I survived the afternoon with the 3 year old and the baby. (How did I do this every day when Susan was born and Peter was not-yet-2?) Peter was invited out to dinner by a friend to celebrate his birthday, so he left the house before Mr D came home from work and took the next baby feeding at about 6pm. While the baby was eating, I fed the other kids dinner, with Mr D and I planning to eat together after all the kids were down for the night.
That didn't happen.
M had mostly finished her bottle and Mr D was trying to convince her to take a little more, when he suddenly went very still and stared at her. He called me over and asked if her color was OK, hoping what he was seeing was a trick of the fading light.
She had stopped breathing and was turning blue. We immediately began tickling her feet, moving her arms and mentally rehearsing infant CPR steps....when she suddenly inhaled again. Her breathing was uneven and choppy for a few minutes and her color slowly changed from blue to white to her natural skin color again. She was OK, but now what?
It didn't seem right to call 911 now. The emergency was over, wasn't it?
It wasn't possible to just assume everything was OK and go back to normal. We were both terrified to take our eyes off of her now, knowing that the only reason we had known she'd stopped breathing at all was that Mr D happened to be holding her and looking at her at the time. How could we possibly sleep tonight?
So, we called the pediatrician's office to ask what to do. They told us to take her to the emergency room, but to be sure that a second adult was in the car to sit in the back with her just in case it happened again while on the way. (If it did, we were to pull over immediately and call 911.) Well, that could be tricky.
At that time, we actually had 2 adults in the house. But we also had a 3 year old foster child, who we certainly weren't going to take to the emergency room. The 1 year old was still off with Marcie. We also had Susan and Edmund, who we would have left at home alone in an emergency, but couldn't leave in charge of a foster child. After staring at each other blankly for a few seconds, Mr D and I agreed we should call the caseworker. Maybe she knew of someone nearby who could come sit at the house for a while....
Mr D explained what was going on. Unfortunately, the caseworker didn't have an immediate idea for someone to call. She asked if we would be comfortable with any of our biological kids in charge, prepared to break the rule about caregivers for foster kids because of the emergency. But, the only child we would leave in charge of a 3 year old was out at a birthday dinner. While we were all desperately trying to brainstorm a solution, it rang the doorbell. Marcie was back.
After some discussion, the plan was formed. Marcie rode in the car with M while Mr D drove, leaving Marcie's car in our driveway. I stayed at the house with the other kids and got them to bed. The caseworker met Mr D at the emergency room, intending to drive Marcie back to our house to get her car, but Marcie called a good friend to pick her up instead, so the caseworker ended up staying at the emergency room with Mr D.
The nearest emergency room is not a children's hospital, but it does have a separate children's emergency department, so that's where they went. M spent almost no time in the waiting room (preemies are very high on the triage priority list!), and the doctors and nurses were pretty sure it was sleep apnea, something very common in preemies. At about 10pm, Mr D told me that they were probably going to discharge her soon, but had put a call in to the nearby children's hospital (where N had his surgeries) to get their opinion first. I went to bed, expecting that he would be home sometime in the wee hours of the morning and wanting to be sure that at least one of us was rested for the next day. Because the next day was already going to be busy. Respite boys were to be picked up at 9am, Peter had a sporting event in the morning where he (and an adult to drive him) needed to leave the house around 7am and would be back around 1pm, immediately followed by a birthday party that afternoon.
I woke to the phone ringing just before 6am, with no Mr D in the bed beside me.