My birthday fell on Easter Sunday this year. I was looking forward to spending the day with both my family and David’s family. Each year, we all go to Easter brunch together. Brunch was nice but I noticed that Ryan seemed a touch cranky. It came as no surprise seeing as he had three molars coming in but typically teething doesn’t seem to alter his mood much. David’s parents were spending the night with us that night and heading back to Virgnia the following day. They had offered to babysit so that David could take me out to dinner for my birthday. I never thought that I would be this type of mom but I really struggle to leave Ryan at night. I remember always telling my brother and sister-in-law that they should take more advantage of having me down the street so they could go out more at night when my nieces were babies. They would often have me watch the girls during the day or for Duke games but rarely did they have a big night out. Now, I totally understand. I love the bedtime routine and it hurts me to miss experiencing that with Ryan. It might seem crazy because I am a stay-at-home mom. I am with my little guy all day, every day…but I still hate leaving him.
When we were saying goodbye to Ryan, he rested his head on my shoulder and snuggled in. He generally isn’t a big cuddle-bug unless something is bothering him so this triggered that funny feeling in my gut. He felt a little warm to the touch but I knew that he had the molars coming in so I prayed that was all that was going on. Reluctantly, we went out to dinner. The entire time, we were checking our phones for text updates from David’s mom.
When we arrived back home, David’s mom said everything was fine but that Ryan had cried out so she went up to check on him and held him for a little while. Again, that pulling feeling in my stomach was present.
At 1:50am, I heard Ryan move on the monitor and then he began making a strange sound. A sound that will now haunt me forever. The sound was a like a rhythmic barking and I knew that it wasn’t normal. I went into Ryan’s room and went to pick him up out of the crib. There was my sweet baby…in the midst of a seizure.
The rest of the night was like an out of body experience. I had a febrile seizure when I was Ryan’s age and my brother’s oldest had four so I knew what was happening but it didn’t make the experience any less terrifying. I placed Ryan on the carpet and screamed for David to call 911. The wait for the paramedics seemed like an eternity despite the fact that they arrived within ten minutes. They asked questions while checking Ryan’s vitals. I just remember that David and I were on either side of Ryan, holding him hands and cupping his sweet little face. We knew that we couldn’t interfere with the paramedics or with the seizure but all I wanted to do was scoop up my sweet baby and hold him close.
After what I can only guess was five minutes, they moved Ryan to the ambulance. We sat in the cul du sac outside our home and I just wanted to scream because I wanted to head to the hospital but I knew that I had to trust the paramedics. The one paramedic explained every thing he was doing to me, which was greatly appreciated. He informed me that once the seizure had continued for 15 minutes, he would administer medicine to stop the seizure. We hit the fifteen minute mark and he gave Ryan a shot in his little leg. It took almost five more minutes for Ryan to begin coming out of the seizure. LONGEST TWENTY MINUTES OF OUR LIVES.
At that point, the ambulance began to head to Duke University Hospital. We have had a lot of experience at Duke and that’s where we felt most comfortable. I rode with him and David followed behind in our car. (David drove separately so that we would have a carseat once discharged.)
We spent a lot of time in a room in the ER. Despite the fact that Ryan had stopped seizing, the medicine and the physical demand of the seizure had knocked him out. It wasn’t until two hours later that he opened his eyes. Even then, it was brief. He was still groggy and fell back to sleep on my chest. After another hour or so, he woke up…sat up, looked around the room and pointed to the massive light in the corner. Ryan is a super curious kid and points no less than 200 times a day so I knew in that instant, that my baby was back. That little point meant everything.
Even though Ryan appeared to be back to his baseline, the neurologist still wanted to order an EEG to check his brain activity. Ryan’s seizure was so long that it was concerning. The EEG technician came in and began to attach 3o wires to my sweet boy’s head. Thankfully, Ryan was too tired to protest. After the wires were attached, she wrapped his head in gauze in order to prevent him from tugging at the wires.
We were then moved up to the pediatrics floor. They wheeled Ryan and I up there on a bed and he sat on my lap and acted like he was on parade as we were wheeled through the hallways. In that moment, we were able to smile and relax.
Two neurologists came to discuss the situation with us. They informed us that Ryan had a Complex Febrile Seizure (the “Complex” in reference to the long duration) as we expected. The EEG results were completely normal. HUGE sigh of relief.
While the one neurologists was talking to us, she noted that we were the first parents she had ever spoken with who were so comfortable with discussing febrile seizures. One nurse asked if we were in the medical field because we were so calm. Our past experience with Duke helped to ease our minds. We have had nothing but extraordinary experiences with the staff there so we felt confident in their abilities. David and I feel so fortunate to be living in an area where we have so many incredible medical facilities within 20 miles. Besides that, we had previous experience with febrile seizures. In this type of situation, remaining as calm as possible is so important. Every single medical professional will ask you a multitude of questions and detailed answers really help them assess the situation more quickly and accurately. (This is not to say that David and I weren’t falling apart on the inside. I kept telling myself to remain calm for Ryan’s sake but what I really wanted to do was fall to pieces.)
Thank goodness, everything has returned to normal. Let me rephrase that, almost everything has returned to normal. Every single time Ryan makes a sound in the middle of the night, I am petrified. David and I are now so hypersensitive to any sound on the monitor. It doesn’t seem like this paranoia or the haunting images will be bidding us goodbye any time soon so we need to accept them as a part of our life. We are just beyond thankful that Ryan doesn’t remember a thing and that he is feeling like himself.
* We were informed that Ryan has a 33% chance of having another seizure. If he experiences another one by the age of two, he has a 50% chance of having a third seizure. However, most children outgrow these seizures by age 2 so if he DOES NOT have another one by the time he turns two, the chance of another seizure drops to just 5%.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy weekend!!!