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.

Sophie hospitalization


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6 Comments on Recovering from Sophie’s hospitalization, mom-guilt and a whole new level of worry

  1. Beautiful writing, Suzanne. I understand your feelings, having spent so much time with Lisa in hospitals. Be kind to yourself. You did what was best for Sophie and all is well. Now pray for healing for both of you. You are a wonderful mother. Hospitals can be scary. David is a pediatrician at a Children’s hospital and his wife is an ER physician. I don’t know how they do it, but they are dedicated. Praying that you find some peace during this Lenten season.

  2. First, you are the most beautiful, kind and giving woman I know. You are also the best mom I know and I can honestly say you are my mentor for life all around. Your feelings just show that you are real and that you have a consuming love for your girls. I never understood that kind of love until I had my boys and I NEVER understood worry until then too. I see kids everyday that I pray could have a parent that has that kind of love for them. LOVE YOU.

  3. You need to start drinking coffee…then, you can stare at your kids all night and still stand the next day. It sort of works for me! 🙂

    Feeling bad about feeling bad is no good…just think about worry as another word for “love.” And as your little sister, who got the brunt of some of that “love” while growing up with you, it ain’t going anywhere, so you might as well come to peace and make some room for it. Your kids are lucky to have you and every bit of love you’ve got to give!
    Laura recently posted…Market DayMy Profile

  4. Laura said it well. You are a beautiful, loving, articulate and worrying woman and mother. That is who you are in the core of your being. Once a worrywart, always a worrywart. Deal with your anxiety issue as you are doing, and embrace the you that cannot change persona. You are a phenominal mom, so quit the guilt already ! Kudos to Mark for stepping up to the plate in that scary time……love you missy !

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