I'm a coffee loving, travel-obsessed, twenty-something based out of Central Illinois. I'm lucky enough to make a living doing what I love - photographing people! I specialize in weddings (destination + local), senior portraits, + boudoir.
I’m not going to lie, this was a hard one to write. January 2021 was not easy on our family and I wanted to share everything, so it’s a long one.
Our year started out, mmmm, unusual that’s for sure! We had been exposed to the ‘VID over the holidays, so we brought in the new year at home in our pjs as a family of three! That was just the beginning of the ultimate roller coaster of our lives!!
Brandon tested positive on the 1st, with Bexley following five days later, and me following just a few days after her. So our little girl not only had the holiday break away from school, but another two weeks off due to COVID. On her 9th day, the 15th of January, she came into my room and there was a look of panic in her eyes as she was unable to talk to me, her left arm and left side of her face were twitching uncontrollably. I had no idea what was going on, so I immediately called Brandon and 911 thinking she was having a seizure but when I noticed it had subsided, her left arm was unresponsive and the left side of her face was drooped, along with the little speech she could get out was suuuper slurred. I immediately texted Brandon “STROKE. I THINK SHE HAD A STROKE.” The ambulance showed just minutes later, and thankfully Brandon was working just a few blocks away. I rode with her to Carle and we were quickly swept in and took Bex back for a CT scan and MRI. Minutes felt like hours as she was being treated at that point as a stroke patient.
My 5 year old, a stroke patient.
By the grace of God, the first test (the CT scan) ruled out the likelihood of a stroke, and the MRI confirmed it. At that point they were looking at a seizure, but my 39 week pregnant mommy brain was in overdrive thinking of every possible outcome from bell’s palsy to being afraid they missed something and it WAS a stroke. After what felt like days (but was more like hours) we spoke to a pediatric neurologist and he was confident that she suffered a localized focal seizure and it resulted in her postictal state of motor loss functions of her upper left quadrant. An EEG confirmed “abnormal activity” which told them it was seizure activity. Though we had a name, it didn’t make it any less scary, despite her doctors staying calm and telling us not to worry. Since normal time for postictal states to baseline take 5 to 30 minutes and we were going on hours with little improvement, we were admitted for overnight observation, started on seizure medication, and talk of physical therapy was mentioned.
Because of COVID procedures, we weren’t able to both stay in the hospital with her for that night. We weren’t even technically both supposed to be in the same room with her (shout out to grandma Lisa and grandpa Fred for giving us a spot to chill in the parking lot and eat some food!) though thankfully the hospital staff understood that our predicament was cause for exception. It was gut wrenching to leave my little girl at all but being 39 weeks pregnant we felt it was best for me to head out for the night to try and get a little rest, not only for me but for the baby. I remember thinking (and telling the baby) just. stay. in. just. stay. in. I did NOT want to have to make any more decisions than I already had to and the idea of being split from Bexley was terrifying anyways, let alone to be admitted in another hospital – although I most likely would have made a split second decision to move hospitals! We even struggled to make the choice on whether to go back home (a 40 minute drive) or pay for a hotel, but thanks to our dear friends the Yates family, the choice was made for us and I was able to stay just a block away and not have to hassle with checking for availability or booking anything. We are forever grateful for the quick thinking and gracious gift.
Every improvement was like celebrating a baby’s first milestone all over again. It started with her smile. We of course had sent out updates to family members and in return they sent get well photos and videos, and thanks to her goofy uncle Ben sending a funny voice text, we noticed her smile returned first. I cried like a baby. Little by little she would have more control over her words, we practiced her hand-eye coordination with things like stickers and marker caps, and by the time we were discharged she was back to our happy, bubbly, strong as hell little girl. After almost a full 24 hours, she was back to baseline and had full strength and speech back.
