{What Happened to Brie: Part 1} Westfield New Jersey Photographer

Disclaimer: I’m sorry in advance for the long post.  This is the first time I’m writing about what happened to our sweet little Brie.  The whole thing is still so fresh and raw, I haven’t been able to really sort through my feelings.  Everything is also still unresolved, so we are still walking on eggshells.

She stumbled into the hallway at about 6am on that Monday morning, dragging her blanket a la Linus.  Her head was down, hair in her eyes.  Matt was carrying his clothes into the bathroom, getting ready to jump in the shower.  She was mumbling about her belly hurting.  That is usually code for “I have to poop,” so Matt scooped her up and put her on the potty.  From what he told me, she didn’t have to go, and was sort of falling asleep on the potty.  He carried her back to our room and laid her in the bed with me.  She curled up next to me, cuddling with her blankie.  I mouthed, “What’s wrong with her?” and he mouthed, “I’m not sure. Belly ache?”

I swung my feet over the side of the bed and sat up, rubbing my eyes.  My dad had been in the hospital since the previous Wednesday.  He had a subarachnoid hemorrhage from (what we thought at the time was) an aneurism.  He had undergone his second angiogram the day before because tests were coming back showing that he had a stroke from the buildup of blood on his brain.  My whole head was foggy and my body ached.  I was absolutely exhausted from the stress of spending the previous day in the hospital waiting room and in ICU.  I shuffled into Lily’s room, changed her diaper, and shuffled back into my bed to feed her.  It was the first time that she had slept through the night since she was 2 months old, and woke up ravenous.

As Lily nursed, I reached over to feel Aubrie’s head.  She was cold and clammy, but sweating profusely.  I finished feeding Lily and brought her downstairs to her jumper.  I got Thaya settled with some food, and then came back up.  Matt came out of the bathroom and asked me if I had been talking to Brie, she had been complaining about something.  I looked over and she had slumped over into the boppy on my side of the bed when I was downstairs.  I climbed in bed with her and asked Matt to get me the thermometer as I brushed her hair off of her face.

“Does she have a fever?”

“I don’t think so, she feels really cold.  But she is sweating like crazy…”

“Which one?”

“Hand me the blue one, I’ll do it under her arm. Maybe she’ll stay asleep a little longer.”

Her temperature came back as 94.8.  I took it again and it came back as 95.  I took mine and it came back at 98.9.  I took hers again and it was still 95.  I started googling “preschooler low temperature sweating.” I wasn’t really concerned by what was coming up as the results.  Matt went downstairs to pack his lunch and I jumped in the shower.  I laughed to myself as I climbed in that I didn’t want to be stuck at the hospital another day without a shower, so I’d better get one in before Matt left for work. The whole time I kept thinking that the way Aubrie was acting was really bothering me, and I need to take her temp again. That was probably the fastest shower that I’ve ever taken. At this point, maybe about 15 minutes had passed since she had come into our room.

Matt came up to say goodbye as I was getting out, I was surprised he was still home, but he told me that he had stuck around a little longer to sit with Lily so she wouldn’t have to stay in the bouncer so long. I asked him to stay a few more minutes to help me wake Brie up so that I could try to get an oral temp.  I got dressed and came out, and she was still slumped over the boppy, sleeping.

I never got the oral temp because we couldn’t wake her up.

We started by rubbing her back, gently shaking her shoulder.  She grunted, but made no attempt to shrug us off.  We tried sitting her up, and she slumped over onto us.  We called her name, loudly, and her eyes fluttered, rolled, and closed. Her voice was barely a whisper, and she couldn’t form the words.  It was as if her tongue was too big for her mouth and she couldn’t talk correctly.

Without a word, Matt scooped her up and started to get pants and socks on under her nightgown as I left a message for the pediatrician.  He carried her downstairs to put her coat on as I was dialing my mom.  As the phone was ringing I turned to Matt,

“We have to bring her to the hospital.”

“Ok. Let me go warm the car up. We’ll bring her to where your dad is.”

My mom picked up. “Mom, something is wrong with Aubrie. We have to bring her to the hospital.”


“She won’t wake up. We’re bringing her to the hospital.”

“Ok. I’m coming over.”

As I hung up, Matt put Aubrie down on the ground by the front door and ran outside.  My whole world suddenly starting moving in slow motion.  I stood there, at the top of the stairs of our split-level home, and watched as Matt sprinted across the lawn to the car.  Simultaneously, the screen door slowly started closing as the pump kept it from slamming.  At the same time, just seconds after Matt put her down on the ground, Aubrie started to topple over as if her head was too heavy for her body.  I ran down the stairs and caught her before her head could hit the slate floor.

All I could think was that I needed to call 911.

For whatever reason, whenever I call 911, I can never get through to the local dispatch (Ok, so like the 2 times I’ve ever called. This really isn’t a daily occurrence). I explained to the person what was happening, and she transferred me.  Of course I got disconnected, so I dialed again and said to please just put me through to something local.

I don’t really remember what I said to her, but I was really calm and told her we needed an ambulance.  For what ever reason, I am completely in control when these emergency situations arise.  It was the exact same way with when Thaya split her head open on the table.  It is almost as if I create a list in my head of what needs to get done in order to get help, and I systematically go through the list, one item at a time, until we are back in control of the situation.

A police car pulled up within 3 minutes, and maybe 2 or 3 minutes the ambulance arrived.  From that point on, time seems to have started doing some crazy things. I know that Thaya was stressed and I was trying to be positive to calm her down. I know that I was holding Lily because she wanted breakfast.  I know that one of the techs was asking me questions, and I just stood there watching as time seemed to slow down again, as the other one try to find Aubrie’s heart rate thinking, “Oh my god, can he not find a pulse? Why is it taking him so long to find her heart rate?” I also remember the one guy asking me why the heck I wanted him to go to Robert Wood Johnson in New Brunswick, and I told him my dad was there in the ICU.  He gave me a sort of hard time about it, but in retrospect I’m really glad that I stuck to my guns and he took her there. She got excellent care.

Time seemed to speed up again as Matt scooped Aubrie up into his arms and ran out the door to the ambulance.  Then it crept to a crawl as I stood at the door and watched the ambulance drive away with my child and not me.

Part 2 to follow.

  • LYNN

    OMG I hope she is ok!

  • I lurk on your blog and follow your lovely photos on Instagram and I just wanted to say I’m really sorry that you’ve had to go through what is obviously a very difficult time. My prayers will be with you all x

  • oh my god! sending you big hugs for what you have been through. hope brie is doing well again.praying for you and your family.

  • Tracy

    I am choked up just reading this. I hope your little girl is safe and sound with you all now. She is absolutely adorable. I can only imagine how scared you have all been. Sending hugs from just another mom in Massachusetts.

  • Thank you, all! It was such a shock that anything could happen to her, and it really made us realize how fragile that line is between ok, and SO not ok.