Sunday, July 12, 2009

Wife Rule #112: All Is Well

At two o'clock in the morning I awoke from a dreamless sleep. As my bleary eyes scanned the room, I regained my bearings by identifying outlines of familiar objects in the ambient night light. The closet. The dresser. The door to the darkened hallway, which was still ajar. Yes, I was at home in my own bed, but something wasn't right. I rolled over and sure enough, the other half of the bed was still empty.

I remembered why I felt so anxious. My wife and baby were gone. She had left in a rush about three hours ago, cradling an exhausted, limp child in her arms. Charity had barely been breathing when they left, each slight rise and fall of her tiny chest achieved through wheezing exertion, as if the air flowing in and out were being pumped through a viscous fluid.

My wife took her to the emergency room where Charity was treated with a steroid injection to aid her breathing. They needed to watch her for several hours to see that she was improving before sending her back home. This was the treatment my brother, a physician, had predicted they would give her when he urged us to take her to the emergency room.

When I called him, I had explained that the usual remedies for croup we had used on our other kids weren't working. The humidifier had already been on in her room, and since it was July there was no cool night air to breath in. He agreed that this wasn't something we should handle at home. "Croup can be very serious when infants are involved," he informed us. "This can't wait. You need to get her to the hospital."

Since I had early morning meetings the next day, my wife had volunteered to go, allowing me to stay home with the other four sleeping children. An hour later, at about midnight, she called to let me know what was going on and encouraged me to try to sleep. How was I supposed to do that? Even though Charity was now in the best hands available, my wife sounded anxious. And she is not one to worry unless the worry is merited.

So I wasted some time online, and at last resorted to late night reading until my eyes started to get heavy. I knelt by our bedside for the final time that night at about one o'clock, and asked the Lord to please bless my tiny daughter. Then I climbed under the covers and drifted off into a fitful sleep.

Now, laying on my back in the dark, I could hear Scott wheezing from his bedroom. His breathing problems are minor compared to the frightening, barking frenzy that Charity was in as she had struggled to take in enough air. I exhaled loudly, uttered another silent, semi-desperate prayer, and curled up into my pillow, hoping that the next time I awoke my wife and child would be back here beside me.

My eyes jerked open again. I glanced at the glowing digital clock on the bedside table. It was just after three o'clock. The other half of the bed was still empty.

Charity had awoken right as we were getting ready to call it a night. I heard her crying, but I was trying to finish reading a very important paragraph or something and so it was my wife who had gone into Charity's room to check on her.

When she opened the door, her cries sounded awful, a painful whimpering mixed with sharp barking. We had heard that kind of sound before when our children have had croup, like a baby seal crying. What I failed to notice for a full minute or so, until my wife pointed it out, was that these noises were not created by forced expulsion of air while coughing, as had been the case with our other kids. This barking occurred each time Charity attempted to inhale, which seemed to elevate the problem to a whole different level. And rather than being all worked up, as I had first supposed, Charity seemed strangely incoherent for someone who was struggling so hard to breathe.

My wife and I both fell into semi-panic at the same time. My first reaction was to anoint her with oil, lay my hands on her head, and pronounce a prayer of healing on her, as directed in James 5:14-15:

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up....

The words that came into my mind as I anointed and prayed over her were more direct than usual, and spilled forth more like commands than requests, ordering her throat and lungs to open up and allow air in. Within thirty seconds of finishing this blessing her breathing had relaxed, the barking had quieted to a softer wheezing, and she had opened her eyes and seemed more alert. We felt that the Lord had granted her safe passage through the immediate crisis, but it was now time to make use of the medical knowledge He had made available. So we had called my brother, and following his advice my wife had taken her to the emergency room.

As I laid in bed and recalled the almost immediate improvement in her condition after anointing and praying for her, the peaceful feelings I had felt at the time returned. My heart surged with gratitude to be privileged to bless my wife and children through the power of the Lord's priesthood, which He has distributed to believing fathers in His latter-day Church, that we might use His power to bless our families in His name.

She's going to be okay, I told myself as I lay in the dark, alone in my thoughts. And I realized that I believed it.

I woke again at four o'clock to the sounds of the door to the garage closing. I heard my wife lay Charity gently in her crib and then join me in the bedroom.

"How is she?" I asked her softly.

"She's doing much better," my wife replied. "The steroid treatments seem to be working and she can breathe again."

"Thank you, honey. Thanks for taking her in. Thanks for staying with her. I'm glad you're back home."

"Me too. Good night."

"Good night."

I closed my eyes for the last short stretch of sleep before the start of another demanding day. I felt whole again. Charity was breathing quietly in the nursery. My wife was next to me, her comforting presence quieting my mind. There was warmth and peace in my heart as I uttered a brief, silent prayer of thanks for the miracles that delivered my family safely back to me: miracles wrought through a combination of faith and prayer and revealed science, and applied by those who so ably administered to my daughter in the middle of the night.

The last thought I recall running through my mind before drifting off were these words: All is well, all is well.


Julie M. said...

Was this recent?! I'm sorry! I hate croup. I hope you are all feeling better. I love that song. I always think of the line ..."and soon we'll have, this tale to tell..." knowing that at this crazy time in our lives, soon it will just be a tale. Reminds me to enjoy it!

Jenny and Al said...

Poor Charity! How scary! I hope everyone is feeling better now.

LuckyMatt said...

This was a week ago Saturday night. Charity was much better by early Sunday morning, and after a few more days of lingering yuck, she has totally cleared up again. It was a pretty scary few hours there.

Shell said...

We are so glad she's okay, it sounds totally horrifying!

Sylvia said...

Croup can be so scary and you feel so helpless when they are struggling so. I'm glad that all is well.