This morning I lifted Millie out of her crib in the room she shares with Mara and carried her out into the living room so that I could lay her on the sofa to remove her from her sleep sack. As I lowered her and unzipped the fleece cocoon and her puffy, red, warm-from-bed face drew open with a smile a thought came to me that I remember often having when Mara was still a babe in arms, a sense of amazement that this little bundle was not only alive, but alive as a complete human being. She will develop more bone and muscle tissue and she lacks experience, but in the most important ways she is already all here. And the most amazing part is, she is the person Emilia, as differentiated as you or I from all other human beings.
I suppose my mind was turned in this direction because we had a pretty scary week last week where Millie was concerned. She’d just finished a round of antibiotics for an ear infection that came with a bad cold. We thought she was doing a lot better, but the next night she was throwing up multiple times, and the night after that she wouldn’t sleep. We took turns rocking her in the rocking chair all night. Mara had had a nightmare deep in the night on Monday night, so with the upchucking Tuesday night and the all-night vigil on Wednesday, we were zombies by Thursday, which is when Millie’s breathing became extremely labored and she started wheezing horribly and her temperature rose to 104. We ended up at Children’s Hospital overnight Thursday night. I dropped Mara off at her friend Logan’s house for an emergency sleepover, which Mara loved because Logan gets to stay up until eleven or whenever he gets tired.
Angela and Millie and I stayed in a room by ourselves “in isolation”, which meant that every doctor and nurse and aide that came into the room had to suit up outside first with mask, gloves and smock, which they then dumped in a laundry bin before going back out. Besides a massive ear infection, Millie had RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), a common enough virus but one that is extremely hard on children under two, and apparently very contagious.
We are grateful to have Children’s so close by. People bring their children from all over the world to be seen by doctors there. By midnight Millie’s temperature was normal, and she slept off and on all night. I stayed up until three so Angela could sleep on the fold-out bed, then napped next to her between visits by the nurse, which were frequent. At six, Angela got up for a shift and I crashed into a deep sleep for about two hours. Millie continued to improve throughout the day and the nurse talked about us being able to check out by midday, but you know how it goes…we were there until four in the afternoon.
By that time, Angela and I were coming down with the virus. It’s now almost a week later and we’ve been coughing and hacking all week. Our President’s Day was a bust, not the usual raucous day of celebrating past helmsmen of the Executive Branch (kidding, we usually do nothing like most Americans). Millie visited her doctor again that day and we were dismayed to learn that the two doses of high-powered antibiotic she got at the hospital didn’t get rid of her ear infection, in fact she now has them in both ears. Mara has the cough now too. I tell you true, I do not recall having a worse cold in my adult life. It’s like someone’s driven railroad spikes into my throat and pumped Silly Putty up my nostrils, and no cough drops or cold medicine or tea with honey or sleep or hot shower or anything seems to help.
There are silver linings, though. Millie still has an earache (she keeps pointing to her ears and saying “hitz” for “hurts”) but her wheezing is gone and she’s happy again and sleeping through the night. Mara and Logan had a fabulous time and fell asleep side by side in Logan’s top bunk. Because everything in the hospital room would have to be thrown away when we left, the nurses told us to take stuff — diapers, boxes of tissues, whatever was there. We took the smock Millie had been in and a larger one for Mara, and several masks and our parent ID badges and a measuring tape and some colorful bandage wrap. The girls have been using all of it to play hospital.
Yesterday Mara and I were feeling better during the midday and I had a library book due, so we rode the bus downtown and I showed her around the Central Branch of the Seattle Public Library, which she’s never seen. We watched the elevators working through the glass walls, and we rode the escalators and took short cuts across the famous “books spiral”, we watched for teens in the teen section (saw one) and we looked down from the “highest viewpoint” up on the tenth floor. Then we went back down and ensconced ourselves in the children’s section, where Mara flipped through books in her very complex process of selection.
All things considered we’re doing well. Many others have it so much worse, and any danger to any child is a fright to his or her parents so I know I’m not saying anything profound or new here, but I haven’t posted for ages and I felt like writing. I know how fortunate we are and I’m content to be grateful, though I will be even more grateful when the pain in my throat finally goes away.