The Very Close Call

March 8, 2013 will be a day that I will never forget for as long as I live because I didn’t know if my daughter would survive the day.

As parents, we can’t escape SSPM (Scared Shitless Parenting Moments). Editor’s Note: I wish I could take credit for the acronym, but it came from one of my Mommy friends.  For example, you feel your heart racing when Little Johnny turns blue as he chokes on a piece of food. You run around the mall like a raving lunatic searching for Little Suzy when she disappeared from your sight while you were shopping. SSPM can last for ten seconds, ten minutes, or ten hours, but you know when it happens to you.

Let’s be clear on something: I’m not talking about Little Johnny having the sniffles or Little Suzy breaking her arm at the playground. Those situations suck and they’re heartbreaking to witness, but we all know that they’ll survive. I’m talking about moments when you have no idea whether your kid is going to live or die.

It took me 25.5 months on the job as a dad, but I finally had my SSPM on Friday March 8, 2013. I’ll give you the high level overview of the timeline here.

On Thursday March 7, I flew home to California from the east coast after attending a business meeting. Unlike most people, it’s virtually impossible for me to sleep on planes, so it was a miserable 5.5 hours for me and all I could think about was getting home to my bed and seeing my wife and daughter again. When I finally made it home, it was so great to see my ladies – but something didn’t seem right about my daughter (I guess a “father’s intuition” exists after all). In any case, I read her customary bedtime story, sang her bedtime song and put her to sleep. Shortly afterwards, exhaustion overcame me and I passed out in bed.

Around 2:30 AM, I heard Little DDW making strange noises so I went into her room to check on her. She was clearly distressed and I noticed that she vomited in her bed. I wasn’t too concerned because kids are known to puke every now and then – so I cleaned her up and put her in bed with us. She fell asleep quickly, but 15 minutes later she started violently coughing and she vomited again.

This was strange. She fell asleep again, but MDW and I stayed awake to discuss a few things.

– What did she eat for dinner?

– Does she have a fever?

– Is this an allergic reaction?

While this was going on, Little DDW started coughing violently and this time she started crying. She rolled over on her side and coughed up/vomited something that wasn’t the same milky color as the previous versions. Once we turned on the lights we noticed it was blood.

I tried to hold her up, but she became limp.

I tried to talk to her, but she was unresponsive and drifted in and out of consciousness.

Welcome to my SSPM.

It was 3:30 AM and to make things even more “perfect,” this all happened on one of the three nights during the year that it was pouring rain in Los Angeles. Since my pregnant wife couldn’t move quickly enough for me, I scooped Little DDW up in her vomit-covered pajamas and rushed to her to the Emergency Room and told MDW to meet me there.

As I navigated down the wet roads I could hear my daughter whimpering in the backseat, “Daddy, help…daddy, help.”

My heart was completely broken, I felt helpless, and as ridiculous as it may sound to many of you – I felt like an utter failure as a father. Regardless, I had to pull myself together for the sake of my baby girl.

This is a sight no parent wants to see.

When I arrived to the Emergency Room holding a limp toddler covered in her own bloody vomit, I thought I was living a nightmare. Is my baby going to die? Am I overreacting to what is probably a very minor issue? I just didn’t know.

I’m not going to provide you with a minute-by-minute breakdown of the 10 hours we spent in the ER. All I’ll say is that my poor daughter was poked and prodded from 4:00 AM to 2:00 PM and it was absolutely horrible to witness. The end result is that she burst a blood vessel in her upper respiratory tract due to excessive coughing and that’s what caused all of this.

At the time of this posting, she’s still not 100% (cough and congestion is still present) – but overall she’s going to be fine and all is right in my world.

 

I learned a lot during my first SSPM and I’ll share them with you now.

 

#1 – You never know how strong you can be until being strong is your only option. With an extremely hormonal and emotional pregnant wife and a sick daughter, I had to be the rock they needed to get through this. I smiled when I felt like crying, and I said everything would be OK when I had no damn clue if everything would be OK. Trust me, the tears starting flowing once I actually knew everything would be OK, but until that point – there was no time for me to cry.

