Sometime after Christmas a particular virus hopped on a bulldozer and drove straight into our cozy happy house. The fever and cough started with Mary Virginia, a few days later Thomas got it, then just hours after Thomas’s fever broke, David sidled up to Tom and asked him to put him to bed.
The next day, David’s fever climbed, and asked me, “Mommy, when am I going to be not sick?”
I held him and rubbed his back and replied, “Soon, buddy. Maybe tomorrow.”
And just like that, the virus made a big fat liar out of me.
What I should have said is, “You’ll have a fever and uncontrollable coughing for six days, eventually develop an ear infection, spend two nights in the hospital, and then you’ll be better.”
David’s lungs were having trouble keeping up, and he needed monitoring while he recovered.
Tom stayed in the hospital with David and I stayed home with Thomas and Mary Virginia, who came down with strep throat because we’ve already hit our deductible so WHY NOT?
When I initially took David to the doctor, she asked him if his throat hurt and he responded, “Yes. It hurts when I swallow something that I don’t chew enough.”
When she asked if anything hurt, he said, “It hurts when I’m at home and I’m running and I bonk into something.”
He’s a tough one.
Everyone kept asking how David was and, um…he was…fine? He had unlimited access to TV and Popsicles, and people kept bringing him toys and gifts. The kid didn’t even have to breathe on his own. He loved the hospital.
People also asked me how I was doing.
Me? I was home wringing my hands. I knew David was recovering, and that his daddy was taking good care of him. I had no choice but to stay home because I have a nursing baby, and then when Mary Virginia tested positive for strep that complicated things further. If there was ever a time I wished I could be three places at once, that was it.
David’s condition wasn’t grave, but it was still unexpected, scary, and completely out of my control.
Once, when David was a toddler, we were outside and he started running toward our front steps. As he ran away from me, laughing, I realized I wasn’t going to reach him in time. He was going to fall down the stairs and I was going to watch it happen.
That’s how it felt when David went to the hospital, like something was happening to him and I couldn’t do anything, I just had to sit back and watch. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even be there.
The doctors and nurses took care of David, and my friends and family showered us with check-ins, food, gifts, and so much love, together reminding us that God gives us what we need. Being a parent, I believe, is a giant exercise in trusting God. And when my faith wavers I have to ask myself the same question over and over: if I can’t entrust my kids to God of the universe, then who can I trust them with?
Since David turned four, people have been commenting that he is looking so grown up. It’s true, he does. He’s taller, leaner, longer. He looks nothing like a baby anymore. He has a full head of big kid hair and instead of a chubby belly he has actual muscles now. He looks grown up until he’s sitting in a hospital bed, wearing a hospital gown. Then he suddenly looks absolutely tiny, helpless, and not unlike mama’s little baby who still asks me to hold him, the same little boy who still loves to read books curled in my lap.