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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Illness and Mama Paranoia


Noelle was sick over the Christmas and New Year's break.  It was the most ill she had been since birth.  It was the forth or fifth night of her having a fever, she was suffering from a upper respiratory infection and was having trouble sleeping. She called for me in the middle of the night and asked for some ice water.  It had been some time since we cleaned her room, so toys, dolls, and Lego's are everywhere, making it necessary for me to tread carefully across the tiny floor to her bed. 

 Her nightlight, a little white and pink feathered desk lamp in the shape of a dress form , was glowing slightly orange.  Her lullaby music was playing softly on repeat and Noelle, already a skinny minny, had lost weight and was almost hidden from view under her fluffy pink covers.  I pulled some of the blankets off and mentioned to her that she was too hot to be so bundled up.  She reached shakily for her orange sippy cup which I am sure makes everything taste like plastic, and took a few sips of her ice water.  When she finished, she handed me her cup.  I perched it on the roof of her blue and pink dollhouse which we use as a make ship night table. I kissed her told her she had more medicine to take and as I kicked my way through her toys, I felt this inexplicable, monumental nervousness rising from my gut to my chest, ending between my temples.  I tried to shake it off, but I found myself emotionally stranded in the NICU where she spent the first 72 nights of her life with no assurance she would live.  I actually felt tears coming while I measured out her thick yucky medicine into one of those tiny cups. I felt almost insane by the overwhelming paranoia I was experiencing. In my core, I knew she would be OK.   We had been to her Dr's office. twice, the final visit ended with the Dr. remarking that I was doing all the right things and sometimes these sorts of things just hang on.

But this was Noelle, always happy, always talking, always telling me that she was OK, even with her previous bouts of illness, Noelle would simply say, "I'm not feeling that well mommy, but I'll be OK."

"Noelle."  I called softly, she turned and looked at me, puffy eyes and sad little face, "Why don't you come sleep in my bed tonight?" I gave her the sticky blue medicine.  Afterwards Noelle shakily laid back down without answering my question.

"Why don't you come and sleep in my bed?" I repeated in her ear as I rubbed her back.  She turned her head partially to look back at me. "I don't want to." She stated.  Whined actually.  I was shocked and for a moment speechless, as she never turned down any opportunity to cuddle next to me.  My heart raced as I thought about leaving her alone.  I couldn't do it.

Before I knew it, I had retrieved my pillow, was scooting her over and slipping into her little twin bed.  I had to be there with her.  Usually, when I get the mama paranoia, I am able to shake it off and go back to my normal routine.  I know all parents feel the "mirror to the nose" paranoia at one time or another.  For years, if none of my children woke me up during the night, I would wake up and go check to see what was wrong.  This night was a little different, the paranoia - the fear was so...gripping.  All I could do to alleviate it was to make the decision to stay awake all night long to be with her.

When I slipped in next to her, Noelle instinctively slid her body into the curve of mind. She grabbed my hand and pulled it to her breast.  It was one of those gestures that made me acutely aware of how I deeply I love her.  One of those moments where I could not believe she was mine. My baby, my daughter, my love.  She tapped her thumb on the side of my hand.  It calmed me.  Within seconds she fell asleep and I focused on the warmth of her now relaxed hand, her little body which perfectly aligned with mine, and the rise and fall of her chest.  Just for an instant, Noelle was back in the safety of my womb. We were in complete synchronicity, I was aware of her everything; we were linked mentally physically and spiritually.  It was just the two of us breathing together in the dark of her messy room.

After about three hours, I got up, gingerly slipped my pillow from under her head and made my way back to my own bedroom. I crawled in bed with my husband and was soundly asleep in seconds.   All was well.

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