#2 – It’s never a good idea to be an asshole. It’s an even worse idea to be an asshole to the medical professionals responsible for ensuring you and/or your loved ones walk out of the hospital instead of being carted out of it. I was shocked by how many people in my particular ER didn’t follow this simple rule.

#3 – It was extremely annoying to receive props from doctors/nurses for being such a great dad for bringing my daughter to the Emergency Room. What kind of dude wouldn’t do this for his kids? Editor’s Note: The question is rhetorical. I know these deadbeats exist. We have to demand more from dads if being with a sick child is considered an “act of greatness.” Hell, I’d take your kid to the Emergency Room if he/she needed help, and I know many of you would do the same thing for me. As I’ve mentioned before, the bar must be raised.

#4 – This one may sound strange to some of you, but I documented every moment of that horrific hospital visit. Even before I became a dad, I would listen to parents say, “Wow, I can’t even remember what Little Johnny was like when he was two years old,” and I didn’t want that to happen for me. When my daughter gets older, I want to revisit every memorable moment of her childhood – the good and the not-so-good, because they grow up so damn fast. I already documented this event in her baby book and I know she’ll enjoy looking at it when she’s a teenager. Either that or we’ll have a blast showing her baby book to her High School friends just to embarrass the hell out of her.

#5 – People complain a lot, and I hope you’re one of those people who will take time to curb any unnecessary complaining. Hell yes, our kids are annoying, bratty, rude, and downright mean at times, but can we imagine our lives without them? Venting about our kids is cool. Whining and complaining about our kids is not cool. My brilliant twin brother wrote about the differences between venting and complaining here, and I highly suggest all of you read it.

#6 – Even though our ER visit had a happy ending, I want to recognize the fact that many do not. Unfortunately, children tragically die in Emergency Rooms all over the world, and my heart goes out to anyone who lost a child. I cannot imagine the heartache and I will not insult any of you by pretending to know what it’s like.

#7 – Celebrate life, daily. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it.

#8 – If you’re slacking on a life goal of any kind, get on it. You never know when it will be your time (or a loved one’s time) to go. A year from now you’re going to wish you started today.

There’s nothing better than receiving a finger-wagging lecture from a two-year old.

#9– Kids are tougher than we give them credit for. As I curled up next to her in a cramped hospital bed, Little DDW wagged her finger at me as if to say, “Stop worrying, daddy! I got this!” Of course she was right. Children are ridiculously resilient.

#10 – I’m in awe of the outpouring of love. I have RDW (Readers Doin’ Work) who’ve known and loved me since I was in Elementary School, and I have others who may have just stumbled upon my blog in the past week or so. Either way, I’m humbled by the emails, texts, calls, and in-person visits I’ve received lately. Yes, there’s some evil in this world, but you guys remind me that there are way more great people than bad. I wish I could hug and thank all of you in person.

Even though it seems a hell of a lot longer, I’ve only been at this blogging thing for a little over 8 months – and those of you who have followed me from the beginning know me pretty well at this point. I’m not Superman, I’m not Mr. Perfect, and I’m not the Dad of the Year. I’m just a dude doing his best to keep my kid alive and happy by adding as much value as I can to her life. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we’re all trying to do?

I love you baby girl, and I’m so thankful that I can keep Doin’ Work for you.

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Callie Y. says

    Gah! I got my morning cry in! I saw you post on FB the other day that DDW was in the ER and my heart sunk with worry for all of you. I’m glad she is ok; that you all are ok.

    It was a rough week with our wee beasties last week…but this put last week’s shenanigans into perspective. Thank you.

  2. Kristin Kat says

    Thank you for continuing to share all your parenting moments – wonderful and scary. I had a moment – well, a few days like this one about a year ago when my 6 month old son almost died after a misdiagnosis at one hospital. I listened to my guy and took him straight to another hospital – Children’s Stollery. Reading your post brought back those immediate feelings of panic and helplessness followed by having to be the Rock to advocate for my child and insist upon following my gut feelings until a doctor would listen. Your FDW is so blessed to have you, your wife, little DDW, and the one on the way. We keep you in our prayers always. All our love for a full and expedient recovery.

