You would think six years into this parenting gig I would know better than to quietly make lists in my head of all the things I can do when I happen to be home with my kids on an offday due to illness. But I don’t. I still do it. Every. single. time. I also start each illness with a strong momma lion’s heart. Hovering in over them, picturing their sweet faces looking up at me in gratitude as I wipe the cool rag over their forehead and carry them to the kitchen to make tea and toast.
But, um, no. That has always been pure fantasy. And it is usually about midway in to that first day that the bubble gets burst and I find myself sitting in the middle of the unmade bed with a crying child, covered in vomit and wanting to cry as reality hits and nothing I normally get done is being cobbled together by elves. Let alone the quiet fantasy list of baked cookies, closets sorted, photos edited, a peaceful storytime and Netflix queues whittled down, magazines clipped and Go Fish Game cards spent, beans simmering and bread scenting the air while that satisfied feeling of ending a book I happened to have the time and mind to finish fills me and I contemplate starting a roast. It’s like Groundhog’s Day how eerily similar these days play out in reality.
Sugarplum is sick. Actually I’m pretty proud of her that she made it to just shy of 8 months old before catching her first fever. Her little head felt warm over the weekend. And she coughed. And then the nose started running. Then my mind started running after it. I flashed back to the Quail’s first winter with us. 4 trips to the ER and 2 hospital admits. 1 case of the flu, 2 of bronchiolitis. 1 of pneumonia and the golden ring hospital stay of RSV. One after another from November 2009 going into January 2010. Followed by months of daily breathing treatments and frequent follow-up visits that ended in GI surgery that spring. After that, she certainly still caught colds. But she’s been spared anything so dramatic as that season.
Zuzu’s first winter was kinder to her. Oh mind you she cried the entire trip we took to Atlanta and yet didn’t sprout a tooth or fever for months after that. Her first summer though she was plagued with ear infections and the nasty side effects of the medications that were supposed to be making her better. And the Christmas that the Quail was sick, we brought her home from the hospital just in time to notice the roses blooming on Zuzu’s cheek as her fever spiked a tone that sounded decidedly like her sister’s RSV.
Zuzu commented after her bath last night, “Huh, funny how when I was 3 the Quail was a baby and sick at Christmas and now that she’s 3, Sugarplum is a baby and sick at Christmas.” Huh. Funny indeed. Zuzu is just relieved that her turn at the flu passed by in mere days and with little cramping to her own schedule this season. It was so short that we didn’t even label it as the flu or take her in to the pediatrician. Then as Sugarplum’s forehead and feet heated up my mommy-radar started in questioning whether or not to go to urgent care or hold out till Monday morning. We did and she did hold out. Kindly Dr. Gamble said just a virus as her flu swab was negative and she had been vaccinated and Zuzu’s fever had passed so quickly the week before. But that if her morning temperature was still over 101 by Wednesday to bring her back. Unfortunately Tuesday night as her hot little hand patted my cheek I had a bad feeling I knew where we would be headed the next morning. Sure enough the morning temperature registered 101, so in we went. This time kindly Dr. Gamble rephrased his estimate as he listened to the crackles in her chest once she stopped sobbing. Flu and bronchitis. Motrin and Amoxicillin. Home and Crying. That”s about right.
We did manage to make Santa a visit before the plague set in here. We made our mountain trek to chop down a fir tree between diagnosis. And we are slowly adding ornaments between loads of laundry, doses of Motrin and patient if plaintive requests to finish the decorating already.
We’ve got a quick hand frequently passing over the Quail’s forehead as we watch her now like the timebomb she most certainly is. Especially considering her motherly ways towards her baby sister. No one is more empathetic to another person’s tears in this nest then our Quail. At first wail her fingers are up and signing sad as she works out the name of the soon-to-be patient in her Nurse Nightingquail routine. Unfortunately we, the actually designated, caretakers are old, tired and not nearly quick enough to intercept her every nose-wiping of the baby and teether tongue cleanings as she scurries off to do her work. Mother Theresa has got nothing on this sweet soul.