I think a lot about my village. Back in the day, we lived in communities and relied on advice from the women who became moms before us, gathering to share stories and information. Now, in addition to in-person villages we also have the additional benefit of online villages. Social media has changed how we surround ourselves with fellow moms in today’s world.
Whichever way it is done, as moms and as women we are hardwired to share and support each other through this amazing and sometimes heartbreaking journey of motherhood.
I went through an incredibly scary crisis with my 3.5-year-old son Asher and I would have never been able to get through it without my people.
My son suffers from febrile seizures. The first one occurred when he was 18 months. I was shooting a TV show an hour away, while my mom and nanny were watching him and my older son, Ryder.
“Sam,” my mom said when I got the call, “Asher is stable now. But, he had a seizure.”
“What?!” I couldn’t comprehend what she was saying.
Terrible thoughts raced through my head as I rushed off set. Did he swallow water? Did he lose oxygen? Is he going to be the same kid I just kissed goodbye?
During the drive to the hospital, I called our pediatrician who told me what questions to ask—mainly, if Asher had a fever upon arrival at the hospital (a good thing). Then I called my husband in Chicago and we stayed on the phone during that long drive.
It turns out Asher did have a high fever when he arrived at the hospital. They sent us home a few hours later.
My mom was traumatized and didn’t want to rehash the ordeal, but she gave me some tips in case it happened again. Because there would likely be a “next time.” Once a child has their first febrile seizure, they are prone to getting them until they turn five.
When the seizure starts, it looks like your child is slipping away. Asher was happily playing in the pool when he suddenly went limp, turned blue, foamed at the mouth and his eyes rolled back in his head.
It took five minutes for him to come to, and he was shaking and barely with it.
Thank goodness my mom told me because “next time” did come. It came at 8,000 feet above sea level on a recent ski holiday. It came at the least expected time, after my kids had an amazing day skiing and we were in our hotel room waiting to meet family for dinner.
My husband and I were working on our laptops while Asher and Ryder giggled and talked.
It grew quiet and then I looked over and saw Asher lifeless, eyes rolled back and foaming at the mouth. My brain quickly computed what was going on as my heart began racing and panic rose up my chest.
I yelled to my husband to call 911 and scooped Asher up and placed him on the floor. I held back my tears and told him I was there and that we would get through this. I grabbed water bottles from the fridge and held them to his suddenly warm head and body.
Ten minutes later, paramedics came charging in and we were off to the hospital.
We made the 15-minute drive in treacherous weather up a winding road. They wanted me to sit up front with a seatbelt instead of in back with Asher. That was the hardest part.
He suffered two more mini seizures on the way and the paramedics asked me if they could give him a rescue drug. I had no idea what that meant, but I could hear myself answering “yes” as I dialed our pediatrician.
This time, Asher’s doc offered different questions to ask and prepped me for what we might be in store for. Asher’s first seizure was a simple febrile seizure, one in which they can send you home right away. What he suffered this time was a complex febrile seizure, still benign in nature, but since the initial one was longer with two following in a cluster, would need a deeper look.
We were admitted overnight.
As I lay in my bed next to Asher’s crib, looking at my precious boy hooked up to oxygen and monitors, I was overwhelmed with so many emotions. Relief, because we were past another incident and he was okay. Frustration that he had to go through this in the first place. And gratitude. Yes, gratitude.
Gratitude for that mom who reached out on Facebook over a year ago, a friend of a friend. Her son suffered from febrile seizures and we exchanged many messages as she eased my worries, told me about her son’s experience and offered tips I could use for the “next time.”
Gratitude for the mom who texted me after a friend gave her my number. She also told me stories about her child who did in fact, grow out of his seizures by five.
Gratitude for the woman I met the next day in the hotel coffee shop, asking if I was okay as I ordered coffee through tears. She told me her son had a complex febrile seizure a year ago and is doing great now. She hugged me and told me it was going to be okay as tears welled up in her eyes, too. She understood.
This community of moms that reaches far beyond my Venice, California, neighborhood had banded together to share experiences and support, which in turn gave me the strength and tools to get through this.
I might not ever get over what I saw. I might sometimes close my eyes and see what I wish I could unsee. But I have truly learned the power of my village—the moms on social media, the moms in my mommy-and-me classes, and the moms in each and every space in my life.
We do what we do best: We share, we support and we teach each other. And I am SO grateful for that.