  3. meridith says

    Scary doesn’t begin to describe it! I, like so many others, watched everything unfold on Facebook and am SO SO happy that Miss DDW is ok! We’ve had our brushes with terror with our 2 1/2 year old son and 3 month old daughter (both fine, thankfully) and that feeling of not knowing WTH is wrong (and being unable to do anything about it) is pure agony. Love and hugs to you all!

  4. Susan Chappelear says

    This is so powerful and truely spot on! Thanks for sharing your experience DDW. It sure makes me feel a whole lot better about my emotions and reactions to the day my 3 year old fell inside our minivan and bashed his head on a metal ring in the floor intended to hold a table that was tucked away in the storage under the seats. He started to cry right away, but he got much more scared the moment he saw my face when blood started pouring out of the gash in his scalp. It ended up being no big deal. The EMT’s had me take him to children’s to see if he needed stiches. He did. But I have never been so scared in my life. My middle child has wicked nose bleeds and still I have never seen so much blood come so fast from any part of anyones body. We were just leaving the middle’s softball practice and the coach was like put pressure on it, so I yelled at my oldest to grab napkins out of the glove box, and I just put my bare hand on the gash to try and stop the bleeding. Meanwhile the coach called 911 to get emt’s to check him out. There is a firehouse right around the corner from the practice location so it took them literally less than 60 seconds to arrive. My oldest and my middle were so great. They kept talking to him and telling him it would be ok. I was absolutely in shock. I don’t think I said a word beyond yelling for the napkins until after the emt’s checked him out and started to ask me questions. Like did he lose conciousness? How did it happen? Did I think I was ok to transport him to ER to be looked at or did I want them to take him? He was scared to death. He didn’t even want the fireman hat they gave him. Thats when I sort of snapped out of it. I told them he was scared enough. That I would take him to the ER and thanked them for their response. They put a temporary bandage on the wound and sent us on our way. The whole scene took about 10 minutes. But, it felt like a lifetime. It definitley counts as one of my biggest SSPM. I can only think of one other, and that one I don’t remember much about. I was really in shock that day. Luckily my hubby was with me and being the DDW he is, he took over. 3 day old (middle child) possibly having seizures. I couldn’t process.

  5. Tessa says

    I have had a few of those moments, thank God only a few, 1 was when my youngest was 4 months old, she had a febrile convulsion, here in the UK, we have a national health service telephone system, it’s supposed to stop people wasting accident and emergency’s time, anyway I phoned them, (they are worse than useless) they told me I had to phone an ambulance, (an ambulance can take anything from 10 minutes to an hour or more), what to do if she stopped breathing, by this time I felt like the worlds worst mother, she had her immunisations earlier that day, I’d given her infant paracetamol, but it was of course all my fault my baby was ill, (of course it wasn’t but parental guilt sucks) luckily Hubster came home then (thank God I’d called him and told him to come home) anyway Hubster took us to A&E, (I’ll spare you the details of sitting next to a man who had pooped himself, a convicted prisoner chained to 2 guards, and a psychotic woman screaming obscenities…..the joys of the NHS) luckily my baby was fine, she never had another fit. This was all brought home recently, a friend took her 20 month old daughter to the Doctor, she didn’t have an appointment, so she had to sit and wait. Her daughter Lucie became sicker and sicker, but the receptionist refused to let Lucie cut the queue. After almost 45 minutes of waiting Lucie turned blue, the Doctors came out to try and help Lucie, unfortunately it was too late. Lucie died. By the Grace of God, go I. Parenting is by far the hardest job, in my opinion, but also the most rewarding. I am so glad little DDW is getting better now, and everything turned out well x

  6. Brajee says

    I am so happy everything is ok! I still remember the day (or night I guess since it was the middle of the night) that we had to take my daughter (who is 2.5) to the ER. They poked and prodded, had to get a urine sample (I can still hear her scream and remember my husband trying not to cry), chest X-ray….luckily everything was fine, but yes I learned all of those points above that night. I wouldn’t wish the SSPM feeling in anyone, worse feeling ever.

  7. SandraT says

    So glad DDW is ok and getting better. I can’t imagine how scared you and MDW must have been.

  8. Gin says

    We’ve had a couple of those moments and they are heart-stopping. So glad little DDW is at home and on the mend.

