I love birthdays! I love remembering sweet moments. I love my guy. Becoming a teenager feels momentous for any person, and with this kid it reminds me of how very much we have to thank the Lord for.

IMG_2475When Caleb was born, we had the parenting deal under control – third child, you know. Craig was traveling; I’m excited for him; no worries. Craig’s traveling; this baby is about to come. Craig gets home, and we go to the hospital a day later. See we’ve got this baby thing down.

Medical students were on their ob/gyn rotation. It means that for three weeks they try on ob/gyning to see if that’s what they want to do when they grow up. Since we were so chill, they asked if the students could medically care for us. Well, I want there to be doctors for my daughters, so ok. He came 3 1/2 weeks early but big and healthy. See we’ve figured this out.

Even though our insurance covered a private room, the hospital was too full, so we headed home after 6 hours. With the last baby I had learned I did NOT like sharing a room with a newborn. We had figured out and saved Craig’s holiday, so he could be around for a couple of weeks. Siblings loved the new baby. NO problem child number three.

Then in the wee hours of one morning when Caleb was 2 weeks old, he woke up with a fever. No one else was sick; I called the non-emergency nurses hotline. Litany of questions, and then she calmly said,

“Take him to emergency.”

Me, “Take him to emergency?”

Well, at 5:30 in the morning I go, still calm.  And then they inform me he will need to have blood work, catheter, and a spinal tap.

Me: “Spinal tap? Is that necessary?”

Doctor:  “Yeah, it could be deadly.”

The doctor tells me it’s been a long night, could I turn him the other way, so her tired brain can figure out which side his liver on. Yeah, she won’t be doing his spinal tap. Phone calls home. Craig, can you get here five minutes ago? I don’t have this, and I’m wanting you here NOW. I’m working on it; It may take a minute to figure out who can babysit at 5:30 in the morning.

Sweet baby slept through the catheter. God’s grace to me. New shift doctor comes for the spinal tap and asks,

“Mom, would you like to step out in the hallway?”

Me: “Why?”

Doc: “Well, this can be hard on the parents to see.”

Me: “Well, I may not watch, but unless you need me out of your way, I’ll stay with him. He’s mine; I’m sure not leaving when things get hard.”

Craig arrives; he’s stressed. He’s never stressed. Then we’re put in an isolation room, and I realize that I’m still postpartum bleeding mom without clothes, hygiene stuff, toothbrush, liquids, etc. Craig goes home to check on the other kids and to pack my stuff and to watch the change of babysitters and to bring the kids to see us briefly. If you come in our room, you have to wear a mask. Kids are freaked by the machines, the masks; short visit. Ok, we’re all freaked. Craig visits with food from my neighbour, Marcia, packed in a shoe box with a kind note, prayers and well wishes. Baby has “very strong antibiotics” coursing through his body from the always attached IV.

Then our family doctor calls. Thank you so much for calling; so kind. Oh, I see I’ve got MRSA in the eye infection I visited you about last week. OH, the doctors need to know this. OH MY GOODNESS! And now my baby’s in isolation with the nurses and doctors coming in as little as possible to limit contact with the flesh eating disease.

After two powerfully ridiculous days of worry, praying, rocking, singing, hoping. We’re released; meningitis tests came back negative. He had a fever; he’s fine. I get home. Mikayla asks questions and is satisfied Caleb’s fine. Nathaniel at 3 1/2. holds Caleb and inspects him for twenty minutes. He points to the bandaid and wants to know what’s wrong. Then like a little man, Nathaniel nods his head deciding the baby really is ok.

Our little easing into the next baby joy and readiness munched up into 2 days of full court press worry. Then we get ready for our friends wedding where Craig’s performing the ceremony; older two are the flower girl and ring bearer. I’m nursing mother whose reminding the flower girl, “That if he bites your finger, he’s not trying to be mean or hurt you. He’s just scared. It would be good not to scream.” The ring bearer had taken a bite and she did scream in rehearsal.

And then a young teenager in our church is mauled by a dog; nationwide news and grief. Craig was visiting the hospital regularly, and I fully supported him visiting even on Christmas day. While Craig’s at the hospital, Caleb wakes from his nap spewing blood, covered in blood. Friends arrive for dinner before Craig gets home. So happy to see you Kenton and Shelley, can you watch my children? Oh, and Merry Christmas to you.

