It was January in 2004.
Possibly on my birthday…I can’t remember exactly. I know if it wasn’t the actual day of my birthday it was close to it.
Gabriel was 3 ½ months old. I had just gone back to work and he to daycare when he came down with RSV. I wasn’t really familiar with what RSV was prior to that. It started with a runny nose and a cough. At one point I took him to see a doctor because he didn’t seem himself. He wasn’t running a high fever or anything and they tested him for RSV but it came back negative. The doctor sent us home and said it was probably just a virus and to make sure that he stayed hydrated etc.
Dominic and I took turns staying home with him for a few days. He started to get worse, developed a fever and did a lot of coughing but I thought that RSV was a virus itself and if that was it there wasn’t really much we could do for him anyways.
I was wrong.
When I was 8 months pregnant with Gabriel I was driving to work one day and the car I had basically went from working to not in a matter of moments. I remember pulling over on the side of the interstate all huge and without a phone and just said a prayer that a highway patrol person would come along. A few minutes later my prayer was answered and my highway patrol man came. He allowed me to use his phone to contact Dominic to tell him where to pick me up. Apparently something was cracked in the engine (I am not mechanically inclined so I don’t really specifically remember but new transmission was the only option).
Dominic and I started commuting together and my dad – who is the perfect person to call when you need help with finding a new car – came to the rescue. He found us a used car that had recently been repaired and was cheap. He made the arrangements to pick it up for us and said one night he and my mom would deliver it to us.
Maybe it was because it was close to my birthday that they chose THAT night to come down. Maybe it was because they had this car to deliver to us. Maybe God just put all of those things in place for us…I like to believe that.
So they came down that night after work. They brought an ice cream cake for me. Dominic had been home with Gabriel all day and although he was very sick and congested we both thought he just needed some more time to fight off the virus.
We were wrong.
My parents came in and my mom took Gabriel and was holding him. I remember hearing my mom say “Darrel” (my dad). She had his little outfit unbuttoned and was watching his chest/stomach.
Apparently there is something called “Retraction”, when an infant especially, is struggling to breathe and you can see it in their lower rib cage area. We didn’t know to check for this or even what to watch for. But it was a sign that Gabriel was working VERY hard for every breath.
I think my dad said something to the fact that we needed to stay calm and not scare Isaac (who was 7) but that we needed the phone number for the hospital in Sioux Falls. He told us to pack a bag and that we needed to go immediately.
Gabriel was in trouble.
My dad sat in the back seat of our car with a flashlight shined on Gabriel watching him to make sure that he was still breathing. The 30 minute drive to Sioux Falls was probably one of the longest in my life. We just had no idea it had gotten that bad.
My dad had called a pediatrician he worked with and told him we were on our way to the ER and we were taken in immediately. The whole situation was so surreal. I remember them trying to find a vein and having no luck. Finally after what seemed like way to many failed attempts they got one in his head. Poor Gabriel just screamed and screamed.
They got him hooked up to oxygen right away and probably a host of other things that I don’t remember.
But I do remember one thing.
The doctor told us that because Gabriel was working so hard to breathe his heart was racing out of control. A few more hours of that without help and he would have gone into cardiac arrest.
We just had no idea.
I spent 9 days in the hospital with Gabriel. I remember being so glad that for the 3 months prior to that he had packed on the pounds because he seemed so fragile during that time and I knew the weight he had gained was good for him.
We spent another week at home with him before he was ok to go out anywhere and 2 months later he ended up in the hospital again, this time for only 3 days, because of another virus that attacked his already weakened lungs.
I remembered this story this morning after I had an IEP meeting for Gabriel at school. He has learned so much this year and met all of the goals we had set last spring. He is so smart and such a joy to our family and all of that could have been taken away that day in January. Life is such a gift….Gabriel is such a gift.
I am so glad that God provided for us during that time. He saved our son by placing the right people at the right time into our situation.
It is good for me to remember the valleys we have faced that God has walked us through. Even the valleys where things didn’t turn out as I had hoped. I don’t have the answer to why God saved Gabriel that night but didn’t stop us from losing a pregnancy in 2008. I believe that He had the power to do both. I don’t think that “why” will ever be fully understood this side of heaven.
But I am ok with that today. My focus HAS to be on the blessings of today and seeing all of those things that I have to be grateful for and not focusing on the things I can't understand.
Gabriel is such a blessing to us. He is, I think, our future preacher. :) He has such a curiosity about who God is and a heart for the lost. We pray every morning specifically for some people we know who are hurting and could use a Savior. In Gabriel’s words…”Mom! Don’t you want him to go to Heaven too?” “Then we need to forgive him and ask God to save him”.
Preach it son! Thank you for speaking truth to my heart!
God has something really special planned for Gabriel – for all our kids I am sure – and I can’t wait to see what He has in store!