On the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, I’m not feeling very festive even given my Irish descent. Fifteen years ago, St. Patrick’s Day 2002, I came very close to losing my youngest son, Marc. I think about it often, but this year for some reason, I’m feeling emotional enough that maybe it would help for me to “blog it out.”
Kevin was almost 6 years old at the time and he had been fighting a week-long bout with the flu. I brought Kevin to the pediatrician three times and was awake more of that week then I slept…taking care of Kevin, Eric (aka Rocky, then 2 1/2) and 6 week old, Marc.
Finally, at around 2:00 AM Kevin’s fever broke, as I poured warm water over his shoulder’s while he sat in a steamy bathtub. I thanked God, got Kevin dried, dressed and put him comfortably to bed. I checked on Eric, peacefully asleep in his lower bunk and pulled Marc’s bassinet closer to my bed as I fell, exhausted, into my own.
The morning of St.Patrick’s Day, Marc seemed fine and the day progressed in the normal chaotic fashion that I had become accustomed to. It wasn’t until Marc was fast asleep during his afternoon nap that I became concerned about his breathing…It didn’t sound right, so I called my pediatrician. The doctor asked me to hold the phone close to Marc in the bassinet so he could hear the baby breathing. When I moved the phone back to my ear, the doctor asked “Is his color good?”
“Yes.” I said
The doctor calmly replied “Take Marc to Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital right away.”
Although the doctor was calm and gave me no indication of what might be wrong with my baby, I could taste the panic in my throat. I called my parents and my mother-in-law, who were all immediately on their way. Hospital…someone has to watch the boys…grab the car seat…keys, keys…where the hell are the keys…everything started to whirl.
My ex-husband was strapping the base of the car seat into our vehicle as Marc sat smiling in the car seat carrier. Then, Marc began to turn blue. I quickly unstrapped him and ran into the house, my ex-husband followed, as I screamed to my mother-in-law to call 911.
I began performing CPR. Breath into his mouth…not working. Turn him over and hit him on the back. Turn him back over and press on his stomach, center under his ribs. Nothing was working. Marc went from blue, to purple, to black. I froze. I went into complete shock. I remember glancing towards Kevin and Eric standing in the family room, observing all of it. I am sure that the fear on their faces mimicked the fear on mine.
My ex-husband flew out the front door and returned with our neighbor, Patrick Hayden, Captain of the Milford Fire Department. I met Pat at the door and handed him my baby. Pat immediately put his mouth over Marc’s, sucked in as hard as he could and spat on the hardwood floors. Marc still wasn’t breathing. Pat began performing CPR and it seemed hopeless as the time passed and Marc wasn’t revived. I jumped when the CPR momentarily stopped and the silence was broken as Pat yelled, “Call 911 back and tell them Pat Hayden said to step it up!” Marc suddenly gasped a small breath.
If I never understood the word surreal up to this point in my life, I did at that moment. The time was moving fast…moving slow…was it moving at all? Finally, a fire truck arrived with a rescue unit in the back, we climbed in and were on our way to the hospital.
Marc was admitted to the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit). He was diagnosed with RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) which is actually a form of the common cold but can be very dangerous in babies under six weeks old.
Within twenty minutes of getting Marc stabilized in the NICU, I got a call from my mother-in-law from the children’s wing of the same hospital. Kevin was admitted for pneumonia in one lung.
I guess this is the My Life I Swear Part…and an example of my ability to crack a joke at an inappropriate time…I can’t pick the winning lotto numbers but I can end up with two out of three children in the same hospital for five days.
Thank God both of my boys recovered. Thank God for my ex-husband’s presence of mind and for Pat Hayden. I am forever grateful.
I won’t ever let my mind go to the what could have happened, what could have been or the what ifs. I remind myself everyday how blessed I am…but especially on St. Patrick’s Day, I take some time to celebrate all of my beautiful sons and what they mean to me.
My apologizes to all of my Irish relatives and ancestors, I won’t be drinking to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day…but if you get a chance, raise your Guinness for me and say a toast for Pat Hayden and all of the amazing firefighters that save lives everyday yet think nothing of risking their own.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Erin Cooper Reed