I wake up startled by a dream. And instinctively reach for her forehead. It’s hot and my brain cannot move fast enough. 100.4. Shit!
I can’t seem to get the 9 ounces of ibuprofen into the cup. My prayer chant begins. God please don’t let her seize, please don’t let her seize. Jesus, please!
I give her the meds and text her dad. She is in bed the way I found her. Curled up like a snail, arms tucked in, knees under her, butt in the air. Please. God.
She asks for more water and I curse at myself because I don’t have her thermos. Did I leave it in the car? I run to the kitchen and fight the images that come. It takes less than a minute but as I rush back I brace myself to see it.
I hear her singing softly. Sometimes her sounds, muffled by walls and her repetition sound like the gurgling. So my stomach sinks and I feel nauseous. But when I walk in she smiles and politely thanks me for the water I just handed over.
She’s got goosebumps. Now I worry about that. I worry that her temperature may continue to go up. I worry that her temp is going to go down to fast. God, can you hear me? Listen to this mother’s prayers. Please don’t let my baby seize.
I smile. I listen, I check her temp because the dance begins now. I hear nothing back from her dad. Figure he’s fast asleep and consider waking him but he’s got work in the morning. I wish my mom was here.
I wish I didn’t feel so helpless. She tells me we don’t drink the pool and that we don’t eat the beach and I laugh and think that sounds like a good book title. She tells me her tummy hurts.
I check her temp. Its going up. Each decimal brings with it more prayers. Each shiver, each time she clenches her fist. I have to fight the images.
This is what I was afraid of when she picked up that juice box that wasn’t hers when I wasn’t watching her for 3 seconds. Now she plays with the cool washcloth after she has eaten her ice pop.
She gives me her big playful smile and puckers her lips. I lean in and gladly kiss those perfect lips that can speak truth and laughter all at once. We sing. Because that’s just how we roll around here.
My lips touch her forehead. She feels cooler. Now I worry about how fast her temp is going down.
“I wanna be a cowgirl!” She exclaims, out of the blue.
I can’t remember what time this started. The text to her dad says 3:20 am. It is 4:03. My lips tell me her temp is down but I confirm it with the Exergen. 99.8 on 2 different readings.
My baby girl lies back. Ready to resume her slumber. I pretend like I’m okay. But I’m not. I’m scarred by memories of clenched fists and thrashing body. Of saliva pouring out of her mouth with a hint of blood because she hit her lips on the tile. Of prayers for my child to keep breathing and for the convulsion to stop. I pray for so much. The last time, in that brief period my mother’s heart broke open as I thought of others who are less fortunate. Who seize constantly and with consequences beyond my own scarring.
I keep praying as I pretend everything is normal. I think of Amy Grant’s song and how I know so well about the power of those lines “God loves a lullaby and a mother’s tears in the dead of night, better than a hallelujah sometimes.”
I would cry if she wasn’t aware. But she is. So I fuss and I act annoyed when she is overusing the thermometer to take the “tempacha” on her foot.
It is 4:12. I am mentally exhausted. Sleep came to me well past 1 am so I have maybe 2 hours under my belt.
4:14 am and her temp reads 98.6. I have tears in my eyes. Thank you God.