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Apollo’s First Trip to the Hospital


Okay, I am going to try my best to get this down in writing before I forget the details…

Wednesday afternoon I had Iris at the doctor’s office getting her immunizations for her trip to Honduras. At the very end of the visit, our doctor asked how Apollo was doing.

{And here is why I am such a fan of family doctors…he knows everyone in our family}

I told him he was doing okay but had a cough…the doctor responded with words that had a profound effect on Apollo’s outcome…“I’m a bit worried that the rest of the gunk from his reflux may get into his lungs and cause pneumonia. I want to see him if gets a fever” I honestly don’t know what made him say that right then…it’s not like this is the first time Apollo’s had a cough…why was he so concerned about pneumonia now?

As you know from my blog, I came home to find Apollo on Chuck’s lap with a fever. With a sigh of resignation, I realized I would need to take him in the next day (on our doctor’s day off of course). He did seem to be breathing rapidly…I looked him over and he seemed okay… I did choose to have him sleep in the crib in our room that night, even though his breathing is so loud it keeps me awake. I just didn’t feel comfortable having him in the other room…

Thursday morning he seemed to have a cold and was fussier, but was crawling around and playing. He took his reflux medicine just fine. At 11 AM I took his temperature (under his arm)  and it was 101.4. I gave him some infant ibuprofen and held him. By 11:40 he was feeling warmer instead of cooler so I took his temperature again and it was up to 102.3 under his arm (which means it was a degree higher than that). At that point I called the doctor’s office again (they were trying to get a hold of our doctor) and made an appointment to see another doctor in the practice at 3:20. By this time he was miserable and clingy so I just sat on the couch and held him.

By the time we left for his appointment (2:50) he was breathing rapidly again. I laid him down to check and see if he was retracting a term I had read about and knew was an emergency but had never actually seen. His stomach seemed hard and bloated, but he wasn’t sucking in his stomach like I imagined retracting to be…he was beginning to lift his shoulders when he breathed, however. Something was “off”.

By the time we sat in the exam room, I knew he was retracting and his nostrils were flaring with each breath. We spent less than five minutes with the doctor. She took a look at him, listened to his lungs, and told me I needed to take him to the emergency room. Now.

It’s a little bit hard to describe just how it feels to be at the doctor’s office and have her tell you to take your baby to the emergency room. She asked if I need any help gathering things and I said no. Tilly was with me. As soon as I got out to the parking lot I called Chuck, then headed to the hospital.

It took less than five minutes to get there and they already had his papers ready. They took him straight to triage then right back to a room. A nurse met us there and a doctor arrived within minutes. From the time the doctor arrived, there were never fewer than four medical people in the room with us, and often six or seven. They began a breathing treatment almost immediately. By now he was retracting horribly. The mood in the room was very, very serious. I could tell this was a big deal even to the ER staff. I was on the bed holding Apollo while the respiratory therapist administered the breathing treatment. The doctor looked very grave and never took his eyes off Apollo, even while typing into his laptop and making a phone call to discuss Apollo’s condition.

It was clear to me that the doctor was scared. He was utterly calm and in control, but his eyes revealed the level of worry he had. I sat there alternately praying and telling myself “he’s going to be fine. He’s in the hospital now. He’ll be fine“. Even though I didn’t always believe it.

Two hours earlier he just seemed like he had a cold and fever…how could it get so serious, so fast?

They gave Apollo another breathing treatment, one after the other. At one point two men came in saying, “is this the baby we need to take for x-rays?” The doctor answered, “Ah, we need to do some other interventions before we do that”. He wasn’t nearly as worried about what the cause was as stabilizing Apollo.

After the second treatment, they moved us down to an ER room with more space. In came the pediatric doctor. They started an IV with fluids and antibiotics, and gave him another breathing treatment. I didn’t even have a minute to call Chuck and let him know how serious things were.

