If only every holiday season were as quiet as this one

Last Monday we had a major scare shortly after the elders came home from school: Zephyra managed to get into Tempest’s medication, and swallowed some.

Tempest usually takes medication twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening. She has a little pill organizer that holds a week’s worth of her medication, organized by day of the week and then time of day (ie. Monday, morning and evening; Tuesday, morning and evening, etc.), and it sits in the kitchen on the countertop, resting behind several other objects so it is hidden from view but still in a place where Tempest is able to reach it and have the opportunity to participate in her medication schedule.
Part of Tempest’s pill-taking ritual includes shaking the container a few times before she pops open a day and takes the pills in front of us; this, of course, makes Z want to have the thing because it makes noise when moved about. I assume that’s what started this whole thing and made her want to go after something she couldn’t even see.

You don’t really expect babies to go hunting for objects they can’t see or interact with; things that are well-hidden, or trapped inside a cupboard for long enough that even a their insatiable curiosity mixed with that newly-honed sense of object permanence can’t find it. Young kids? Sure. They’re designed for that sort of thing. They have enough memory and cunning to realize that the world is nothing more than a box of interesting experiences and secrets, all nicely wrapped and waiting for them to tear open and consume… but babies and new toddlers? You just don’t expect that kind of shit.
The problem with being an experienced parent is that you get overconfident about your child-rearing skills. You’ve done this before, hell maybe even three or four times, so you know your shit. You’ve raised enough kids to know that an 18 month old can’t unlock your sliding glass door and get out onto the roof from the second-story balcony without help from an older sibling. You know that no 11 month old can successfully pick the lock on the bathroom door and stuff the entire package of toilet paper into the toilet… you’ve got at least six more months until kind of shit even becomes a remote possibility. You know how to baby proof your home, right? You’ve totally got this.
So you buy all the shit you’re supposed to and you go around your house babyproofing based on the next step of cognitive development available to your current at-risk toddler: that way you’re always one step ahead. Because you’re smart like that. But the thing is, once you’ve had three or more kids, they start to fucking outsmart you. They watch the older kids. They study them. Eventually they learn all sorts of things they simply should not know, and end up making these massive jumps in problem solving ability that should absolutely not be fucking possible at their age… and that’s when you’re in trouble. Because really, if toddlers could receive sustenance from nothing more than getting into trouble, ne’er a two year old would ever feel hunger again.

This is why, with all my cupboard and cabinet and door and outlet babyproofing, it had not occurred to me that she had learned to develop multi-step plans to retrieve objects she could not see… and merely had a theory about.

Curtis and I were cleaning up the living room while Z was playing with toys on the floor. She moved into the kitchen with one of her dolls, which isn’t unusual as we have one lower cupboard that’s left unlocked so she can have an area that belongs to “her” and doesn’t feel as tempted to freak out and try to pry open every other cabinet in there while we’re cooking. Up until that afternoon, this had worked out extremely well and she never even seemed to be tempted to go anywhere other than her personal cupboard.
No more than a moment passed when we heard a gagging and choking sound. Curtis leapt up to go check and found Z sitting next to the stove with Tempest’s pill container in her hands. The kids’ stool had been taken from the bathroom (the door was closed, but had likely not clicked shut so I imagine she managed to push it open) and was placed underneath a set of drawers so she could use the knobs as steps to get herself up onto the countertop and retrieve the pill planner. One day/time was popped open, and there was one pill missing from it. Curtis checked her mouth and smelled her breath, but saw no evidence that she’s swallowed anything. There may have been a white residue toward the corner of her mouth, but she’d also recently eaten some cheese so we couldn’t be totally sure. While we both heard the gag, there didn’t actually appear to be anything either in her mouth or on the floor around her, and she seemed to be acting fine.
Curtis pulled out the stove and swept the area. He found the missing pill underneath, very near to where he’d found Z sitting… but still, we couldn’t be sure if that was the missing one or had fallen there some time ago.

