A Mother’s Worst Nightmare :: Blake’s Story {Part 2}

If you haven’t already, start with Part 1 of Blake’s Story HERE

Now that we are a year past this, I have stopped saying “Intubated, on a ventilator, and given a medication to keep him still.” I can say it for what it was – in a medically induced coma, on life support, and paralyzed.  It was truly terrifying, but his tiny, precious body needed that to recover. Now that he has completely recuperated, the “ugly” words don’t sting as much. I’m often asked, “How did you get through that?” Every morning, I went in to his room in the PICU. I sat by his head and spoke to him. I told him he had already proven to be a fighter and that he continued to be a warrior. I reminded him how much he was loved and what was waiting for him at home. I hung pictures his sister drew for him in his room. And if I had nothing to say, but I still wanted him to hear my voice, I would read to him or tell him what was going on outside that dreary room {everything from the news to celebrity gossip}. With each day, the diuretics worked little by little. His x-rays and EKGs looked better, he was starting to breathe over the ventilator, and I was slowly letting out my breath. Each day, that memory of his face on that November 4th morning went further and further into the back of my head. Although it is an image that will never be erased.

And on what felt like the greatest day {at the time}, the “rock” medication was turned down to see if he could maintain his vitals with the ability to kick and move. I went in and talked to him as I did daily, but that morning he turned his head and opened his eyes when he heard my voice. Then the next best day was when I walked in 10 days after his admission and was surprised with the news he was being extubated, weeks ahead of the doctors’ projection. Hearing his hoarse cry was right up there with hearing that first cry when he was born. Then the next best day was the next morning when I came in with coffee and doughnuts for all the nurses, and they told me he didn’t sleep because he was laughing all night. “Laughing? Are you sure we are talking about the same baby, because prior to this he had only smiled once.” Sure enough, I walked in to the biggest smile ever.  He wasn’t developmentally delayed; he had been so sick, he was miserable. He was fighting an illness that really couldn’t be detected until it was too late. 

That morning was spent with Blake laughing and smiling, while I cried happy tears. With each passing day, the images and memories from November 4th were filed further and further back in my brain.  I didn’t imagine it was possible, but it was. As Blake was being prepared to a transition move, and then eventually a room on a “regular” floor, the PICU fellow asked if I had a picture of Blake from the morning we came in so he could see. We both looked at the picture of this sweet baby, in complete shock of the drastic difference in him.  It was unreal to compare a picture from November 1st of last year, to November 4th, to that point, and even now. 

Blake was discharged exactly three weeks after he was admitted. We were prepared for three or more weeks in that coma, and instead we were taking our baby home the day after Thanksgiving.  We had {and continue to have} so much to be thankful for. When I say our son is a miracle man and a warrior, I mean it.  People keep saying my husband and I are so strong. Life Lesson :: It is okay to admit your strength!

I used to argue when told I was strong, but the truth is, my husband and I are tough. I wish we didn’t have to be, but we have proven to each other that we are, and will continue to be, no matter what is thrown our way.  What an unfortunate way that we had to come to this understanding, but I am now able to relax {to a certain extent!!} about so many other things. I can say to myself “We have all survived the worst, we can survive this too.”  Our kids are superstars … both of them.  They are also strong, resilient, and determined.  I hope they both hold onto these characteristics forever.

Our son defied the odds and got himself home, happy, and most importantly, healthy.  And our daughter continues to show us what a little lady she is. She missed her brother so much, but understood that he was very sick and needed to stay at the hospital to get well. Every day, she asked when he was coming home, and every day we said as soon as he was well enough. Even her teachers complimented her {and us} about her resilience during this time. She is Supergirl in my book!  Once he was out of the PICU, we took her to see him.  Add the moment that our kids saw each other towards the end of this ordeal to the list of great moments.  That was the first time Blake smiled at his sister. Just like that, so many little moments and dates outweighed that horrible one.  When I picture Blake’s face that day as we drove to the hospital, the image of those first huge smiles also pop into my head.  Life Lesson :: Allow any tiny good moment to override a bad one, no matter how tiny the good is, and no matter how severe the bad.

Would I change anything about what we all went through a year ago? I honestly don’t know. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want anyone to have to go through such a horrible thing and sure wish we didn’t have to. Blake needed the medication to help maintain healthy glucose levels, and it is commonly given to babies that are born with low blood sugars. That was not a choice for him {or us}.  Everything was done by the book. Blake’s story is so rare, but now babies who are given the medication are handled a bit differently to make sure they don’t end up with pulmonary hypertension, or any fluid build-up. I share our story with you to remind all you mamas to trust your instinct.  It is there for a reason, and had I not voiced my instinct, my family could be in a very different situation right now. Life Lesson :: Listen to that voice inside your head! 

I also share our story to urge you to ask and receive help.  If you unfortunately end up in the NICU, PICU, or with any hospital stay for your child, I urge you to reach out to a social worker or a family advocate.  When the nurse asked me outside the trauma room what she could do for me, I had her to page our family advocate from the NICU who sat with me that entire day, as well as many others when our son was in that hospital bed lifeless. She is our angel, truly. We haven’t seen her in a year, but we consider her family.  There is absolutely no way our family would have gotten through this without our village.  We have been through a lot, and hopefully we won’t have to call on them in the future. But they got us through it. Typically, I am the first to offer help for others, and the last to take for myself.  But mamas, sometimes you have to ask for help and this was the first time I did and the response we got was truly incredible. Our daughter’s life was able to continue as normal, with a few extra playdates and a few less homecooked meals. Life Lesson :: Rely on your people.  We have them in our lives for a reason. 

Ask anyone who knows Blake about his personality. The words used to describe him are happy and smiley. His loud laugh is instantly contagious. His big blue eyes and long eyelashes will melt you, promise. I learned so much from this experience and take so much away from it, but most of all, I take my healthy baby boy laughs and snuggles every chance I get!


About Edie E.

Edie is a true Southerner, born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. After graduating from The University of Texas, she moved around while teaching and working on her Masters in Education. A teaching job brought her back to Texas, where she met her native Houstonian husband. Seven years later, this first grade teacher turned mama to Sophie Laine {4} and Blake Elliot {16 months} loves being “mamarazzi” to her littles, cooking, attempting to be crafty, keeping her toes wet in the educational field, spinning, all things southern {smocked clothes, monograms, mason jars, football}, laughing with friends, and making memories with her family.

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