Once he was stabilized and breathing, they took x-rays and tested him for RSV, drew blood, and bagged him for a urine sample. Soon after the doctor (now the pediatric doctor, rather than the ER doctor) showed me the x-rays revealing he had pneumonia. He said it looked bacterial, which is the “good” kind since they can treat that. Before he was done talking about pneumonia, a nurse came to tell him Apollo was RSV positive as well. The doctor was a bit surprised that he had both, but the ER doctor said Apollo was in much worse shape than babies who usually come in with RSV.

By this time (about two hours after we arrived) his breathing was finally stable and the room started to clear out a bit. Our family doctor arrived to check on Apollo and consult with the pediatrician. Shortly after Chuck arrived (I had Tilly step into the hall and call him when things slowed down). Once they were ready to admit him, the ER doctor came back and said, “Next time don’t scare me like that!”


We were moved into a room in the pediatric ward and told we would be staying for 2-3 days. Poor Apollo was so sick and unhappy. He cried and cried and cried. I couldn’t answer my cell phone because he was crying and thrashing around in my arms. Chuck stayed until about 9 and then headed home.

Thank you to Bridget and Jennifer for taking some children and thank you Sarah for “stopping by” with dinner. It was such a blessing not to have to worry about my other children.

Our two days and nights in the hospital were miserable. Apollo cried so much. In order for me to use the bathroom, I had to have him asleep and locked in his crib. He began to hate anyone with a mask or gown. He only slept for 15-30 minute periods all through the night. He moved around so much in his sleep that he kept crashing his head into the metal bars.


His IV’s kept clogging up, so they had to adjust them. All the first night his IV alarm kept going off. When he pulled that out they stuck one in his foot. He wouldn’t bleed enough when they wanted to draw blood…


But he was alive and breathing. Once again I was struck with thoughts of “in another time or another place, he would have died…”

What if I didn’t have that doctor’s appointment made? At what point would I have decided he was “sick enough” to take to the doctor? Or ER? In a matter of 2-3 hour, he went from sick to barely able to breathe.

The doctors believe he caught some kind of bacterial “superbug” and that’s what took him down so fast. He probably already had the RSV, and then this came on.


He is still a very sick baby. He lost nearly half a pound in the hospital. He is now skinnier than ever. Our doctor took advantage of his being in and consulted with the hospital doctors. The doctor on duty today told me, “we stayed up last night looking over his records and discussing his case”. They strongly believe that reflux and dairy are the root of his problems. They want his weight monitored closely but expect him to start gaining when he gets better.

If in a couple of weeks, he still isn’t putting on weight, he’ll go down to Seattle for a “sweat test” checking for cystic fibrosis. That’s highly, highly unlikely, but still a little horrifying to hear a doctor say about your baby.

Thank you so much for all of your kind words and prayers. They meant a lot to me in those dark hours in the hospital. Apollo has a lot of recovering to do but is home…



  1. Crystal in Lynden

    Renee and family, you’ve been on my mind all day. I’m thankful to read this update and hear Apollo is doing better.

  2. Ruth Einfeld

    Oh, Renee…I so understand what you are talking about…last March when Esther was hospitalized, the doctor in the office said she needed to go to ER NOW, and talked about sending her in an ambulance, but since Daryl had already arrived and could drive us, she let us take her in…so scary! It was not our first urgent visit to ER with Esther (heart failure send us there at least 3 times before she had her heart repair), but this last one seemed to be “out of the blue” and I had no idea she was that sick…like you I brought her in because she just wasn’t getting any better and had no idea just how critically ill she was!
    Still praying for a speedy recovery and that you will soon get some sleep as well!

  3. Kristen

    I’m so glad to hear you are home and all is relatively well. I stopped by the hospital this morning with Starbucks and scones, but they didn’t have you listed… perhaps you’d already checked out. The hospital office staff were glad to drink your coffees and sample the scones. 🙂 You all remain in my prayers.

  4. Davene Grace

    Oh, Renee, this brings tears to my eyes. I’m so grateful that God planned it that you would have that doctor’s appointment exactly when you did…and that the doctor would “happen” to ask about Apollo and mention about a fever. God is gracious.
    May Apollo’s recovery be quicker than imagined and his weight surprise you as it heads in the right direction!
    With prayers from Virginia…

  5. karen

    good to read all the details. went to a potluck tonight and someone told me apollo was home… came home to check on that little guy via your blog. we’ll be praying for you guys and for apollos recovery and weight gain….