Curtis got out his phone and called our pharmacy first to see what their advice would be. Maybe it wasn’t a big deal and wouldn’t be that bad? Maybe the dosage is too small and isn’t harmful to a baby her size? He was passed between several pharmacists, but none had a definitive answer and no one could find a full toxicology report, so they advised us to call poison control. Poison control advised us to call 911. At that point Z was still running around yelling, playing, being her totally normal toddler self and I didn’t want to cause a ruckus for a false alarm… I hate the idea of sending a bunch of people out for nothing, and I’d feel really embarrassed and really stupid if I had a large convoy of emergency vehicles outside my house for absolutely no reason whatsoever. I don’t want to think I wasted all their time and pulled them away from a real emergency…
Still, I called anyway. Better safe than sorry.

The operator was understanding and polite though I felt silly answering her questions. No, she’s not turning colours. No, she’s not losing consciousness. No, she’s not doing anything out of the ordinary. She’s just standing there playing and screeching in toddler-esque joy like she usually does – can’t you hear her? The operator told me they’d send out a vehicle just in case, and to call back if anything changes. After I hung up I waited by the window, hoping that the ambulance wouldn’t turn on its sirens and there wouldn’t be a scene.
We watched Z carefully but nothing seemed amiss, at least for the next few minutes… Curtis followed her around while I stood by the door with the phone in my hands. A moment later he picked her up and frowned.
“She looks a little sleepy,” he commented.
“She also missed her nap, she’s right on time to be tired,” I answered. I approached them and looked over her carefully. She rubbed her eyes and smiled in that I’m not tired at all, I swear way that toddlers often do, and then abruptly just… passed out. Not like a child who fell asleep from being tired, but like someone who was drugged. Curtis tried to pat and rock her awake, and while initially she was reactive, after another moment she had gone completely limp and we were unable to wake her up again.
I felt a wave of sheer terror wash over me. I grabbed my phone and called 911 again to report her change. This time the operator stayed on the line with me until the EMTs arrived.

It took about three minutes for them to get there. Several men came in all at once and passed Z’s limp body back and forth between them. They opened her mouth, looked inside, inspected her lips and tongue, smelled her breath, took her vitals… all the while she remained completely unresponsive. Curtis was as stoic as ever: he’s good at that in a crisis, and it’s both a blessing and a curse. Meanwhile, I was starting to absolutely lose my shit with anxiety.
Eventually the EMTs handed her back to me and asked for Curtis to grab her car seat to put in the ambulance. She wasn’t in any sort of horribly critical condition, so they had the time. I heard one man cancel the second ambulance (???) while his partner installed Z’s seat on a stretcher and had me place her in it. Curtis handed me my purse and phone just before the doors closed and we took off toward the hospital.

Zephyra woke up briefly, disoriented and extremely aggressive, while the EMT tried to hook her up to various tubes and monitors in the back of the ambulance. When he leaned in close to try and calm her down, she balled up her fist and punched him square in the face. She screamed the most guttural, angry sound I have ever heard out of her: like she was having the worst tantrum of her entire little life. It seemed to go on forever, but probably only lasted a few minutes before she passed back out again. Once she was quiet, the EMT began asking me questions so he could fill out the admission form. When he asked me for Z’s middle name, I blanked. I couldn’t remember at all. I literally could not remember my own child’s name. This did not help my anxiety.
I looked at him helplessly as I cried, “I don’t know. I don’t remember!”
“Don’t worry, it happens,” he said. He was sincere. “How about her birthday?”
I couldn’t remember that, either. Oh my god what is wrong with me?! He put a hand on my shoulder, “It’s no big deal, we’ll do it later. It’s okay, you’d be surprised how often this happens.”
That did not help, either. I looked over at my baby, unconscious and floppy in her carseat with monitors, wires and oxygen tubes on her and my anxiety absolutely swelled. Right around that point the ambulance turned onto a really windy road, and all the stress and motion sickness reached a godawful peak and I had the worst Meniere’s attack of my fucking life. The EMT didn’t even have to ask what was wrong: clearly he’d seen it before. He leapt into action before I said a word and had a cold pack and a puke bowl in front of me just seconds before I needed it.
When I was finally able to catch my breath, I apologized. “Meniere’s,” I mumbled, humiliated.
“Yes, my mother has it too,” he answered. He scooted up next to me and started telling me stories about his mother and how she dealt with it.
I felt so, so stupid. I mean Jesus my baby is in the ambulance unconscious and I’m sitting here with a puke bowl in my lap. I tried to break the tension by joking, “Being an EMT, I imagine it would be awful if you were motion sick.”
“Oh you’d be surprised how many of us are! I am too. Sometimes on those windy roads, it hits me hard. Pretty bad in an emergency!”
I laughed at his stupid jokes, and he continued to crack them for the rest of the ride. It was kind of bizarre in the midst of this crisis, but at the same time it really helped. My stress-induced attack was winding down and my anxiety was getting better. By the time we got there I had even managed to remember my own child’s name and birthday.

