Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Flat January

But your family is healthy.I know. I know.
And your daughter was so ill- hospitalized!- and now she's much better.Thank God.

And your husband is doing good, for this time of year. The new medication is working well. It's much better than it's ever been. I love him so much.
Do you have enough food to eat, and clothes to wear, and hot water, and a place to call home? Yes.

San Diego in January has been bipolar: sweltering hot and then book ended with frigid, frost covered mornings and cold windy afternoons. The sky is blue and somehow still dimmed. Muted. I wake and turn on the heater as the dark lip of sky just begins to brighten, stick my head in Dakota's room, let the dogs out, return to wake Lola, Dakota again, then to lay Ever in front of the heater and change her diaper, sing song to her in hope of one of her heartbreaking smiles. Eventually we are all in the car, kids with hot oatmeal and lunches in backpacks, Ever in her carseat next to Lola. I ask Lola in what I hope is a neutral voice How's Ever? She glances at her. Fine. I wish for the millionth time that I could more clearly see Ever when I'm driving. And then, for the millionth time, follow that thought up with the admission that it wouldn't be safe if I could, craning to watch her chest, try to count her breathing, see if she's working.
Dakota texts most of the way to school. I run my hands through the curls at the back of his head, kiss his cheek. He tells me he loves me as he slings his backpack over his flannel. I watch his six foot frame walk casually away from me, the same soft loping whether he might be late or not- he's not hurrying. I drop Lola off and hug her tightly. Then it's just Ever and I. We head to Starbucks and she falls asleep in her seat. I cover her warmly and we head in where the same baristas I've known for years nod and smile at me, E. asks if I want my regular and I say yes. A few other regulars who know me ask about Ever, how she's doing. I look at her. Good, I say, wishing I could feel that, live in it. Good. And then home.

Mornings at home. Since Ever became congested and needed breathing treatments, mornings have become a stressful, isolating time. I count her respirations, and often they are on the highest end of normal. This is her new normal for now, with the cold and so soon after RSV, a slightly increased respiratory rate and a stuffy nose, small retractions for a while that fade. My job is to watch her, and there is no balance that is comfortable, watching my infant girl for signs of struggling to breathe. It reminds me of the feelings of new motherhood:
Are they sure I can do this alone? Who left ME in charge? I've never had a more important job: ensure my child is breathing. And I never will. The morning sits around me. The house is smug and silent. The noise of TV is depressing. My body responds sluggishly to commands. I make myself move, make phone calls, get things done. This is not hibernation. It is some kind of fear response. I am too prone to this. Maya Angelou wrote a poem Life Doesn't Frighten Me. And before I had children, maybe this was true.
Ellen said...

January is 'flat'...and depressing. You all have been under so much stress with Ever having been ill. Not to mention just making sure the rest of the family is fine day in and day out. The strain on mothering is not easy and as a mom I understand that all to well. We do it alone even with the best of spouses. Each day Ever is getting stronger. Know this. Feel this. Soon she we be fine and your joy of just simply enjoying her will fill your face with a big ole' smile!

Sending you a mother to mother hug...because mom's need those so very much.

Personally I can't wait for February. We are one month nearer Spring...

SJ said...

I wish I could like...come help you or something. Not that you NEED help, but I wish I could take over Ever-watching for you for an hour, or just talk to you -- or, since I am so talky, talk AT you :) I dont know. Love you

Jos said...

I'm not a mother yet, but I know for a fact that you are not alone in your fears, and those fears are assuring you're even more attentive in your love and care of ever. You're a wonderful mommy, Maggie, and everyone knows you will do everything in your power to keep your beautiful girl happy and healthy. She will be okay, Maggie, and so will you. ((HUGS))

Petit fleur said...


You are so full of life force, even if you are exhausted and overwhelmed. Reading the depth of your words and knowing how hard you work everyday to keep all the balls in the air... well, it's inspiring.

Much love,

Laura said...

I have been reading of trees lately, and their supposed "dormancy" in these cold winter months. It doesn't happen, though. Instead, they stay in what the tree people call a state of "quiescence" in which they remain in a state of watchfulness and roots grow sporadically when the circumstances are favorable.

Sounds like you are in such a state. Quiet. Watchful. Waiting?

But your family is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

i am here, maggie!
love and respect. understand you....

your dearling

~Amber Elise~ said...

As if you don't have enough to worry about with a new infant. Take comfort in knowing that you are a great mother, doing everything in your power to keep you children happy and healthy.
My fiance stands by the idea that as long as you aren't curled up in a ball crying in the corner, then you are winning the war of parenthood. that has held true for me.
Love you, Maggie, this winter will not last forever, and Ever will be a healthy, walking little girl so soon.

Annie said...

Hi Maggie,

It is scary, all the responsibility, even when our children are healthy. Part of me couldn't believe it when I was "allowed" to take my baby home. But you are an experienced and dedicated Mom. And you are able to recognize your blessings.

I'm glad things are going well with your husband, and Dakota. It's a lot to do, taking care of Ever, and you are doing it well. So, give yourself a big hug! Sending hugs and love to you and all your family.

It's so strange to me, I'm worrying about my mother's every breath, and you are worrying about Ever's breathing. It seems it shouldn't have to be that way for your little baby, but you are there for her, and you are the best of Moms.

Julia said...

Of course you're afraid.

