A journal entry with NO pictures. That is just unheard of for me. But, Ethan has started his second 10 week clinical placement, and will only be home on the weekends now. Have I already mentioned we only have 10 weeks left until Ethan is with us FOREVER?!?!?! Seriously, I don't know how military wives (or other situations) do it...it's just not for me. If there is one thing this time has taught me, it's that I want to spend time with my best friend everyday, and I want the daddy of my babies to be a daily, active influence in their lives...yeah, this has been a long 7 months! (And yeah, I already knew I felt that way... :) But, only 10 more weeks!!! Did I say that already? hehe. I have a feeling that not seeing Ethan on Thursdays during this clinical placement is going to make a big difference. And not for the better. Oh well. I think some of us may go down and stay with him for a week here or there during this placement. Yay! Anyway, the point is, Ethan will usually need our laptop, which has all of our pictures on it. So, "picture posts" will take some planning.
Fair warning: this post is going to be pretty boring, and pretty long too . . . and I don't even have any pictures to spice it up. Like always, since I also consider this my family journal, I am mainly recording this stuff for my own personal records. As in, "Remember the first time Caleb got sick?" Yeah, I want to remember the good and the bad. :)
Okay, now on to an update de mis enfermitos. (Translation - Of my little sick ones. :) Well, actually, they aren't sick anymore! I guess when I wrote last Anna was already over it...quick and easy with her. Benjamin was pretty much over it by that post too... pretty quick and easy as well; he just happened to develop an ear infection with his - his first one ever, boo - that needed 7 days of antibiotics. Which really meant 7 days of crazy diarrhea! Too much information!? Sorry. :) I mean, I've never seen a "possible" side effect of medication be so ridiculously true! Anyway, so two for three, done.
Then we have baby Caleb. Well, he is better now too! It was relatively quick with him as well. There was just a lot of concern of the unknown: "if/when he gets sick...?" because of his preexisting lung condition. We just didn't know what to expect. Caleb's occasional cough that started Thursday afternoon-ish, became a little more frequent Friday, and then Saturday. Saturday afternoon/Sunday is when the other cold like symptoms started (runny nose, sneezing, more coughing), along with some wheezing. We were concerned with his oxygen levels since his lungs were not at 100% before this even started, so Ethan took him to the walk in clinic on Sunday afternoon. They checked his O2 levels - which looked good, swabbed him for RSV - which was positive, took an x-ray of his lungs - which showed some pneumonia (which can happen easier with him), gave him an antibiotic for the pneumonia, and sent him on his way. Like I mentioned in the other post, he also had some increase in his breathing treatments - albuterol, and had a five day steroid course to help his lungs - prednisone. Monday was about as bad as Sunday, but by Tuesday we were seeing improvements. And a few days later, he was back to normal. The whole things lasted a week...and he didn't need to be hospitalized! Yay! Caleb also slept well, ate well, and was pretty content the whole time, even on his two worst days. Good job, little buddy. (And his "diarrhea side effect" wasn't even as bad as it was for Ben-Ben.) *Because of his lung condition, Caleb is considered a "high risk" baby for the first two-ish years of his life, so he gets a monthly shot, synagis, during RSV season. The doctors were pleased to see that it did it's job well.*
So, I feel like a little explanation is necessary, because honestly, I'd never even heard of RSV - Respiratory Syncytial Virus - before I had Caleb. (And when I've mentioned it to other people since having Caleb, the typical response from everyone is, "What's that?") With most healthy kids, you couldn't tell RSV from normal cold symptoms. And since almost all kids have it before they're two, I'm sure this must have been the case for Anna and Benjamin, hence me never hearing of it before. I would have never known they had RSV this time either, because it just seemed like a normal cold with them. However, it was important for the doctors to know exactly what it was when Caleb got sick because of his lung stuff. I won't go into too much more detail, but if you feel the need, you can read about additional RSV facts on the website for the Centers for Disease Control, HERE. I'm sure you're all super interested. hehe.
I'm just sayin', I'd never even heard of it before last November, and then it became a big part of my life...mainly in the form of: "We must keep Caleb from catching that!" :) And now we can all see that I failed. (If only I could have been as diligent as my friend, Ann Cherry. Are you reading this Ann? Seriously, I thought that when Caleb got sick. :) The funny thing is, whenever any of the NICU doctors, other doctors, nurses, etc. brought it up before, it was always in the way of: "You must keep your baby from getting this!!!!" AND THEN, when Caleb actually caught it, I of course felt super guilty, and wondered if there was anything I could have tried/done better. BUT THEN his doctors - including the Pulmonary Pediatric Specialists in Ann Arbor, said, "Well, of course he would most likely catch this, but you did an excellent job of trying to prevent it. And it looks like he is handling it well." Of course he was going to catch this?!?! SERIOUSLY?!?! Did they not know how much anxiety I'd been feeling since bringing him home from the NICU about this very thing? It seems like they should have mentioned that before, like, "You should do all what you can to prevent this, but he's probably going to catch it anyway, so don't beat yourself up over it." I'm still strictly following all of Caleb's care instructions; I just feel like it would have saved me a lot of worry before, and now I feel like a weight has been lifted...the weight of the unknown.