Z was still unconscious when we pulled into emergency, but the noise of the bustling ER woke her up again and she went right back into that weird, angry, disoriented, hysteria. Across the hall another ambulance unloaded another baby around the same age, also in a carseat strapped to a stretcher. She came in crying, too. As soon as Z heard this baby she stopped screaming – and the other baby did the same – the two stared at each other from across the hall for a long moment before they both abruptly lost consciousness. It was totally bizarre, and honestly kind of funny… in spite of the chaos going on around us.
The EMT assigned to the other baby, a young woman, came up next to us as both stretchers made their way toward the back of the ER together.
“My baby is better than your baby,” said the female EMT to the young man with Z. “My baby smiled at me.”
“Oh yeah? My baby punched me in the face.”
“It’s just your face that does it,” she teased, grinning.
I know not everyone would appreciate jokes at a time like that, but I certainly did.

We were eventually brought to a private room in an area of the hospital I wasn’t familiar with. Z was hooked up to a couple of machines, an IV and then we were left alone. Two nurses worked together to wrap Z’s body in blankets to restrain her in preparation for the IV insertion… but she was so deeply unconscious that she didn’t even flinch. She’s not exactly an easy sleeper and never has been, so it was unnerving to see her so far gone that the procedure didn’t even register as much as an an eyebrow twitch. She even stayed asleep while they put a burn net over her head, ripped holes in it and threaded her arms through so that her heart and breath monitors would stay on.

I waited for what seemed like hours, alone, in the quiet of the room. Z woke up one more time very briefly, just as confused and upset as she was before. I stroked her head and sang a lullaby to her until she finally started to calm down. I watched her heart rate slow on the monitor above our heads, feeling like I must be doing a good job as a mother if I could see her panic fading right before my eyes. You take solace in what you can get in situations like that.
A paediatrician came in some time later. She looked middle-aged until she smiled and revealed a grin adorned with a rather festive set of red and green braces; immediately she appeared 10 years younger. She spoke with me briefly about the effects of the medication Zephyra had taken, and how long it would last. She reassured me and said not to blame myself, and said they see this all the time in babies this age. I was only barely listening. As hard I as I tried, I couldn’t make myself pay attention to her words; they faded away amidst the sea of noise from the ER. I felt overwhelmed by the waves of beeps, trills and alarms coming from the machines around me. Z’s monitor had a shrill alarm that went off every few minutes, causing a nearby nurse to run from her station and come inside, mute the monitor, write something down on clipboard, take Z’s vitals and then leave the room again… offering me nothing more than a forced smile as an answer to my unasked question.

Is she okay?

I only tuned in for the last part of the paediatrician’s speech, “As soon they’re finished preparing the space, we’ll be moving her up to the PICU,” she said. “She needs to be kept overnight, and depending on how she does overnight we’ll see how much longer she needs to stay.”
I nodded, but said nothing. The doctor was kind with her words, and her tone was soft; I appreciated her bedside manner, but it did not exactly ease my mind. I couldn’t stop staring at all the tubes and wires and thinking about the last time we had a baby in intensive care.

It felt like hours had passed by the time Curtis was able to arrive. He called my mother and asked her if she could watch the kids. Once she realized what was happening, she urged him to stay at the hospital for as long as he possibly could, offering to sleep on the couch all night and even make breakfast for the kids in the morning. I love my mother for her devotion and her care, but I know that kind of commitment is outside of her physical ability to do on such short notice.

