Celebrations, Heart Defects, Holidays, Hospital Stays

Year in review: My Motherhood Pit and Peak

rsz_riebel-52_copyMother’s Day is all about honoring mothers for the love and time they pour into their children. For me, it’s also a time to reflect on how I’ve done as a mother over the past year. Let’s be honest; we all have our good days, and our not so good days. After giving some thought to the last 12 months, I thought I’d share my deepest low (my “Pit”) and my highest high (My “Peak”). I find sharing experiences is really therapeutic and also helps other parents know they’re not alone. So I would love to hear from you in the comment section: What’s your parenting Pit and/or Peak?

My Pit

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Maddie had been struggling with bronchiolitis since February. When she was diagnosed, they warned us that it may take several months for it to clear up. And they weren’t lying. Over the next three months the illness continued to plague her.

On this particular weekend she seemed to be feeling worse than usual. On Friday evening I decided that a nice long walk in her stroller might help to relax her and give her a comfortable sleep. She slept all through the ride, ate a little something, and then slept another 12 hours- very atypical for her.

The yuckiness continued into the next day. I decided to take her to the neighborhood pool, and let her sleep in the shade in her tent, which she always enjoyed.

When Nate arrived home from a trip on Saturday evening and she still hadn’t improved, we decided to call her pediatrician. He advised that it was probably just a continuing stage of the bronchiolitis, but since Maddie had a heart condition, we should bring her to the ER to confirm.

We hopped in the car and headed for the closest Children’s ER, not expecting that we were going for a serious visit. But during the 30-minute car ride, things took a turn for the worse. By the time we arrived at the hospital, I could not rouse her.

Nate dropped us off at the ER door, and when I frantically carried her up to the front desk, they took one look and rushed us into a suite where a full team of clinicians immediately descended upon her. Within seconds she had oxygen flowing and heart monitors applied, as they began a series of tests. I remember Nate rushing in. I remember singing to Maddie to try to calm her. I remember crying into Nate’s shoulder, “I can’t believe we’re here again,” as this scene was all too familiar from the time Maddie had been admitted for seizures only three short months prior.

As the minutes rolled on, Nate noted that the pace of the doctors in the room was starting to slow. Certain team members were no longer needed, and they left the room. The movements of other clinicians were not quite as frantic. We were told that Maddie had been diagnosed with pneumonia.

Unknown-3Once stabilized, Maddie was transferred to one of the patient rooms in the ER, and we awaited next steps. Soon we were informed that because of Maddie’s heart condition, we would need to be transferred to the Cardiac ICU at the hospital’s main campus. Maddie was placed in an isolate and rolled into the hospital’s ground transportation unit. As we took off, Nate followed in the car behind. Again, a scene that was all far too familiar, as we’d been transferred to the NICU at Children’s Hospital soon after Maddie was born.

The next morning we learned that the pneumonia was a complication of Maddie’s bronchiolitis and RSV (which had gone undiganosed), worsened by her heart condition, and possibly exacerbated by the time that we’d spent outdoors over the past couple of days. We’ll never know to what degree the heat played a role in the pneumonia, but to this day I wonder if the illness could’ve been avoided had we stayed inside.

Thankfully, Maddie recovered from the pneumonia, and we were released from the hospital two weeks later.

My Peak

January 30, 2017

 I find that there are certain days that I just know that I love Maddie a little bit more than the day before. Days when she does something new or exciting or funny, and I get a deeper look into her soul. My peak took place on one such day:

To that point we’d been giving Maddie baths in her baby tub. Since she has low muscle tone and sitting unassisted hasn’t always been easy for her, we were gifted two different items to help her sit in the tub. One was a structured plastic seat. The other was a laundry basket that had pool noodles glued to the side to give her structure: an ingenious design by a fellow special needs Mom.

Maddie didn’t prefer either option, but she was growing too big for her baby tub. That day I was feeling adventurous, so I put a small amount of water in the regular tub, and plopped her down. She was momentarily surprised, but then started to smile. She turned herself in a circle, caught a glimpse of her reflection in the drain, and started giggling.

I turned the water back on to fill the tub a little fuller. She LOVED IT! A whole new world Unknownopened for her that day. Although sitting up may have tired her, the water gave her some buoyancy, and I could tell she enjoyed the freedom. She moved so much more easily in the water. As she giggled, she looked me in the eyes, and I saw love and appreciation. As though she was saying, “Thanks for a fun night, Mama!  Same time tomorrow?”

I felt so proud of her, and so happy to give her a new experience. I anticipated all the ‘firsts’ that the two of us will have to share over a lifetime together.


4 thoughts on “Year in review: My Motherhood Pit and Peak”

  1. Cristin, all mothers have pits and peaks especially when trying to figure out when to get a medical diagnosis whether a child is medically fragile or typical. Cherish the peaks as those are the memories that will always surface when you look back. Happy Mothers Day!


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