One Friday morning, I was sitting in the doctor’s office for the 3rd time that week with my 20-month-old. While I knew she had a fever and wasn’t able to keep her antibiotics down, I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to hear: “She’s failing at-home treatment. She needs to be admitted to the hospital.”
I felt the blood drain from my face and couldn’t speak. I just watched her toddle around the exam room trying to open cabinet doors. The doctor spoke again, “She looks okay, mom, but she’s not okay. Just a few nights in the hospital, and she will feel much better.”
Coping with hospitalization
After making arrangements for my oldest to spend the weekend at grandma’s, we drove to the hospital and were shown to our room. She didn’t like it, and neither did we. The giant crib (if you can call it that) had stainless steel bars. It was large enough for an adult to fit in and about 4 feet from the ground. Putting a toddler that high off the ground is like asking a grown-up to sleep in a bed that is 12 feet high.
The next 4 hours were the worst in my recent memory. I knew my sweet husband couldn’t bear to hold her down while she screamed, so I went in. I wrapped her in a blanket with one arm out while they drew blood, started an IV, inserted a catheter, and stuck two different swabs deep into her nasal cavity. They said it would be best to do it all at once, and I trusted them.
I put my cheek against hers and whispered, “Mama knows, babe. Mama knows.” I didn’t want to discount her feelings by saying “It’s okay, don’t cry.” It wasn’t okay. She was very sick and strangers wearing masks were hurting her in a cold, sterile room. She cried out, “I sawwy, mama! I sawwy!” She thought she was in trouble. My heart was breaking into a million pieces.
She was diagnosed with pneumonia, and the two different IV antibiotics began working almost immediately. My husband and I took turns going home to shower, sleep, and feed the dog. I hated going home. You see, my husband works from home, and I’m a stay-at-home mom. I’m used to the house being full of noises, messes, and my favorite people. Each time I came home, it was lifeless, dark, and silent. Each time I cried.
Inside the chaos
By Sunday night, we were home. I gave my girl a bath in her own tub and dressed her in her own pajamas. No more hospital gowns, no more sponge baths. When she came downstairs, she giggled and kissed the living room walls. I made her macaroni and cheese, and she ate three bowls.
My sweet girl just turned two and is perfectly healthy. I’m thankful every day for her sass and mischief. Being a stay-at-home mom can feel monotonous and exhausting. There are hectic days where I wish I had an hour to myself or even just a few moments of peace.
Then I think back to the house that weekend, the lifeless, silent house. It wasn’t a peaceful silence – it felt wrong and deeply upsetting. Then I exhale, pour a cup of coffee, and smile at the chaos. My baby went through hell for me to fully understand this, but now I know-my purest joy is inside of this chaos.