When Sickness Strikes

When Sickness Strikes

We were a house full of sick people. Autumn showed the first signs, with crusty eyes and a runny nose. Then I went down with a short-lived fever overnight, complete with sweats and chills. Then Ger said he didn’t feel well and slept off his illness for hours. Quentin remained healthiest, though that’s a relative term as he still seemed to be tired and was certainly crabby. And Theo was hit the worse, with eyes that clearly indicated how poorly he felt, followed by a fever.

Throughout her little cold, Autumn has remained cheerful. The rest of us moaned and groaned, but the smile never left her face, nor did she seem to be bothered at all by her cold symptoms. It didn’t stop me from constantly checking her forehead for a fever, or wondering if her rosy cheeks meant spiked temperature, or making sure the thermometer was nearby.

After tucking her in for the night, I was compelled to check on her. The cold was only part of it. She had spent all day rolling around and now I had new, unnecessary fears of her rolling over in bed and suffocating. I know that’s not how it works, and when they roll there’s no way to stop the rolling at night, but I had this image of her somehow twisting in her sleep sack in an untenable position.

I could hear her as soon as I entered her room, because of the little snort that accompanied her stuffy nose. Somehow that still wasn’t good enough and I risked waking her by turning on a light, just to check her position in her crib.

Then I had an even more unnecessary urge to check on Theo. My big 8-year-old, with only a fever, of which he’s had dozens before. I’d given him Tylenol, which he has also had more times than I can count. For some reason, I needed to check on my sick child. I had to turn on the bathroom light, across the hall from their room, rather than turn on anything direct. I cracked open the door and it was so dark I couldn’t see anything. In his bottom bunk, I felt around for his head. Finally, my hand grazed his cheek. He kicked his leg as a reaction. Still breathing.

I know that rainbow babies are frightening enough, without the extra strain of thinking there might be something wrong.  A friend of mine has a rainbow baby with a cold.  Another had a baby born with some pregnancy complications.  Their fragility when they are so little is palpable.  And somehow that fragility has now projected itself onto my older children, reminding me that I cannot protect them.  Theo’s flushed, sick face was a reminder.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you don’t stop.” -Confucius

I Have Been Through Trauma

Last year, winter break started several days before Christmas, and I thought “WHAT are we going to do with all of these days?”  Somehow, I decided that we would go see The Nutcracker at The Joffrey Ballet in Chicago.  I bought tickets for a 2:00 pm showing on December 23rd.  By that time, I was a few weeks pregnant, and on high alert.  The kids were unimpressed by the ballet.  Then we had to walk swiftly to the train station to catch a departure back to the suburbs, or else wait another thirty minutes to the next train.  We had a few minutes to spare and were settled when a mother boarded the train at the last possible second, dragging a child behind her.  The doors closed, with her on the train and her child on the other side.  There was screaming as the train pulled away.  It was literally feet from where we were sitting, and my heart stopped – as it was unclear if the child was actually being dragged by the train.  A host of people started pounding on the door and finally an emergency lever was pulled.  Everything ended up being fine, but as a parent I have been unable to erase what I witnessed. Continue reading

The Night That Fear Won

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I woke around midnight, cold and sore.  The chill in my body felt feverish.  Unearthing myself from the covers to turn on the small space heater seemed torture.  Drinking icy water from the stainless steel water bottle near my bed felt like torture.  And I wanted to go check on Autumn, but couldn’t make my muscles cooperate. Continue reading

My Mind Was Reeling

I had to drive to Madison today, to inspect the condo we still own after the tenants moved out two days ago.  I also meeting a painter there to discuss repairs and necessary repainting.  We did “divide and conquer” so I only had Quentin in me for the two-and-a-half hour drive in each direction.

About thirty minutes in the drive, I felt weird.  My abdomen and uterus were uncomfortable.  I should have chalked it up to normal pregnancy sensations, but my mind immediately went elsewhere.  I decided that it was the same feeling that I had right before I went into labor with Quentin.  I had an internal debate with myself, trying to tell my own mind that it was not possible for me to remember that pre-labor feeling, as that was over five years ago.  I started to feel nauseous, but it was unclear if this was symptom of my body, or a symptom of my mind.  The back of my neck felt cold and I began to chill all over.

My mind began to think quickly.  I could drive to the hospital in Madison. What would I say?  That I felt weird?  Then I remembered what we talked about in my support group: the hospital staff do not have to live with these feelings.  I do.  What if I were admitted?  Ger could leave Theo with friends in our area, but what about Quentin?  I looked back at his sweet face, absorbed in watching a movie.  I still have friends in Madison, I reasoned.  Someone would take him.  But I imagined sitting with him, as I was hooked up to an ultrasound or heart rate monitor.  How would I explain?

The sensation started to ebb and flow.  I reasoned that upon arrival I would walk around the condo. If it disappeared, no reason to be concerned.  If it didn’t, the hospital was only a few minutes away. Or should I not waste time, and go directly to the hospital?  I ran through the statistics in my mind. One day shy of 27 weeks, 90% chance of survival.

I lifted my shirt and put my hand directly on my abdomen, waiting anxiously for movement. Nothing.  I looked at the clock. 31 minutes until arrival. Wasn’t it just 21 minutes last time I looked?  No, 21 miles. Straight to the hospital, I reasoned, unless I felt kicking.  Several more minutes passed. Then there it was, a kick. Several in a row.  I made a decision and went to the condo. By the time I got out, I was feeling completely normal.  The odd feeling had passed.

After meeting with painter, we got back in the car to go home. Before I left, I pulled over in a parking lot. I lay my driver’s seat completely flat to do a full set of kick counts, just to be sure before I started a full drive home. I thought surely Quentin would ask what I was up to, but he was completely absorbed in his movie again. Within fifteen minutes, I had reached the necessary ten kicks and felt comfortable that I could drive home. 

Spiritual Understanding

Recently, a friend drew an oracle card for me: spiritual understanding.  Pay attention to the signs, information that comes to you.  I have been watching.  Then another friend posted this the other day:  Spring equinox will bring a brand new celestial chapter into your life.  The challenges you’ve been facing the last season are about to be behind you.  As you draw nearer, a new phase in life is about to unfold like the petals of a lotus. Continue reading