And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.
Romans 8:28 ESV
This past weekend, our little family experienced something simply terrible. A nightmare that no parent wishes to face but a nightmare we've all been warned about for generations. Sophia, just shy of 21 months old, got into a bottle of aspirin while visiting at someone's house. Like any toddler, she was curious and determined, and instead of bringing her discovery to an adult, she decided it would be best to keep her "sweet treats" all to herself. Accidents like this can happen at any time, any where! We're all familiar with the saying that if it's too quiet, something bad must be happening, and this clearly was the case for Miss Sophia.
Several hours later, Sophia became lethargic and cranky. Brian decided it would be worth it to get her ready for bed early, something that NEVER happens in Sophia's upbeat world. She cried through her entire bath and wasn't in her normal "sleepy, peaceful" mood. About 15 minutes after we put her to bed, she began coughing. Her coughing was severe and eventually followed by vomiting. She continued to vomit and dry heave throughout the night, almost every 10 minutes or so as we reached the early morning hours. She couldn't sit still in her bed and we attempted to bring her in to sleep with us. Nothing helped, nothing could calm her rapid breathing (which we thought was a side effect of so much vomiting) or her belly (which clearly appeared in pain).
On Friday morning, we made an appointment with her pediatrician. Not knowing that Sophia had gotten into the aspirin, we assumed she had caught the dreaded stomach bug, and in selfishness, I simply wanted the doctor to prescribe something that would help her stop vomiting because I was tired and completely grossed out. Brian called me around lunch to tell me that the doctors weren't half as concerned about her vomiting/sleeplessness as they were about her rapid breathing. She was sent for chest xrays to rule out aspirating vomit and/or foreign body. The office performed a typical blood panel, but those results came back normal as well. They even tried 2 albuterol treatments and a steroid shot thinking it was possibly some form of asthma. But nothing changed. By late afternoon, her pediatricians referred us to the downtown hospital and requested a special electrolytes blood test that would reveal any metabolic issues.
Saturday morning, we received preliminary results that suggested Sophia had ingested a controlled substance. Not only was the news terrifying, there was apparent suspicion on the part of the doctors towards us when we could supply no information on how she would have been exposed. They emphasized over and over how vital it was to get them any information we could so that they could start to treat her properly. In the mean time, we agreed to have a tox/drug screening done for Sophia. ---That test in itself sent me into panic mode: those were tests done on drunk drivers, not on babies! Around 1pm, the doctors concluded that she had an aspirin blood concentration of 49%. Although this meant we could at least pinpoint what was making her so sick, it wasn't enough to identify HOW MUCH treatment to begin giving. Poison Control, Pediatric ICU, and a Nephrologist were consulted. We were also able to get some MUCH NEEDED information from the caregivers as to a specific time of day that the ingestion may have occurred --- it had been 48 hours. Sophia was transferred to the PICU where she was hooked up to numerous monitors and was no longer permitted to eat or drink until the medical staff could determine how effective their treatment plan would be. It was so hard to see our sick baby ask for "Wa" and to tell her that the water was all gone. Her IV fluids were changed from potassium to sodium bicarbonate, and she was subject to 3hr finger sticks (which took about 5 minutes to fill the viles of blood necessary for testing). It was traumatic for everyone, including our sweet baby who didn't understand what was going on.
By Saturday night, Sophia started to return to us. She requested "coloring" and began listing off the names of family members. She hadn't interacted like this since Thursday evening. The treatment was working and we were so grateful to our dedicated medical team! As the night closed out and Sophia wore down, Brian and I talked about all that had happened. How she had eaten a significant milligram count of aspirin, but had not gone into a coma. How she had continued to vomit without much of a break until her stomach was empty, and breathe heavily (the respiratory system's response when evacuating toxins in the blood) without going into respiratory distress. How the entire 48 hours before we even had a CLUE about what was going on, OUR GOD was HEALING her! He was the ultimate medic! And even after the electrolytes and tox tests revealed the source of the problem, He continued to bless our medical team with wisdom in how to best treat Sophia.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Sophia was released from PICU on Sunday afternoon. We were told at a follow-up appointment on Monday that she should have NO long-term effects from her aspirin ingestion (barring any symptoms of Reye's that show up in the next few weeks). She is on her way to making a full recovery. Those things all seem "good" and I can firmly stand behind the title of this blog post.
But there are a few other areas that lie buried just below the surface that must be considered. I am grateful for a more mature believer's phone call that challenged Brian and I to respond correctly to this trial by thinking of the bigger picture. Our God, the God of the Bible, is in the business of building and restoring relationships. Because all things are meant for OUR GOOD, and HIS GLORY, then it's not just Sophia's recovery we have to consider --- we must also consider the surrounding factors.
- Who Sophia was with when the accident happened and our relationship with them.
- The way we choose to build and strengthen this relationship, rather than break it.
- The way we choose to teach others (Sophia included) how to build and strengthen by protecting the caregivers, rather than setting an example of blame and shame.
- The actions that will be taken to proactively prevent a repeat of this weekend's trial.
We aren't perfect, I'm not perfect. Even as I write and reflect on these truths, I'm overwhelmed by the fact that I cannot do this in my own strength. I must release my ugly momma-bear instinct for justice, so that I can follow the example of reconciliation that God has given me. I must trust that God's plan is more perfect than I'll ever know. Please pray for all parties involved (including extended family) and that God would be glorified through the BIGGER PICTURE, not just the trial that we've come through. Pray for humility and grace, and for relationships to be strengthened not broken.
The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
Psalm 103:6-18 ESV
As a side note, accidents do happen, but most can be prevented with consideration, effort to change, and a watchful eye. Below are some helpful links for Baby/Child-Proofing a home and other safety measures:
- Baby-Proofing Video (5 min by The Safety Mom)
- Child-Proofing Checklist (room by room)
- Safe Kids Worldwide (General Home Safety list of topics)
- Medication (great PDF)
- Medication Safety Report (in depth)
- TV & Furniture Tip-Overs (PDF - kids pull dressers onto themselves often)
- Sleep Safety (PDF)
- Car Seat Checklist (PDF - 5 Steps)
- Booster Seat Checklist (PDF)
- Seat Belt Safety