When Curtis finally arrived he set up next to Z’s bedside and curled up with his book. We cuddled together and said little while we waited for an update. After some time, the emergency room nurse came in and told us that the PICU was ready for her, and they would be moving her upstairs now. Her BP and respiratory alarm were going off almost constantly now. The drug she’d taken was originally a cardiopulmonary depressant; and even though she only managed to get between 0.1 to 0.2mg it was way, way too high a dose for a little body to handle. They assured us she’d probably be just fine, but needed constant monitoring due to her alarms going off so often. It’s all just in case. Logically I know she’s not exactly on death’s door, but it doesn’t really help quell your nerves when you’re looking down at your baby laying unconscious on a bed, hooked up with a dozen different monitors. I hated the constant use of the word, “probably”.

Curtis grabbed all the bags and I held onto the edge of the bed as we were moved up to the PICU. When we arrived there, Z’s bed was wheeled past a dozen rooms arranged in a semi-circle around a large desk. Most of the beds were empty with the exception of a bespectacled young girl reading a book and a bald toddler sitting with their parents. Everything was really, really quiet. Z opened her eyes briefly on the trip, and almost immediately passed back out again. She didn’t even seem to notice all the wires around her.

The nurse moved her into one of those PICU crib beds and pulled one side down so I could lean in. Z cried a little in her sleep and reached out for me. I pulled her close to me and she immediately rolled toward my breast and tugged at my shirt, whining pitifully to nurse. She was so sad, and so scared.
The nurse standing near us put her hand out as soon as I latched Z on. “Did the doctor say you could feed her?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“When?”
“In the ER.”
“Well we’ll have to check again.”
“Breastmilk isn’t the same as normal food; it’s classified as a medical liquid,” I reminded her.
“It’s not that. I don’t want her to aspirate if she’s unconscious.”
“But if she’s unconscious, wouldn’t she not be breastfeeding? If she’s awake and feeding, breastmilk flows directly down her throat, not filling up her mouth like milk from a bottle. Unless she’s vomiting, she’s far less likely to aspirate.”
She ignored my comment and pointed at the crib bars. “We can lower the sides for now, but once you move away they have to come up. You can set up a bed in the parent area.”

Another nurse came over and introduced herself a moment later. She was younger, and her tone of voice immediately identified her as a far more gentle (and likeable) person. Zephyra had nursed for barely ten seconds before passing back out again; curled up in the comfort of my arms with her head against my breast.
The younger nurse smiled at the scene. “I guess you could try curling up in the bed with her to nurse, but that might be uncomfortable. We could get you a bigger bed if you wanted.”
“That would be great.”
The older nurse came back over, having overheard this exchange. “You can’t cosleep.”
“Why not?”
“We don’t support cosleeping.”
This did not exactly come as a surprise, but I was not about to give up my baby’s comfortable and safe routine for literally her entire life for no other reason than, ‘we don’t like it when you do that’ particularly given the fact that it would vastly improve the outcome of this situation for everyone involved. “Do babies in the PICU usually cry all night?”
“No, they’re usually too sick.”
“I guarantee you that she will. She’s very afraid and very anxious the times she wakes up, and if I’m not here to comfort her, she will cry all night long and this will be a really miserable experience. Not just for her and I, but also for the other residents in here. I don’t want them to suffer, either.” She seemed unmoved, so I added. “I’m happy to sign anything you need me to sign.”
“No. We don’t support cosleeping.”
The other nurse piped in, “There is a parent form you can sign, it just says you’ll take responsibility if something happens to her caused by cosleeping.”
I answered quickly, before the angry nurse had a chance to interrupt. “I’ll sign it, just bring it over!”
The huffy nurse glared at the other one, and walked away. It was clear she was really, really unhappy with the younger nurse’s suggestion. Some moments later two other people brought a normal bed over, and Huffy Nurse returned with a form to sign. After I signed it, she dumped an armful of pamphlets in my lap and gave me a 10 minute lecture on how unsafe, dangerous, irresponsible and horrible it was to cosleep with my sick and terrified 18 month old. I listened politely, took the pamphlets, and then ripped them up and threw them away once she walked out of view. She came back a few minutes later to give me another form to sign since I insisted on breastfeeding… another apparently dangerous and horrible activity.

Once she left to take care of another patient, Nice Nurse slipped in to say that it was perfectly fine to nurse as long as Z was occasionally regaining consciousness. I told her that I’d have a hard time breastfeeding an unconscious baby, and she laughed, told me that she agreed said again not to worry about it. I didn’t see her again after that, even though the shift change wasn’t until 7am the next morning; I have no idea what happened to her. I was left with Huffy Nurse all night long.

