Portland, OR

What I Learned From The Night My Daughter Spent In The Hospital

J.R. Heimbigner


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

In 2018, my oldest daughter spent the night in the children's hospital in Portland, Oregon. It was one of the most grueling experiences of my life. I had no idea how hard this would be. Thankfully, she recovered and is okay today. However, I was looking back at what I wrote about this experience and wanted to share it with you today.

Flashback to 2018

On Sunday afternoon last week, my wife called me from the urgent care to tell me the doctor had decided our daughter needed to go to the Children’s Hospital.

My heart dropped.

The previous night our little girl woke up with a “Croup” cough. She has had a rough cough and breathing before, so we had done everything we normally do and got her back to bed.

Normally, she wakes up in the morning better. Sunday morning she sounded just as bad. The day progressed and she wasn’t improving, it was time to go to urgent care. My wife took our daughter, while I stayed home with our youngest who had an ear infection already.

As they headed out the door, I assumed they’d be back in no time at all. I never imagined I would get the call from my wife saying the breathing treatment worsened my daughter’s condition.

“The doctor thinks it’s best to go to the Children’s Hospital Emergency Room, they might keep her overnight for observation.”

We discussed our next steps objectively and went from there. My daughter was transported by ambulance to the hospital where she received and an additional breathing treatment. To our good fortune, one of the EMTs was a friend of ours, I am convinced that was more for my wife and me to feel more comfortable than it was for my daughter.

My wife sent a picture to me on their way to the hospital letting me know our daughter was doing okay.

I cried.

I received that text while holding our one-year-old in my easy chair, watching some movie. I looked at that photo, saw our friend caring for my daughter, and began to sob. The little girl in my lap looked up at her daddy and began haphazardly wiping the tears off my cheeks.

After a few minutes of this, I began coordinating how to get friends to come over while our youngest slept so I could bring things to my wife and oldest.

Did I mention my wife and I had influenza?

The same night my daughter woke up with croup, my wife and I started feeling a “chest cold” starting. Turns out it was influenza A and my wife would get the brunt of it while staying in the Children’s Hospital. I had the benefit of staying at home, taking medicine right away, and getting a better night's sleep than my wife. Over the last week, we all spent time getting better.

This morning, things seem back to normal. I am up early, drinking coffee and writing. Everyone else is sleeping easy and on the mend.

Discharged and Help

My daughter was discharged the next day. And we went home with an exhausted little four-year-old. Grumpy from the additional medicine, she was ready and not ready to come home. There were two things I took away from this experience:

1. Our Daughter is Healthy

What we went through is so minimal compared to some whose children are in ICU or have severe diseases. Looking back, I didn’t doubt that I would bring my girl home. Some parents don’t have this luxury. For those parents, my heart goes out to them. I can’t imagine what they have to do and are going through right now.

If you know anyone in this situation, be a resource for them! They need your help and encouragement. Ask how you can help don’t just assume anything helps.

2. We have Great People Around Us

The moment we knew our girl was going to the emergency room I sent out a text for prayer and support. Close friends and family answered the call with spiritual, moral, and physical support.

Friends checked in over the next few days to see how things were going. The family encouraged me as I took care of my sick family. And our community brought groceries and meals. The entire time we were covered in prayer.

All of this support made it easier to care for my family and help us get back to health. I am incredibly thankful for everyone who loved us over the last week.


Yesterday, we went out to the coast to get out of the house, recharge our batteries, and have some well-deserved fun. On our drive out, my wife and I were able to spend time processing what we had gone through. I am thankful for the trip, it helped get us all in the right headspace to get back to life as we know it.

We are thankful to friends, family, the doctors, nurses, EMTs, and everyone else for your part in seeing our family through this short sickness.

Our lives are good. Our daughter is healthy.

Stepping Back Into 2021

I look back at this time and am so thankful that my daughter is healthy. She just walked out of her room this morning, a healthy little seven-year-old. She is happy and growing like crazy. Yet, I can still look at her and see her four-year-old self.

One thing that I can learn from this experience for this year as we continue to struggle through Covid-19 is that the most important thing in life is family. The more we spend building our family and connection, the better our life will be. It won't be about fame, fortune, or work accolades. It will be about the time we spend with our kids.

So, today, I want to encourage your to spend some time playing or talking with your kids. Add a little to their memories of you and your memories of them. You won't regret it.

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My goal with my writing is to help people get everything done they want in their very busy lives. I believe we can we all can achieve our dreams and I know it starts with having the right mindset, systems, and taking action every single day. My writing shares how to do this through self-improvement, inspiration, and productivity.

Spokane, WA

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