She started getting sick on a Sunday.
By Monday the fever had taken over.
Tuesday she was extra whiny and the rash showed up.
Wednesday and Thursday were a blur.
Friday there was a glimmer of hope.
Saturday she woke up clear, smiling, calm, and cool.
It was only a week but man it was long. When the doctor said ‘rubella,’ my heart froze and my mind raced. “That’s one of those ones, right? We get shots for that? It must mean…”
Turns out it’s a mild virus with mild symptoms and mild irritation (except for pregnant women, in which case the unborn baby is highly at risk). Madison was cranky and uncomfortable for a few days and that was the worst of it. We had chosen to delay that vaccine until she turned 18 months, but apparently she went the au natural route for us instead.
Beyond the sickness, though, this week was about redemption.
My heart had been opened to a deeper level towards my daughter and those days of vocal, clingy, irrational, fever-induced behavior were like a wedge that pried me apart even more.
We spent a lot of time like this.
And like this.
She wouldn’t leave my arms or my lap or my side.
She cried. A lot. She had trouble sleeping some nights (3:30 AM, anyone? Up for the day? Yup, not fun).
She wasn’t eating well.
I found myself responding completely different than before. Instead of emotionally shutting down and forcing myself to choose to love her (love is a verb, after all), I had compassion and patience as I took care of her and that love flowed naturally like I always wanted it to. I know it was only a week and she really wasn’t that sick. It has been a few months since the worst of it with her – the not sleeping, the over-tired tirades, not being able to make her stop crying or feel better. Maybe time had healed some of the wounds. It was different. It was good. I was relieved.
One morning, when her fever was noticeably high and she was incessantly fussy, I strapped her in the Ergo, bundled myself up and took off. We were still in Olympia and it was cold and rainy and gray. In my pajamas and my sister’s fleece jacket and my mom’s rubber rain boot, I paced up and down the sidewalk while Madison slowly calmed down underneath the soft quilt I had tucked around her. Finally her eyes started to droop, and then that final blink. She was asleep.
I kept walking, wanting her to rest and relax and feel better. I didn’t know why she was sick (we didn’t get to the doctor until a few days later) but I wanted to give her what she needed.
I could feel myself embracing her in a whole new way. My emotions where fully engaged. My heart was tender. My mind was focused and calm.
This daughter, my daughter. I love her.
I am so thankful that she was sick. It revealed the condition of my heart towards her. I realized that I am changing. She still challenges me and I still don’t know what to do.
Both of us are healing.