I had considered taking Anna out of kindergarten because having school age children increases the likelihood of anyone catching RSV. Maybe I should have, because she was the first to get it. We never take Caleb anywhere, besides a few relatives homes, per doctor's orders. No stores, no church, no restaurants, no play groups, etc. We are religious about hand washing and hand sanitizing. We try to change our clothes and the kids clothes, if we feel like we have been somewhere especially germy. When I saw that Anna and Ben-Ben were getting colds, I kept Caleb secluded in my bedroom. When I was taking care of Benjamin, I would wash/sanitize thoroughly and change my shirt before taking care of Caleb. Yeah, it got a little hectic, as Ben-Ben was pretty needy for a day or two. But, it just wasn't enough. My mom, who was right in all of this with me, even offered to take Caleb with her while she babysat for Hudson (my brother's baby), in hopes of keeping him secluded even more. And as we all know, even our best attempts failed. My mom or I must have carried some of those sicky germs into the bedroom, or over to Hudson's house, or onto a blanket we touched, or whatever, and Caleb caught the virus we'd been so focused on preventing. Hudson also got sick, and had a pretty bad case of RSV. It was so sad, and we just felt awful for him too. All of our hard work to separate the babies and prevent "cross contamination"...wasted. :( Maybe next time someone in the house is sick, Caleb and I will just go stay elsewhere until it passes. Seriously. :)
I keep feeling like maybe I jinxed myself a few posts ago when I talked about how we haven't been sick in forever. Seriously, it seems like right before Anna got sick, I was thinking, "Man, there's been so much crap going around this season...everyone's been SO SICK. We've been so lucky that Anna and Ben-Ben only had a cold or two last fall, and that's it. We've been healthy for months!" Yeah, totally jinxed myself. :) I think we typically have pretty healthy kiddos, but I've just been focused on it more so this year with Caleb's lung issues. I'm not typically a "germ-aphobe," and realize that kids getting sick is a natural part of childhood. I've also been thinking a lot about the whole "Caleb Experience" since he caught his first cold last week. Obviously all of his complications are not something I ever expected to happen. From the beginning, yes it was surprising, but for whatever reason (which I chalk up to a Priesthood blessing, and answers to prayer, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit), I've felt "at peace" with all of it. I almost felt like the six week NICU experience should have been more of an emotional/hard thing for me than it was. And the hardest part for me was when Caleb came home, but I still felt an overall peaceful feeling about everything. When Caleb came home, there was not only the typical stress of getting used to a new babies schedule, but the anxiety of trying to keep him healthy and germ free. Him getting sick last week was an answer to all of my, "What if he does get sick?" worrying. And it was sad, and another "hit" to his lungs... something we still want to try hard to prevent. (The other "hits" were his premature lungs, developing aspiration pneumonia from inhaling fluids during the c-section, being on the vent for two weeks.) But at the same time, it wasn't so bad. Not to minimize anything, but I was expecting so much worse.
I think it all just comes down to perspective. I feel like I've been blessed through all of this to keep a positive perspective about Caleb. (Ethan is really, really great at reminding me to do this. :) There are so many worse things to experience, or see our children experience (and I'm not just talking about illnesses here). And there are so many more serious diseases out there. Caleb has chronic lung disease, which sounds awful, and makes the first few years of his life a little more challenging, but at the same time, it's something he will most likely grow out of. It could be so worse! I mean, I'll take extra doctor appointments, breathing treatments, and even a NICU stay for something Caleb will probably grow out of in a couple years over so many other things. (Not to imply that I think we're in the clear as far as challenges go...who knows what we still have to face in our lives. I'm just trying to keep a positive perspective about this one particular thing. :) I don't really feel like I'm conveying my true thoughts, but I guess the main point is, I'm at peace with everything. Things have been hard. There have been ups and downs. There has been stress and worry. But there has also been peace and comfort. When I look at Caleb, I rarely think of all the lung drama, and I mostly think things like, "I'm so lucky to have such a smiley, beautiful baby." Or, "I love that Caleb is such a little plumper like his brother and sister were." hehe. Or, "I'm so glad that some day, relatively soon, all of this will be a distant memory." Because I already think it's starting to feel like that. And I'm grateful.
*Oh, and a little summary of Caleb's trip to the Pediatric Pulmonary Specialists (paraphrasing): "Best case scenario (which is very likely), he "grows out" of all of this within his first few years, and a possible worst case scenario is his lung issues will develop into asthma." So say the authorities on babies with lung issues. Sounds good to me! It's exactly what we've heard all along, but it felt comforting hearing it from the specialists. They also want him to have a swallow study done, because he has eating issues. They want to see Caleb at least a few more times mainly to monitor the physical symptoms of his chronic lung disease - retraction breathing, wheezing, grunting, etc., and to take current x-rays compared to older ones to monitor progress. So yeah, nothing really ground breaking, but still a good appointment for peace of mind, and getting a few more tips for our babers. And speaking of perspective, the doctors helped put Caleb's individual illness, Chronic Lung Disease, in perspective by mentioning that they often see kids who spent months on a vent, that need oxygen assistance for years including every time they get sick, kids that just have it so much worse. It was good to hear, and helped ease our worries, and again reminded us that it's all about perspective. It didn't come across as uncaring, or unconcerned with Caleb's individual issues, but as a way to say, "Really, he's going to be okay." So now our next appointment is at the end of June, and they'll probably want to see him a few more times after that. Oh, and did I mention that Cabers was a perfect little traveler? He slept tons, and was pretty content when he was awake. He did seem to get overwhelmed a few times, but it only lasted a couple minutes. We think it's because he hardly ever goes anywhere, it was like a sensory overload for him. Oh, and thanks to my Aunt Cindy for letting us stay at her house on the way down. It was fun introducing the baby to her and Uncle Joe, since Caleb is still kept pretty under wraps. (If only our hotel in Ann Arbor was as nice, and beautiful, and clean as the room they had for us...but that's a whole other story. :)
Okay, for real now. I'm done. If you read all that, I commend you. Seriously. Impressive.