Caleb and I return to emergency. As we stand in the admittance line, I explain he’s vomiting blood and show his clothes, his rag. That was the only time ever that the triage nurse was coming back and forth to check while she was supposed to be with someone else; we jumped the Christmas-day-no-other-medical-facilities-are-open chaos cue. I knew it was bad when not only were we immediately put in a room, but a resident examined Caleb right away and did not leave his side. Except it wasn’t that bad, just inconvenient, stressful. Turns out my hungry guy wasn’t just nursing milk but blood. For the next 10 days I pumped, bottle, fed milk almost 8 hours a day; just call me cow. Of course Craig, visiting grandparents all helped, but my days were milk centered.

By now we were all tired. Thankful, but body and soul tired. Caleb got a little cold that seemed bad, so I went to the doctor. She wasn’t in, but her locum wasn’t too worried. He did say come back if he’s not better tomorrow. Caleb wasn’t better, but I knew I was just being cautious after the last few months when I returned to the doctor. Three children and I pop in for the next day lung listen, and she then invites us to a room I’ve never seen. Puts Caleb on a nebulizer, and listens to his lungs.

“Ellen, I’m sorry but you’re going to need to take him to emergency. I’ll call ahead.”


“Yeah, he’s not getting enough air in his lungs.”

Have I told you I didn’t have a cell phone during this season? Didn’t want one. I wasn’t keeping up with snail mail, email, phone calls, so why would I add one more source of communication that I couldn’t keep up with. So everywhere I’m borrowing phones to call Craig. Um, can you meet me at emergency, so the other two don’t catch all the stuff that’s spread there?By this time my I’ve-only-been-a-patient-in-emergency-once-in-my-life self was getting numb to the repeat visits.

Craig gets kids; Caleb gets hooked up to machines that show his oxygen levels are all over the place. Oh and he doesn’t like the machine on his big toe, so he just wants to kick it off. He’s not quite 3 months old, but he’s fierce with his little kicking. Yes, he’s going to be admitted. Actually, we need to monitor him, but we’re going to send him to another hospital. No you don’t need to drive him; an ambulance will transport him.

We’re in a room where I can see their wall chart. MRSA is written by our room. They are worried. My eye’s all better, but apparently I’m still a carrier. No one visits us much because the machines tell them if something is wrong; we’ve got a plan, and I’ve got MRSA. Finally, I motion to someone to ask to borrow the phone. Craig’s going to meet us at the other hospital with lunch, water bottle, overnight bag. We’ve got a plan, but we didn’t know that the transport would take 8 hours to go through. Hunger I can deal with, but eventually, I requested a cup of water. I’m a food source right now, and I’m needing some liquids please. My friend Kim met me at the next hospital with food and compassion.

Once again, Caleb comes out just fine; he’s released from the hospital early Sunday morning with the instructions not to let him cry for 6 weeks.This is my third child; I’m like what? I’m not into pinching babies, but babies cry. Well, permanent lung damage could result if he cries hard while his lungs are weak. Ok, just let me go home. Here’s the doctors number; please call right away if he’s struggling to breathe.

Craig brings us home to rest, and he and the older kids head to church. The house is quiet; Caleb sleeps. And I clean. I scour; I get out cleansers I didn’t even know we had. (A friend’s brother moved away, and we inherited his cleansers) If you ever come to my house and it’s clean, sparkly clean, watch out. It means I’m stressed. I’m needing order, things my way, things in the world as they should be, to see that actions produce desired results. Caleb wakes up struggling to breathe, and I realize I’ve done it to him. I call the number; I’m starting to cry. The doctor says open the windows. Did I say this is February? Watch between his ribs. Ok, describe what you see. With the windows open, fresh, COLD air coming in, Caleb’s fine.

This kid lives energetically, passionately, but the first few months, I just hoped he would live. Now when I see him engage with people in kindness or curiosity, when he disagrees and corrects me, when he realizes a dream, when he plays music, when he describes a good book, there’s so much life in him, and I thank the Lord that this young man is alive. I’m so very thankful that he’s my son and that he’s entering his teen years. And I’m trusting that way the Lord protected his wee baby body, the Lord will protect his heart and his passion over the next years.

May he be like his namesake

But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. Numbers 14:24

Can you see above the t-shirts given by others:

Just try 2 keep up

World without strangers

These words fit this kid!



One thought on “Teenager

  1. Wow! What a great post! I was on the edge of my seat through each trip to the hospital. Almost every parent has these times, even if they are brief & they are just new, scared parents, but this was an intense beginning for you all. So happy everyone made it through the scary stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

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