The past week or so, with The Small One getting sick has brought a few of things to the forefront of my mine. The first being that I love her so deeply that it borders on adoration, the second that this makes me insanely vulnerable and the third, being reminded of the fact that I nearly lost her just over a year ago.
All of these things are rather interconnected, so I shall start with number three.
As many of you know, at the end of September of last year, The Small One was stricken ill with the dreaded illness, Spinal Meningitis. The day she became ill, I was at a baby fair attempting to sell some of my wares. When I got home, I was rather appalled to see how sick she looked. I took her temperature and off we went to the Urgent Care Clinic. The doctor there took one look at the sick child and sent us straight to the ER. At the ER, she underwent numerous tests and tortures. She was so dehydrated that it took so very many tries to get her IV in, that I was ready to cry. We were there for hours. IV, blood tests, urine tests, lots of mistakes by the lab. When we finally got her results back, the news was not good. Her white count was very high. This meant the dreaded spinal tap. Oh, it was evil. As a rule, they do not give an anesthetic to infants before a spinal tap, figuring that one poke is better than two. This is not true. The poke to deliver a local is MUCH less painful that the one to get a tap. However, I did not know this at the time. I tried to stay in the cubicle while they took the tap, but was unable. The moment Husband curled The Small One up into a ball to expose the curve of her spine, I ran. I could not stand there and watch them cause my daughter, my heart, so much pain. I went out into the main body of the ER, just outside her cubicle. I knew the moment the needle pierced her spine, her cry was heart wrenching and I began to cry as well. A male nurse approached me and asked if I would like a chair. I said no, he brought one anyway, obviously afraid that I would faint. When the tap was over, the nurses came out with the sample, and I went back in to reclaim my daughter. I took her fragile figure into my arms, and her sobs began to subside. Mine did not. The horror of knowing the pain she was in, that I was privy to, was too much for me. I held her and rocked her and cried. Eventually, the doctor came in to tell us that her fluid was clear, not cloudy (thank the Good Lord), but they were fairly sure she had meningits. Shortly after delivering this news, he was kind enough to inform me that the large majority of infants who contract meningitis die within 24 hours. This was too much for me. How could I bear the loss of this little one who had such a claim on my heart? In the short six months she had belonged to me, I had invested EVERYTHING I had into her. If I lost her, I lost part of myself. But worse than losing part of myself was losing her. I wanted her, I needed her.
We were transferred up to the pediactrics unit and given a room, at which time I called my mom. When she arrived (somewhere around 2 am) I sent Mike home, as he had to work the next day. I had calmed myself by that point, but when my mom arrived and I gave her the rundown of what had happened, I began to lose control again. Holding this blessed infant, wearing hospital jammies that were far to large for her and hooked up to tubes and IV's and monitors I realized afresh what it would mean if she died. I felt then, as I feel now. If she were to die, a very large part of me would die with her. She is my life, she is everything to me. I didn't know if I would survive the loss whole or at all. My mom, in her wisdom, told me I would, but that it would be insanely hard and I would indeed lose part of myself, but that since I had to go on, I would do so.
Needless to say, she did not die. She was released from the hospital 1 week later, whole and well. I did not sleep much that week and I thanked the Lord daily that she had survived another day.
Fast forward to the following July 4. She is again running a fever (the same thing that cued us into her being very ill the first time). After some time of keeping an eye on her, we take her to Urgent Care. Once again, off to the hospital. This time, the stay is much shorter.
Perhaps you can see why The Small One getting a fever makes me a bit paranoid? Why it reminds me of the first time. You see, she has had a fever only three times in her life. Two of those times ended up with hospital visits and one nearly cost her life.
This past week has been a bit of a sleepless one. I took her temperature obsessively, willing her body to remain below 103, the danger mark for her age. Doing everything within my power to keep her fever down and her hydrated. If she continued to drink and her fever stayed lower, it wasn't life threatening. I prayed constantly that it wasn't something dangerous, that she would overcome whatever had a hold on her. Again, thank the Lord she has. It seems she has roseola, which isn't terribly dangerous.
My point is this. I love her. Beyond all. She is a literal part of me. And to love someone this much makes one incredibly vulnerable. I sometimes feel that I am just asking to be hurt. Having a child and loving it opens one up to all sort of joys, but with those joys can come the very depths of despair. I fear for her. For her health, for her happiness, for the kind of world we are leaving her. But on the other hand, I wouldn't trade it for anything. To love someone the way I love her, to know I had a significant part in her creation, to know she is part of me is...awe inspiring. And the joys are there and they are un-numberable. To see her precious smiling face in the morning, to feel her soft angel kiss on my cheek. To feel those tiny arms wrap around my neck and squeeze. To rejoice in her triumphs, to laugh at her silliness.
To love her.
That is the infinite joy.