It’s been a week since Sophie’s hospitalization, and I still feel jittery. Especially at night.
Every sound she makes (from across the hall behind a closed door) wakes me up. And last night, when she cried out in her sleep from a bad dream or something equally benign, I flung myself out of bed and sprinted to her room at a pace that surely would qualify me for the Olympics.
The thing is, Sophie is better. She’s more than better, actually. She’s back to her old self.
But I can’t stop thinking about our experience, especially the kids on her hall at the children’s hospital who are still there. Who might have been there for a while before we arrived and have no chance of going home anytime soon. Being in that setting for 24 hours freaked me out and flooded me with gratitude at the exact same time.
Here’s how we got there:
Sophie started vomiting out of nowhere on a Saturday afternoon. It continued through Sunday afternoon, then she got a reprieve. Gatorade stayed down. Graham cracker bites stayed down. She got off the couch and started acting goofy, which is always a good sign. I figured we’d hit the 24-hour mark and the tide was turning.
So when she threw up a few bites of banana later that night, we figured it was just too heavy, no big deal. Off to bed she went, and we settled in to watch the Oscars and enjoy the peace.
At around midnight, though, little Soph woke with a scream and threw up again. It continued ALL NIGHT. We’ve been through our fair share of stomach bugs, but I’ve never experienced one so awful. Sophie would doze off for just a few minutes, then start heaving again. We were glued to each other all night, and by the time the early morning light mercifully peeked around the edges of her curtains, she looked like a ghost of herself.
Pale, lethargic, her belly caving in instead of pooching out. And the vomit — what little bit came up — started to look scary, like dirt. I took her to the doctor as soon as they opened, and after a hop on the scale and a quick once-over, he sent us to the hospital. Sophie had lost 10 percent of her body weight and was severely dehydrated. He explained to me that with children, once they get to this point of constant vomiting, their little bodies are unable to stop it without help.
I should have known. I should have acted sooner. These thoughts — the mom-guilt — plagued me all the way to the hospital as I fought back tears and kept one eye on the rear-view mirror aimed at my daughter who could barely hold up her head.
She vomited again right by the emergency room doors, and when we got inside, we discovered a room filled with kids holding barf bags. She took a Zofran tablet in triage, which stopped her heaving. We finally got a bed two hours later.
I want to stop here to say how wonderful everyone at Wake Med Children’s Hospital was — the nurses, doctors, patient advocate, techs — everyone. Also amazing that day? My sweet husband. He brought Sophie’s favorite lovey and a sandwich for me, snuggled her in the ER bed, talked to the doctor, handled all of the Lily-logistics and generally kept me calm (which was no small feat).
Soon after Sophie’s IV went in (which was AWFUL), she fell into a deep sleep. We moved to her overnight room in a wheelchair together, and as the sun began to set, I curled up with her, so teeny-tiny in that hospital bed, and tried to close my eyes. It was pointless. So I just stared at her. Listened to her breathe. Held her hand. And cried.
The IV was magical. Sophie woke up later that night a new little person. She ate (and kept down) dry Cheerios and Jell-O before falling back asleep, and she even gobbled down a piece of bacon (!!!) at breakfast the following morning. It’s taken her the better part of the last week to fully regain her appetite (and to poop), but now she is well. Thank God.
I know how easy — how small — our hospital experience was compared to those of really sick kids. And I am more aware than ever of how lucky we are to have healthy children. But I can’t relax in that knowledge. I want more than anything to stop worrying, to stop imagining what could happen to my girls, to just live without constantly looking over my shoulder.
This is classic Suzanne. Worry, imagine the worst, worry some more. I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember, and it really grew legs after I became a mother. The silver lining? I’m aware. I’m getting help for my anxiety. And I’m trying to take care of myself (more sleep, less sugar).
But I haven’t been able to shake this jolt (yet). And now I feel more raw than ever.