I didn't understand fear before kids. I mean, sure, I'm scared of things. I dislike large bodies of water, I'm not fond of spiders or dark streets, and I go out of my way to be sure and triple sure that our doors are locked before I go to bed, because, hey, home invasion just isn't my cup of tea.
But I didn't understand fear. The gut-wrenching, powerless kind of fear that makes your heart hammer and steals the breath from your lungs. That was something I didn't get. And, though the kids have given me some frights over my time as a mother, Lilah about took the cake Saturday night.
And, it was through my own fear and helplessness that I gained an even deeper grasp of the Lord's protection, His grace, and His love.
Thursday evening, I got the distinct sense there was something off about my sweet one year old. I couldn't put my finger on it, and there really weren't any symptoms, but she just didn't seem quite right.
Friday, I spent the night with my very dear friend, and, though I had an absolutely stellar time, I was plagued by worry for my girl. I enjoyed my time away, and I definitely believe God used that to rejuvenate me for the ordeal we were about to go through. Still, I didn't stay long on Saturday--I was home by 12:30. By that point, Lilah had a fairly low-grade fever. She seemed to be feeling poorly; all her sister's attempts to play were rebuffed firmly, she was fussy, and she just wanted to be held. Not long before six, she asked to go Night Night. We held out until close to 6:30, then put both the girls to bed.
Matt and I stayed up til closer to nine before we went to bed. When Madelyn woke up screaming, it seemed like we had just closed our eyes. Her cries were insistent and shrill, so we jumped up and ran in there. Her foot was tucked between the bars, but she pulled it out and smiled when we opened the door. She was perfectly willing to go back to sleep. Lilah was fussing, wakened by her sister, so we popped in to check on her.
"She's really warm," Matt commented, so we took her temperature.
Tylenol, a cool bath, and some frozen snacks and cool milk later, her fever was unchanged.
Though I don't usually ascribe to having the kids in our bed--that's a place for Mommy and Daddy, after all!--we had Li laying between us, discussing how to proceed. Having brought up the possibility of a febrile seizure, we cobbled together a game plan. It never occurred to me that, really and truly, we would need it.
No sooner than the final component--who would ride in the ambulance and who would drive--was finalized, Lilah leaned over to me and began shivering. She'd been shivering a little off and on throughout the night with fever chills, so Matt patted her gently.
"Poor little nug," he said, rubbing her back. "She's shivering--I know she feels like she's cold."
I felt my stomach sink and tilted down to look closer. Sure enough, her eyes were rolled back, her jaw clamped tight around the finger she crooks and sucks to sleep.
"I don't think she's shivering," my voice shook. "I think she's seizing." Without further discussion, we did what we'd just spent the last few minutes planning for. He called 911, I called my mother to come tend to our other daughter.
The ten minutes it took for the ambulance to arrive may have been the longest of my life so far. Matt and I took it in turns, one of us getting dressed, while the other sat with Lilah, pulling her out of the puddles of drool spreading from beneath her face. The ambulance was there quickly, considering how far from anything we live, but I just kept asking where were they? Because watching her seize for ten minutes was ten minutes too long.
Matt was calm and steady as a rock--he grabbed diapers, wipes, met the ambulance, helped them get the car seat out and strapped to the gurney. Point of interest: when rushing young children to the ER, they get your car seat and strap it to the gurney. Did you know that? We didn't.
I watched from the side of the bed while they propped her up and tried to fit an oxygen mask around her hand to get to her nose and mouth. While they gave her a shot of something up her nose to try and bring her out of it. While they measured her feet against a chart and dubbed them "purple". They checked her blood sugar, asked for allergies and how long she'd been seizing and all the other questions that are vital to know.
My mom arrived as they were getting her into the car seat. My mom is terribly good in a crisis, and, even at three in the morning, she was prepared with a spare diaper bag and a blanket--she turned white when she saw Lilah, still shaking uncontrollably, her eyes rolled so far back in her head you could barely see them.
They wouldn't let me ride in the back of the ambulance--she wasn't under control enough, so I climbed in the front and tried hard to ignore the sounds of them working on her in the back. I felt my gut clench when they decided she needed more medicine, and that she still hadn't come out of it. I glanced at my phone. 30 minutes in.
I'm pretty unfamiliar with seizures, but that seemed like a super long time to me. I prayed most of the drive up there, and it's a blessing that the Holy Spirit translates for you when you are at a loss for what to say, because I was. There was a brief pause where I assured the ambulance driver that he could tell the cops NOT to chase the white Corolla, because that was ours.
She came out of her seizure as were pulling into Children's parking lot, nearly 45 minutes after she'd started. There was the flurry of motion and information and checking her and all the things before they left us sitting in the room, alone for the first time since the whole mess had started.
We'd have a couple days more of exhaustion and frazzled nerves and tests and meetings with various doctors, but it was at that point, holding her and rocking her on the pale blue sheets of an ER bed, that I was totally struck by how completely God had this.
I wasn't even home the night before. It didn't happen then.
Madelyn, who has been sleeping through the night for over a year, woke us up. We would have slept through the whole thing.
I am SO not a fan of kids in the bed, but I'd been anxious about the thought of leaving her alone. She was laying right beside us.
We had literally just talked about what all we'd need to do IF it would happen, despite not ever believing that it really would. There was no pause, no need for discussion. The whole event went as smoothly as it possibly could.
My Mom heard the phone and answered and was there not ten minutes after the ambulance arrived. I mean, seriously, if you know my Mom, the woman goes to bed at 7. She answered the phone.
Through one of the most terrifying events of my life, God was so obvious. His protection and grace was so evident. There was not one step of the way that He wasn't in total control of.
I've never known fear like I felt Saturday before having kids. That saying that they are your heart walking around outside your body? So true.
In that place, I've never known peace like the one that comes with the complete knowledge that God was in every little detail like I did Saturday and all the days that have followed.
Praise God again and again and again for His omnipresent LOVE and grace and presence and peace and protection. He's so good.