We spent the rest of the weekend relaxing and Sunday morning Bexley had another seizure. This time reacting in only the left side of her face (not arm) we called 911, had the ambulance show up to do a check up, but since this one did not last as long as we thought the other one had and her postictal state wasn’t near as severe, we decided to keep her home and call Carle instead. They told us what we anticipated saying, in that it was going to take a bit for her medicine to kick in and regulate to full working capacity, so another episode was likely. We were surrounded by family for dinner thanks to my parents (Oma and Opa) and mentally (attempted to) prepare for the life ahead.
What. a. weekend.
That monday I had my 39 week OB checkup with Dr. Young (whom I love to shout out because she’s simply that amazing!) and she thankfully said everything looked good and she was confident I would be having our baby soon! She asked about induction, but I was unsure, even with the stress of the weekend, I still wanted to let my body do what it was going to do. On Friday, we welcomed our baby BOY into the world, naming him Barrick Alan Magers! You can read more details on his birth story with this blog post.
We were able to leave the hospital Saturday night, almost exactly 24 hours after having him and were anxious to introduce him to Bexley and the rest of our families, since we had kept his gender a secret!! YES I KNOW. TORTURE. But I just couldn’t stand the thought of Bexley finding out she had a baby BROTHER via FaceTime – it broke my heart. So we made everyone wait until they got to meet him in person, and it was 100% worth it.
That next week we noticed a rash beginning to form pretty quickly, so her doctor instructed we take a break from the meds to rule out an allergic reaction. Wednesday morning she went to school, and we took Barrick for a well-baby check at the doctor. We no sooner walked in with the doc and we got a phone call that Bexley was seizing at school, 911 had been called and paramedics were on the way. Brandon left Barrick and I with the doctor (shout out to Dr. Vaughn for stepping in to help Barrick while I panicked) and rushed to Bex. Again, minutes passed like hours and Brandon’s mom had come to help me at the doctor until we heard from Brandon that she was fine and he was taking her home. This seizure was on her right side but just face and little postictal state effects. We took her home to rest and about an hour later, another seizure followed, and another, and another. She’d had 3 seizures in about twelve minutes and by the time the ambulance arrived at our house we made the call to get her back to Carle hospital. Thank God grandma and grandpa were there to take Barrick for us, and thank you to the sweet EMT who was SO chill about me pumping in the ambulance. 😂🤦🏻♀️
We made it to the ER and after discussing it with the doctors and neuro team, we were going to start a different seizure medication and fast, so that hopefully she wouldn’t have another seizure. So once again we were admitted overnight to administer the meds by IV and watch for any allergic reactions.
I will say having three hospital stays within a 10 day period while pregnant gets you really into the routine of knowing what to pack, and luckily we had our hospital bags packed already before the very first stay because we were prepping for baby! We couldn’t have done that stay without WAY more support from our family, who not only packed our bags for overnight, but packed Barrick’s things, rented another hotel room, and brought him down to be close to us. I was SO torn between two kids at 5 days post partum that being separated so far was devastating, so they brought him to sit in the hotel room ready and waiting for baby snuggles! Brandon’s mom Lisa stayed the night with me to help with Barrick while Brandon stayed with Bexley (this was fortunately the night they lifted the “1 parent rule” but now with two kids we felt we needed to be split) and my mom took off work the next day to come back at the ass-crack of dawn to relieve Lisa and stay with us until Bexley was discharged.
Thankfully, she’s only had two very very minor episodes since starting her meds and that was to be expected while we waited for her medication to regulate.
She was finally able to start back up at school on a regular basis (which she was most thrilled for because she wanted to share her baby brother with her classmates!) and we were ready to say goodbye to January and hello to hopefully a fresh start for February!
This month, we learned A LOT about just how big of a support system we have around us, including our parents, siblings, friends, and even the whole community. We were overwhelmed many times due to the meal train and donations set up for us in Bexley’s name, and we were relieved to know that our trips to a specialist in Chicago would be well taken care of for a bit. To all of you, thank you.