Z woke up once we’d completed the move to the normal bed, when she got trapped in her wires, and she started crying and screaming. I couldn’t get her stay calm. She’d quiet down briefly for a minute or two, then she’d seem to startle and make these noises like she was frightened, as though she’d almost fallen off a bed or something. This continued for about half an hour. I don’t think she was fully awake during any of it, and pretty obviously didn’t know what was going on. She seemed really disoriented, and the times she opened her eyes she never really looked at me like she knew I was there; it’s like she was looking right through me. She didn’t turn to my voice, she didn’t respond to my touch, she just kept hitting and rolling and screeching.
I had no way to make her feel safe during these little fits other than to cuddle her and let her nurse for a moment or two before the next one came. Thank god I had those options, at least… without them it would have been much, much worse.
On top of that, it was getting on toward 11pm at night and Curtis needed to relieve mom of her babysitting duties and let her go home. He ended up leaving right before this started happening. I felt totally alone.

Z seemed to calm down briefly after about an hour and some of that hysteria, and slept lightly for about 20 minutes. Then all of a sudden all her alarms went off at once, and she was making that terrified-sounding cry again. The nurse and her assistant came rushing over, turned off the alarms, checked the tubes, watched us for a moment, made more notes, then walked away… then it happened again two minutes later. Then three minutes after that. Then one minute after that. I couldn’t tell if Z was waking up just before the alarm, if the alarm was waking her up, or if they were happening at the same time. It seemed like she’d just barely slip into sleep when her respiratory alarm would go off, her O2 levels would drop below 87 or something and then that alarm would go off, then her BP alarm would go off. Then to top it all off the, “the machine is making noise” alarm would go off and Z would end up screaming. All the numbers on the monitor would gradually climb back up until she finally passed out and the whole thing would happen again in another minute or so.
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
This continued from around midnight until after four in the morning.

I don’t know what we would have done if I was not permitted to lay with her all night and let her nurse when she was able to. It was all she had to feel safe in the midst of that.

Occasionally I’d drift off for three or four minutes and have extremely vivid anxiety dreams. Drowning, running, being chased, trying to scream and not having any noise come out, breaking bones, seeing monsters, trying to save my dying children… After a while I was kind of hoping I wouldn’t fall asleep anymore, but I was stuck in one position and couldn’t do anything but stare at the ceiling, and the exhaustion was taking hold.
I finally managed to slip in and out of actual sleep just after four. Her alarms had stopped going off every few minutes, and I heard her start to snore softly for the first time since this ordeal began. After reassuring myself that it was okay to relax and let some of the anxiety go, I curled up with her in the crook of my arm and fell asleep.

Half an hour later I was awakened very abruptly by a screaming alarm next to my head. Zephyra was still sleeping, but her monitor had flashing red lights going off all around it. The curtain flew back and Huffy Nurse came tearing in. She said nothing to me, but grabbed Zephyra out of my arms and started shaking her. She was completely unresponsive. She sat her limp body up in bed, supporting her head as it flopped to one side. A second, or maybe third, nurse came in and grabbed another IV and hooked it up. Someone else brought out a bunch of tools and bags and everything became a blur. No one said a word to me, but I also did not ask for an explanation. I felt like I’d been switched off. I just sort of lay there, watching quietly, in a haze. I felt like it wasn’t really happening and I was just watching a nightmare from afar.
I don’t do well with hospitals in the best of situations, and without Curtis there I have no one I can rely on. So I shut down. In-between whatever it was they were doing, Huffy Nurse would steal glances at me and make these rather mean-looking, disapproving faces. I felt like my lack of outward panic was making her angry. I opened my mouth to speak, but nothing would come out.
“Her blood pressure is very, very low,” Huffy Nurse snapped. Her tone was mean. I couldn’t understand why. It’s not her fault, it’s not my fault… does she think it’s my fault? I looked at the monitor and tried to read it. I think the blood pressure part read 64/19, and her o2 was in the 80’s.
Someone came by with one of those air bag things. Someone else gave her oxygen.
I tried to offer an explanation for the sudden drop: “She finally fell into deep sleep.”
“Well I’d rather she be screaming right now than like this, wouldn’t you prefer that too!?” Huffy nurse yelled back. I didn’t say anything in response. This wasn’t the first point during the night where I’d felt like she was angry with me for not reacting the way she wanted me to, but it was the most obvious. You’d figure that in her line of work she’d see all kinds of emotional responses to crisis: disconnect isn’t exactly uncommon.

