It was going to be an relaxing evening. J and I were getting ready to head out to the ReAl soccer game, and Baby G was walking in and out of our closets, having fun opening and closing the doors. Earlier that day we had made a quick visit to the hospital lab to get Baby G's blood drawn-- we had decided it would be good to get his blood checked for lead because we live in an old house and have been doing some remodeling. We just wanted to be cautious and make sure we weren't exposing our boy to anything harmful.
Our pediatrician called us minutes before we were going to walk out the door to the soccer game. I answered the phone, we exchanged pleasantries, and then he asked, "Has Baby G been acting any differently over the past few days?" I told him that he had actually had a low-grade fever off and on for the past week, but that it hadn't been anything significant. He had perhaps been very slightly more lethargic than normal, but mostly just seemed to be acting extra sweet, giving lots of cuddles, stopping to rest his head on my back and reach his little arms around me while I sat on the floor, and just generally being exceedingly good natured and loveable. Nothing I was worried about, to be sure.
Dr. M then went on to inform me that the blood tests from earlier that day had returned with some alarming numbers. Baby G's red blood cell (RBC) count was extremely low. "How low?" I asked. "Can you tell me the numbers?" Dr. M explained that a normal percentage of RBCs in a baby his age is 40%. Baby G was at 17%. "I don't want to alarm you," were the doctor's words, "but this is not something I am comfortable with waiting on. I have already called the emergency room at Primary Children's Hospital, and I want you to take your baby there now to have his blood taken again and have some more tests." I calmly told him we would leave right away and we hung up.
To make a long story short, we were at the hospital for four hours. Baby G and his daddy spent lots of time pacing the halls,
and Baby G continued to be so stinking cuddly and cute that we could hardly stand it.
Then the baby had to get some more blood tests and while they were at it the doctor decided to have an IV put in (in case the results came back with bad news and they needed to start treating Baby G right away). Our boy was a champ-- how many people do you know that try to do handstands and sommersaults with an IV in one hand? We realized that in our hurried state to get to the hospital we hadn't eaten dinner. Baby G and I got to share the crackers the nurse gave us.
After a long wait the doctor came in and jubilantly exclaimed, "I have some great news! Your baby does NOT have leukemia!" I guess you could say we were relieved, but the truth is, aside from that brief moment of worry right after I hung up with the pediatrician, I had felt an extreme sense of peace and calm. I felt like everything would be okay, and even though I was fully expecting the doctor to return with good news, if it had been bad, I was feeling peaceful about it all. This experience has caused me to spend many hours in deep thought over the past week. I wake up each morning and in the still quietness of our bedroom my mind churns over the events of the past week. These are some of the thoughts in my heart:
As we were driving to the hospital J and I were calmly discussing the Worst Case Scenario. "Would you regret anything?" he asked. I very sincerely and honestly said, "Absolutely nothing." I feel so blessed to be Baby G's mama, and have loved every moment of taking care of him up to this point. I am so grateful I have been able to devote so much of myself to ensuring that he is safe, growing, loved, and happy. Of course, that's not to say that I am perfect and that I haven't needed a break here and there. But this experience has made me so enormously grateful for the things I have done right, and the overwhelming feeling that I have done the best I can up to this point.
One of the first thoughts I had was that I was so grateful that I am still nursing Baby G. He is almost 14 months old, and he still lays down in my arms at least 3 times a day to nurse and cuddle with me. He still sometimes falls asleep in my arms, and I still get to rock him while he sleeps. Oh how grateful I am for those sweet moments! I have wrestled with the question of when I should stop nursing him, and though I still don't know when the time will be right for us, I feel deep gratitude that it hasn't happened yet.
One of the themes for the past few months in our family has been experiencing calm while loved ones around us are passing through some extreme difficulties. Our home has been a haven, and the three of us have felt much happiness. This experience has reminded me that one day the tides will change, that the beautiful peace of soft ocean waves against the shores will at some point be replaced with turbulent seas that our family will have difficulty negotiating. I am so grateful for the calm right now, but feel motivated to fortify myself and my family so that when the winds and storms come we will be prepared.
And lastly, sort of on that note, I can't seem to shake the thought that this experience was a trial run for the real thing one day in the future. I am not sure what that means, or if it is just me being slightly paranoid. But it doesn't feel irrational, and it doesn't feel scary. It just feels like a quiet acknowledgement that something like this may be my cross to bear during mortality. I am not really sure how to articulate it, but nonetheless, I feel peaceful about all of these thoughts, and grateful for the experiences of the past week that have led me to such pondering.
For now, we will continue to enjoy our healthy boy and the calm of this time.