My little Roo is sick. He's actually been congested most of the winter, but a few weeks ago he developed a cough. I debated and debated about whether or not to take him to the pediatrician—I am so paranoid about him getting an ear infection that I want to take him in every time he sneezes, but I have to balance that with my complete aversion to being that mom. So I waited it out, until this week when Lamb came down with something nasty (turns out it was strep… hooray…), and I figured it would be just as easy to make 2 appointments as 1 (especially since Roo would be going with me to her appointment anyway).
The doctor, who was not our normal pediatrician, diagnosed him with a sinus infection and wrote him a prescription for amoxicillin. Two days later, we were back in the office for Monkey's 4-year well-child visit. Roo was, of course, with me, but this time his cough was significantly worse than it had been the last time. We saw our regular pediatrician this time, who (even though she was really there to check Monkey out) examined Roo again and said the amoxicillin wasn't going to do anything for Roo's cough… "That's not a sinus infection," she said, "It's RSV."
We went home with instructions to continue the amoxicillin (because it's quite possible that he also has a sinus infection), to use a cool mist humidifier (already doing that), and to suction out his nose as needed (already doing that too). By early afternoon, he was running a fever of 101.5. Why couldn't he have had that before we went to the doctor???
This morning he was still running a fever (but down to 100.8) and coughing miserably, so I called the office to find out if the temp was "appointment worthy." I was told he needed to come in if his temperature went over 102 or if he showed signs of distress in breathing. Things like wheezing, lots of chest movements when taking a breath, etc. Oh, and by the way, the cough could last 2-6 weeks. This just keeps getting better…
And then tonight… there was a wheeze. Just a little one. And not constant. Only once in a while for a few breaths at a time. But I was paralyzed.
Mr. Fantastic is out working in the garage tonight, and I think I took Roo out there 3 times to have Daddy listen to his breathing. Each time he assured me that he thinks the baby is fine. "But we'll take him in first thing tomorrow morning if you still think he needs to go," he assured me.
He's right. I know he's right. But I was still afraid. I went in and sat on the couch and just watched Roo breathe. I opened the top of his pajamas so that I could see his chest and watch it while he breathed. And even though I went to bed at 8:30 PM tonight from complete and utter exhaustion, I'm still awake 2 hours later. Because I'm afraid. And I'm really not that afraid of this thing in particular. I have a much deeper fear, one that hasn't surfaced in a few months, but that is nagging at me tonight.
I don't know if I shared this before on this blog or not, but I will share it now in the hopes that it won't be read the wrong way and that it might be helpful for someone else…
After Roo was diagnosed, I became convinced that he was going to die. I did not WANT that, but a part of me really thought that we were going to lose him. Maybe it was because my mind was trying to wrap itself around the death of the child that I thought I had before he was diagnosed. Maybe it was because my mind couldn't envision the future of Roo with Down syndrome and so it determined that there must not be such a future. Whatever the reason, I was panicked over it. I didn't tell anyone, mainly because I knew deep down that it wasn't rational and that it was just my brain going a little bit crazy with the stress and grief of it all. But I was so afraid that I was going to lose more than my hopes & dreams for Roo—that I was going to lose Roo himself.
But each day we woke up and life continued. And Roo's heart defect is a relatively minor one. And his eyesight is good. And his eating is good. And he started all of his various therapies. And winter came and he didn't get sick. And he hasn't had a single ear infection. And the fear just slowly went away, until I had all but forgotten about it.
Until tonight. Tonight, a little voice whispered to me, He's susceptible. He's small. He's vulnerable. And I was afraid. Not of RSV, necessarily. Just afraid of all of the "what ifs" out there for my sweet little Roo. What if we do have to make a 2 AM trip to the ER tonight? What if both diagnoses are wrong and it's something more serious? What if he picks up Lamb's strep virus too? What if this goes away, but next time it's pneumonia? What if, somewhere down the road, he contracts leukemia? What if… wow, once you open that door, it's not easy to shut it again, is it?
So tonight, my ears are tuned in a little more closely to the monitor—and honestly, to any sounds that may come from the big kids' room too, because once you awaken the Mama Bear, she goes into overdrive for all her cubs. But I'm taking deep breaths. I'm trying to distract myself (and failing miserably). And I'm reminding myself that the what ifs have nothing do to with the what is. And that sweet baby boy in the next room… well, he is fragile. But God gave him to me so that I could handle him with care. Care, not worry. So I'm going to care for him the best I can, and leave the what ifs to the One who knows what will be.
And I suppose if I want to care for Roo and Lamb and Monkey to the best of my ability… I should probably get some sleep...