It took 15 to 20 minutes before Z’s crash to be under control enough for people to stop standing by our bedside. It was nearly two hours until she became actively responsive again, and her alarms finally weren’t going off non-stop.
I managed to sleep a little bit from 6:30 until 7am… at which point there was a shift change and apparently the morning PICU staff had a fucking party for the next hour. I don’t get this. There are signs all over the floor that order everyone to be quiet. All visitors, all parents, everyone needs to be absolutely fucking quiet all the time. They get mad at you if you laugh too loud. I get that, I do. I respect it. It’s important. So why is it that during their shift change they were screaming with laughter, speaking at the top of their lungs, crashing around and so on for an hour continuously?!
I swear to god, I almost used the emergency button just to get them to come over so I could tell them to shut the fuck up.

“OH GOD MY AUNT CALLED LAST NIGHT!”
“OH YEAH? HOW IS SHE?”
“OH SHE’S GOOD”
“DID YOU WATCH THAT TV SHOW?”
“NO I MISSED IT WHAT HAPPENED?”
“OH BOY DO I EVER HAVE TO PEE”
“WOULD YOU LIKE SOME COFFEE?!”
“THEY HAVE THE NICEST SCONES TODAY”

If I wasn’t trapped with baby in my arms, tied up in wires, I would have gone over there and yelled at them myself… but I couldn’t risk leaving and waking up Zephyra now that she was finally stable, and actually sleeping for the first time.

I got another ten or fifteen minutes of rest before 8am, at which point Zephyra opened up her eyes and looked at me for the first time since she’d passed out at home. I smiled at her. She frowned, then sat up, rubbed her face and looked around. She was quiet for a long time while she took everything in. She pointed at the IV pole and beeping monitor. “Watdat?” she muttered, looking back to me. She hadn’t yet noticed that her dominant hand was wrapped from elbow to fingertips in gauze to prevent her from ripping out her IV. This was the first time I’d heard her speak since yesterday, too. She was still pretty groggy, and glassy-eyed, but at least she was awake.
A different nurse was almost instantly at our side. She introduced herself as our daytime nurse, and was instantly playing with Zephyra. She was gentle, kind, playful and quiet. Zephyra immediately liked her, and I did too.
“Will you be here with us all day?” I asked.
“Yes,” she answered, without pausing from her game of peek-a-boo.
“Will the same nurse who was here last night also be our night-time nurse tonight?”
“Probably not, I think it’s someone new.”
“Oh, well… I wouldn’t be too bent out of shape if she did not return.”
She smiled, a little coyly, “Personality clashes are common in this line of work.”
“I think we like your personality better.”

She offered Zephyra some “toddler breakfast”, took away her wet diaper to weigh, asked me how much I thought she’d breastfed over the course of the night and various other questions to assess how she was doing in the wake of such a rough night.
Z was served quite a variety of foods for breakfast: cereal, fruit salad, yogurt, milk and crackers… but seemed largely uninterested in any of it. She stuffed a few pieces of dried out fruit down the back of her diaper (to save it for later?) and threw the rest on the floor. Her appetite for real food had yet to return, but she was happy to breastfeed. Thank god for breastfeeding.

My friend Marian had texted me the night before and promised to visit when she returned to the hospital the following morning. She’s doing her residency, I think, and just happened to be at that particular hospital that week, so she was able to sneak away from her rounds at around 9:30 to come up to visit us. She brought me a cup of horrible coffee from the cafeteria, some cheese for Zephyra (being the cheese fiend she is), and a bag of baked goods from the Tim Horton’s downstairs. She stayed with me for the next hour and a half, keeping me company and watching Zephyra so I could finally run off and pee for the first time in about 16 hours. I’m not even kidding about that timeline.
Curtis texted me just after Marian arrived and told me he’d taken the kids to school and could be on his way up with a change of clothes, a toothbrush and some other items. It would take him about 20 minutes to get there, so I had some time.
The nurse returned for another set of vitals just after that and let us know that Zephyra could go home today. She’d had several stable vital checks over the last few hours, and while her BP was still low it was gradually going back up and it was clear she was improving. The worst point had already passed, and in spite of her difficulty during the night she was cleared to go. The medication had a life of about 20 hours, so she wasn’t going to get any worse from this point on.
“How soon can we go?” I asked her.
“The paediatrician has to arrive and do one final check and then you guys can leave if you want.”
I was so fucking overjoyed. Marian offered to do the check herself, but they politely declined. Which sucked because it would have been pretty cool if Marian could have been the one to “discharge her”, so to speak.