  9. Blissten says

    I have to say, reading this post definitely put me in my mother’s shoes. For the first time I realized that she lived nearly 6 years of a constant SSPM. At 6 years old I was diagnosed with a lung disease called pulmonaury hemosiderosis. Which means the blood vessels in my lungs bled and would cause my lungs to practically drown in blood. I went through many tests, hopitalizations, and was even on life support twice. Both times that I was on life support they asked my mother to make arrangements and to be prepared for the worst. As a child, I took everything and made it a positive situation. I loved my nurses, doctors, and the fact that my mother never left my side. She made every moment enjoyable, I could have never done it without her. And 9 years later, I almost had to because she was diagnosed with Leukemia. Tables were turned and at 15 years old, I had to become the strong woman for her as she had been for me. With such a strong will, she immediately went into remission and we were positive she would pull through until a severe infection hit her body and nearly wiped away any chance she had. She was then on life support herself and the doctors told my family and I to make arrangements and plan for the worst. Needless to say, nothing was going to stop my mother from raising her daughter and after 3 1/2 months, she pulled through. She fought for me and I fought for her. Much like you and your daughter. Your story touched me in a way I will never forget. I struggle every day watching my strong mother be disabled and broken down from her sickness. She looses a tooth about once a week and is too afraid to go in public because of the way she walks. This Thursday we will be celebrating her 51st birthday and I wish I could give her that beautiful smile back. But we take each day as a miracle that we are together. I would love if you could share my story with others to help them realize how special each day really is. I know that is what you promote and that is why I am a fan of your page. Best wishes to your family, and don’t forget to “take it one day at a time”, famous words from my mother.

    -Blissten Followell

  10. says

    It was always scary taking my boy to the ER, and I can’t imagine how my parents felt… I was diagnosed as Type 1 diabetic at 13, and twice they actually thought I was going to die. My son just had to go for accidents, never life-threatening. Thank God your baby is okay, and that you awakened when she was in distress.

  11. Katrina says

    I’m so glad little DDW is going to be ok! Keep doin’ work, because you’re doing it all the right way! Love your little family!

  12. Lynne says

    I am so glad the story had a happy ending. I had a few SSPM raising my son. I can’t even describe the heart-stopping terror I felt each time. You’re right, you do everything you can and stay strong, until it’s over, then you cry. I’m 62 now and my son is 35. Eventually you realize that no matter how mature, strong and capable your child becomes, you can still have SSPM. Every single day with those we love is precious.

  13. says

    Thank God she is ok! Yeah, those moments are SCARY. My son has anaphylactic food allergies and went into “mild” (meaning no breathing problems) anaphylaxis. Scariest night of my life, esp since we never found out what caused it (we suspect it was some kind of toxin given off by the virus he had).

    Prepare for a few grey hairs after this.

    Lots of love and hugs to your family!
    Headacheslayer recently posted..Cravebox–The Dog BoxMy Profile

  14. says

    Those scared shitless moments are indelibly etched in parents brains, probably more memorable than first words or steps…I suppose because, at least when it comes to the SSPMs that are a result of our own mistakes, if we forget the terror, we could be doomed to repeat it.

    So glad to hear DDW is getting better, hope everyone recovers soon.
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  15. Meredith says

    So glad all is well with your family! I learned a strange thing your post reminded me of a few days after my son was born. He was 4 weeks early and as a result he had some breathing problems which caused him to spend 10 days in the NICU. One night he pulled his i.v. out of his hand and every time the nurses found a good place to put it he would pull it out again. They eventually had to put it on the top of his head, which meant they had to cut his hair. Fortunately for my sanity this happened while my husband and I were in my room getting a bit of sleep. When we came by to visit that night the first assurance the nurse gave me was that his hair would grow back. She didn’t say this because it was the most important thing, or even my greatest concern. She said it because in her experience that was what most mother’s asked about! I choose to believe that that question is a coping mechanism for those women who don’t want bad news about there newborn, having a baby in the NICU is scary enough on it’s own!

  16. Siadore says

    I came across your blog through Cappuccino Queen and your outlook is amazing. In a world where people do not appreciate the lives they have created, the lives that others spend their whole lives trying to have; it’s great to see a Dad embrace it wholeheartedly and enjoy his family.
    I am glad that DDW made it through and is getting better. You have a beautiful family.

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