Watching your child(ren) go through a physically painful experience has got to be one of the most difficult things we have to do as parents. My heart goes out to those moms and dads who are dealing with the real thing. Those who are sitting at the bedside of a child who is fighting cancer, a parent learning their child has a life threatening illness or a mom and dad at the hospital with a child and a broken bone. I can't even begin to imagine what you all are going through. We each have our very own story to tell and while mine is in no way as heartbreaking as some, I still hurt seeing my children go through trials of their own.
It all began late Wednesday morning. The kids were playing peekaboo behind the curtains at our large living room window when all of a sudden I heard Reuben start bawling. Rushing over I picked him up and told him "you fell down, didn't you?" I didn't notice the blood till Lily told me matter-of-factly "he's bleeding Mommy." Sure enough he had hit his forehead on the edge of the marble window sill. There actually wasn't a lot of blood but the small cut looked deep. I wiped off the blood that was there and held him while he cried for a minute. And it was only that. One minute and he was fine. I slapped a bandaid on it but called Andrew to come home because I was concerned that it was too deep and that a visit to the ER might be in order. While he was on his way home I dialed my mom because of course one of the first things you do in situations like these is call your mom for advice no matter what time of the day or what part of the country she lives in. Bonus if she's a nurse. :) I had a quick, reassuring chat with her and Andrew came home. I think we both felt reluctant about taking Reuben to the ER and putting him through the stress of waiting for what would probably be hours if it really wasn't that bad. I ended up going to the drug store and picking up a package of butterfly strips to keep the wound closed so it could heal. We put one of those on him with a bandaid over it and it was already starting to close up and heal by yesterday afternoon. I'm just glad, for the sake of my own vanity, that the cut is mostly hidden by his currently almost non existent eyebrows. He'll probably love his "battle scar" one day though. Boys.
I didn't freak out when the incident happened because its not like me to do that but that night when Andrew and I were laying in bed I voiced my worry that I felt like it was my job to keep our kids safe and that I dropped the ball on this one. He reminded me I can't always keep them safe and that its only my responsibility to let them know that I am always there for them when they fall and hurt themselves and to take care of them should something bad happen. Basically I have to trust that God is in control, that I can't foresee every negative situation and for my own sanity I can't worry about what may or may not happen. Also, trusting God and praying incessantly is the only way to get past the misery of seeing your child in pain.
I was reminded of that yesterday when I had to take Lily to the hospital to get some blood work done. There's nothing more heart wrenching than your 3 year old sobbing into your chest "But I'm just a little grirl (that's actually how she says it)! I really, really, really don't like my blood work. Its going to hurt a little bit." *sob* All it took was me saying in the car after we left the doctor's office and were on our way to the hospital that she needed to have her blood drawn. I guess she remembered having had it done like over a year ago because the tears started flowing immediately. The thing is she did really great that first time. She sat on my lap, held out her arm and solemnly watched as the nurse stuck her with the needle. She never flinched even once it was in for a minute or two. Of course it doesn't help that she knew what to expect this time.
I guess I'm getting ahead of myself a bit and should explain why she needed blood work done. She has had recurring fevers since she was around the age of 1 or so. They can get very high (she was in the 104s at the doctor's office yesterday) and come like clockwork...every 4 weeks to a month. I can guess almost down to the day when she's going to get one and can almost plan my schedule around it. And so far, I have no idea why she's getting them. She doesn't have any other symptoms other than the normal ones that come with a high fever like sore limbs, watering eyes, lethargy and loss of appetite. For a while, when she was younger, I thought that maybe they were associated with teething and therefore didn't worry about taking her in to see the doctor. There did seem to be some sort of pattern to back the theory up. And she did stop having them for a short bit either late last year or earlier this year...I can't remember. I thought she was cured...and then they came back with a vengeance. I asked the doctor about them a while back and was told that some kids just have weak immune systems and are therefore more susceptible to germs and stuff around them, eventually their systems will catch up and they'll be fine. I could accept that if it wasn't for the predictability. So since she was in the middle of yet another one I took her in yesterday to hopefully get some answers. I explained everything to the doctor emphasizing the uniformity to these fevers and asked what the first step should be in figuring this all out. I just couldn't take watching her listlessly laying around the house for days in a row any more. She looks so miserable, and between watching her look that way and just hoping that these fevers go away soon and having to get blood taken and whatever else is needed down the road, well I'd rather go with the testing because hopefully we can find out what's wrong and cure this once and for all. So there I was waiting at the hospital with Lily crying in my arms and I was hugging her and reassuring her the best that I could that yes, it was going to hurt but only a little bit and it would be over quickly and that I was going to be with her the entire time and she could cry and squeeze my hand as hard as she needed to. I managed to distract her a little with Curious George episodes on my phone until we were called back. The phlebotomist was a sweetheart and knelt down to Lily's level and asked her what her name was to which Lily calmly replied "Lillian Estelle." She never volunteers her name so promptly so that was helpful that she felt comfortable with her. I felt comfortable when the girl told Lily, when she started crying again, that it would hurt a little bit but she was going to be very gentle. She didn't talk down to her and sugar coat it but she didn't give too much information to terrify her either. Comfortability didn't last long though once Lily was sitting in my lap while I held her arms and legs and the girl started prepping her for needle insertion. She made it through picking her bandage colors (pink and purple) but when that needle started heading towards her arm it was all I could do to keep her tiny body from flailing all over the place. The worst was when it was over and the girl looked at me after filling the tubes and whispered, with a pained expression on her face, "I need to do it again, I didn't get enough." Oh great. Lily managed between sobs at that moment to say that she wanted nursies to which the girl suggested I nurse her right there in the chair while she left to go get another person to help her this next time since Lily was moving around so much. She returned about 10 minutes later with an older gentleman who was also very sweet and though that it was great that I was still nursing Lily at 3 years old and said "when you gotta eat, you gotta eat" with a smile. After that brief moment of validation, we geared up for another round of torture Lily and let out huge sighs of relief when it was finally over.
Everyone who talked with us was impressed with how intelligent and articulate Lily was about everything. That's my Lily. Nothing gets past her. It just makes it more emotional for me having to listen to her talk about her fears versus if she only cried about them. The thing is I have a gut feeling that this journey to an answer isn't going to be a short one and that there will probably be more situations like this that I am going to have to explain to Lily and help her through. They say that being a mother is never easy but it totally sucks when you have to tell your sweet child that she is going to have to go through something painful.
Edited to add: The test results came back an hour later and the only thing that showed up was that she has a slight bacterial infection. So she's on meds for that and we're waiting 4 weeks to a month to see if she has another fever so we can move on the the next step of discovery.