And of course you are going on anyway, doing what there is to do, taking care of what's within your realm of control. Which feels like way too small a realm. And yet... and yet what you're giving is everything. And what you're probably fearing is that even everything might not be enough.

I wish I could take away that fear for you. All I can do is join you in it, join you in wishing that there were an easier way. And I pray for you, and for Ever, and trust that the fragile security that you have is actually far more shatterproof than you think.


Caroline said...

Sending you love, Maggie. i so understand how you feel. My little Oliver (now almost 5 mos) was born with a floppy trachea (tracheomalacia) and it causes incessant wheezing sounds. I have to watch to make sure he doesn't aspirate the milk when i nurse and he can't sleep on his back because he chokes on his saliva when he cries. omygosh it has been nerve wracking. BUT it's getting better. As he's getting bigger and more sturdy and sleeping better and his trachea is hardening I am feeling more relaxed. i'm sharing this with you because i'm betting as Ever get's bigger you will notice that you'll be able to sigh a bigger sigh of relief.
xo to you and that sweetheart baby. i've been keeping y'all in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

A truer post was never written. It is damn frightening- the scariest thing I have ever done. We are brave. Especially since we are aware- some don't seem to be so much. Wish I could be blithe but I'm not. Hugs and kisses to the babe and all!

Ms. Moon said...

There is no one on earth who is as qualified to care for Ever as you. This IS a scary time and there would be something wrong with you if you weren't concerned. The problem, as you know, is when the fear and anxiety take over. You are doing all the right things and every day she grows stronger and bigger and that alone will work to reassure you that she is indeed, well.
Hang in there, Maggie May, beautiful woman, fierce mother. Hang in there and things will become easier. I promise.

Ida Mae said...

oh i so so love what Laura said.. so beautiful.. and true..

hang in there Maggie, you and your family will get through it.

You are such a good Mom, I can tell. I look up to you.

~ida mae

Allison the Meep said...

I completely know what you mean right now. We're in a similar situation with the whole break-in thing. Yes, we're all fine. Yes, I know that we could have been killed and we're lucky to be alive and have each other.

But it still feels gross. And this past week, life has scared the shit out of me.

lovelovelove to you.

michelle said...


Elizabeth said...

What week is this? Nearing the fifth? On top of the extraordinary experience of hospitalization with RSV, your hormones are wacky and it's totally normal to be fearful and swinging around. I know you have a history with all of this, and I wouldn't presume to really know about that, but I do remember that during the fifth or so week of all three of my children I had a distinct shift in my mood, a plunging, a fear, a "I Can't Go On" sort of thing. And it passed. I pray that Ever will continue to heal from her scare and that her breathing will be natural and so will yours. Love and hugs and peace and all of that corny stuff to you, dear friend.

Elisabeth said...

I sometimes, in the nights, checked that my baby was still breathing by putting my hand against her nose.

Your love and care for Ever evokes such memories.

These are the hardest days and they will pass. They are also the most wondrous.

Maggie May said...

Every response and encouragement and relating helps me so much. Thank you guys so much for your support, it means the world to me. xo

Alicia D said...

my heart aches with you. i know the feeling of having an ill child. my youngest had RSV when she was 9 days old and was hospitalized for a week. She had stopped breathing at night a few times. My oldest was also in the hospital starting at 12 weeks of age for seizures.

IMO, I think there is something like a post-traumatic stress reaction from your child being very ill/hospitalized/fragile. The hypervigilance, the anxiety, the protection, etc... it's what you have to do to stay alert as a mom.

Anyway,my littlest with RSV in the first days of her life? She recently turned 3. She's FINE! NO asthma, no breathing/bronchial issues. She's healthy as an ox. :) Hang in there...

37paddington said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shelley E said...

I am sorry you are feeling this way, and it is good that you can look at all you are thankful for- but it is scary for you, I know, because of the RSV- Ever and you, will get through.

Positive thoughts coming your way....

Mwa said...

I wish you lived nextdoor. I would bring you cake and sit with you in the mornings.

I have the car seat in the front this time. With my first two it was always in the back and I used to be paranoid. With Marie, I bought a toy with a built-in mirror which I could angle so I could see her face in my rear-view mirror. And still I would ask Jack how she was. He, knowing me too well (at three and a half years old - sigh...), would tell me "Fine. Pink. Not blue." Too much for a little kid.

This time, I have heard somewhere it's perfectly safe to have a baby in the passenger seat. I have turned the airbag off (otherwise it's not safe) and I can glimpse over when I want. I think it's actually safer because I hardly ever look, and too much of my attention used to go to the baby in the back. Also I can't really trust the other two children yet not to put anything on his face or do something wrong - they're only six and three.

The fear I don't really know what to do about that. I try to ignore it. Charlie's sleeping upstairs, on his belly, under three (thin) blankets. I know I'm not meant to do it like that, but otherwise he doesn't sleep. He needs to be warm and cozy. And he needs to sleep sometimes. I have to fight the urge to go up there and check him every two minutes, waking him up in the process.

You are not alone. The craziness is all thoughts, and not reality. You are doing great, fine, wonderful. And May is not that far away.

Middle Child said...

A beautiful post which touched my heart - boy you can write -
This is just so beautiful
"The sky is blue and somehow still dimmed. Muted. I wake and turn on the heater as the dark lip of sky just begins to brighten," many people would not even notice nor have the wit to word it up like this - any Celtic ancestry there ?

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