But then, on 29th August our world came crashing down around us, and what followed was 3 weeks of hell.
Heartache like I have never known.
Instead of bringing our wee man home, Elijah ended up in PICU that afternoon and was the most fragile little one in The Royal Victoria Hospital.
I actually am finding it difficult to write about. As I type I can feel my chest tightening and a sickness in the pit of my stomach. My eyes sting and my heart hurts.
That morning Ben and I were spending some time with Elijah, the others had gone to their grandparents to play with their cousins. We decided to head for brunch over on the Lisburn Road, before taking Elijah to meet his cousins and Aunties at the play park. We had a great morning. Elijah loved being out at Slims Kitchen, and while I could feel people watching as I negotiated the medicines and feeding in public, I was so proud of him. Some people pointed out how cute he was, others commented on how alert he was, ‘taking everything in’. I breathed easy that morning, thinking, ‘yeah, we can do this’.
We went and met the others at the playpark, and then headed home with our 4 precious little ones. There was great excitement in the car, and we all sang along to the beats! However, when we got home, and I got Elijah out of his car seat to give him his 3 o clock feed. My heart started to race. I can’t put my finger on why, but I said to Ben, “he needs to go back to hospital.” I don’t know, there was something about his breathing or his sleepiness or his demeanour that I didn’t like. We checked his sats and they were all fine, but I couldn’t relax. He needs to go back. I still don’t know how I knew, but I did. God was at work.
As always He had a plan.
On arrival at Clark clinic, Elijah was a very seriously ill little man. He was extremely cold, very pale and unresponsive, it took almost 2 hours to get a temperature reading on him. One of the nurses, a good few weeks later, told us, she had thought when she lifted him out of his car seat that he was gone.
To this day, we still do not know what exactly happened or went wrong for Elijah that day. The doctors remain a little puzzled too. But, his bloods were shocking, his sodium levels extremely low, his Co2 levels ridiculously high, and all for no real apparent reason. Clark Clinic did the best that they could to help him, but the decision was made to send him to PICU. I remember breaking down, walking down that corridor, in front of the other parents and nurses and crying sore. Up until then, I had remained pretty strong in Clark clinic and in front of everyone. They had never seen this side of me really.
I was so disappointed. Absolutely gutted. I wasn’t angry with God, but I was desperately disappointed. We were meant to be going home! My baby girl was starting P1 the next morning. It was all just too much. Why, God, why. I don’t think I realised that evening just how ill Elijah was at that moment, all I felt was disappointment that we wouldn’t have him at home with us that night. It never occurred to me that Elijah, actually might never come home. Within an hour or so however, that was the reality which we were facing.
As his bloods continued to get worse, Elijah got put onto the ventilator. And my heart broke, once more. No, not once more…my heart continued to be broken into more pieces….and for 3 weeks, just when I thought it couldn’t possibly break any more, it did.
But. Although I did not realise it then. Even then…
God. Had. A. Plan.
And as the next 3 weeks unfolded, and things were just horrendous, God was in it all. As we went through dark, dark places, God was there. At times I wished He could have chosen another way. But there was purpose. That night of 29th August was not pretty. I was left broken. My world shattered. Dreams shattered. That morning we were elated; that night – in the depths of despair. And little Elijah…well, regardless of what the rest of us were feeling, he fought on, he did not give up. What a soldier he was!