were five…

I haven’t been writing much or commenting at all in the last four weeks – I apologize to all of you who’ve taken the time to read and respond to one of my little creations – I do appreciate it.

Obviously, the reason I’ve been so busy is the arrival of our two new little boys, Will and Quinn. They were born seven weeks early, just a few days earlier than their older brother showed up four years earlier, and two newborns (and a toddler who’s creative and active) take up more than a chunk of time.

The two new little guys went into the NICU and did just fine. They ate and grew, learned to breathe on their own, and 18 days later, we were able to bring them home. Quinn was a little ahead of his brother – he’d started eating better sooner, and Will was still catching up, but we were glad to have them home.

Sunday night, about 6:30, I was in the kitchen preparing dinner for my sister’s birthday, and Beth was in the living room, feeding both of the little guys in our recliner. It was a nice evening.

By about 30 hours later, I’d lived through some of the scariest times of my life.

“Eric, I don’t think he’s breathing.” (All quotes are approximate. I wasn’t transcribing.)

We checked. No. Will was blue and totally unresponsive. I took Quinn and put him in his Pack n Play. Beth put Will on the floor and started CPR.

Brief interlude: if you have kids, learn CPR. 

I called 911 and said words I could barely imagine. “My son’s not breathing.”

He responded to the CPR almost instantly, but clearly, something was wrong. The firemen and paramedics arrived quickly, and he was packed up into the ambulance with his mom. My sister came over, and I climbed into the front seat of the ambulance. By this time, the crisis had passed – they didn’t even use sirens, But to the ER we went.

Originally, they thought it was a problem with coordinating breathing and eating. That’s not easy for super little guys, and he was struggling with it. But that didn’t explain why every so often he’d just pause breathing, wait a few seconds, and start up again. These apnic episodes just didn’t go away.

Then, Monday night, we were told that his condition was being changed, and that a pediatric intensivist would be assessing him. We found out that he’d stopped breathing for twenty seconds, and that he’d be moved to the ICU (the SICU, not the NICU – once you’re gone, you never go back). He had some sort of bug – a virus, bacterial, a combination, something – and he was so clogged with mucus that he couldn’t breathe, and that was what was causing the apnea. 

Did you know that at that early an age, the brain can decide that breathing is too hard and just decide to stop? It’s not until they’re older that the brain learns that breathing is on the “non-optional” list.

They ran every test that they could think of to check for the really scary stuff – meningitis (via a spinal tap), and so on. He was on support helping him get oxygen, keeping him warm, giving him food – basically, all they were asking his body to do was fight whatever it was that was making him sick. The doctor and nurses were great, but that was a hard time.

He kept improving. By Wednesday, he was back in Pediatrics, no longer in the ICU. He’s feeding from a bottle more often than not, but still not able to get all his nutrition without the feeding tube. He’s not on oxygen, but he did get some caffeine to stimulate him. Beth hasn’t left the hospital since he went in.

Quinn is doing well. We’ve had a ton of support at home – my sister, Beth’s parents, some friends – the number of people who’ve helped is incredible. 

Ethan’s had a busy week – extra playtime with classmates helps, although I know he misses some normal time at home, and wants some family time.

We should be on the upswing here, although it way take a while. They’re going to ease Will along slowly, making sure he’s really ready to come home, and soon we’ll get to really learn what it’s like with all five of us here.

If you’ve got a few extra dollars, you could do a lot worse than sending it to the March of Dimes. Without the research they’ve done, we might have no kids instead of three wonderful little boys. 

I’m also quite fond of The Linus Project, which makes blankets that they distribute to kids in NICUs and in other rough places. 

I hope you’re all having a great week. Love life, love those who are around you, and help those who you can.

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