It started last night. My Mommy radar was activated - but only slightly. Hope was clinging to my leg and looking up at me with pleading eyes - crying and almost yelling at me. She even growled at me. That wasn't unusual - she does that every night when I'm making dinner. But during dinner, she barely ate. Now THAT was unusual because this one loves to eat.
After dinner I sat on the floor in the playroom to read a "Magic Tree House" book to Brian. Hope was all over me - begging to nurse and wanting to be held or walking around and touching her head. Hmmm, I thought. She seems tired is what I thought.
I nursed her in her room and we both fell asleep for almost an hour. Typically she is anxious to get out of my arms and lay down. Hmmm...
Around midnight she woke up crying - not unusual lately because of her teeth. But as I opened the door - and heard her soft cry - I knew. Something was wrong.
I could almost feel the heat radiating from her crib before I even touched her. The thermometer read 103.6. We walked downstairs to the kitchen and I gave her some Tylenol and then called the doctor. Crap - another office was on call covering for them. They don't know me - know our story - and likely wouldn't know how much I was "panicking while trying not to panic." Since Gavin's death from an out of the blue febrile seizure - I have "fever phobia." I know it's illogical and I get all that - but sometimes feelings overrule facts.
The on call doctor told me to give her Tylenol (check) and keep her comfortable until our regular doctor's office opened in the morning. I sat with Hope in the corner of her room - in Gavin's chair - and rocked her back to sleep as her fever creeped down. Eventually I put her back in her crib and set up shop with a pillow and a blanket back in the chair. But sleep wouldn't come. Was she breathing fast? She seems to be breathing too fast. Let me feel her head - is she still hot? Is she breathing too slow? Is she even breathing? Let's just say it was a long night.
I finally decided I should try to close my eyes - and went to my own bed. I was just drifting into sleep when I heard her cries. I looked at the clock - 5:20. I stumbled to her room and as I lifted her out of her crib I felt like my hands were on fire. The thermometer read 104.9. I quickly walked downstairs with her in my arms and started to draw up the Tylenol while calling the doctor again. Part of me wanted to skip that whole part and just pack her up and head to the emergency room... but I was wrestling, once again, with trying to remain calm vs overreacting and not sure where the balance was - it's very hard to explain. Honestly - I second guess everything now. It sucks.
The doctor said to head right to the emergency room, of course. I woke up Ed, who has been in bed with the flu for days, to tell him. He warmed up the car for me while I packed up some quick essentials. Before I went downstairs, I noticed the light on in Brian's room. The commotion must have woken him. I went into his room and gently explained what was going on...
How ironic that just the DAY before, Brian and I fell into the discussion of Gavin's death - the fever - how the fever rose too high, too fast that it made Gavin's heart stop beating. How he travelled to Heaven... leaving his 'suitcase' behind. And now I'm sitting on his bed, looking into his wide eyes, telling him that I was taking his baby sister to the hospital because of... a fever. It wasn't fair.
Brian walked downstairs to say goodbye to his little sister and I promised him that I'd let him know how she was. I left him with Ed who would get him on the bus and off to school.
It was dark and cold outside as we drove the half hour to the emergency room. So dark that I couldn't see Hope's face in the mirror. She was quiet - surely sleeping - but my mind was racing with thoughts. As I drove my baby to the hospital knowing she was burning up and listless I willed myself not to panic. But the thoughts kept on coming...
What if she's seizing right now and I can't see her?
I can't pull over each time I'm worried - we'll never get there!
Those damn news reports about this deadly flu - I'm sure this is the flu - dammit! - why do I keep remembering about those news stories. There was a child that died recently from this flu!!
Surely God wouldn't take another child from me.
We all had flu shots! I can't believe this year's flu shot doesn't cover this strain.
Am I being tested, God? Is this a test? Are you trying to show me that I can survive fevers?
I wonder if the ER will treat me for these crazy, illogical thoughts...
About one minute away from the hospital, Hope started to cry. And so did I. I was so grateful to hear sound from the backseat. Clearly I have post traumatic stress - if it's not obvious.
The security guard, as soon as he heard the baby, came over and helped me get into the building fast. Lucky for me, there were only two people in the waiting room with us. We were brought back quickly - they gave Hope a dose of Motrin to help her fever come down more - and we were brought to a room in the Emergency Department.
By the time the doctor saw her, her fever had come down to an acceptable temperature. But when the doctor put a scope into her right ear she gasped. "Wow, poor baby! This ear is badly infected," she said. I couldn't believe it. How did I not see that? Know that? And then she checked the left ear and had the same response!! Two badly infected ears. I felt instant shame. I know it's illogical (again) and maybe it seems extreme - but I take it so personally when my kids get sick. Because I do so many things to keep them healthy, when they get sick I feel like I've failed in some way. No need to write to me about this - or the fever PTSD - or the overreacting to having to drive my child to the emergency room - I know my issues. When you lose a child in such a random way - well, you just have to ride out the waves of recovery. And part of that, for me, is worrying about my remaining childrens' health. A lot.
The doctor was about to discharge us after prescribing antibiotics, but I wasn't done. What do I know, but I felt those fevers were a little too high for ear infections. I asked if it would be possible to test Hope for the flu. After all, Ed has it. And through the night I noticed her start to cough and sneeze. The nasal swab for the test was not fun for Hope - or for me as I pinned her down - but sure enough, it came back positive. Influenza A.
Part of me, to be honest, was hoping they would keep her. But that was the fear-based part of me that would not be able to handle it if anything happened at home. But most of me was grateful when the doctor discharged us home. There are too many illnesses in hospitals and the last thing we need is to add another diagnosis to our winter. Or as I like to call it - the WORST WINTER EVER.
Back at home, Hope perked up a little and even had more of an appetite once I got her on a Motrin/Tylenol cycle. I even had a chance to relax on the couch while she and Ed slept.
I'm still 'on guard' and won't relax until Hope can go fever-free without medicine. I'll probably sleep in her room again. If this morning taught me anything it is this...
I got nothing. This morning taught me nothing. But it did remind me of how quickly and without warning we lost Gavin. And that, my friends, is a very painful reminder. I had the flashbacks all night to prove it.
Hope will be fine. Ed will be fine. We will all be fine. And they make hair dye that I will pay good money for to cover up the damage from this experience.
Thank you for caring about our little family - and for all the prayers that poured in for our little girl today!!