My little boy turned 1 almost 2 weeks ago. We celebrated by roasting a salmon and some beets, his favorite foods (unfortunately for us because next-day salmon diapers are always exceptionally stinky and beet poos are pink, so stinky pink poo is uncommonly stinky AND it stains). Today is a somber day in our house because one year ago Søren went to the hospital with an aggressive and baffling staph infection that had formed lesions on his lymph nodes. For a week we stayed quarantined in an isolation room that was capable of keeping all of our air in and air from the rest of the hospital out. The doctors would visit us in clean, yellow jump suits over their white coats and scrubs. We were beset upon by gaggles of doctors, residents, and students at any time of the day or night, and I broke down and sobbed in front of every one of them.
One night, two surgeons came into our room at 11 p.m. and told me that they would be removing the lymph noes from Søren’s armpit the next morning. I wasn’t to feed him for 4 hours. “How am I supposed to not feed a 12-day old?” I sobbed to them. That night and into the early morning Søren cried and cried. He weighed under 6 pounds at that point and he waved his skinny, jaundiced arms in frustration, refusing a pacifier. Because of the short reach of the IV tubes in his hands I couldn’t pick him up – I could only lean over his crib and stroke his face. That felt like the longest night of my life. Four hours later the surgeons returned and decided not to perform the operation after all.
Yes I was furious that they made me deprive my baby for such a long time, but not only did he survive the entire ordeal but days later he emerged from the hospital slightly chubbier, jaundice-free, and with all of his nodes scarred but otherwise intact. I’ve been thinking about this as I watch him now. He is slowly making his way along a row of cupboards in my kitchen, singing a song to himself in babbly baby language. Carefully he opens each cupboard door and examines its contents, remove several items, then he closes the door and moves on to the next one. He has been doing this for 15 minutes now, lost in his own world.
In many ways, the day he went to Children’s Hospital is more significant to us than the day he was born. In the 12 days after his birth we had already started taking little things for granted. By the time we left Children’s we knew how close you can come to the unimaginable, that thing that always happens to someone else but never to you, to losing a child. I looked at the few photos that were taken in that darkest week of our lives and see the stress on my face and on Huzzybee’s face, the tubes protruding from Søren’s arms and legs, and the large, evil-looking boils on his skin and then turn look at the sweet little strawberry-blonde singing in my kitchen remember that I am blessed.
Note: The entire staff at Seattle Children’s Hospital was amazing, compassionate, and helpful. After learning more of the facts I was grateful that surgery was not performed on Søren’s lymph nodes – it was a sign that his feeble little immune system was finally starting to work on its own. If you ever need to take your child to this hospital you are in very, very good hands.