Today I want to share with you the scariest day in my life, and what I wish I had known ahead of time.
When you have your baby you just want to protect them. As mommies, we do all we can to do just that. We babyproof the house, we follow them all over the playground, make sure the carseat is properly installed and the straps are just right, research everything we can think of, focus on their health and nutrition, and so much more!
So we never expect we will need to call 911 when we think our child is dying right there in our arms.
It was just two days ago. My youngest, Aaron (two years), had been having a slight cough and low grade fever for about two days. He had been exposed to Influenza A, but he seemed to be doing quite fine. Still eating okay and still playing during the day. It was actually his older sister that I was watching more closely. Her fever was quite a bit higher, she didn’t have an appetite, and was very tired. So I was just watching them both, but feeling pretty okay about their bodies fighting it off.
They had had a good morning, so I laid them both down for naps in the afternoon. With their immune systems working they were both tired and went right to sleep. I caught up with some things and took a shower. Then I would normally have headed downstairs to do some cleaning, cooking, catch up on an actual adult show, or whatever. BUT for whatever reason, that day I just sat down on our bed upstairs, in the silence. For this I will ever be grateful, for without that I might never have heard Aaron in the next room.
As I was just scrolling social media I heard a very strange sound coming from Aaron’s room. Because it was so different from anything I’d heard before I jumped up and ran right in. (To hear the sound you can watch this sad youtube video of another child whose dad is handling calming attending to his seizing child.)
There was my precious boy, rolled over on his tummy, kind of coughing, moving with each sound he made. I immediately picked him up and a string of fluid ran from his mouth to the bed. My immediate thought was that phlegm from his cough was choking him. I help him facedown and patted his back to try and dislodge anything. Nothing came out, so I used my own mouth to try and suck out his mouth/noise and swiped my finger to make sure nothing was in his mouth. All to no avail.
He seemed lifeless, eyes rolled back in his head, his lips were all blue, and I couldn’t believe this was reality. I was panicking and remembered verbally telling myself “this is real, this is really happening.” Middle school health class jumped into my mind and I bent over and gave him a breath, a few chest pumps, and two more breaths. Finally his chest was moving! Very little and weak, but it was moving! I then immediately dialed 911 and started praying over my boy. I didn’t even know what to pray, I think I just kept saying “Lord bring him back, please save my little boy” over and over. It seemed like forever for the 911 operator to pick up, and James 5:14 flushed to my mind. “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” As the phone rang, I was able to run and grab my Frankincense to splash on his chest. I just thought “if it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for my precious boy” and continued to pray over him.
I gave my address, told them what was going on, and she was so great to help calm me and tell me what was best to do. He was breathing now, but still a limp ragdoll and non-responsive. About 4 minutes later the police officer arrived. Just then Aaron finally started to open his eyes, but appeared very sleepy and disoriented. I was just SO glad to see those beautiful eyes, and was confident that I wasn’t going to lose him.
A minute or so later the ambulance arrived. The EMTs were so calm and thorough. By now Aaron was awake and moving around some. One of my big fears after he started breathing was how LONG was he not breathing before I found him. I know it can be just a matter of minutes for brain damage to occur, but seeing my boy slowly come back was such a relief!
Mike got home just as they were taking Aaron out to the ambulance, so he was able to drive Hailey while I rode with Aaron. The EMTs reassured me his stats were looking great and continued to help me feel calm and confident.
At the hospital there were so many people, but we chose to go to a small local hospital which was great. It is rural and as far as I knew there was only one other patient there, so everyone was very calm and thorough. I retold the frightening events over and over to each new doctor and nurse.
They ran some tests, blood work, nose swab, chest x-ray. My poor little guy was such a trouper. His temperature was 102.6 when they took it and I was so surprised that it had spiked that much. As they continued to ask questions I could see where they were going, and things started to make sense.
He was doing quite well, but tested positive for Influenza A. They kept us for a while to watch him, gave some tylenol to control the fever, and pumped him full of fluids. When the doctor came in at the end he said that it was probably a Febrile Seizure. That his body could have seized to kind of “reboot” if the temperature got too high too fast. That we should watch him carefully and call a doctor if it would happen again, but that he should have no lasting effects, and that we could go home.
Since getting home, of course I am watching him like a hawk. Constantly checking his temperature, sleeping in his room, and all that. I’m sure I will not sleep soundly for quite some time, but that’s just part of being a parent. After returning home, of course I headed online to learn more about this. I am by no means a medical professional, but would like to share some of what I learned with you.
Usually when a parent starts googling something medical it leaves you 10 times more worried than when you started, but as I read on I felt much more comfortable and less fearful. So here’s some things I wish I had known, and that I now feel every parent should know.
Febrile Seizures are a lot more common than I thought, about 1 in every 25 kids in the US have them. Generally they occur with a high temperature between the ages of 6 months to 6 years. Once a child has a Febrile seizure they have a 1 in 3 chance of recurring, so now we will be watching him closely whenever he gets future high temperatures. The are usually less than 5 minutes and rarely have lasting effects on the child. It is mostly the body trying to “reboot” and usually the brain is unaffected long term. This was a huge sigh of relief!
Next time I think I will be much more emotionally and informationally prepared to respond differently. So if this should ever happen to your child call 911 the first time. If it is your child’s first seizure I would definitely contact emergency response to have them checked out. If they are continuing to seize hold them somewhere soft and safe, such as a carpet or rug, and hold them on their side to avoid choking. Start to keep track of how long it lasts, so that you can let the doctors know. After a seizure the child will be very tired. Remain calm and talk to your child to help them get through it and wake back up without alarm.
I pray this never happens to any of you, but I hope that this has helped spread some knowledge about febrile seizures and helps you feel more confident to handle the situation should it ever occur. Don’t leave this post fearful, but confident in learning more about how to best help your children.
I found it a God-thing the shirt I happened to wear that day. It was from a women’s conference I had just been to and said “She is Strength” in reference to Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” I remember looking the the mirror of the hospital bathroom and seeing that phrase and thinking “I sure don’t feel strong right now, but Lord I need You to be my strength now.” He gave me a peace over the events, and helped me to be strong for my little guy. I still struggle with the fears of this happening again, but know that God is going through this life with me and will always be there in my time of need. No matter what you are going through right now, we can always lean on Him for our strength, and can have faith in the fact that He holds the future in His hands.