As I write this Brad is in the kitchen making pancakes and rocking out to Metallica, Zoe is in her swing listening to lullabies absolutely content and Hemmingway is up to no good in the backyard. For all appearances it is a typical Saturday morning in the Harvin household and you would never know that we were in the emergency room until 1:30 a.m….Here’s how it all started
“Please stop. Stop going up. Please stop. Stay there….please. Oh God.”
That was my inner dialogue as I looked at the thermometer I’d just inserted up my daughters butt. The numbers were climbing rapidly. 100.5. Oh my God. I have a photographic memory…to an extent. In high school it was great because while taking a test I could literally read my notes in my head…got me through college too. But when I’m looking at a thermometer inserted up my 7 week old daughters butt…it’s not such a great gift. I’m reading, in my mind, every piece of literature from the last 7 weeks, documents given to me at the hospital, those this manuals on childcare, her pediatricians little worksheet….and they all say the same thing…”a fever over 100.4 in an infant is considered a medical emergency, call your pediatrician immediately.”
I’m not typically one to panic and I can, under normal circumstances, keep my wits about me when I need to. I found, however, that when my daughter is sick I turn into…I don’t even know what I turn into, but it’s a place internally I’ve never been before. Immediately I began praying with one half of my brain, speaking healing into my daughters body. With the other half of my brain I focused on the steps I needed to take: Call the pediatrician. Leave a message. Wait. Call my mother. Get dressed. Talk to my mom again…she’s coming to the house. Thank you Jesus. Try to feed Zoe, again…she’s finally hungry now (she’s rejected food all night). Pediatrician still hasn’t called back. Call again. She says to go to the hospital….I was ready for that, let’s go.
Into the car, it’s 10:15…this is going to be a long night. Thankfully my mother works at Baptist and used some pull to have us seen right away…I’ve never been so thankful for that white lab coat. Into triage (the checking in part). Zoe is weighed, blood pressure taken, symptoms recorded…she’s doing great, I’m able to answer all the questions, and the nurse told us how much she weighs…12.3lbs!!!! Oh my goodness! I knew she was getting big…but I’m so proud of her! The nurse put us in our exam room and the wait begins
Initially we were doing ok. Zoe was tired…really tired at this point she’d been awake for about 4 hours straight (which has never happened before) and she was hungry because she hadn’t eaten a full meal since about 5. The upside was that the hospital gown they put her in was about the most adorable thing I’d ever seen before. The Dr. cam in and examined her and requested a urine sample and blood work…that means a catheter and a needle…and I began bracing myself.
The nurse came in and explained what she was going to do and I nodded my head and gave permission all the while wondering if I was going to make it through it. Then she said she needed to go get somebody to help hold Zoe…my mind started racing…I knew this wasn’t going to be good. I looked at my mom and her face was slowly becoming a mask….she knew what was going to happen. The other nurse came in the room and what happened next I can only explain as absolute torture for a mother.
One nurse held her down as the other cleaned her and inserted the catheter, Zoe cried but it wasn’t gut wrenching….yet. Then the nurse reached for that strap that clamps off the arm so she can get blood….a tourniquet…my heart started beating fast…Zoe started screaming. I started crying. Then the needle went in…Zoe found a depth of scream in her tiny little body that I didn’t know was possible and it was filled with such pain, torment and utter confusion…and it went on and on and on. Quite sobs racked my body as I gripped the chair I was sitting in with both hands. I didn’t know which option was better…to run out of the door or to grab my daughter off the table…I knew neither was really an option and so I sat there and cried. I looked at brad, his face was…I don’t know, focused? And then at my mom…her face was a mask, completely expressionless….I felt weak. The nurses explained what was happening above the screams, trying to comfort me. I just nodded my head and tried to control my tears. It didn’t work. This whole event probably only lasted for a couple minutes…3 maybe 4…but if felt like an eternity. Then they said “ok mom, you can come get her”….I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten up from a chair quite that fast. Immediately my daughter was in my arms and I was rocking her and her screams stopped.
My dad tells this story of when I was 8 months old and had double pneumonia and an intern was trying to find a vein for an i.v but couldn’t. My dad said that he was about to knock the guy out but then the dr stepped in and found the vein. I understand that now. To hear you child scream in pain, knowing that you can’t do anything to stop the pain from happening is a level of trauma I can’t even describe….there simply are no words.
Her fever broke at the hospital, her blood work came back great and we were sent home. She slept peacefully through the night and this morning has no memory of last night. Somehow I have the feeling that last night will be forever imprinted in my heart. I also have the feeling that Brad is going to have to take her for her shots. I’ll be in the waiting room, praying the whole time…