  6. Aurora

    Renee, my baby boy was in the NICU with breathing problems on his second day out of the womb. He was there for less than a day but it was the most horrifying time of my life. I can’t imagine how terrifying it must have been to see Apollo so sick. I’ve been refreshing your blog over and over, praying for good news. Praise God! That boy is a living, breathing (!!) miracle. I’m so glad he’s okay. Give him some extra snuggles for all of us.

  7. Joolzmac

    Oh my gosh!I am so pleased to hear little Apollo is home – what a horrible ordeal for you all! Sending get well wishes to him and I do hope he doesn’t test + for CF (that was in the back of my mind). Best wishes,

  8. Elena

    Keeping little Apollo in our thoughts! Glad to hear they’re optimistic about him being able to gain some weight once he gets over this. Positive thoughts for a speedy recovery and no more trips to the hospital!
    – Elena & Family

  9. Vivian

    Praise God for his protection over Apollo! It is amazing how God brings events in our lives to guide our way.
    I know this has been a very scary event for your family…and we all are praying for Apollo.
    He is such a beautiful baby.
    Take care Mom…we don’t want you getting sick!

  10. Smoochagator

    Look at your little angel! I have been praying for him all weekend and will continue to do so. Thanks for the update.
    (Also, I’m not sure if I’ve commented before, but I’ve been reading for a few months now. My name is Emily, nice to meet you!)

  11. TonyM

    Glad to hear that he’s doing better now. My dad died from pneumonia (due to complications from cancer treatment), so I know just how dangerous it is.
    I have to ask…is that a plastic cup over Apollo’s right hand in the last photo? Something to stop him pulling out the various tubes etc?

  12. Lou

    I just logged on for first time in ages. I am so so so so so sorry to hear this about your poor little fella. I hope he is feeling better soon and I’m so glad he was so well looked after.

  13. Kayk

    Such good news that he is on the road to recovery. Hopefully you can go home soon and catch up on some much needed rest.
    Our prayers are with your family.

  14. Jean

    I was hoping that you updated. Little Apollo has been on my mind. Oh my goodness. How scary! I have been praying and will continue to pray.

  15. Angela

    So glad you are both home. Praying for you guys as I am home from church with my own sick baby.
    Your hospital story was chillingly similar to my own. Praising God he is okay and praying for continued healing.

  16. Kimberly

    This is terrifying! Thank God that your family doctor cautioned you about pneumonia, that you were alert enough to bring him in as soon as you did, and that the ER staff was so wonderful about getting him treatment as quickly as they did… That’s a lot of blessings during such a scary and dangerous time. I’ll continue praying for Apollo and your family!

  17. Laura

    Hi Renee,
    I think I’ve commented once or two but in case I haven’t, my name is Laura and I’m a missionary at a children’s center in Mozambique. I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now and am particularly inspired by your approach to education!
    But I wanted to say I will be praying for your sweet Apollo. What a fright you’ve had!
    I’m sorry you’ve had to go thru this but pray that he will recover quickly and completely and that they will get to the bottom of his other issues as well. May you and your family be comforted by God’s loving and powerful presence!
    Blessings, Laura

  18. Amber @ Au Coeur

    How incredibly scary and awful! Just as you said in another time or place…this makes me feel so lucky that we live in a place with access to good medical care. I hope, hope, hope that he does not have CF. Were you tested while pregnant to see if you carried the gene? I have a good friend whose children have it and I know what a struggle it can be. Hopefully he will start putting on more weight! Sending as many positive vibes your way as possible.

  19. Emily Weaver Brown

    So thankful to hear that you guys are doing better – I have been really worried about you all.
    Just curious why they suspect dairy as the allergy over other common allergens like gluten, soy, eggs?

  20. Stacy

    That is so scary, Renee.
    I’m so glad he’s okay, and that God orchestrated your doctor’s comment and you taking him in when you did.
    Praying for you all…

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