This is a post/story that I feel like would need a trigger warning? I’m not sure how those work, how this works, how any of this goes. But I do want to share this and if you are sensitive to scary things involving children, I would stay away from here. (I say this knowing that I will turn on my heel from pages like this for the foreseeable future.)
My parents are visiting Washington from Texas, so we all went up to Orcas Island to celebrate Evan and my anniversary and my parents 40th wedding anniversary earlier this year. We all stayed at The Rosario and it was glorious.
But Marcelline had had a bit of a runny nose, virus, throughout the weekend. On Sunday, she was really wiped. So we put her down early in our room—in the bathroom, which was huge, and watched her on the monitor. My parents came over and we enjoyed the sunset from our balcony and played Cranium into the night, drinking all the celebratory bottles of wine we had gifted each other in some order or another throughout the weekend.
It was such an incredible weekend and a gorgeous night… until it wasn’t. At around 12:30am, my parents had gone to their room, Evan and I were still up, just talking, and we heard Marcelline let out a uncharacteristic shriek. We looked on the baby monitor and it looked like she was shaking. I said, “I need to go check on her.”
When I went in there, she was convulsing in her Pack N Play. And then she went completely still. I started yelling at Evan to call 911 and that something was wrong. I picked her up and she was limp. She was the heaviest thing I’ve ever lifted. Evan wanted to see her and try to diagnose her and when he looked at her and she opened her eyes for a bit only to have them roll back into her head, Evan called 911. I paced back and forth in our room, loudly talking into Marcie’s face, “Come on, baby! Come here! MARCELLINE! C’MON, BABY! PLEASE, BABY!”
Her breaths were so shallow that I blew into her mouth—ultimately giving her mouth-to-mouth. She would exhale hard and it would give me two seconds of faith.
I know I am hyperbole-prone, but I can say with confidence this was the scariest moment of my life. I thought I had lost her. She would not respond to me. I thought she was gone.
The EMTs showed up and Marcie started crying, still with her eyes closed. She then went limp again for another spell before kind of waking up. She was decently aware as the EMTs told us they thought she was okay, but that she should probably be flown to Seattle Children’s. The idea of a life-flight was hard for us to swallow. It wasn’t the first life-flight of our relationship. And while we would absolutely do anything for Marcelline, we knew how expensive and taxing those plane rides are… so we wanted to make absolutely sure it was the right decision. The EMTs said they would leave the room to let us decide if we wanted to take an airplane or wait until the first ferry in the morning.
They left the room, Evan, Marcelline, and I were in the bed. I looked at Marcie and said, “What should we do, baby? Tell us what you need.” And she threw up all over me. Evan said, “Alright. Airplane it is!”
I went with Marcie in the ambulance to the tiny plane and airstrip on Orcas. I couldn’t even tell you any part about this ride. I’m blanking. I know I was drinking a ton of water, trying to flush all the wine out of my system, like this experience hadn’t sobered me right up.
Once we got to the airplane, they started loading Marcelline up in this tiny baby cocoon of a stretcher. I looked to Rita, one of the EMTs who had been helping us, “I have to pee. Can I pee here?” Rita looked so confused as she tried to be helpful, “It’s a runway.” I saw those letter/number signs you see on a runway and told her, “I’m gonna go pee behind those.”
Once we loaded up, the two—INCREDIBLE—flight nurses stayed with Marcie in back and I had to sit in front. I told them to give Marcelline Roary her stuffed lion. She immediately calmed and fell asleep and the nurses remarked about how awesome Roary is and how we all need a Roary in our life. (Thank you Missy and Jim!)
Despite being in absolute panic and asking for Marcie’s vitals ever two minutes, the flight over the islands, the sound, Seattle at night, was kind of gorgeous.
Once we got to Seattle Children’s, they did a ton of tests on Marcelline—including a COVID test. Everything came back negative. One of the tests was a urine test where they had to give Marcie a catheter. Apparently UTIs are very dangerous for babies. It was horrible to watch and when they were done, Marcie was so spent and done with everything. I told them not to bother putting another diaper on her. The nurse said, “But she may pee on you.” And I said I did not care in the least. For the next two hours, Marcelline slept on me—buck-naked. All six feet of me curled up on this pediatric hospital bed and held my sweet baby. I watched Aladdin while the nurses did some final test and checks on my sleeping baby. Don’t underestimate the comfort a childhood Disney movie can bring.
They told us that Marcie likely has febrile seizures, which are seizures in children that are caused by a spike in fever. Every medical professional we talked to was super relieved with this diagnosis. Apparently febrile seizures are pretty common (10% of kids have them), they will grow out of them by age six, they don’t indicate any future seizure disorder, and Marcie has a 50/50 chance of even ever having another one. The more you know!
Side Note: “Febrile” is a word that belongs in the same category as “The Rural Juror.” It took me two whole days to remember the word “febrile” and then learn how to say it.
Evan stayed up all night, too, just packing up our stuff and pacing and texting me. He got my parents and got them on the first ferry home, but it wasn’t anywhere early enough to pick us up from the hospital. While they talked about discharging us, I called my friend Anne. I told her what happened and it was the first time I broke down crying. The adrenaline had been too high before. As I cried, she asked, “Can I come pick you up and take you home?” I thought that was the sweetest thing, such a lovely gesture. She didn’t even have me ask for a ride. She was there in no time and took us home while I just shook my head and tried to start believing what happened. Anne dropped us off and then went and got me a latte and a scone, which saved me and I didn’t even realize.
In the hour between Anne dropping us off and Evan and my parents getting home, Marcelline ran around the apartment like nothing happened. I kept her hospital anklet on her to remind myself that she was in the hospital mere minutes ago.
Evan came home and we all reunited and hugged a lot. It wasn’t a floodgate of tears, because we still had business to take care of and follow-up appointments to make. Instead, it was a small exhale and then continued random breakdowns, tears, and exhaustion. For days after—even still—I was physically sore. My arms. My chest. I felt as if I had been hit by a truck.
Parenting is not for the faint of heart, but that feeling of your child almost being taken away will immediately weaken your heart no matter how strong you thought you were.
Huge thanks to all my family, all the incredible doctors/nurses/pilots/EMTs, all the incredibly understanding coworkers at KEXP, Anne and so many other incredible friends, and to Marcelline for reminding me that even the chillest babies gotta keep their parents on their toes somehow. I love you, sweet girl. Don’t do that again.