From Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul

Awright, Mom?

I was deep in thought, working on an important report, when the phone rang. Why now? I thought in frustration, as the baby-sitter told me my two-year-old son wasn’t feeling well. “Jordan’s just not acting like himself,” she said. “He’s not running a fever, but he’s very lethargic.”

During the long drive home, I calmed down and my thoughts turned to Jordan. I remembered how surprised I was when I learned I was pregnant with him. Growing up, I was convinced I would never want kids. But back then, I didn’t plan on falling in love with a single father of two young daughters.

After five years of marriage, I had grown to love being a stepmom. It was a role that suited me, much to my new daughters’ credit. But I remember worrying about how they would react to the news about the baby, since the girls were finally at a point where they felt secure. Recalling their response, I laughed out loud. The girls had taken me into the bathroom, away from their father, and expressed their only concern: “Does this mean you and Dad had sex?”

Seven months later, after 22 hours of hard labor, we were finally able to take our first look at Jordan. With a last name of Perez, we weren’t expecting a little redhead, but that’s what we got. A gorgeous, healthy little boy with eyes so dark they were almost black.

“He’s a part of all of us,” said Val, our oldest daughter, as she gazed lovingly at her new baby brother. “He brings us all together.”

My reverie was broken as I pulled into the driveway and ran into the house. Jordan was sleeping, but his breathing was labored and he was damp with sweat. I picked him up, strapped him into his car seat and headed for the doctor’s office.

As I drove, I divided my time between watching the road and watching Jordan. The baby-sitter was right, he wasn’t acting like himself. He was awake now, staring at me with sad, tired eyes.

Several blocks from the doctor’s office, I turned to take another look. I saw Jordan’s lips start to quiver, slowly at first, then faster and faster. Soon after, I was terrified to see foam coming from his mouth. His entire body was shaking uncontrollably, and his eyes rolled back into his head. Then, just as suddenly as his seizure had started, it stopped, and Jordan slumped in his seat.

In panic, I ran two red lights and sped into the parking lot. When I lifted him out of the car, Jordan was completely limp. His lifeless eyes stared off into space. It was then I realized he wasn’t breathing.

“Something is terribly wrong!” I wailed, as I ran into the building. The doctor, alerted by my screams, met me in the waiting room and pulled Jordan from my arms. He felt Jordan’s neck for a pulse, then asked a nurse to call the paramedics while he started CPR. Another nurse held me in the hallway, where I listened helplessly as they tried to revive my son.

“Come on, baby,” someone pleaded. “Come back to us.”

“I can’t get a line!” said another frantic voice.

I couldn’t believe what was happening. I was so confused and terrified of losing my little boy. I wanted to be with Jordan. I wanted to hold his hand and kiss his cheek and tell him everything would be okay. I felt so frightened, so out of control.

By the time the paramedics arrived, Jordan still wasn’t breathing. They worked on him for several minutes, then hurriedly wheeled him out on a stretcher.

“We have him on life support,” explained a paramedic, as he led me to the ambulance. “Your son’s not able to breathe on his own right now, so we’re going to do it for him.”

My husband met me in a private waiting room at the hospital. As he knelt on the floor and sobbed into my lap, I realized I had never seen him cry before. A nurse entered the room and gently asked if we wanted her to call our pastor. “No!” cried my husband in anguish. “He’s going to be all right!”

An hour later, we were finally allowed to see Jordan. My indomitable toddler looked so small and fragile, hooked up to countless tubes and still shaking. The seizure had started again, immediately after he had been revived.

The emergency room doctor was clearly frustrated. “All I can tell you is that Jordan’s a very sick little boy,” he said. “We’ve given him the maximum amount of phenobarbital, but he’s still seizing.”

Another hour dragged by. Jordan was stabilized and transported to a pediatric hospital. He was still on life support, but the seizure had finally stopped.

The CAT scans showed nothing unusual. The spinal tap was normal. There was still no explanation for Jordan’s severe seizure, and nothing to tell us whether the lack of oxygen had damaged his brain.

My husband and I were able to stay with Jordan in the intensive care unit. I held Jordan’s hand and kissed his cheek and told him that everything would be okay. Late in the evening, while our pastor and family members prayed in the waiting area, Jordan coughed out his breathing tube and took his first unassisted breath since the seizure began.

The next morning when Jordan finally opened his eyes, my husband and I didn’t know what to expect. Brain damage was a possibility, but we were convinced we could deal with anything. Losing him was the one thing we couldn’t bear.

Still feeling the effects of the medication, Jordan tried to focus his eyes. I knew if he recognized us, everything would be okay. Slowly, he looked at my husband and me. When he reached for us and weakly whispered, “Momma. Daddy,” I broke down and cried.

Seeing my tears, Jordan groggily asked, “Awright, Mom?”

I was overwhelmed by his concern. After spending the better part of the last 24 hours fighting for his life, my precious little two-year-old was worried about me.

“Oh yes, my darling boy,” I answered, as I gently stroked his cheek. “I’m very all right.”

Six months have passed since then, and Jordan has completely recovered. I’ve stopped sleeping on his bedroom floor at night and no longer feel a need to monitor his every move. We’ve never learned what caused the seizure. It may have been a viral infection, or perhaps a sudden change in body temperature. Because of this uncertainty, Jordan will take antiseizure medication for at least two years.

Last night I watched Jordan play soccer with his sisters and dad in the back yard, and I thought as I often do about how close we came to losing him. The ball bounced over to where I was sitting, and Jordan ran after it. As I handed him the ball, Jordan noticed the tears in my eyes. He put his tiny hand on my knee and asked, “Awright, Mom?”

“Oh yes, my darling boy,” I answered, as I smiled and hugged him close. “I’m very all right.”

Christine Perez

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