It was love at first sight for all of us in the family. Heath was the center of all of our lives. The girls would fight over whose turn it was to hold him or feed him. Things were looking good…and then all hell broke loose. One night Heath began to get the symptoms of a cold which terrified me since 2015 was a HUGE year for RSV. We had a close watch on him but around 5:00 am on January 28th I KNEW something was not right. Heath could hardly breath. I panicked, for me to panic is HUGE. I am the most relaxed non paranoid person. I was adamant that Scott immediately rush Heath to the ER. I finished getting the girls off to school and dropped Shelbee off to my moms and headed to the hospital since they decided to do a few tests on him and I know how SLOW the ER works.
By the time I got to the ER they had done x-rays and RSV tests and decided to settle on RSV and were going to admit him. For the next 2 days they treated him as though he had RSV. Scott and I would take turns sleeping over night with him. On January 30 it was Scott’s turn and he sent me home around 7:30 pm to put the girls to bed and to get a good night’s rest. The last thing he told me before I fell to sleep was that, ‘all was good.’
I woke the next morning and Scott’s iPad was lit up as tho their was a text message coming through. I grabbed the iPad and it was a massive group text and the last text that had come through read “HE IS IN THE ICU, PLEASE PRAY!!” I grabbed my phone and in hysteria called Scott. I was screaming, ‘what is going on!!!’
He calmly but with fear in his voice asked how I knew and then began to tell me that around midnight he started seizing, oxygen dropped to death rates, he coded, and turned blue. He then told me to come as soon as I got the girls off to school. Now at this moment I was terrified for my baby but also INFURIATED that he would not call me but would send out a mass text to all of our family members. I called my darling helpful neighbor and dropped my girls off; called my grandma to meet me at the hospital to take Shelbee and drove a couple hundred miles per hour to the hospital. I couldn’t believe and can’t put into words how you feel when you believe you could be losing a child. It is a horrific feeling.
I got to the hospital, Scott met me in front of the PICU (pediatric ICU) doors. His face read horror, he looked like a zombie. He warned me that things were somewhat better but he DID NOT look anything like my baby and that it had been touch and go. I was sobbing and collapsed into Scott’s arms. So many emotions were going through my mind. What had I done to my baby? Did I take him into public too soon? Was I going to lose my baby? Was I going to be committed for murder since he was not REALLY my child? It was awful.
We went back and I broke down. He was put into a medically induced coma, he was intubated and no longer could breath on his own. They were not sure what was wrong with my very sick little angel. Pneumonia? Septic? Meningitis? etc? They had and were doing every test imaginable. And this began the waiting game. For days it would be touch and go and we would wait for each test to come back negative. It seemed as though we would just stare at his oxygen levels hoping that there was progress but there seemed to be none.
On Monday, February 2nd was his one month court date. We of course did not see it fit to leave our sick baby to go to court. After court we got a call from a social worker that the birth parents and a paternal aunt had shown up at court and were wanting to come see Heath and were wanting Aunt to gain custody of him.
How in the world could my life come crashing down all in a matter of 2 days??? I was physically ill. How could I possibly meet these people? Would they understand my love for him? Would they hate me?
Scott was physically and emotionally drained. He hadn’t slept the first whole night when Heath was seizing and coding. He blamed the birth mother for her bad choices while Heath was in-utero. The doctors could only guess that without proper pre-natal care that Heath’s body just wasn’t strong enough to fight off illnesses and recover quickly. I think the entire hospital could hear Scott yelling at the social worker to not allow them to visit after disappearing, abandoning Heath, and placing all of his health issues on them. He was hurting inside and still scared that his baby may not pull through.
After much worry to meet them they finally after a day showed up. It was such a heart wrenching, spiritual experience. The birth mother was heartbroken. We held each other and cried with each other. I had an instant love for her. She had given me the chance to love this child and be this child’s mother. She was in awe that one of us was with him at all times both day and night while we were in the hospital. She asked many questions and I asked her many questions. I found out SO many things that I was told differently when I got the phone call to pick him up 3 weeks prior.
The doctors finally diagnosed him with pneumonia and were treating for this. He started to get a little better but was still struggling. The birthmother and aunt came one other time over the 12 day period and the second time were more defiant with us and wanted to make sure we knew that he would not be staying with us. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed uncontrollably. I couldn’t believe this was not going to be my baby when all along I had the strongest feeling he was always meant to be with us. (Even foster parents die when they think they are going to lose their child; we are not superheroes).
After a week in the hospital we thought we were going to get a HUGE win… the pneumonia had cleared up and they were going take him off of the ventilator!!! But later that day, one of his lungs collapsed. This poor child could not catch a break. There was a time when the doctors ran out of room on his IV pole because he had so many fluids, medications, and blood transfusions going at once. We knew progress was happening as they would let one of the bags run empty and not replace it with a fresh one. Little by little, Heath only had a feeding tube and a saline bag for fluids!!! He had been through more during his lifetime than most will ever have to. FINALLY after 12 LONG emotionally draining days we were able to take our little man home and be a ‘normal’ family again. My poor daughters had to sacrifice their parents during these couple of weeks and were so selfless.
Now as horrific as these two weeks were I learned more during these days than I have EVER learned in my life. I truly had to lean on my Father in Heaven. I begged, pleaded, screamed, and sobbed to him. We gained such a stronger relationship. He showed our family so many incredible miracles that I would never give back these days for anything. Charity is the pure love of Christ… the highest level of love. I am not a Master at this by any means but I have definitely learned that Jesus Christ’s atonement was the most charitable act of all time. I believe Heath had to go through this not just for his sake but for mine. I have not only learned the power of prayer but how to honestly speak with my Father in Heaven. I have never begged, pleaded, screamed, and cried to my Heavenly Father until now. And because of this I have learned Faith over fear and gained a stronger relationship with Him. He is the Master Healer.
Not only have I learned what a sick child teaches you, but I have learned what true LOVE and empathy are. I wanted to think that this poor boy’s birthmother was a monster. But after meeting with her I have learned true empathy. We cried together and held each other. She is unbelievably selfless and is just a woman who has made some bad decisions or hasn’t been able to stay on a path in life that can truly help her. I was heartbroken for her. We are just two mothers who loved this baby boy. My family and I have learned what it is to sacrifice. We have given up 24 hours of our days to suffer with and care for this sweet boy. He has been my saving Grace. He is molding me into the Woman my Heavenly Father wants me to be. I will forever be indebted to him and his birthmother for the blessing he has been in my life and the lessons he has taught me.
In the coming post we will share the emotional roller coaster of realizing that foster parents are actually just glorified babysitters in the “systems” eyes.
You can find Part 5 HERE.
Foster Care facts:
- There are court dates at the 1 month mark and then every 6 months after that.
- A social worker will come to your home to do “home checks” every month and 1 unannounced visit every 3 months.
- The birth parents have every “right” over that child even if they have zero contact and never want to see the child again until adoption or TPR (termination of parental rights).
A Father’s Love. When the doctor’s were treating what they thought was RSV.
In a medically induced coma. Had 12 medications pumping through him.
First time opening his eyes after a few days.
First time holding my baby after 6 painful days.