Marian helped me pack up before she left to go back to her actual patients in orthopaedics. By that point it had been long enough that Curtis should have already arrived, and just as I started to wonder where he was he texted me to say he’d be delayed because he was pulled over for not coming to a full stop while turning onto a residential road. That admittedly wasn’t too smart, but the worst part came when for some reason he couldn’t find the insurance papers anywhere in the car so now he was in deep shit and the cop decided to do a full car search for god knows what.
“Did you tell the guy you have a baby in the PICU that you’re going to see right now?” I texted to him.
“No.”
“WHY THE FUCK NOT!?”
“It didn’t come up.”

Goddamnit, Curtis.

He never did find out where the fuck the insurance papers went, nor did the cop find whatever it was he was searching for in our car (drugs? Guns? A corpse?) but Curtis had to relent to being towed to the nearest insurance place to get another copy of the papers. So that was awesome. We ended up with $300 worth of tickets and a harsh lecture about how lucky we were because, “It’s Christmas”. After we got home we ransacked the house, the car, everywhere and we never did find the original papers. We have NEVER removed them from the car – ever – unless we’re getting new ones, which were due at by the 31st of December. I do not understand what happened to them. But you know, when it rains it pours. Argh. At least the whole ordeal was finally over.

We got home in the afternoon and immediately went back out – on foot this time – to go pick up Xan from school. He was so happy to see us. As we approached I heard him turn around and tell his teacher how Zephyra was safe and happy and out of the hospital. He lit right up. It was so adorable. I thanked him for being brave while his sister was in the hospital and being so well behaved, and his teacher took my cue and told him the same.
He puffed out his chest. “I was brave, and I behaved extra good. I listened really well. Even though I was worried.”

M’awe.

Tempest had just arrived when we arrived back home with Xan, and she absolutely smothered Zephyra in hugs and kisses.
Z was still kind of groggy, and still hadn’t had a proper sleep in a long time (nor had I) so after giving friends and family updates we went to bed and napped for the next four and a half hours. Once she’d had real rest she was back to her normal self again; laughing and chatting and being playful. While we napped Curtis went through the house for a second baby proofing pass, including moving Tempest’s pill container up to the highest cupboard and removing the knob so it can only be opened by adults.

Considering everything that had happened we didn’t exactly feel like doing anything special that night, so Curtis’ birthday went largely uncelebrated. Yeah, that was his birthday.
Your little baby spent the night unconscious in the PICU and you spent the last 24 hours being reminded of how the last time you had a child hooked up, they died. I suppose his present was having her come home safe, so you know, happy honey! The universe loves you!

After the kids went to bed, Curtis talked to me a little about how much anxiety he had while we were gone; he just hides it well. Z went to bed curled up in his arms that night, and they fell asleep together. She’s been fine since the ordeal, though she’s been unbelievably clingy: I can barely leave the room to pee without her breaking down into hysterical sobs. That behaviour was building prior to the event, but it’s gone into major overdrive after it. I was hoping that since she was unconscious for most of it, maybe it wouldn’t effect her that much, but we weren’t quite that fortunate. Once again I’m thankful for breastfeeding and cosleeping in the wake of it… I can’t imagine leaving her alone in a dark room across the house after all that. We need her here between us, safe and sleeping every night, as much as she needs it from us.

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  • Amy Casson says:

    I’m so glad that everything worked out all right. I have a third boy who is 3.5 months old right now so I will keep this story in mind for when he gets old enough to explore. I have had the same thoughts as you did about babyproofing and what not! Good to know that you have to be even more vigilant…

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